1999 Toyota Camry - Can't find coolant leak!!! help!

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  #1  
Old 01-24-14, 08:06 AM
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1999 Toyota Camry - Can't find coolant leak!!! help!

Hey all, I'm hoping someone can help with this problem. About a year ago, I had a cracked radiator, which was bubbling coolant. I easily replaced the radiator with one from AAP. Now, in the cold winter, I recently noticed a loss of heat. I checked coolant and the level was low. I refilled the coolant, and heat came back. However, when I closed back everything, I squeezed the radiator hose and realized that it was soft. Previously, after I replaced the radiator, the hose was stiff, indicating that pressure was built up in the cooling system. Now it's low, so I am assuming there is a leak somewhere.



I checked the 2 front hoses, and eveerything around the radiator, but didn't see any leaks. Where else should I check? A coworker told me it could be the heater core, and that I'd smell coolant inside if it was. Occasionally, I think I have a very faint smell of coolant (I think, could also be my imagination playing games on me). What areas should I check? I filled the radiator while the car was on, and filled the overflow. Sure enough, about 2 weeks later, the coolant is low again. Only one time since this started happening have I noticed the temperature gauge go higher than the middle (normal spot).



Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 01-24-14, 08:13 AM
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Where is the coolant low, in the radiator or the coolant overflow tank?

Did you change the radiator cap?
 
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Old 01-24-14, 08:16 AM
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It's low in both. After refilling, there's nothing in the coolant overflow tank... and I can add up to as much as a quart (estimated) into the radiator itself. Like I said also, the pressure is low as you can squeeze the hose liberally. I didn't change the cap. I was thinking this could be the problem, but if the cap was faulty, wouldn't I see noticeable coolant leaks/stains around the cap area? I haven't noticed this. Thanks for your help, 2granddaughters .
 
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Old 01-24-14, 09:10 AM
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For starters you can pull a spark plug or 2 to check if they show signs of a leaking head gasket also you can check your oil for coolant since you say yoi dont see a leak maybe its burning it. If you have access to a compression tester you can do that a d check for to adjacent cylinders with low pressure. Also fill your rad and run the engine with the cap off to check for excessive bubbling. Its normal for the expansion tank to go up and down but soft hoses ...def losing pressure somewhere
 
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Old 01-24-14, 09:17 AM
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MikeyGee,
I checked the dipstick about a week ago and didn't see any milkyness, looked like plain old oil to me. I'll check again, and check the oil fill cap also.

What should I check for when I pull the spark plugs?

I don't have a compression tester... low cylinder pressure, would that indicate a blown head gasket?

And "excessive bubbling" with the cap off - what would that represent?

Thanks for the help.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 10:09 AM
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As your co worker stated, a leaky heater core generally puts the coolant odor into the passenger compartment. You'd also wind up with damp carpet under the glove box or obvious leaking on the firewall. Another symptom of a bad head gasket is white smoke in the exhaust. Generally a bad head gasket gets worse as time goes by.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 02:15 PM
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Have the cooling system pressure tested.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 07:49 PM
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When you pull the plugs, look for one or more that has a very clean, white porcelain on center electrode from being "steam" cleaned.

You didn't say 4 or V6.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 07:59 PM
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1. Go to car wash, drop few coins in, and pressure wash engine, esp underneath.
2. go to a parts store and buy UV contrast dye.
3. go to Party City or else, and buy a UV light.
4. pour dye into coolant, drive around for a little bit, 15-20 miles. Go back to garage(she's garaged, right?) and let her cool down. Shine UV light and spot the leak.
5. if you could not, you have internal leak, as in - head of intake manifold gaskets.

Finding and Fixing Fluid Leaks - Eric The Car Guy- Stay Dirty!
 
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Old 01-27-14, 08:11 AM
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ukrbyk .... crazy suggestion, I'll keep that in my bag of tricks for next time... lol! I borrowed a pressure test kit from AAP and pumped up the system. I quickly saw a very slow leak (a drop every 30 seconds or so) at the connection from the thermostat housing to .... whatever it's bolted onto. I'll attach a picture. As you can see, the bottom bolt is rusted, what do I need to change? Gasket? bolts/screws? The whole thermostat housing? SHould I replace the thermostat while i'm in there? Thanks for all the help so far.
 
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Old 01-27-14, 09:40 AM
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You need to replace the gasket and since your in there you might as well replace the thermostat too.
Check the bolts to make sure they are still ok but surface rust is nothing to worry about.
 
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Old 01-28-14, 03:26 AM
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Be sure you scrape / clean the old gasket and the mating surface very well . Are either mating surface badly pitted , enough to prevent the gasket from sealing ?

If the thermostat housing is removable ( I bet it is ) & it is putted , either replace it or mill / grind it down to true it up . I have been known to do this on medium rough concrete . Then finish up on smooth / fine grained concrete .

I would look for a gasket sealant that does not get hard , that stays pliable . There used to be a grade / type of Permatex that I used . You do not want a sealant that " glues : things together , for ever .

Yes , by all means , replace the thermostat with one of the same temperature rating . They are usually pretty inexpensive .

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to the way / direction the thermostat is installed / positioned . If you put it in backwards , things most likely will not go well . :-(

God bless
Wyr
 
  #13  
Old 02-13-14, 10:21 AM
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mystery leak

I had the exact same issue three years ago.
I installed a new radiator in a '94 Camry, and after a few months it began losing coolant, much to the amazement of myself and the local mech.
It turns out that I'd some how misplaced, and totally forgot, to install the support gizmo which fits in under the radiator at the front underneath.
The radiator had developed a thin slit in the bottom because of gently shimming
and cutting itself open just enough to leak under pressure.
You may not have done such a dumb thing, BUT - the radiator could be losing coolant way down under, up forward.
 
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