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    Thread: Coolant leak...how to find it?

    1. 11-25-2011 11:04 AM #1
      So the car broke down on my wife while on the way to work again. This time the coolant is completely drained from the system. It is all over inside the engine compartment so it's impossible to tell where the leak actually is. Within the last year we have replaced the pump and thermostat so I am going on the assumption that neither of those are an issue at this point. Although I figure a stuck Tstat might cause too much pressure to build up and blow a line. Ill cross that bridge when the time comes. I also assume there should be nothing wrong with just putting water in there just to find the leak and then of course draining and putting the proper fluids in. Is this a wise course of action to take? You never know with these German things. I would of course use the same type of water that is used to mix with the coolant already.

      My wife also stated that she did not see any smoke coming out of the tailpipe and only the engine. This means the engine itself should be safe and no gasket blew inside.

    2. Member linchpin.666's Avatar
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      11-25-2011 11:05 AM #2
      Common point of failure is the coolant flange on the driver's side of the engine. If there is more coolant pooled on top of the transmission on the driver's side than anywhere else, that's probably it. If not there, check the O-ring at the coolant temp sensor.

    3. Member yivek's Avatar
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      11-25-2011 11:10 AM #3
      What I did is bought a UV dye kit from the auto parts store that had the UV light and glasses and then bought dye for the coolant.

      After a day of running it I was able to locate the spot where it was leaking. In my case it was the coolant flange on the driver side of the engine. You also might want to clean down the engine with some Simple Green before you do this to make it easier to see.
      2001 Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition

    4. 11-25-2011 11:11 AM #4
      Yeah...I am dreading taking that thinng out again...

      But still...can I just use regular water to FIND the leak before I just go taking crap apart?

      I might point out that the coolant is completely drained. This isn't a small leak.

    5. Member yivek's Avatar
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      11-25-2011 11:18 AM #5
      If it is cool enough and you have someone watching the temperature gauge while you dye it and let it run you should be ok. But you should get some coolant in it if you are going to dive it. Also make sure you get the VW G20 fluid for it. From what I have heard it can cause issues when you don't use it over time.
      2001 Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition

    6. 11-25-2011 11:20 AM #6
      Not planning on driving it at all until it is fixed. This isn't going to be a little drip leak. The fluid is quite literally sprayed all over in the engine compartment. There is no way I will drive it with that going on.

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      11-25-2011 08:51 PM #7
      I just fixed a leak just like that . Mine ended up being the lower hose on the Expansion tank. The plastic Y on the lower Expansion tank hose cracked on me spraying coolant everyplace as well. Fill it with water and rent a cooling system pressure tester from any good auto part store. Fill the system up with water . hook up the pressure tester and apply pressure to the cooling system . If its a big leak it wont take alot to find it.
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    8. Junior Member mlemorie's Avatar
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      11-25-2011 11:02 PM #8
      To answer your question, yes you can use water to find the leak without it hurting anything. I wasnt paying attention to your location but if you are anywhere where it is starting to get below freezing at night, make sure to get some antifreeze mixed in soon after finding the leak or put the car in a heated garage. Cracked blocks and heads are a bummer. Also I dont know what kind of tools you have access too, but to find leaks I would always pressurize the system and try to find the hiss.
      Disregard show, acquire go.

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    9. 11-25-2011 11:12 PM #9
      If it is inside the car your heater core went south on you. There are 4 potential location where coolant leaks the thermostat housing, crackpipe, secondary electrical coolant pump, the water pump driven by the pully and your coolant reservoir.

    10. 11-26-2011 01:04 AM #10
      Check the coolant flange on the firewall, sometimes that breaks, it will literally spray coolant out directly into the engine compartment (it's a massive leak).

      Also check the lower expansion tank hoses like the previous poster mentioned, that would do the same thing.

      The leak should be really easy to find, just dump a ton of distilled water in it, then start it up and wait for the thermostat to open. Once it does and coolant starts flowing, the leak should be apparent.

