Major coolant leak
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Major coolant leak in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I need some help friends. It has been quite some time since I have participated regularly here on the forums. ...
  1. #1
    Eldyfig's Avatar
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    Major coolant leak

    I need some help friends. It has been quite some time since I have participated regularly here on the forums. I still have my eldorado and she is still my daily driver. Round trip to work is 72 miles. She has 182K on her now. She isn't as pretty as she used to be, but mechanically she has been a champ. Until now...

    I had just parked the car at home and noticed some smoking from under the hood. Found that she is leaking coolant. It is coming down somewhere further in than the water pump and leaking down on the exhaust flange. All around the pump is dry. All hoses look okay. But this leak is coming down good while the engine is running. I turned the engine off and it seemed to dissipate. Off for about 10 minutes. Not leaking. Started it back up and it took a couple minutes to start leaking again. Again, it started flowing good. Right now it is too hot to start sticking my hand in there to feel around. Hell, I don't even want to put my face around it. It hasn't overheated. The coolant low level reading came up on the dash and I went ahead and shut it down.

    I am thinking it is leaking from the head, maybe? Any ideas? I just bought a brand new tractor (last week) thinking the caddy would last a bit longer. Now. I am not sure. I do not want to put any major money into her anymore and my time for working on her is limited. If it was the water pump, that would have been fine. Me and the girl have been together since 2002. I think this might be the end of the road.

    Any help is greatly appreciated. I haven't pulled out the manual yet. Just happened an hour ago.


    Maybe I should also mention that starting two weeks ago, the engine idle in park (warm engine) would surge to about 1100 rpm and stick there. It wouldn't do this consistently, just 3 or 4 times in the last two weeks.

    Tony

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  3. #2
    PAULSTSMAN1's Avatar
    PAULSTSMAN1 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    If the leak is coming from the right side of the car near the firewall, you have quite an expensive job coming. I recently had my 98 STS coolant changed and the Service Department found a slow leak in a Heater Coupling. The Coupling itself costs peanuts, but it always breaks off in the engine block, requiring a "tap out" and hours of expensive labor. I was informed that in the area it's located in it must be worked on by a qualified tech as it can't even be seen. Also several systems must be temporarily removed to access the area. I was told that the design of this coupling is only difficult to repair in General Motors cars, because of it's placement.

    I recommend that you don't drive the car, if it overheats with old coolant, your head gasket may go, and that means Mucho Denaro! I know this is the Tech Thread, but in a situation this serious, I thought I might give you what I encountered a week ago!

    Let us know how you fared and actually what the Service person found, Good Luck!

  4. #3
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    You don't explain very clearly where this leak is, but there are 2 coolant pipes that run to the heater core along the rear head. For some reason they tend to rust out and leak. Not much room between the rear head and the firewall so they are a PITA to change.

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    Eldyfig's Avatar
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Hey Ranger. It's been a while since I have been around. Hope all has been well with you.

    I mentioned that it is further in than the water pump. What I meant by that was if you are on the driver's side looking at the pump, the leak looks to be coming from at least 6" further in than the pump. I also mentioned that it is leaking down on the exhaust flange. I meant where the exhaust pipe meets the exhaust header. All of this is not near the heater core. I don't think the leak is from the two pipes that you mentioned. The leak is coming from somewhere on the other side of the engine (radiator side).

    The water pump doesn't extend further in than those small bolts on the front of the pump, does it?

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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Radiator side? Hmm, only thing I can think of there is the radiator or a radiator hose. Water pump is on the rear of the engine (drivers side).

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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Sounds like it could be one of the crossover gaskets. All four gaskets are like $20. I had my crossover off with the engine out (trans still attached) and wasn't too bad with engine out of the car but I'm not sure how difficult it would be with the engine in the car, but definetely doable.

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    Eldyfig's Avatar
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger View Post
    Radiator side? Hmm, only thing I can think of there is the radiator or a radiator hose. Water pump is on the rear of the engine (drivers side).
    Yes and the water pump at the rear of the engine is closer to the radiator side than the firewall side where you had mentioned the two pipes that run along the "rear" head. The radiator and hoses are absolutely fine. I already mentioned this.

    Let me try to explain this again in a different way. I originally thought the leak was from the water pump because of the general location. Upon looking at the pump, it seems to be dry all the way around. I can see the leak coming from somewhere just beyond the pump, closer to the engine block. I can't see exactly though. I understand head gaskets going out and leaking coolant internally. Might I have an external leak?

    Pimpdaddy, thank you for that recommendation. I will get the manual out and take it to work with me. I'll look up those crossover gaskets and see if that might be it. I think you have the general idea of where I say the leak is.

