Reader Question I have a questions about my 2000 Chevy Cavalier. My coolant is leaking (takes about 2 months before the coolant light comes on). So far I have had the hoses replaced (mechanic #1) and a new thermosat put in (mechanic #2). The most recent mechanic (#3) said that it could be a head gasket but he wasn’t positive, it was a guess.
That’s a big $$$ replacement for a guess. He had it under pressure for about 6 hours, but couldn’t find the leak. I know it is leaking because the coolant light comes on, the temp goes up, and of course I can see that it is low and that the fluid is on my driveway.
No one can seem to fix my car. Have you heard this problem before? Do you have any other ideas? My insurance quote is attached…thanks!
I think you need to see ONE MORE mechanic..one is a little more qualified than the others. It does sound like you have an EXTERNAL coolant leak somewhere…radiator, water pump, intake manifold etc. etc. but probably NOT a head gasket problem. You said you can see coolant on the driveway…so this SHOULD be an external leak, and your mechanic SHOULD be able to see this leak with a cooling system pressure tester.
I would go to another repair shop…or the dealership and get them to pressure test your cooling system again, tell them this is a slow leak and they might want to keep pressure on the system for the day or overnight to locate the leak.
I have seen a few leaky water pumps that would not leak during a normal cooling system pressure test for hours but would begin to leak as the engine was running. You usually perform a cooling system pressure test with the engine off…so a leaky water pump might go undetected.
Keep adding the green or orange coolant to the radiator so it will be easier for you to see the leak yourself. I would open the hood and stick my head under the vehicle next time you see the coolant on the driveway.
There must be some kind of tell tale sign or trace of the leak somewhere under the vehicle. The water pump you can not see, so you will only see a few drops coming out of the engine area around the fan belts.
The plastic overflow bottles are notorious for leaking as well, so look around the bottom and back side of the plastic bottle and have your mechanic test the radiator cap as well since they too can also leak.
If you had a head gasket leak I would expect to see water in the engine oil, and it would look like a chocolate milkshake, you would have an engine miss due to water getting on the tip of the spark plug, and you would have lots of white steam/smoke coming from the tailpipe and your check engine light would most likely be on as well since the engine would be running poorly.
Thanks for getting the insurance quote…hope that helps you save money