    11. Member MechEngg's Avatar
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      11-26-2011 03:22 AM #11
      My reducer on the timing belt side of my engine went on my last car.....Just start checking every single hose you have

    12. 12-02-2011 11:36 AM #12
      Looks like I'm having a coolant leak also, can anyone please help me identify this hose, hopefully with a part #? It's an 03 1.8t




    13. 12-02-2011 01:51 PM #13
      bump. I think it's #17 in the diagram but not certain


    14. Member yivek's Avatar
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      12-02-2011 04:46 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave26 View Post
      bump. I think it's #17 in the diagram but not certain

      I can't be sure, but I am not 100% that is the 1.8T diagram....
      2001 Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition

    15. Member linchpin.666's Avatar
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      12-02-2011 04:59 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by yivek View Post
      I can't be sure, but I am not 100% that is the 1.8T diagram....
      Engine code is AWP...

    16. Member yivek's Avatar
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      12-02-2011 05:31 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by linchpin.666 View Post
      Engine code is AWP...
      Ahh you are right. I just can't seem to figure it out, doesn't remind me much of my engine. I looked over at www.1stvwparts.com and couldn't find it there either. If you can call the dealer or stop in and ask for a part quote they can give you the part number and you can the price they will charge you.

      If your dealer is good, they should be able to find this over the phone for you. I would tell them it is the lower hose on the coolant flange and see if they can find it.
      2001 Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition

    17. Member David802's Avatar
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      12-02-2011 06:57 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave26 View Post
      Looks like I'm having a coolant leak also, can anyone please help me identify this hose, hopefully with a part #? It's an 03 1.8t



      My bet is cracked theromstat housing. That mess of hoses all connect to that housing I think.

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      12-02-2011 10:46 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by David802 View Post
      My bet is cracked theromstat housing. That mess of hoses all connect to that housing I think.
      I agree in most cases its the t-stat housing. But if it turns out to be that hose might aswell replace the t-stat and the housing since your already there
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      12-02-2011 10:50 PM #19
      That sucks man hope you find the source.

    20. Junior Member DirtMcGirt63's Avatar
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      12-02-2011 11:24 PM #20
      on the AWP that part that you're pointing to is on the right just above all of the tranny linkage right?

      i just replaced that hose also - went into the local dealership and said i need the hose that goes into the bottom of the coolant flange - make sure you specify manual or automatic because they are different! (the auto comes straight out rather than pointing down like the manual) - after getting mine at the dealership i think i found it through ECS also?
      Last edited by DirtMcGirt63; 12-03-2011 at 12:19 AM.

    21. 12-06-2011 12:52 AM #21
      So I found the source. I can't find the part on those diagrams though. The part was a simple link that connected two hoses together. Plastic of course which is why it failed. It connected two hoses together that went between the coolant reservoir and the engine. It was down under a couple other hoses.

      So this link piece broke at the tip at one end inside the hose. I thought, no problem...ill get that out of there, buy the part and replace it in no time at all.

      Nope...

      The part is practically impossible to find. But that wasn't the dealbreaker for me. I went to take the part out of the other end of the hose and in true Volkswagen fashion it broke off as well and the part disappeared into the engine. So I went to Autozone. Yes...Autozone. I bought a 3/8ths 8 inch long copper tube, 4 screw tightening tube clamps and Prestone Antifreeze. Thats right. Screw this car!

      I got home...decided to not even try and bother with getting the broken tips of that plastic piece of crap out of the lines and just cut them off. Clippity clippity! I jammed 3 inches of that beast of a tube in one end and 3 inches into the other and put two clamps on each side to hold that baby in. There were flares on each end so I know the thing can't slip out at either end. It was a perfect fit.

      I then dumped that Prestone Antifreeze into the car and went for a test drive. NO LEAKS! Runs greatish again. (I hate this car.)

      So now my big question is this...I've been told by Volkswagen dealers not to use anything but their special antifreeze. I've been told by other dealers that it really doesn't matter. I've spoken to people that have owned this car using regular antifreeze for years with no problem and others that say never to use anything but the stuff from the dealer.

