It's not excess water you'll see. Most of the time when there's a continual loss of coolant with no obvious cause, it's the tail pipe where people forget to look. If the dye shows up there, a cylinder head gasket is leaking 99 percent of the time. For the other one percent, a cylinder head could be cracked or warped.
The classic symptom of a leaking head gasket is white smoke from the tail pipe. Antifreeze is alcohol and will stay a vapor longer than water will. The smoke will dissipate but the dye will remain. That's what makes the dye so useful.
It would be quite the coincidence for a head gasket to start leaking just when the other repairs you listed were done. What is more likely is the coolant wasn't replaced often enough and corrosion led to the water pump leaking, AND the acids were working on the head gasket at the same time. The antifreeze will always be antifreeze, but it's those additives that wear out and is why the coolant must be replaced periodically. The additives include water pump lubricant and corrosion inhibitors.
To add to the misery, most GM vehicles came with the red "Dex-Cool" antifreeze that many of us call "Dex-Mud". GM advertised that as "lifetime" coolant to make their cost of scheduled maintenance look lower than that of their competitors, but then right on the reservoir they put a sticker that says to replace it every three years. Even the Dex-Cool company didn't recommend running it for three years.
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 AT 8:00 PM