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#1 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 10:09 AM
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Default Disappearing coolant

I acquired my 2002 Kia Rio last fall for a great price from a family member but in the spring I too was victim to the dreaded timing belt disaster. Since it was in excellent condition besides the punctured pistons, smashed plugs, snapped values and blown out cylinder wall, I decided to have the engine rebuilt by a shop in the area that specialized in these types of motors.

Got it back, dropped the motor in, took it to a dealer for a diagnostic before I even tried to start it. It started fine and runs great but I'm always loosing coolant and I cant see any drips on the ground under the car either. I have checked and changed the oil to make sure that there was no coolant draining into the oil and the oil is clean. Replaced the thermostat and the radiator cap.

I will fill the radiator, turn the car on and wait for the thermostat to open, continued to fill the radiator to the point where it over flows when I tighten the cap down and I fill the overflow to the full mark. After a day or two I will check it and Ill have to add almost two quarts to top it off again. It appears that I might be over filling it also. The cap to the overflow is often blown off the top after a trip down the expressway,

I have been running water most of the summer because antifreeze is just too expensive to be constantly replacing at this rate. I constantly check it and I haven't had really any over heating issues with it. It's just with winter coming up, I'm going to have to drain the water and put antifreeze in and would really like to have this cleared up before snow starts to fall.

Is there anyway to test for an air leak in the system?
Any other possible ideas?
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#2 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bredewse View Post
I acquired my 2002 Kia Rio last fall for a great price from a family member but in the spring I too was victim to the dreaded timing belt disaster. Since it was in excellent condition besides the punctured pistons, smashed plugs, snapped values and blown out cylinder wall, I decided to have the engine rebuilt by a shop in the area that specialized in these types of motors.

Got it back, dropped the motor in, took it to a dealer for a diagnostic before I even tried to start it. It started fine and runs great but I'm always loosing coolant and I cant see any drips on the ground under the car either. I have checked and changed the oil to make sure that there was no coolant draining into the oil and the oil is clean. Replaced the thermostat and the radiator cap.

I will fill the radiator, turn the car on and wait for the thermostat to open, continued to fill the radiator to the point where it over flows when I tighten the cap down and I fill the overflow to the full mark. After a day or two I will check it and Ill have to add almost two quarts to top it off again. It appears that I might be over filling it also. The cap to the overflow is often blown off the top after a trip down the expressway,

I have been running water most of the summer because antifreeze is just too expensive to be constantly replacing at this rate. I constantly check it and I haven't had really any over heating issues with it. It's just with winter coming up, I'm going to have to drain the water and put antifreeze in and would really like to have this cleared up before snow starts to fall.

Is there anyway to test for an air leak in the system?
Any other possible ideas?
you may have a bad head gasket. is there white smoke coming out of the tail pipe.and a way to test this is to put a pressure tester on your rad and start the car. if you notice the pressure on the tester gauge going up then it is most likly a head gasket needs to be replaced.good luck
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#3 (permalink) Old 09-25-2011, 11:29 AM
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It bothered me to read "and blown out cylinder wall"...How was this repaired? A new sleeve? Over sized pistons and rings? Cylinder walls are not very thick and they are kept cool by coolant flowing around them.

The water reservoir popping it's cap would probably indicate either a incorrectly installed head gasket, a head warp, or problems with the head...Sounds like exhaust gas is being re-routed into the coolant passages...pushing the coolant back into the reservoir and out the overflow attached to it.

Otherwise try pulling the spark plugs...an unusually clean plug can/may indicate a water/coolant leak into the cylinder. I don't know if there are coolant passages in the intake manifold on the Rio but if there are it's gasket may now be bad allowing the coolant to flow into a cylinder (during air intake) and out of the tail pipe. If it's a minor leak the engine would run good to great with the extra moisture mixture. The coolant would not show up as drips under the engine, in the oil sump, or as being blown out the water reservoir if this happens. Got any moisture at the exhaust?

Sounds like the rebuilder may have some rework ahead of him if it's not an intake manifold gasket problem and he assembled the long block.

Either way it sounds like some kind of tear down is in your
future
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Last edited by DavesSpectra; 09-25-2011 at 11:33 AM.
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#4 (permalink) Old 09-26-2011, 08:39 AM
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The 'full' mark on your reservoir....does it say 'Full Hot' or 'Full Cold'? If it has a 'Full Hot' mark you're filling it when it's cold, it's going to overflow as you drive.