      So I need clear opinions on that. Whats the deal? I was told its to keep parts from corroding so I got the anti corrosion antifreeze.

      Also...Tonka has no business making cars. Plastic and heat do not mix...no matter what kind of super space age plastic it is.

    22. 12-06-2011 12:56 AM #22
      Also guys...

      Thanks for all the replies.

    23. Member MechEngg's Avatar
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      12-06-2011 08:30 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by Vertisce View Post
      So I found the source. I can't find the part on those diagrams though. The part was a simple link that connected two hoses together. Plastic of course which is why it failed. It connected two hoses together that went between the coolant reservoir and the engine. It was down under a couple other hoses.

      So this link piece broke at the tip at one end inside the hose. I thought, no problem...ill get that out of there, buy the part and replace it in no time at all.

      Nope...

      The part is practically impossible to find. But that wasn't the dealbreaker for me. I went to take the part out of the other end of the hose and in true Volkswagen fashion it broke off as well and the part disappeared into the engine. So I went to Autozone. Yes...Autozone. I bought a 3/8ths 8 inch long copper tube, 4 screw tightening tube clamps and Prestone Antifreeze. Thats right. Screw this car!

      I got home...decided to not even try and bother with getting the broken tips of that plastic piece of crap out of the lines and just cut them off. Clippity clippity! I jammed 3 inches of that beast of a tube in one end and 3 inches into the other and put two clamps on each side to hold that baby in. There were flares on each end so I know the thing can't slip out at either end. It was a perfect fit.

      I then dumped that Prestone Antifreeze into the car and went for a test drive. NO LEAKS! Runs greatish again. (I hate this car.)

      So now my big question is this...I've been told by Volkswagen dealers not to use anything but their special antifreeze. I've been told by other dealers that it really doesn't matter. I've spoken to people that have owned this car using regular antifreeze for years with no problem and others that say never to use anything but the stuff from the dealer.

      So I need clear opinions on that. Whats the deal? I was told its to keep parts from corroding so I got the anti corrosion antifreeze.

      Also...Tonka has no business making cars. Plastic and heat do not mix...no matter what kind of super space age plastic it is.
      Hahaha I WIN!
      That is a reducer coupling, ended up replacing mine with a brass alternative. But i did find one at autovalue in Canada a few months afterwards so i know that it is available elsewhere besides the dealership.
      I would not recommend MIXING the coolant types. Mixing certain types can cause the coolant to have a chemical reaction and actually "gel" up inside your lines or radiator which isn't good at all. Either do an entire flush with whatever coolant you want or keep topping it up with G12

    24. Member yivek's Avatar
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      12-06-2011 09:09 AM #24
      I had Prestone in my car for a few weeks and then I decided after reading up on it to got back to G12. It can either cause corrosion or gel up in side of the engine and make a mess of it. I bought a jug from my dealer, I know ESC and WRD Racing sell other brands of G12 also.

      In the short term, it is ok, but you want to flush it and swap it out again to the G12. $20 isn't worth risking the whole engine in my book.
      2001 Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition

    25. 12-06-2011 09:13 AM #25
      How do I properly do a coolant flush? Can I just open the spout at the bottom of the radiator and keep pouring water in with the engine running? Or do I need to fill it up and drain it a few times?

      The damned thing was empty when it came back to me...I am sure there was a little left of the G12 though inside the system. I used about a gallon of water to find the leak and then put in only about half a gallon of the Prestone stuff...it did bubble up a bit which concerns me so I will flush it all out again when I get home assuming I have the proper procedure for this car.

    26. 12-06-2011 09:33 AM #26
      I found this on another site...everything I am reading says it is ok to use the green Prestone stuff so long as I don't mix it. I will flush everything when I get home and refill with Prestone. I can't afford to keep refilling G12 everytime a piece of plastic breaks on my Tonka.

