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    Thread: "Insufficient Coolant" Advisory Message

    1. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      01-30-2006 10:29 PM #1
      I briefly mentioned last week that I was presented with an 'Insufficient Coolant' warning message after starting my Phaeton up, following an overnight cold-soaking down to around -25°C. I was really perplexed by this message, because the car was parked on top of a layer of pure white snow, and there was no evidence that any coolant had leaked out of the car.

      About all I can think of as a possible cause is 'shrinkage' at the very cold temperature I encountered. By this I mean perhaps the coolant shrunk as it became very cold, and this emptied out the little reservoir, and the coolant was then trapped in the engine by a non-return valve. This is, however, speculation on my part - engines and stuff like that are not my strong suit.

      I opened the cap on the coolant reservoir and looked inside - sure enough, the coolant level was very low. I started the car and allowed it to idle until it reached operating temperature. By that time, the coolant had expanded again, and the warning message had disappeared.

      I dropped by my VW dealer once I got home, and they gave me some coolant to put inside the reservoir. The Phaetons (both engines) require the newest 'G12 Plus' (color purple) specification coolant, which is designed to last the life of the engine, although the service manual does allow for topping up with G12 or G11 coolant if G12 Plus is not available.

      Below are some photos showing what I found.

      Michael

      The warning message (note the OAT)

      What the reservoir looked like when I took the cap off
      (Note that the 'MIN' tab is way above the coolant level)

      What we added
      I'm not really sure if this is G12 Plus or plain G12.

      What it looks like when properly filled up

      Last edited by PanEuropean; 10-06-2012 at 07:43 PM.

    2. 01-31-2006 12:06 AM #2
      Hi Michael, I had the same situation occur about 1 month ago. I was really alarmed at the time as I remembered another member's experiences with low coolant levels due to a punctured aux radiator ( i think, though the details may be wrong, i'm sure i'll shortly be corrected ). in any event I was a little worried, as it too happened 'out of the blue'- I had not noticed any leakage anywhere, nor anything amiss w/the gauges. However the problem turned out to be an auxillary coolant tank leak which was replaced. The Phaeton has 2 reservoirs, the second which is not apparent from the engine bay and my primary tank appeared exactly as in your photo above with regards to the low level when first viewed. How and why the second tank was leaking I still have no idea, but of course its good as new now having been replaced. A little unsettling when it happened as normally you check the coolant level, look for leaks and its an easy fix, but given the potential for engine damage or at least ignorance on my part I didn't want to take any chances.
      Ed.

    3. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      01-31-2006 12:16 AM #3
      Hi Ed:

      Thanks a lot for sharing that information. I'm taking my Phaeton in for the 32,000 km service (20K mile service) this Friday, and I'll mention that to the tech. Although my dealership has great techs, they don't see a lot of the W12 Phaetons, and for that reason, I am sure they will appreciate the tip from you.

      Michael


    4. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-05-2006 05:39 PM #4
      Well - the techs at my VW dealer found out where the coolant is disappearing to - it seems there is a tiny leak somewhere in the supplemental radiator that is fitted to the lower right corner of the W12 Phaetons.

      The bright colour of the coolant makes it pretty easy to spot the source of the leak. You can see the pink colour on one of the vertical columns, and also on the large bolts at the bottom of the heat exchanger.

      The leak is pretty small, so there should not be much of a problem associated with driving the car until the replacement part comes in. I think it will be a rather labour-intensive task to replace this heat exchanger - my guess is that the front bumper will have to be removed to get access to it.

      Michael



      Postscript: Here's the description of the replacement of the supplemental radiator in my car - W12 Auxiliary (Supplemental) Radiator Replacement

      Coolant Leak in Supplemental Heat Exchanger


      Last edited by PanEuropean; 10-18-2012 at 02:55 AM.

    5. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-05-2006 06:02 PM #5
      Quote, originally posted by viscount »
      ...the problem turned out to be an auxiliary coolant tank leak which was replaced. The Phaeton has 2 reservoirs, the second which is not apparent from the engine bay and my primary tank appeared exactly as in your photo above with regards to the low level when first viewed. How and why the second tank was leaking I still have no idea, but of course its good as new now having been replaced...

