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Coolant level mystery

693 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  t3mplvr
Hi, guys. I've got a (hopefully) small problem with my 96 P10. I've got coolant in my radiator, but the coolant in the reservoir is disappeaing.

I was driving home a couple nights ago and I noticed my temp starting to rise. I pulled over, checked my reservoir and it was completely empty, which has never happened before. I added more to the reservoir, and drove home, keeping an eye on the temp gage. No problem.

I get up for work the next morning, and check the reservoir tank, and its down to a third. It was full the night before. I added more, and drove to work, which was five miles away. After my shift was over 12 hours later, there was zero coolant in the reservoir.

There's no puddles under the car that I can see, even with cardboard underneath. Oil dipstick isn't milky, and there's no white smoke/moisture out the tailpipe. I can't smell any coolant anywhere it's not supposed to be. I'm at a loss. Where the hell is it going?

And yes, I've checked levels both when the car is hot and cold. I'm not mechanically inclined in the least, either, but I want to try and fix this myself if possible. Any help is greatly appreciated.
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I had a similar issue recently and I ended up having two problems:

1.) Air in my coolant line (forgot to bleed the air out properly when refilling coolant previously)
2.) A pinhole leak in one of the hoses, which was causing coolant to weep onto the radiator and evaporate almost instantly. Didn't even smell or anything.

The only way I was able to find the leak (it was in the high side of the line so it only leaked when the car was warmed up and the thermostat had opened) was to drive it until the temperature started to rise and then pull over, pop the hood, and look around at all the lines very carefully before it was able to cool down. I couldn't detect it when just running it in the garage.

Another issue that kept coming up when I was trying to search for solutions on here is that the radiator's plastic end tanks begin to develop hairline cracks and separate from the metal radiator when it gets old and brittle. That wasn't the case for me, but it could be for you. The end result is the same, but it's tougher to detect since the cracks could be out of sight and it is always in direct contact with the metal part of the radiator, meaning the coolant can evaporate instantaneously.

Coolant issues suck. Just make sure to watch that temp gauge until you get it figured out, and always carry some premix with you. Good luck!
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Plastic radiators suck. Never again. Same issue here as Nelson described.
Thanks for the replies. I always carry extra coolant in my trunk, so luckily I won't ever be stranded on account of that. I just ordered a new reservoir. My dad and I both think the problem is a small leak there (and considering it's the original factory one, it wouldn't surprise me, honestly). I'll definitely keep you posted.
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