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Old 01-18-2010   #1
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Normal coolant loss?

Here is my story on Honda Civic coolant "loss". I hope it is helpful. I believe it is normal for Honda's to lose a small amount of coolant over time. I am not a certified technician but i do have technical knowledge and understanding. I have owned my '02 Civic DX-G sedan since new in October 2001. At about 48-50 000 km's I noticed a "gurgling" noise from the front of the car. i brought it in and they found nothing. Later at home i noticed the coolant level was low. I topped it up and the noise went away. I have not , until recently noticed the coolant vanishing. Last August I went to a new automatic car wash. I had a stream of coolant coming from the passenger side firewall after the wash. i towed the car to my dealer and they checked it twice with the system cold and hot. They could not find any coolant leak. Their explanation was the high pressure water may have temporarily caused the leak. They said they have seen it before. The reservoir was topped up and I marked the level. I kept an eye on it and it dropped a couple of months later. I brought it back in and they pressurized the system twice cold and twice hot, still no sign of coolant leak. I just recently took a 3400 km round trip drive in the Civic, it then dropped to the min mark. The gurgling returned. I topped it back up and the noise went away. It is going back in for scheduled maintenance. I am sure they will find nothing wrong.
As with other posts I agree the system is not completly sealed. i also agree there are other ways for the coolant to be consumed. However, if nothing is on the ground and your tailpipe is clean (no white smoke, or sweet smell) then fear not. The technician at the Hnda dealer did tell me that by 50 000 km's it is normal to add coolant.
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Old 01-18-2010   #2
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

NO its NOT normal to lose coolant. the level should never change even after 10 yrs if the cooling system is working normally. i went thru this exact problem and i know everything about how it happens. your first clue shouldve been the gurgling noise. this happens when air gets into the cooling system and moves thru the heater core behind the dash. how does air get in? well one way is if you do a coolant drain and refill. even after bleeding the air, you will still have a rushing water gurgle for at least another week as all the air slowly moves thru the system's tiny passages. but it will clear up completely after couple weeks. now if you didnt have coolant changed, and you got random air in the system, im almost positive its combustion gases from the engine due to blown headgasket. this problem will also cause coolant to slowly burn in the engine over time. depending how severe the leak is, more or less coolant can be lost. mine was such a small leak, i was only losing a lil bit of coolant and only needed to top it off every week or two. but the gurgling was always there, and no matter what i tried, the air would not bleed out. it was always being formed with the engine on from a bad gasket seal. with my leak, i also never had white smoke or any different smells. the car ran perfectly actually. but as time went on, slowly the problem would get worse. i would lose more coolant, and i pulled the spark plugs to find white deposits on some of em. also the car would start to misfire on a cold start but only for a minute and then once the small amount of coolant burnt off, and the engine heated up and sealed the leak, everything was normal. im almost positive your headgasket is gonna need replacement, and it will only get worse with time. eventually it will get to the point where the car wont run properly and if you get coolant in the oil, it will kill the motor. there are certain things you can do like a cylinder compression test (this prolly wont show any problem), and a coolant system pressure check as well as combustion gas check (this will show for sure if exhaust is getting in the coolant). so just be aware that later you will need to replace the gasket and check the cylinder head to be sure its not warped. for now i think you can keep driving, but eventually it needs to be fixed. i had mine done in 2005 and for 4 yrs, i did not lose any coolant. it was always exactly on the max line when cold. i recently did a coolant change maybe 2 months ago and after getting all the air out, it is still staying right where i filled it. i think at the car wash you had a bunch of coolant spray out of the overflow tank, which is another classic headgasket problem.
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Old 06-04-2010   #3
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Cool Re: Normal coolant loss?

Howdy. I have a 1998 civic cx with 555,555 plus miles and about 300,000 on engine. My expansion tank is overfilling. I drive 80 miles one way to work 5 days a week. If I pour the coolant back into the radiator it seems that none has been lost. I replaced the thermostat, fan switch and radiator cap and flushed and bled the system. Otherwise the car is running ok, 40 mi/gal and enough pep, idles ok. I suspect the head gasket is leaking and I am considering using a silica based product to try and extend the engine's life (also I am going to join AAA with 100 mile towing benefit!)