      Hi Ed:

      Thanks again for that suggestion. The techs looked at the supplemental tank, but it appeared to be in excellent condition, and there was no evidence of leaking anywhere near it. I think everyone was hoping that would be the cause of the problem, because it is pretty easy to get access to that supplemental tank.

      Michael

      Supplemental Coolant Expansion Tank

      Last edited by PanEuropean; 10-06-2012 at 07:45 PM.

    6. 02-06-2006 12:12 AM #6
      Hi Michael, thanks for the great photos, a shame it isn't as easy a fix!
      It'll be great to meet you next weekend.
      Ed

    7. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-06-2006 04:33 PM #7
      The little 'baby radiator' arrived at my dealer this morning (wow, that was fast - they ordered it at 4 in the afternoon Friday, and it was there at 9 in the morning Monday!).

      I don't know if I will be able to find the time to take the car to the dealership and get it installed before leaving for the GTG. I sort of suspect it will be an all day job to put the thing in.

      Michael


    8. Member chrisj428's Avatar
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      02-07-2006 11:56 AM #8
      Quote, originally posted by PanEuropean »
      I sort of suspect it will be an all day job to put the thing in.

      Yes.

      --Chris

    9. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-07-2006 04:23 PM #9
      Oh... well, in that case, it's going to have to wait till I get back from the GTG. I'll buy a container of G12 to bring along with me... The leak rate is very small, about 1 deci every 1,000 km.

      Michael


    10. 02-13-2006 04:02 PM #10
      This morning right after cranking up in Louisville KY, my "insufficient coolant" light came on. I topped it off as it was indeed low and it appears I may have my first problem with 'ol Phaye. We may have a common problem guys. We'll see as I too have only 600 miles before my 20K check up.

    11. 02-14-2006 04:39 PM #11
      Michael, I noticed that the coolant is colored red in the above pictures. Mine is not that color. Is that the way yours was from the time you bought the car??

    12. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-14-2006 06:59 PM #12
      Hi David:

      Your car is newer than mine - my guess is that you have the newest VW coolant, which is called 'G12 Plus' and is purple. I have the older 'G12' which is red. The two are compatible with each other, but if the initial filling was done with G12 Plus, then it is best to only refill with G12 Plus because of its superior characteristics. G12 Plus is a lifetime coolant than never needs to be changed.

      Michael


    13. 02-14-2006 07:17 PM #13
      It wasn't very low as I think I only placed maybe a half of a liter of antifreeze in the reservoir. I'll be honest with you, I just bought the brand that the gas station had because I had no choice. I only have less than 500 miles till my next service and I will make sure they are aware of this issue.

    14. Member chrisj428's Avatar
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      02-14-2006 07:28 PM #14
      David,

      You may want to have them flush that out while you're there for the service.

      If anyone needs to top off their coolant in between services (assuming it's not gushing out of some orifice), please top off with potable water.

      --Chris

    15. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      02-16-2006 02:19 AM #15
      Archival Note: Related post discussing loss of engine coolant -

      Phaeton in ICU (Complete Engine Replacement)

      ...and, here's a post that discusses how to replace the auxiliary radiator on a W12 Phaeton:

      W12 Auxiliary (Supplemental) Radiator



      Modified by PanEuropean at 11:44 PM 5-4-2007


    16. 05-23-2006 10:41 AM #16
      After leaving my car in the garage for over a week while in Germany, I cranked up the car first thing Monday morning and the "insufficient coolant" warning came on again. I backed the car out and sure enough, Brent and I both saw red antifreeze fluid on the garage floor. It was in the same place as Michael described (front right area). The coolant level is low. It sounds like I have the same problem you had Michael. They have my car in the shop as of now and they gave me a loaner Passat.

      Hopefully they can get this handled without any big troubles.


    17. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      05-23-2006 05:17 PM #17
      Hi David:

      The replacement of the little auxiliary radiator is quite a simple task. To get at it, you need to remove three large parts:

      1) The front bumper cover (easy to do, but pay lots of attention to how the electrical connectors are attached to the bumper cover in the front LEFT area during disassembly).

      2) The right wheelwell liner (a very easy task).

      3) The two underbody covers (also a very easy task).

