Reader Question My daughter just called. She lives in Granby, CO and the temperature was -25 this morning.
She drives a 1999 Subaru Forester. I insisted she check her antifreeze level prior to the gold weather and she stated it was mixed to -40. I also questioned her about using straight antifreeze or mixing with water. She insisted that there was a mix. She started the car and warmed it for about 20 minutes (I know, it is too long). She started to work when steam came from under the hood.
She stopped and looked. She said that the overflow tank lid burst open and spewed antifreeze all over (her words). She waited a few minutes and started the car. She said that the heater took “forever to warm back up”. She was close to home so she returned but said there was a squeal or whine from under the hood.
She is currently checking with a local repair shop but I found you via Google and thought I would ask your opinion.
She might just have a coolant leak somewhere, like in a radiator hose or something and the hot coolant spewed on the fan belts causing the squeaking noise. Lack of coolant in the radiator will also reflect no heat coming out of the heater…since the heater relies on the hot coolant for its heat.
I would bet she did not open the radiator and look inside, but relied on the plastic overflow bottle for a visual inspection. The overflow bottle will not give an accurate measure of coolant inside the radiator.
I would get a cooling system pressure test done and that should tell us if there is an external coolant leak that needs to be repaired. Just about any mechanic can do this simple and inexpensive test while she waits.
If there are no external leaks found, but the lid to the overflow bottle blew off…I would test the radiator cap (which regulates internal pressure in the cooling system) AND check the thermostat operation. If the thermostat did not open, she would not have heat from the heater and it could build up internal pressure enough to blow off the overflow cap.