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Losing coolant but no visible Leaks

Mitchs07explorer

Well-Known Member
Joined
August 14, 2015
Messages
459
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Location
Idaho
City, State
Meridian, Idaho
Year, Model & Trim Level
97 XLT V8 AWD
07 XLT V6
In the past few months I've noticed that when I take longer road trips I find that my expansion tank nearly empties out. If I drive it around town, back and forth to work I don't lose any coolant. In the past I've changed out my thermostat housing twice because coolant pooled on top of my engine. The latest thermostat housing I'm using is steel and the top of the engine is bone dry so I know I'm not losing coolant from the housing. I changed my radiator out 1.5 years ago when my old one started leaking, the new one is a spectre premium and bought that because I was led to believe it was good quality. The radiator being new I wouldn't expect the coolant to be leaking into my transmission from there but you never know and I'm going to look there next. The inside of my car doesn't smell funny and the carpet is dry so I don't think the heater core is leaking. I suppose I somehow could have blown my head gasket but my vehicle has never over heated on me and I'm always good about the fluid changes and maintenance, I owned it for over 5 years. Is there something else I'm overlooking that could also be the culprit for my coolant loss? Wouldn't there be ATF in my radiator mixed with the coolant if the AT cooler started to leak? I'm at a loss here :banghead:. I'll also mention I have been having some worse 2nd to 3rd gear shift flares but my transmission has always been kind of funky shifting through those gears but I don't know how a transmission reacts with coolant in it.
 



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Nevermind, I was able to take a closer look at the back of the radiator, low and behold... looks like rad replacement #2 will be going in..:angryfire:
 












You might have a warranty on the radiator. Some companies have a lifetime free replacement policy.
Fortunately the radiator is covered for 2 years... unfortunately I'm not a professional mechanic so it's not covered lol, oh well I'll still be saving money after installing 2 radiators versus having a shop do it. I just ordered a Motorcraft radiator from Amazon for $185 I thought I might as well go with the proper part. I appreciate the tip on the warranty anyway.
 






the radiator I bought from autozone for my 1998 had a lifetime warranty I would bet anything yours does too.... when I scrapped my 98 I still had my old leaking one so swapped them back now I have a lifetime rad in my shed with no purpose other than not junking a $200 rad
 






the radiator I bought from autozone for my 1998 had a lifetime warranty I would bet anything yours does too.... when I scrapped my 98 I still had my old leaking one so swapped them back now I have a lifetime rad in my shed with no purpose other than not junking a $200 rad
The warranty info from spectra premium that I found on Amazon and Spectra Premium's website was pretty clear about requiring proof of professional installation. I'll give them a call and ask anyway,couldn't hurt. I'd rather not spend another $200.
 






Before you replace your radiator, is there any residue up higher, on top of the radiator? I had the same kinda thing, refilling the overflow bottle every week or so, turned out to be a cracked overflow bottle. It was cracked right where the screw goes through to attach it on the side furthest toward the driver.... Probably not likely your problem, but its something to check.... My radiator looked just like that, ....
 






Before you replace your radiator, is there any residue up higher, on top of the radiator? I had the same kinda thing, refilling the overflow bottle every week or so, turned out to be a cracked overflow bottle. It was cracked right where the screw goes through to attach it on the side furthest toward the driver.... Probably not likely your problem, but its something to check.... My radiator looked just like that, ....
I hadn't thought about checking that but I will. I'm pretty sure it's the radiator though but one can hope!
 






Do you have a radiator repair shop in your area? I was in two such places years ago. They cap or plug one side of the radiator, then connect a compressor to the opposite side, then insert the radiator into a tub of water to see if it blows bubbles. This is how they pressure test a radiator outside of the vehicle. They solder the holes shut then pressure test it again. You might not need a new radiator if they could repair it.
 






Do you have a radiator repair shop in your area? I was in two such places years ago. They cap or plug one side of the radiator, then connect a compressor to the opposite side, then insert the radiator into a tub of water to see if it blows bubbles. This is how they pressure test a radiator outside of the vehicle. They solder the holes shut then pressure test it again. You might not need a new radiator if they could repair it.
I could run it down to have it checked out but considering all the spots where it's leaking along the upper part I would be concerned it could easily start leaking elsewhere after I have it fixed. I'm sure a rad shop would probably charge around $100 for the fix. Id rather have peace of mind with a new radiator.
 












The old one has scrap metal value. You could get a couple of dollars for it so don't throw it away.
With all the DIY maintenance I'd been doing the last couple of years I regret not keeping some of the auto parts I just tossed. I'd have a good pile of scrap metal by now. Thanks for the heads up on scrapping it, I probably would've just tossed it out.
 






well the radiator is only valuable because its aluminum. Steel parts are worth much less. If you can lift it, its not worth the gas to take it to a scrap yard. When I moved into my last house it had a bunch of metal in the back yard. I cut it up and took it to the scrap yard. It was a good bit of metal, at least 100 pounds, I got like $10... Its seriously like 10 cents a pound....
 






Metal prices vary. Aluminum is between 30 to 40 cents a pound. The price for window style A/C condensers & evaporators are more because they have copper mixed with aluminum. Automotive radiators have plastic mixed with aluminum so the price changes as well.

About a year ago there was somebody at the scrap metal place with an auto radiator. They put it on the scale, and said that it was worth $1.50. The guy blew up at the owner. He said: I made a special trip here, and that's all you could give me? He walked out without taking his radiator or the $1.50 in cash. The owner said that's all it was worth. The guy told him to keep his radiator & money. The owner asked him what he thought that it was worth. The guy was too mad to even continue talking, and stormed out. In my opinion, I think that the guy assumed that since a new radiator cost over a $100, he thought that the scrap value was a percentage of it. So to calculate 10% of that it would have been $10. He wouldn't have bothered if he knew that it was 1.5% of the value which is like getting pennies on the dollar back. It's worth your time & gas if you have a truckload of scrap but not worth it for one item. Make an accumulation of things, then go after a few months.
 






I just collected all my old rotors, brake calipers, some old pipes loaded it and went to the scrap yard here north on NYC.

400 lbs of scrap and I got $20 .....:(
But I did it for the environment as I said to my wife :)
 






I just collected all my old rotors, brake calipers, some old pipes loaded it and went to the scrap yard here north on NYC.

400 lbs of scrap and I got $20 .....:(
But I did it for the environment as I said to my wife :)
As you drove a gas guzzling SUV lol. Jk
 






Honestly, since I put my Spectra radiator in I still seem to be losing coolant. I did find a leak at the y pipe to the rear. Replaced it but there is never any coolant in my overflow. It never goes below a certain level and never overheats - even stop and go traffic with the air on at around 100°. I've never seen water under it. I've about decided that it just doesn't hold water where you think it should. It has a level that it likes that the engineers did not plan for.

I've learned to go with it.

Suggestion for warranty from Spectra - show them your YouTube Certified Mechanic patch
 












With my cracked overflow bottle, the overflow bottle would be nearly empty, I would coolant, then get puddles under it for a while, then they stopped, with the overflow level where it was before.... If i didnt add coolant, no puddles and the overflow would just stay at nearly empty.... I figure as I drove, it would splash around and leak out little by little.
 



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Did you try to get a different overflow tank? Some auto parts stores sell a "fit all" replacement. It's not vehicle specific. They also sell a universal washer fluid tank, but those might not handle the temperature of coolant.
 






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