      Once those three parts have been removed, the tech will have full access to the front and back side of the little supplemental radiator that is in the front right corner of the W12 engine. The replacement of the radiator itself is really easy to do.

      You will probably find the leak by looking on the aft side of the radiator, about in the middle. Look for the red stain from the coolant running down the back side of the radiator - it is not difficult to miss.

      Michael


    18. 05-23-2006 06:58 PM #18
      Are these leaks all occurring at the same spot on the W12's? If so I would assume there is a problem with a seam on the unit and maybe a TB or, dare I say RECALL, should be in order. It would be a shame to be driving a thousand miles away from VW service and lose the use of the radiator.

    19. 05-23-2006 09:35 PM #19
      I think it will just be a case by case problem. Again, I'd like to know if some of the problems seen on Phaetons occur on Bentley F/Spurs???

      It's amazing we don't hear of cross-over common issues between the two cars.

      Or maybe the Bentley owners just don't voice their issues as much ....who knows.
      The problem with this defect is that you have to allow the car to sit for a week to identify it. Another words, you won't see a leak under normal conditions because the fluid leak is so small that it evaporates before leaving a spot or trail. If it weren't for the onboard diagnostics, I'd never known a problem existed. I'm just glad it's under warranty and otherwise I still feel the car is doing fine.
      My dealership picks up my car from 20 miles away, leaves me a Passat (which is just fine with me as it doesn't have to be a Phaeton) and I trust they will handle it with TLC.


    20. 05-24-2006 12:37 AM #20
      Quote, originally posted by dcowan699 »
      I think it will just be a case by case problem. Again, I'd like to know if some of the problems seen on Phaetons occur on Bentley F/Spurs???

      It's amazing we don't hear of cross-over common issues between the two cars.

      Or maybe the Bentley owners just don't voice their issues as much ....who knows.

      IMHO, the typical FlyingSpur owner isn't likely to get involved in internet forums such as these. When their FS breaks, they make a call and someone deals with their problem.

      Larry Ellison (Oracle Billionaire) drives a FlyingSpur. I doubt we will ever see him post about his FlyingSpur Gremlins.


    21. 05-24-2006 01:22 AM #21
      Hey, I know that Ellison guy! Went to high school at South Shore in Chicago and spends most of his free time sailing now. His biggest hang-up was thought to be that Bill Gates had more than him! Larry really made somehting of himself though.

    22. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      05-24-2006 03:13 AM #22
      Quote, originally posted by Spectral »
      Larry Ellison (Oracle Billionaire) drives a FlyingSpur. I doubt we will ever see him post about his FlyingSpur Gremlins.

      I bet he lurks. He probably hasn't figured out how to post yet, because the forum doesn't run on Oracle.

      Michael


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      05-24-2006 08:05 AM #23
      bentley owners do have the same problem. however, as most of them are previous owners of crewe built cars they are used to seeing liquid under where their cars have been parked.

    24. 05-24-2006 11:18 AM #24
      Quote, originally posted by Spectral »

      IMHO, the typical FlyingSpur owner isn't likely to get involved in internet forums such as these. When their FS breaks, they make a call and someone deals with their problem.

      Larry Ellison (Oracle Billionaire) drives a FlyingSpur. I doubt we will ever see him post about his FlyingSpur Gremlins.


      You're probably right. They probably lose $1000 a minute if they stop doing their day job and spend the time needed to make a post on a forum!!


    25. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      05-24-2006 11:52 AM #25
      Quote, originally posted by murphybaileysam »
      ...I would assume there is a problem with a seam on the unit and maybe a TB or, dare I say RECALL, should be in order.

      No, no, nothing that serious at all. In my case, a very minor leak developed in the auxiliary radiator - total coolant loss over about 1,000 miles of driving amounted to 6 or 8 ounces.

      No-one yet knows why the leak develops. It's too early to know for sure, and pointless to speculate. VW has all the problem (removed) radiators sent back to Auburn Hills for analysis. If anything interesting is discovered, they will probably put out a TB passing the information on to the technicians. No TB is needed to describe the repair scheme, because it is a straightforward and simple removal and replacement of the component.

      The sky is NOT falling.

