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04 DHS
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Discussion Starter #1
Today I found myself stuck in gridlock traffic for over an hour moving at a crawl at best when I started to smell coolant and could see steam coming from the edge of the hood right where the reservoir is situated. The traffic was so bad that it took another 20 minutes just reach a point where I could get off the road to look at the situation.

At no time during any of this did the engine overheat but I did get the "check coolant level" message and when I checked the reservoir there was no pressure in the system. I could not see a visible leak, nothing wet under the hood either so I refilled the reservoir with Dexcool and drove another 20 minutes to home. I let things cool a bit and opened the cap to find that nothing had leaked and the level in the reservoir had not gone down at all. Am I even in the ballpark to suspect the pressure cap or the reservoir itself at a point above the fill level? It is puzzling to me that no coolant was lost after I topped it up.

I'm trying to eliminate the possibles and hoping for the least expensive outcome:annoyed:

J.R.
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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Pressure cap in perfect condition ? The inner rubber seals and the seal ring in the filler neck.

See that seal area ? If that's nicked or has debris bumps on it the pressure cap WILL leak.

(and now you know what neglected DEX-COOL looks like. It should be crystal clear.)
 

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04 DHS
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Discussion Starter #5
I'll have to get a good look in the morning...too dark right now. All I know is that it freaked me out to have that happen stuck in traffic and right now I'm in Toronto, 100mi from home. I still have to get there by the weekend and would like to figure it out so as not to trash the motor...I really don't need to buy another car just now.
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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Where there is smoke, there is fire, or in this case, where there is steam, there is a leak. Look for the chalky white telltale residue left by dried Dex. Don't overlook the radiator side tanks or surge tank.
 

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04 DHS
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Discussion Starter #7
There is definitely a leak somewhere Ranger and what made me suspect the tank or cap was that the steam came from the very spot where the tank is mounted under the hood. As I said earlier, at no time did the engine overheat so I don't suspect a catastrophic loss of coolant but clearly a loss since I had to refill the tank. The problem may have been there for some time because I have never been in those type of traffic conditions with this car...I live rural and we don't have traffic jams like that so it may have been the right instance to push it over the edge.

I had a Jeep once with a radiator that I knew had been going bad for some time but it never showed any problem until winter turned to spring, things got warmer and it was too much for it.
 

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White Diamond '03 DHS (with DTS floor shift)
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Take a close look at the nipple that the purge line connects to (on the surge tank). My '97 developed a stress crack there. It was so fine that I never noticed it. You could not even see it unless it was under pressure and then you could see a little seepage from the hairline crack. It's a fairly common weak point.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thanks Ranger, I'll check that out.

Update:

I took the car out this morning and picked up a couple of gallons of Dex pre-mix and everything behaved normally save for a "check coolant level" warning when I started it cold. The level in the reservoir is still up where I had it last night and the car came up to temp normally and not at all over temp. So far no steam escaping and I will have to check the level again when it cools as I suspect there is some air in the system. Right now it is -11C in Toronto and getting colder so at least I have a little bit of natural over-temp insurance for the time being...-23C by tonight:arghh:

Update II:

Back home and a 100mi. drive later still no visible leak or overheat. There was a coolant loss but who knows over what period of time and the only evidence seen was that it escaped as steam from a place only known thus far as "somewhere" and yes, the oil is still all oil.
 
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