Is the reservoir actually running dry over the course of a few days, or is it reaching a certain point and staying there? I'd hate to assume that you have a head gasket problem until you resolve how much coolant should actually be in the reservoir. If it's overfilled, it's going to get rid of the excess every time the engine gets warm.

If it's draining the reservoir dry, you indeed have an engine problem...most likely a coolant passage in the head gasket is leaking coolant into the combustion chambers, and you're burning coolant. There won't always be a telltale sign in the exaust if it's burning it slowly enough.
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#5 (permalink) Old 09-26-2011, 09:15 AM
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The 'full' mark on your reservoir....does it say 'Full Hot' or 'Full Cold'? If it has a 'Full Hot' mark you're filling it when it's cold, it's going to overflow as you drive.

Is the reservoir actually running dry over the course of a few days, or is it reaching a certain point and staying there? I'd hate to assume that you have a head gasket problem until you resolve how much coolant should actually be in the reservoir. If it's overfilled, it's going to get rid of the excess every time the engine gets warm.

If it's draining the reservoir dry, you indeed have an engine problem...most likely a coolant passage in the head gasket is leaking coolant into the combustion chambers, and you're burning coolant. There won't always be a telltale sign in the exaust if it's burning it slowly enough.
You may be able to see telltale signs on the plugs - if coolant is leaking into one combustion chamber, it's plug often appears steam cleaned compared to the others.

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#6 (permalink) Old 09-26-2011, 12:13 PM
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It bothered me to read "and blown out cylinder wall"...How was this repaired? A new sleeve? Over sized pistons and rings?
A new sleeve was installed.
  • There is no white smoke coming out of the exhaust.
  • All of the plugs and pistons appear to have equal char (no steam cleaned look).
  • Did a compression test to see if there was a leak, and all measured 180 psi.
The reservoir always returns to the same level, it never dries up but the radiator is, on average, over a quart low.
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If the radiator is low every time you check it, there are no no signs of leakage, and there isn't coolant in your oil, then you do have a head gasket problem. Your engine is 'consuming' coolant.
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#8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2011, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bredewse View Post
A new sleeve was installed.
  • There is no white smoke coming out of the exhaust.
  • All of the plugs and pistons appear to have equal char (no steam cleaned look).
  • Did a compression test to see if there was a leak, and all measured 180 psi.
The reservoir always returns to the same level, it never dries up but the radiator is, on average, over a quart low.
We just went through this with our PT Cruiser. Turns out there were some small holes in the radiator, can't see them with it in the car. With the radiator pulled, it was clear that was the source of the mystery leak.

Like you, we had no puddles, no white smoke, no creamy oil. The stuff would leak out of some pinholes and evaporate.
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#9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2011, 03:42 PM
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If the engine does not draw in fluid from the reservoir when it's cold I'd check/replace the radiator cap. It's not drawing in coolant to fill the empty space.
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#10 (permalink) Old 09-27-2011, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by LAMRONH
We just went through this with our PT Cruiser. Turns out there were some small holes in the radiator, can't see them with it in the car. With the radiator pulled, it was clear that was the source of the mystery leak.

Like you, we had no puddles, no white smoke, no creamy oil. The stuff would leak out of some pinholes and evaporate.
Excellent idea. Ill pull the radiator and inspect it.

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Originally Posted by DavesSpectra
If the engine does not draw in fluid from the reservoir when it's cold I'd check/replace the radiator cap. It's not drawing in coolant to fill the empty space.
I replaced the radiator cap last week and i could definitely see a difference in the rubber gasket on the underside of the cap. The old one was warped and even with the system cool, there would be suction on the cap so the cap was definitely not allowing anything to siphon back into the radiator. The new cap allows the system to equalize in pressure when it is cool but I still had the problem with the low coolant level in the radiator.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CorsaKoup
If the radiator is low every time you check it, there are no no signs of leakage, and there isn't coolant in your oil, then you do have a head gasket problem. Your engine is 'consuming' coolant.
I went to a dealership yesterday and priced it out what it would cost to replace the head gasket, they priced it at between $600 - $700. I have some spare time at the moment so I could do it myself, I just worry about messing up the timing and destroying my new engine. I know there is a lot of criticism about these liquid head gasket sealers but has anyone had any luck with a specific one?
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