      Michael


    26. 05-25-2006 02:54 PM #26
      Michael, Upon pressure testing my coolant system, my techs aren't sensing a leak. Do you recall if your radiators passed or failed a pressure test prior to discovering the leak?

    27. Member
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      05-26-2006 12:56 AM #27
      Took car to dealer b/c of :

      1. The intermittent Check Exhaust System warning light that got fixed a couple of months ago by replacing a thermostat, but came back on after a week or two of use, and stayed on most of the time, except (of course) Monday morning when I got the car into the shop

      2. The windshield washer liquid light that came on a while ago, and that did not go away even though I refilled the tank

      I neglected to mention to the dealer that the coolant level red warning (in letters) once showed up, briefly, in the MFD in the main cluster, and then went away. This happened perhaps 3 or 4 wks ago, with no relapses

      Well... while looking for a leak on the windshield washer reservoir... they found a leak on a "secondary radiator"

      Radiator got replaced: 3D0-121-212-B
      Added coolant: G-012-A8F-A4 (is it Plus? Is it regular?)

      As usual with this particular dealership, service to me was excellent, but they keep treating me as some sort of Crewe owner (see posts above ) and simply do not provide any details to me. They fix it, and they actually ask me not to worry about it.

      Which I am sort of getting used to, up until June 2010, when checks start coming out of my pocket, and then it will become unenjoyable to be kept in the dark!


      PD: Going to Charleston SC tomorrow, honk if you see a black Phaeton with two onboard!


      Modified by Itzmann at 10:11 PM 5-25-2006

      FOR SALE. Our Premiere Edition Phaeton 2004 with 57,500 miles and with Extended Warranty thru year-end 2014 is FOR SALE.
      Details here at VWvortex:
      http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...1#post85210112

    28. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      05-27-2006 07:30 AM #28
      Hi David:

      We didn't even do a pressure test, because it was self-evident that if the coolant level in the tank (the round reservoir) kept going down, there had to be a leak somewhere.

      The leak itself was very, very tiny - I rather doubt if a pressure test would have revealed anything.

      Michael


    29. Member chrisj428's Avatar
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      05-27-2006 08:40 AM #29
      A visual inspection of the radiator would show coolant seepage as a pink crust surrounding the area of escape. This should be apparent even if the leak is occurring at a slow rate.
      --Chris

    30. 05-27-2006 09:27 AM #30
      Based on a call I got yesterday, they plan to exchange the radiator in question.

    31. 06-09-2006 09:49 AM #31
      I have confirmation the dealership installed the new radiator. I'm on a mini-vacation though and not in town to pick it up but they are having to place a newly painted bumper on it so it wasn't ready for pickup yet. I sure hope their are no extra problems as a result of having it repaired. If it's just fault codes , I can eliminate those but if their are additional mechanical problems (rattles) , I won't be happy. I also hope they don't leave a parking sensor loose or something like that.

    32. 06-12-2006 03:10 PM #32
      Got my car back today and all seems fine. This is the first time I've driven it in a month and boy it feels good to be back in the saddle of it again. I've taken for granted what a great ride this car is and how beautiful it is. It's almost like the feeling of getting it picked up the day of delivery the first time. They detailed the car and it looks wonderful.

      Hopefully no other problems occur. Unfortunately , I get the feeling 80% of the W12s will have this problem some time or the other.


      Modified by dcowan699 at 2:11 PM 6-12-2006


    33. Moderator PanEuropean's Avatar
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      06-12-2006 05:55 PM #33
      Quote, originally posted by dcowan699 »
      ...This is the first time I've driven it in a month...

      I know that feeling - the last time I drove my Phaeton was in March!

      Michael


    34. 06-12-2006 10:41 PM #34
      Quote, originally posted by PanEuropean »

      I know that feeling - the last time I drove my Phaeton was in March!

      Michael

      And I don't think your wife drives it much either, does she?


    35. 06-12-2006 10:52 PM #35
      Already, just 2 hours after picking up my car, I've been approached twice about my car. I gave this one gentlemen the vortex address, told him my username and told him to inquire on a used Phaeton (hey, Fred, I told him you were our used-car bird dog). I hope he gets on the forum and chats with us. He seemed really intrigued with the Phaeton.

      Again, it blows my mind that VWofA pulled this car off the market.


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