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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-21-2014 Thread Starter
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Unhappy no bueno

After putting new rear brakes, new tires and some general maintenance on the car (and a couple hundred more miles) we headed off to the coast to enjoy time on the Oregon beaches. After a grand day, we were about 60 miles from home when the temp gauge went from happy to pegged with the overflow tank at the high mark. After getting towed home at dusk I started thinking about what happened.
So, morning arrives and I have a game plan. I was expecting a water pump replacement, but still wanted to check other things. So, I buy a cap and t-stat at the local autozoneout. I pulled the cap and the radiator is empty and the overflow immediately starts flowing back to the radiator, so I replaced the cap. I also pulled the t-stat and stuck it in boiling water. No change! Augh ha! Tossed the new one in the water and it functioned. SO, I toss it on the engine, button it all up and start bleeding the system of air. After all that, I go for a long test drive and all seems well. Up big long hills with the a/c on and the needle is happy.
Move on to this morning. The wife heads to the next town over, no issues. 3 hours later, she and the girls call me 5 minutes into the return trip. Pegged again! I get there with water on hand and send them on their way in my truck. When I pulled the cap off, there was NO, NOTHING, NADA, ZIP, ZILCH in the way of water in the system. This time nothing even in the overflow. I filled the system again and drove home without issue. Tonight I took it for a 5 mile drive and the needle started to climb rapidly. I opened up the heater and the needle settled in a bit higher, but stablized. Tonight after letting it all cool down, I added a little water and tried to bleed air again assuming it was still there from the last attempt.
Faster forward 45 minutes later and it is still burping... Am I wrong to assume I have a leak somewhere and it is pulling air into the system away from the radiator? Or, with the quick loss of water (even if there was air in the system) am I looking at a head/head gasket?

As you can see by my name, I'm a VW guy normally and radiators are foreign to me!

Thanks for looking!

I can't help it, I have a thing for wagons!!!
1992 Caprice Wagon-- stock so far, 1973 Squareback, 1968 Squareback w/air ride, 1968 Squareback, 1968 Squareback, 1972 Notchback racer project, 1964 Notchback topless, mid-engine custom, 1964 Notchback turbo charged bracket car, 1968 Fastback, 1981 GL1000 Cafe'd
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-22-2014
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To be losing water that fast from a leak, you should see some evidence in the engine compartment, or underneath the car, or on the ground. You can get some dye & a black light flashlight to look for an external leak. It sounds more like a head gasket or cracked head problem. You can get it pressure tested at any good repair shop. You also can sometimes smell coolant at the exhaust tip when idling
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-22-2014 Thread Starter
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Sorry guys, I forget how different these cars could be under the skin. Mine is a 92 with the 305.

I'm currently awaiting a pressure test and a hydrocarbon test at a shop. I think it is the rear left soft plug. I'm waiting to find out how wrong I am.

I can't help it, I have a thing for wagons!!!
1992 Caprice Wagon-- stock so far, 1973 Squareback, 1968 Squareback w/air ride, 1968 Squareback, 1968 Squareback, 1972 Notchback racer project, 1964 Notchback topless, mid-engine custom, 1964 Notchback turbo charged bracket car, 1968 Fastback, 1981 GL1000 Cafe'd
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 07-22-2014 Thread Starter
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Diagnosis complete. The leak is from the intake manifold seal. Also, while functioning, the output of the water pump is low (probably from when it was running dry). The lower radiator hose was also the original... yikes! The shop found no hydrocarbons in the system (head gaskets okay). They wanted almost $800 to replace everything. We can't do that, so $110 into parts and I am tackling it myself.
My only confusion right now (due to vision issues) is how much at the rear behind the TB has to come off.

I can't help it, I have a thing for wagons!!!
1992 Caprice Wagon-- stock so far, 1973 Squareback, 1968 Squareback w/air ride, 1968 Squareback, 1968 Squareback, 1972 Notchback racer project, 1964 Notchback topless, mid-engine custom, 1964 Notchback turbo charged bracket car, 1968 Fastback, 1981 GL1000 Cafe'd
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-22-2014 Thread Starter
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I have replaced the pump already. I'm fighting the manifold removal at the moment. Didn't realize I needed a special wrench to get to that silly dizzy bolt or a 5.5mm socket to remove the dizzy cap.

I'll pick those up in the morning when I go pick up the ordered parts. Hopefully it will all be buttoned up tomorrow.

I can't help it, I have a thing for wagons!!!
1992 Caprice Wagon-- stock so far, 1973 Squareback, 1968 Squareback w/air ride, 1968 Squareback, 1968 Squareback, 1972 Notchback racer project, 1964 Notchback topless, mid-engine custom, 1964 Notchback turbo charged bracket car, 1968 Fastback, 1981 GL1000 Cafe'd
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-17-2014 Thread Starter
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The car is alive, running and cooling well!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-19-2014
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Garage
Cool!

1996 Caprice Classic




We have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-22-2014 Thread Starter
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spoke too soon, after 400 miles of test driving, she started blowing water from the backside of the engine area again. oigh!

I can't help it, I have a thing for wagons!!!
1992 Caprice Wagon-- stock so far, 1973 Squareback, 1968 Squareback w/air ride, 1968 Squareback, 1968 Squareback, 1972 Notchback racer project, 1964 Notchback topless, mid-engine custom, 1964 Notchback turbo charged bracket car, 1968 Fastback, 1981 GL1000 Cafe'd
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-22-2014
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Dang that's frustrating. Keep us posted and good luck.

2009 Impala SS (sold 3/2012)
2014 Impala Limited LTZ 3.6 V6(traded 7/2019

2017 Cadillac XTS Platinum V Sport 3.6TT AWD
2017 Buick Envision Premium AWD 2.0 Turbo
2010 Lincoln MKS AWD V6 Twin Turbo, Livernois Motor Sports tuned, 0-60 in 3.94 seconds , 1/4 mile 12.80 @ 104 MPH




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