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Radiator Half Full #5112018
05/22/19 07:04 AM
05/22/19 07:04 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,098
Illinois
Mark72 Offline OP
Mark72  Offline OP

Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,098
Illinois
Trying to be optimistic as to whether I should view the radiator as half full or half empty...LOL. So I noticed a small puddle the other day. Opened the hood and the reservoir was almost empty. After driving home form work the radiator cap was still cold. Thought that was odd. Opened it, and no coolant. The radiator was warmer about halfway down so I assume there was some in there. I'm getting it fixed. I think its a hose because I see dry residue around the passenger side. So long as there was some fluid in the radiator, should I be ok?

Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112025
05/22/19 07:11 AM
05/22/19 07:11 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 13,985
NH
supton Offline
supton  Offline

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 13,985
NH
Not really. Low level means it probably isn't circulating real well. The thermostat has a small hole in it meant to burp air, so that level was the level in the block too--which might be below the water pump.

Most temp sensors need coolant on them to read properly--recently I read on here that some Fords will read properly, though.

But in the end, any damage done is already done. With any luck, there was none. The head would be the first to run hotter (highest up), which could lead to preignition. If it wasn't knocking I'd be tempted to not worry about it.


2011 Toyota Camry, base, 2.5L/6MT, 187k, hers
2010 Toyota Tundra DC, 4.6L/6AT, 152k, ours
1999 Toyota Camry LE, 2.2L/4AT, 208k, his
Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112031
05/22/19 07:18 AM
05/22/19 07:18 AM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 22,489
Upstate NY
Donald Offline
Donald  Offline

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 22,489
Upstate NY
I would not have driven it if I thought there was a problem of loss of coolant.


2015 Subaru Forester 2.5 engine/CVT
2015 Ford F250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112041
05/22/19 07:31 AM
05/22/19 07:31 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 9,840
Virginia Beach
Astro14 Offline
Astro14  Offline

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 9,840
Virginia Beach
You might be OK.

You might not.

When the coolant level gets low enough, a couple of things can happen; the thermostat won’t open, because it needs hot water to open, the water pump won’t circulate because it’s sucking air and the temperature gauge won’t work because it’s reading air, not hot water. In those cases, damage is happening, but your dash won’t tell you, because the gauge isn’t reading accurately.

Did you get that low?

Can’t tell from your description.

I hope you didn’t...


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Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112054
05/22/19 07:48 AM
05/22/19 07:48 AM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,006
Texas
WyrTwister Offline
WyrTwister  Offline

Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,006
Texas
What car ? What engine ?

Have your mechanic go over it with a fine tooth comb , looking for leaks and signs of a blown head gasket , non functional pans , defective tstat , defective water pump etc. .

Were it me , I would replace all the coolant hoses , Tstat , hoses , belt / belts . Pressure test al the above + radiator . Radiator may need cleaning and / or replacing .

You MAY have dodged a bullet , do not skimp out on this .


Wyr
God bless
Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112116
05/22/19 08:40 AM
05/22/19 08:40 AM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 765
WA
Mad_Hatter Offline
Mad_Hatter  Offline

Joined: May 2019
Posts: 765
WA
Originally Posted by Mark72
Trying to be optimistic as to whether I should view the radiator as half full or half empty...LOL. So I noticed a small puddle the other day. Opened the hood and the reservoir was almost empty. After driving home form work the radiator cap was still cold. Thought that was odd. Opened it, and no coolant. The radiator was warmer about halfway down so I assume there was some in there. I'm getting it fixed. I think its a hose because I see dry residue around the passenger side. So long as there was some fluid in the radiator, should I be ok?


Holy moley dude, did you pop open the radiator cap to see if there was coolant in the radiator at least before you drove home?

If not, then you actually don't have any idea how low/how much coolant your system had while driving home. You may or may not have dodged a bullet but if it were me I'd do as one other person suggested and get it into a shop and have a mechanic look at it. I'm sure you know that there's a buttload of problems that can be caused by high heat due to low coolant.

Some of the problems are in the "screw it, I'm selling the car" category of warped heads/cylinder cracking etc, but you won't know for sure until you have it looked at properly.

Last edited by Mad_Hatter; 05/22/19 08:43 AM.
Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112180
05/22/19 09:30 AM
05/22/19 09:30 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,098
Illinois
Mark72 Offline OP
Mark72  Offline OP

Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,098
Illinois
nope frown I drove it home...uuuughh.. This a 99 Olds 88. This one is actually my sons (grin). I did open the cap, I could see no water. But half the radiator was warm which leads me to believe there was water in it halfway down. So... maybe I dodge the bullet and the engine had water running through it?

Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112208
05/22/19 09:49 AM
05/22/19 09:49 AM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
southeast texas
meadows Offline
meadows  Offline

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
southeast texas
Put water in it, drive it, you’ll find out if you got problems.

Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112222
05/22/19 10:06 AM
05/22/19 10:06 AM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,006
Texas
WyrTwister Offline
WyrTwister  Offline

Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,006
Texas
I would not put water in it , from the tap .

So , low on coolant ? Your Son's fault ? ( Did it show hot on the dash ? )

If his fault , he should pay for the repairs ( tough love ) .


Wyr
God bless
Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112316
05/22/19 11:44 AM
05/22/19 11:44 AM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
southeast texas
meadows Offline
meadows  Offline

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 161
southeast texas
Does it matter what kind of water he uses, he will have to drain it out to fix the leaks anyway. He said he had puddles underneath it.

Re: Radiator Half Full [Re: Mark72] #5112544
05/22/19 03:48 PM
05/22/19 03:48 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 34,668
ME
eljefino Offline
eljefino  Offline

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 34,668
ME
Most cars, when you drive them, the water pump sucks coolant from the bottom of the rad, pushes it up through the engine, and it hits the thermostat at top and bounces around the heater bypass circuit until said thermostat opens.

Your 3.8 is like this, I'm pretty sure.

So the "extra" coolant winds up in the engine, then it passes the thermostat, through the top hose, "waterfalls" down your half-empty radiator, losing some heat, but not much, then returns to the engine for another go-round.

I bet you did fine.

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