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topping off coolant #5335291 01/29/20 09:15 AM
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snake123 Offline OP
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[b] I noticed that now that its winter time in my location I need to top off my coolant in my 03 buick 3800 lesabre about once a month with approximately 1/2 qt of coolant , is this common or do I have a small leak and if so can I put those AC Delco Tabs in the radiator or something else ? b] Coffee2

Re: topping off coolant [Re: snake123] #5335295 01/29/20 09:18 AM
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jayjr1105 Offline
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Don't add anything yet. Find out how you're losing coolant. If it's a leak, fix the leak whether it be a hose, radiator, water pump, etc. It's possible your head gasket is blown as well, leading to oil contamination or the coolant being burned and tossed out of the exhaust. Many avenues here but pray it's just a leak.

Last edited by jayjr1105; 01/29/20 09:19 AM.

2013 Mazda 3 - PP 0w20
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Re: topping off coolant [Re: snake123] #5335298 01/29/20 09:21 AM
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TmanP Offline
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On a Series 2 3800, I'd think you are having either a leaking lower intake gasket or one of the plastic coolant elbows on the back of the engine near the alternator.
Barring normal leaking (e.g. radiator/hose/water pump), this is where 3800s leak.


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Re: topping off coolant [Re: TmanP] #5335307 01/29/20 09:29 AM
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Chris142 Offline
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Originally Posted by TmanP
On a Series 2 3800, I'd think you are having either a leaking lower intake gasket or one of the plastic coolant elbows on the back of the engine near the alternator.
Barring normal leaking (e.g. radiator/hose/water pump), this is where 3800s leak.

I 2nd the plastic elbows. Replace them with the metal ones.


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Re: topping off coolant [Re: TmanP] #5335329 01/29/20 09:56 AM
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John_K Offline
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Originally Posted by TmanP
On a Series 2 3800, I'd think you are having either a leaking lower intake gasket or one of the plastic coolant elbows on the back of the engine near the alternator.
Barring normal leaking (e.g. radiator/hose/water pump), this is where 3800s leak.


Ding! Ding! Ding! From personal experience I can say this is it!


2009 Mercury Grand Marquis, 8 cyl auto, 96xxx miles, PU/Fram Ultra
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Re: topping off coolant [Re: snake123] #5335339 01/29/20 10:10 AM
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Donald Offline
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Make sure you are checking at same temp. Outside temps vary a lot around here in the winter.


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Re: topping off coolant [Re: snake123] #5335413 01/29/20 11:53 AM
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Trav Offline
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It is rare that a head gasket goes on these, iron block with iron heads are pretty stable thermally both expand and contract at the same rate so the head gasket lives an easy life compared to mix metal engines. You can get a cheap kit to verify the HG is ok, it works well.

https://www.amazon.com/Block-Tester...aWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

Get a bottle of GM dye and use about half a bottle and check it with a black light at night, any external leak will jump right out at you

https://www.amazon.com/Genuine-GM-1...oolant+dye&qid=1580319927&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Flashlight-V...lack+light&qid=1580319963&sr=8-7

In all probability it is the lower intake gaskets, a plastic elbow or a burn through from the chimney in the upper plenum, all are common culprits on these.
Using the metal elbows is a good idea but use GM o rings on them not the ones it comes with they are crap, use a little Hylomar M on the o rings to fill any corrosion pitting.
Always replace the upper plenum and use the smaller diameter chimney supplied with the kit, the one from ATP is the best one I have used so far.

http://atpautomotive.com/featured/engine-intake-manifold

Use GM only gaskets for the LIM from the dealer either local or online, there have been quite a few variations and the last one from 08 is the best by far, they are aluminum, never use the plastic frame ones which are still sold on the aftermarket. The Aluminum ones from Fel Pro and Mahle are GM latest made AFAIK and safe to use.


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Re: topping off coolant [Re: snake123] #5339111 02/02/20 01:38 PM
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user52165 Offline
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Marked for reference.


Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. It's inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Winston Churchill.
Re: topping off coolant [Re: snake123] #5339130 02/02/20 02:05 PM
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riklyn Offline
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just my experience, but I noticed this summer my coolant tank was about an inch or so below the full mark. I started topping it off every week or so. took it to a mechanc, they did all the tests and could not find a leak. I decided to just leave it alone and see how far down it would go. been a couple months and it has not gone below the same spot.

I did the block test kit mentioned above, also you can pull the radiator cap off (if it has one,) and run the engine, bubbles in coolant can indicate a head gasket issue.

of course you know don't pull cap off hot engine.

lots of videos on you tube for checking head gasket leak.

good hunting.


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