Does anyone have any experiences with these products, positive or negative, to share?

Also any advice on getting used engines. Thanks
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Old 06-04-2010   #4
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

Never use that crap. It plugs the tiny passages in the engine and will cause a lot more headaches than it's worth. If you have a problem, fix the actual problem, don't mask it.
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Old 06-05-2010   #5
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

yeah, those stop leak fixes dont work, only use it if you want a good excuse to buy a whole new motor and cooling system parts.
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Old 12-02-2012   #6
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

If anyone can help me with my car problem that would be great. I have an 03 civic with a coolant problem. My car keeps blowing coolant out of the overflow jug and about every other day I have to top off the radiator so it doesn't overheat. The coolant isn't going back into the motor when it cools, it just keeps pushing it out. I've had a pressure test done on it, the coolant has been changed twice, I had the head gasket checked, I changed the water pump when I did the timing belt, it has a new thermostat and the radiator has been replaced and nothing has fixed it. Someone told me it may be a faulty radiator cap but I've tried 2 different ones and the problem persists. Three different mechanics couldn't find the problem and Honda wants $800 just to diagnose the it (don't even know if they will find the problem either). I feel like it may be worse as the temp outside gets colder but I'm not positive. Any ideas would be very helpful.
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Old 12-02-2012   #7
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

Quote:
Three different mechanics couldn't find the problem and Honda wants $800 just to diagnose
You got issues.


Search this site for how I diag these head gaskets.
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Old 12-02-2012   #8
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

blown head gasket
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Old 12-02-2012   #9
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

refer to post above

Last edited by Kenres; 12-02-2012 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 12-02-2012   #10
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

You have a worn head gasket that's allowing cylinder pressure to escape in to the water jacket and pressurize the coolant system.

You should still do ezone's recommended method of checking the HG because it's pretty much fail-safe.

You can see in the picture below in the area's I circled where the head gasket material has worn away and allowed cylinder pressure to pass to the water jacket and pressurize the coolant system.


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Old 12-02-2012   #11
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

+1 on leaky HG.
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Old 12-02-2012   #12
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

You have air leaking into the cooling system which is lowering the boiling point of the coolant. Also, if there were to be a headgasket leak all you have to do is get a Combustion leak tester to test for hydracarbons in the radiator.

Last edited by Kenres; 12-02-2012 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 12-02-2012   #13
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenres View Post
all you have to do is get a Combustion leak tester to test for hydracarbons in the radiator.


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Old 12-02-2012   #14
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenres View Post
You have air leaking into the cooling system which is lowering the boiling point of the coolant.
Quote:
(Redacted)
you have a restriction in your radiator causing high pressures.



I haven't spoken fluent Ford-ese in nearly a decade.
Can someone explain these theories to me?
Please provide supporting documentation.








Quote:
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I'm not touching it.
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Old 12-02-2012   #15
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

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I'm not touching it.
Lol, damnit. That's why I got the popcorn out.
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Old 12-02-2012   #16
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

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Originally Posted by Matt_75 View Post
Lol, damnit. That's why I got the popcorn out.
I figured I was stirring it up with my comments above.

I'm waiting for an explanation about something that seems to defy laws of Physics...
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Old 12-02-2012   #17
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Re: Normal coolant loss?

You guys crack me up yes my first thought is lunacy as well, but my next is education......

The boiling point of any substance is constant, that is chemistry stuff. More pressure raises the boiling point of water, this is why boiling temperature are different depending on altitude. Water theoretically doesn't compress, hydraulic theories, air does, also hydraulic theories. The air will let boiling points go to their "normals" never below their normals though.

A restriction causes overheating, not more pressure. Yes it causes a block of flow, but it also causes a lack of pressure to get there theoretically.

To the OP though, as you have read there is NO normal coolant loss EVER. If its low it is either leaking, overheating, or magical
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