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Thread: Coolant leak

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Coolant leak

    You know me and my 34-yr old Chevy. the latest problem is a minute (small) coolant leak somewhere near the base of the radiator. The thing that bothers me is that it does not leak everyday that I run the engine, more like once in every three or four days that I notice a small puddle under the radiator. The clamp on the upper hose at the rad was loose so I tightened it and I thought that would solve the problem, BUT, it still leaks occasionally.

    Anyone has any idea why?

  2. #2
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    Crack in the radiator that only opens when it gets hot. Or after the car has been shut off and pressure rises during convection cooling.

    Chip H.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan View Post
    You know me and my 34-yr old Chevy. the latest problem is a minute (small) coolant leak somewhere near the base of the radiator. The thing that bothers me is that it does not leak everyday that I run the engine, more like once in every three or four days that I notice a small puddle under the radiator. The clamp on the upper hose at the rad was loose so I tightened it and I thought that would solve the problem, BUT, it still leaks occasionally.

    Anyone has any idea why?
    I agree with Chip - especially if the radiator is original (or more than 10 years old).

    The good news is that you can probably have it fixed (old-style metal radiator; not the plastic throw-it-away shit they use today). Is there a radiator shop in your area? Most major urban/suburban places have 'em.

    Also - check the plastic expansion tank. It's possible it's cracked (age) and the leak is coming from there...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I agree with Chip - especially if the radiator is original (or more than 10 years old).

    The good news is that you can probably have it fixed (old-style metal radiator; not the plastic throw-it-away shit they use today). Is there a radiator shop in your area? Most major urban/suburban places have 'em.

    Also - check the plastic expansion tank. It's possible it's cracked (age) and the leak is coming from there...
    It is not original, but it IS 11 years old. Couldn't be the expansion tank as there are no obvious leakage there. I'll have my repair shop look into the problem soon.
    Since a hot radiator is under tremendous pressure, a large hole(s) could mean more coolant wasted, obviously!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I agree with Chip - especially if the radiator is original (or more than 10 years old).

    The good news is that you can probably have it fixed (old-style metal radiator; not the plastic throw-it-away shit they use today). Is there a radiator shop in your area? Most major urban/suburban places have 'em.

    Also - check the plastic expansion tank. It's possible it's cracked (age) and the leak is coming from there...

    Had a repair shop look at the radiator and was told there was no guarantee the repair would hold so had it replaced , for peace of mind.
    (Peace of mind is worth more than money to me)!

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan View Post
    Had a repair shop look at the radiator and was told there was no guarantee the repair would hold so had it replaced , for peace of mind.
    (Peace of mind is worth more than money to me)!
    Agreed!

    Assuming it's a good radiator, you should be good to go for many years to come now.

  7. #7
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    Well now, what else could go wrong with a 34 yr old car? The new radiator would be about the 4th one installed, fuel pump replaced once, set of shocks about the third, carb overhauled about four or five times, fuel tank and metal lines are original, starter motor the third one, electronic distributor about the second or third times, water pump three times, harmonic balancer once, wiper motor and driver side window motor yet to fail. Now,i'm hoping nothing go wrong with the transmission, crankcase oil pump (?), and particularly, piston and/or rings, and other major components that I can't think of right now.

    The day will come, one day, when I have to scrap the car, but I'm hoping to outlive it by a few years.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan View Post
    Well now, what else could go wrong with a 34 yr old car? The new radiator would be about the 4th one installed, fuel pump replaced once, set of shocks about the third, carb overhauled about four or five times, fuel tank and metal lines are original, starter motor the third one, electronic distributor about the second or third times, water pump three times, harmonic balancer once, wiper motor and driver side window motor yet to fail. Now,i'm hoping nothing go wrong with the transmission, crankcase oil pump (?), and particularly, piston and/or rings, and other major components that I can't think of right now.

    The day will come, one day, when I have to scrap the car, but I'm hoping to outlive it by a few years.

    If worst comes to worst, drop a rebuilt engine in it. That will make it no longer matching numbers (the VIN is stamped on the engine and transmission cases) but you just like the car don't you. Then again, you could have your engine rebuilt. The Chevy 350 is the absolute cheapest rebuild you can do. Maybe put a stroker crank in it and get yourself a 383. A stock rebuild will be easier on fuel though.
    Honk if you love Jesus.

    Text if you want to meet him.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan View Post
    Well now, what else could go wrong with a 34 yr old car? The new radiator would be about the 4th one installed, fuel pump replaced once, set of shocks about the third, carb overhauled about four or five times, fuel tank and metal lines are original, starter motor the third one, electronic distributor about the second or third times, water pump three times, harmonic balancer once, wiper motor and driver side window motor yet to fail. Now,i'm hoping nothing go wrong with the transmission, crankcase oil pump (?), and particularly, piston and/or rings, and other major components that I can't think of right now.

    The day will come, one day, when I have to scrap the car, but I'm hoping to outlive it by a few years.
    Sure, but most of the stuff you've mentioned is pretty inexpensive/simple to deal with.

    I'd much prefer putting a $40 water pump on a small block Chevy V-8 every five years or so than dealing with a timing belt on a modern FWD car with a transverse mounted V-6!

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