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First sign of headgasket problem?


jmspradl

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I have an 01 Deville. Last night I could smeel coolant near the drivers side of the car. I didnt see any visible leaks though. This morning I had a "Check Coolant Level" message. What could be the problem? Could this be a sign of bad things to come?

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So many things can go bad before the head gasket. Check your radiator end tanks, check your water pump, crossover gaskets, hoses, etc. You might have someone pressurize your cooling system to find the leak..

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I've had the dreaded head gasket problem and that doesn't sound like it to me. The earliest symptom is using small amounts of coolant with no hint of where it is going. You don't get a coolant smell until it overheats badly and that's from coolant flow out the surge tank overflow, which, on FWD Northstars, is on the other side. If it only happens when you are at highway speed, which will be the case for a long time, you still won't smell it but you may notice the right half-axle has coolant stains on it. The VSS may be intermittent because its connector is right below the outlet of the overflow hose and it gets doused when coolant is expelled, so an intermittent VSS may be an early warning sign.

Your problem sounds like a leak. I would just look for it. A leak is most likely to be found immediately after turning off a hot engine.

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When the head gaskets went in my '94 Eldorado, the first symptom I got was major overheating under power on an upgrade.

Cars can loose coolant in lots of ways, most of which are simpler to fix than head gaskets. I would check for leaks while the coolant is under pressure. The best way is to have a mechanic pressurize the cooling system then raise the car on a hoist and look underneath for dripping coolant.

Most likely, it will be the radiator, the heater core, a hose, or something of that nature.

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When the HG leaks it consumes the coolant so you will usually not smell coolant. You most likely have a leak. I had the same problem and found a leak in the crossover manifold (thank God for warranty). I found coolant directly on top of the trans, under the EGR.

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As the other posts say, if you smell coolant but cannot find the leak, it is probably leaking out and evaporating on a hot surface. If you pressurize the cooling system you will have a much better chance of finding the leak since the surfaces will be cool and the coolant won't evaporate so quickly. You can pressurize the system by using the small hose from the radiator to the pressurized overflow tank. At least that worked on the '96, so I assume you can do it. If not, you can always by an adapter at modest cost.

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I could smell coolant on mine... It was leaking from the water pump cover... Common issue compete with a TSB from GM and a redesigned cover and gasket... about a 2.5 out of 5 on the frustration scale for fixes.

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I had a definite burnt coolant smell on mine also, but only after driving, not after idling. The combustion products in coolant test kit from Napa is about $40 and was about the right effort level for a rookie like me. I ran it 3 times because the first 2, the liquid only turned green instead of all the way yellow.

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I ran it 3 times because the first 2, the liquid only turned green instead of all the way yellow.

One problem with the test is it has to be run with coolant that's been in the car awhile. When you're replacing coolant regularly you may have a lot of fresh coolant that won't test positive even though you have bad HG's.

Think that might be why it didn't show clearly on the test?

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