      Mixing longlife and regular coolant in ANY car will cause brown gunk to build up. G12 is nothing special, If you use it with regular longlife coolant such as prestone, dexcool or whatever you will never have a problem. If you mix g12 with regular life coolant (green coolant) the two will create this brown gunk due to reacting with each other. All my vw's and audi's have always requested G12 coolant and i have never bought a single liter of g12 in my life. I'm an auto mechanic and have also never put g12 in any vw or audi! I just never mix together regular and long life coolant just like in any car!

      This has never caused any problems. The only reason VW-Audi says to only use G12 is because thats the only one they can make money off of. Just like how they say to use only castrol oil in vw engines because they signed a contract with castol. You wont blow your engine from using mobil 1 , but the dealer only sells castrol. Its business ppl, thats all.

    27. Member yivek's Avatar
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      12-06-2011 11:05 AM #27
      Ok, well when I bought Prestone it was $12 a bottle, G12 I think was $20 from the dealer. $8 difference. Two, yes the plastic breaks, the car is 9 to 11 years old by now. So for $40 (about) you can go buy a new coolant flange (the piece that is broken on the driver side of the engine) and the plastic one on the front of the motor below the intake manifold that houses the thermostat.

      So for $60 you can be set for another 8 years or so. Or you can risk it, leave broken plastic pieces in your engine, hose clamp a weak piece of plastic and use Prestone. I have heard of a hand full of people that have been running something other than G12 and they have been doing it for less than 3 years. I just don't see risking all this costly repairs, potential killing an engine over it. But this is my opinion and not law.

      To flush it, you need some distilled water jugs, 2 or 3 gallons, you need to drain and catch the fluid from the bottom of the radiator and close it back up. Next start the car and fill up the coolant reservoir with the distilled water and pull off the top skinny line on the reservoir tank and have a container that can get hot and not melt and some way you can hold it because it will be HOT. (I found out a water bottle isn't good, Styrofoam worked decent but was still burning hot.)

      From here you want to put the overflow hose into the container and turn on the car and wait for it to warm up so it opens the thermostat opens. Now you wait for the level in the reservoir to lower in level and add more water. In a little bit of time you should see fluid coming out of the overflow hose and into the container. You continue to add water and run the engine until the water comes out as clear as it will get. Note, you will need to empty the container a few times so you might want two of them.

      When you are done, you switch to the antifreeze and continue to do the flush until you get antifreeze out and not just plain water. You want to stop and reconnect the over flow hose to the reservoir and allow it to run and cycle for about 10 to 15 minutes till you get all the air out of the system and continue to add antifreeze until the level stays constant.
      Last edited by yivek; 12-06-2011 at 11:08 AM.
      2001 Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition

    28. 12-06-2011 11:28 AM #28
      Not sure what pieces of plastic you are referring to that might be in there...unless you mean the broken ends that I cut out of the hoses before attaching the copper pipe.

      Either way thanks for the walkthrough on cleaning that thing out. Ill be doing that tonight.

    29. Member yivek's Avatar
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      12-06-2011 11:47 AM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by Vertisce View Post
      Not sure what pieces of plastic you are referring to that might be in there...unless you mean the broken ends that I cut out of the hoses before attaching the copper pipe.

      Either way thanks for the walkthrough on cleaning that thing out. Ill be doing that tonight.
      Oh sorry, I read this thread before I finished my first cup of coffee. I thought you said you left them in the motor which I was thinking . I think you will be fine with it if you do the flush real good, but I just can't recommended it since I haven't used it long term. Good luck and yes, I hate the stupid plastic parts on mine car too. They are lame, wait till you replace a vacuum line and break all sorts of random plastic pieces you didn't know existed.
      2001 Jetta 1.8T Wolfsburg Edition

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      12-07-2011 10:22 AM #30
      I just replaced that hose with the Y on it that goes to the coolant ball. It cost 23 dollars from my dealership in town . I would flush and replace with G-12.

      Just cause u read something on the Internet by a Mechanic doesnt mean it 100% true. VW say to run that coolant for a reason so I woudl say its better to do so.
      Quote Originally Posted by Basscase View Post
      Wait wait wait...what? You'll go down on her...but won't kiss her afterward because "it's gross"? The fvck?


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