1998 Chevy Cavalier Suspicious Coolant Leak

Tiny
MR1NCREDIBLE
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 CHEVROLET CAVALIER
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 130,000 MILES
2.2L Engine.

I think we have narrowed the problem down to the heater core. After pressure testing the cooling system, no obvious leaks, or leaking occurred.

When the heat is turned on, the windows fog up and you can smell the coolant in the car. But, there are no obvious leaks inside the car, and the carpet isn't saturated with moisture, or even damp for that matter.

I'm looking for a professional opinion to acknowledge whether or not I have correctly identified the cause of the loss of coolant, with the symptom of my car overheating.

If it is in fact the heater core, it would be great if you--responding to this help ad - could provide instructions on how to perform such a repair job. Thanks!

If you need more info, please ask!
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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 AT 12:37 PM

7 Replies

Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
Hello
Thanks for the donation

The symptoms you have described are indeed that of a faulty heater core. Replacement procedures are below for your vehicle's heater core..

REMOVAL:
Disable the SIR system, as outlined in this section.
Disconnect the negative battery cable.
Properly drain the cooling system.
Raise and safely support the vehicle.
Detach the heater hoses from the heater core.
Carefully lower the vehicle.
Remove the instrument panel.
Remove the DERM with the attaching bracket.
Detach the heater core cover.
Unfasten the heater core mounting clamps, then remove the heater core.

((( Exploded view of the heater core and related components )))


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/261618_Noname_472.jpg



INSTALLATION:
Position the heater core, then secure with the mounting clamps.
Attach the heater core cover.
Install the DERM with the attaching bracket.
Install the instrument panel.
Raise and safely support the vehicle.
Connect the heater hoses to the core.
Carefully lower the vehicle.
Properly refill the engine cooling system and check for leaks.
Enable the SIR system.
Connect the negative battery cable, then start the engine and check for proper system operation and/or leaks

Let me know if you need further assistance..

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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 AT 6:58 PM
Tiny
MR1NCREDIBLE
  • MEMBER
Thank you bluelightnin6,

Tonight, we changed the thermostat. After running the car for several minutes, we noticed that the surge tank cap was emitting quite a bit of steam. We thought that now, this would be the problem!

Went to advanced and replaced the radiator cap, no more steam escaped. No leaking happened at this point.

Drove down the road a couple miles, and parked the car for about an hour. When I left, there was a noticeable pool of coolant under the car. I drove back to my house (about 35 miles) windows fogged all the way up the interstate. Got home and left the car running and checked with a flashlight under the car. There was a noticeable leak, consistent drip.

I checked the hoses where the heater core is, it was bone dry. Followed the rest of the hoses, all of them dry - even where we replaced the thermostat. Checked the water pump, it was not the source of the leak.

When I shut the car off, there was still a leak.

I am beginning to think it is the surge tank itself. I poured water down the side of the tank, and where the water dripped was exactly where the pool was beginning to form. (It is dripping a couple inches in from the front right tire.)

It's awfully dark now, and nothing is open. I am going to take out the tank to tomorrow to inspect. I will advise.

(But I still can't figure out why, now, there is noticeable amounts of leakage - when nothing happened when we pressure tested it?)
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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 AT 11:52 PM
Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
Hmm. That is a bit odd. Was it leaking coolant noticeably under car before? If the heater core has failed there is a chance that it has caused some overheating of the tank and caused it to crack as well now? Let me know how that tank looks tomorrow.
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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 AT 11:56 PM
Tiny
MR1NCREDIBLE
  • MEMBER
I never noticed a leak until after we changed the thermostat and replaced the surge tank cap.

I finally got around to checking the tank. It is definitely not leaking from the tank. It was broad daylight which helped me see into the engine compartment. I noticed that it wasn't leaking with the car shut off, even after filling the tank back up. However, once I started the car and let run for a couple minutes, the leaking began again. Definitely Dex-Cool.

I checked all the hoses and lines again, from the heater core to the block, radiator, water pump.

It seems like the leak is coming from under the motor. Leaking mostly where appears to be the back right corner of the motor, but I don't see any hoses or other pulleys.

I don't think it's a head gasket. No white smoke from the tailpipe, and the guy I took it to before checked the spark plugs and he didn't think so either. I can't see under the car where exactly the leak is because I can't fit - nor do I have a way to lift the car.

If you have any ideas please shoot them at me. I'm going to try to take it back to the guy from before now that we have a noticeable leak.
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Friday, April 24th, 2009 AT 2:20 PM
Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
If the water pump, thermostat, all cooling lines and heater core as well as the radiator and tank all check out OK then it must be a faulty gasket. Either head gasket or manifold gasket.
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Friday, April 24th, 2009 AT 2:25 PM
Tiny
MR1NCREDIBLE
  • MEMBER
Im afraid you are probably right. I'm gonna suck it up and take it in to the professionals. Thanks for your help, one last thing. Any idea what I can expect to pay for that kind of repair?
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Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 AT 4:28 AM
Tiny
BLUELIGHTNIN6
  • EXPERT
There are two estimates below, the first for replacing a head gasket on your 2.2L and the second for replacing the intake gasket on your 2.2L. Of course you can get these prices cheaper at local reputable repair shops as these estimates are for dealer pricing.

Please keep in mind these estimates do not include the actual diagnostic testing price to see what is at fault.


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/261618_Noname_492.jpg




http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/261618_Noname1_3.jpg



Thanks for using 2CarPros.com!
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Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 AT 1:10 PM

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