  9. #8
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldyfig View Post
    ....

    Let me try to explain this again in a different way. I originally thought the leak was from the water pump because of the general location. Upon looking at the pump, it seems to be dry all the way around. I can see the leak coming from somewhere just beyond the pump, closer to the engine block. I can't see exactly though. I understand head gaskets going out and leaking coolant internally. Might I have an external leak?
    Do not overlook the fact that there are several possible leak sources that can be attributed to the "water pump".

    One is the the pump cover seal (O ring) and a leak would be visable or feelable by looking / feeling in the area of the pump cover / thermostat housing area.

    Another is the pump cartridge drive shaft seal (O ring) which can leak and not be seen except by pulling the bottom trim panel and getting under the pump pulley with a strong light source and a mirror (engine at idle).

    Both of these sources will put coolant drops on the left bank exhaust system plumbing.

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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Head gaskets rarely leak externally so I would not be too worried about that. Sounds like you may be talking about the rear of the engine more than the radiator (left) side. I'd follow Jim's suggestion. With an inspection mirror and a flashlight you should be able to get a look at the shaft seal. I've done it from above. A little tricky but doable as I recall.

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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Sounds like coolant crossover gaskets to me - tough job in the car

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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Thank you, everyone, for the replies so far. I was looking at the manual today and got a good look at a picture of the water pump housing. I am starting to think it may be the housing leaking on the block side. I am off the next two days. I will start on it tomorrow. You know, the water pump has not been done since I have owned this car at 92K. It has given a good life.

    I'll let you all know what I find.

  13. #12
    Eldyfig's Avatar
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Never did locate where did the leak is coming from. Figured I would just go ahead and do all the housing gaskets and the pump. Went ahead and bought a new pump with o-ring, thermostat w/gasket, and upper and lower housing gaskets. I just took a break after I got the pump itself out. Looking at that housing, it looks to be a pain to get out.

    Let me ask, when crossover is mentioned, are you guys talking about the water pump housing?

    Looking forward to replies. I am heading back out to the car. I will check back in a while. If anyone uses a o l instant mess, you can reach me on cell with the same username as I have here.

  14. #13
    Eldyfig's Avatar
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Never did locate where did the leak is coming from. Figured I would just go ahead and do all the housing gaskets and the pump. Went ahead and bought a new pump with o-ring, thermostat w/gasket, and upper and lower housing gaskets. I just took a break after I got the pump itself out. Looking at that housing, it looks to be a pain to get out.

    Let me ask, when crossover is mentioned, are you guys talking about the water pump housing?

    Looking forward to replies. I am heading back out to the car. I will check back in a while. If anyone uses a o l instant mess, you can reach me on cell with the same username as I have here.

    Another question: the water pump cover gasket is different from the original, parts store website says improved design. The old gasket has what looks like a pull tab that went into a recessed area of the cover like the rest of the gasket. The new gasket does not.

    I noticed on caddyinfo that JimD mentioned that he replaced the cover when he did the pump. I am wanting to find out if this is necessary. Has anyone used the old cover with the new style gasket. I should mention that my car is a 94. So, it definitely has the old style cover. I don't know when the new style came out.

    Here is a link to Jim's picture of the new and old covers and gaskets. Jim, I hope you don't mind me posting this link. If so, just let me know and I will remove it.

    http://drupal.caddyinfo.com/files/im...49.preview.JPG

  15. #14
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldyfig View Post
    ....I noticed on caddyinfo that JimD mentioned that he replaced the cover when he did the pump. I am wanting to find out if this is necessary. Has anyone used the old cover with the new style gasket. I should mention that my car is a 94. So, it definitely has the old style cover. I don't know when the new style came out.
    When I ordered my parts from Brasington, they asked if the pump cover had been replaced on my '98 model engine. The parts guy said the cover and gasket had been redesigned several times and the OEM ('98) parts were no longer available. The cover and the gasket have to be the same iteration when using GM parts.

    Here is a link to Jim's picture of the new and old covers and gaskets. Jim, I hope you don't mind me posting this link. If so, just let me know and I will remove it.
    I have no problem with that.

    The source of your leak could easily be the shaft seal (O ring) on your pump cartridge.

  16. #15
    Eldyfig's Avatar
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    Re: Major coolant leak

    Thanks Jim. The parts store couldn't tell me for sure. I called the dealer parts dept. and they said the same as you just mentioned. Turns out the new cover is about $50. They said the new cover requires a new style gasket for the thermostat also. After looking at the condition of the o-ring for the pump and all the crud that needed to be cleaned out, I am hoping that is the source of the leak. I am going with that for now. Get a new cover and put it all back together. That pump housing looks too much of a pita unless absolutely necessary.

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