Checking for coolant system integrety


Old 02-07-05, 09:46 AM
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Checking for coolant system integrety

1998 Buick
3.8 liter v6
85,000 miles

I'm considering purchasing a 1998 Park Avenue. While inspecting the engine area, I noticed the engine coolant reservoir was empty. Is there a test to perform to determine why the reservoir was empty?

I checked the radiator, it was full, and looked clean (orange). I checked the oil, It also looked OK with no foam or discoloration. The engine sounds quiet at idle, and the exhaust looked normal. The engine compartment was also clean.

Assuming the reservoir holds 1 to 2 quarts, and it was never topped-off, can this much be lost through normal aging?

Much thanks.

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Old 02-07-05, 10:13 AM
the_tow_guy's Avatar
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Location: SW Fla USA
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Very possible it was low just from the owner not keeping the reservoir topped off. Wouldn't hurt to have a pressure test done on the system, though. Any garage should be able to do it; basically consists of attaching a small pressure pump and guage to the radiator filler neck and pumping it up to normal system pressure.

You might try pouring some water in the reservoir to make sure the tank iteslf, or the hose to the radiator, doesn't have a small leak that would have emptied it out.
Old 02-10-05, 08:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 197

The ''tow-guy's'' advice is good. My 2 cents worth is I never owned a vehicle

that coolant stayed in the overflow tank, I just pull the radiator cap to

check or add coolant. Just make sure the system has cooled down first!
Old 02-10-05, 08:55 PM
billys68ss's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 1,459
With alot of newer cars you DONT check the coolant level at the radiator. And alot of them no longer even have caps on the actual radiator. For some reason GM vehicles (as much as I love em) seem to have a habit of not being able to keep the coolant level full in the reservoir. I dont know if this is because of lack of inspection and maintenance on the owners part, or there is just a design flaw that doesnt allow the coolant to stay in there. If the coolant in the radiator looked good and the cap and reservoir didnt look overly corroded (which is something that the Dexcool antifreeze will do over time) then I would say that it is probably not a big deal. It would be a very good idea to get the coolant system tested if for no other reason that peace of mind.
Hope this is helpful to ya,

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