A used car with a spotty service record is, well, a risk. Hopefully
you got it for cheap.
With almost any engine the chances are greater that the leak is
somewhere other than a head gasket.
Not safe at all. Inspect all hoses, plastic connectors between hoses,
heater core connections, radiator tank & hose connections carefully
for any evidence of dried coolant.
A pressure test is not a very good test imho. After doing the above
you should have an exhaust gas test performed. Also, is there any
bubbling in the expansion tank or forced expulsion of coolant? Does
the temperature gauge suddenly drop after the car is warmed up?
As I told Tegger, I'm taking the car in for a scheduled service this
evening, so what I can check now is limited. The temp guage behaves
perfectly normal - slowly rises to a bit under 1/4, then stays there
even in hot weather. No spikes or drops. The exhaust is clear and has no
coolant smell. I will look for bubbles, but this seems to be a very
subtle leak wherever it is. Yes, the car was inexpensive - $2850 with a
busted headlight that I replaced, and no rust, just a few dings. Mileage
is now 146k miles. It was 141k when I bought it last May or June. I'm
going to have the dealer do a visual inspection for leaks, including the
water pump, and if there is no sign of any, replace the head gasket. I'm
worried that the guy at Valvoline* didn't actually add coolant, and
there is no leak, but I'm also obviously worried that the head gasket is
* Valvoline used to be fine. Now they push expensive unnecessary service
and products on people, especially women. But I always use the same one,
and they know better than to try that on me.
They routinely check the box on the receipt that says they checked
and set tire pressures. In fact, they told me that since the tires are
warm, they never check the pressures routinely. When they get busy, they
get sloppy. The tech may have noted the empty reservoir, told someone
else to add coolant, and it may not have been added. I am not claiming
that this actually occured.
When my (female) housemate called to ask if they do pressure tests,
the person who answered told her that the coolant was probably being
"burned because it was worn out" and they would be happy to change it.
This does not inspire confidence. I have personally witnessed them tell
a woman with a 6 year old car with 70k miles on it that it *needs* the
"high mileage" oil. Like I said, they used to be ok, but since they
added all these services and products, they push them like snake oil
salesmen. Not every one of them, but too many.
with respect, you need to take care of this responsibility yourself.
"but they said the gun wasn't loaded..." etc.
with an older vehicle such as this, make it a habit to regularly check
under the hood. every time you gas up would be ideal. better to
"waste" a few seconds doing this than money on expensive repairs that
could have been prevented by being more observant.
I reread your many posts on the simple question of "why is the coolant
level dropping". You include an enormous amount of extraneous
information that keeps you from focusing on the problem at hand and at
least one important fact about the coolant level is inconsistent.
It's really simple - either you or your mechanic has to determine
whether the coolant is actually dropping and then start a methodic
search for the cause.
Given the direction of this thread I think that person should be your
The "extraneous information" was mostly in response to a direct
question. The car is in the shop now, and it was in fact the water pump
that was leaking. Thanks to all who replied, regardless of the degree of
well, it's a little late now, but since i just read the whole thread,
i will say that the symptoms you described point more to a small leak
than a head gasket. if it's a small leak, you won't see the coolant
before it evaporates. bet I'm right! haha.
I had this happen on my 740 years ago. A hose clamp was just loose enough to
let the coolant leak out slowly when the engine was hot, I never saw any
drips or steam. I finally found it by pressurizing the cooling system to a
few psi with the engine cold.
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