Home Cooling System Losing Coolant No Leak – Where Could The Coolant Be?

Losing Coolant No Leak – Where Could The Coolant Be?

by Kelvin Yates

Are you noticing some problems with your car like losing coolant no leak issue is starting to develop? This is a very strange problem. But we are going to help you solve it quickly and effectively. After finishing this article, you will be able to tell what is the real problem and pinpoint the root of this problem.

Knowing how to troubleshoot issues on your car is a skill that can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Why I’m saying this? Well, I’m saying this because there are a ton of incompetent mechanics that will often misdiagnose a problem on your car like in this case with the problem of losing coolant no leak.

When they misdiagnose the problem, they will ask you to change a ton of components until they find the real problem that is hiding underneath. And these components that they will ask you to swap are not cheap at all and can cost you hundreds of dollars. And you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on something easily fixable. That’s why you need to learn to troubleshoot and we are going to show you how.

First, we are going to cover what is coolant and how the cooling system works. Then we will see the symptoms of the losing coolant no leak problem. After, we are going to cover how to diagnose this problem and the cost to fix the issue permanently. So, let’s get to business.

What Is Coolant?

But before we discuss some more complex topics. Let’s first start from the basics and learn what is coolant and what is its role in the internal combustion engine, since everything has a role that has to follow and so is the coolant.

The coolant is a special solution that is created for the cooling system to remove the heat from the engine. If there isn’t a coolant or cooling system, the engine would simply overheat until it destroys itself. You definitely don’t want that.

Losing Coolant No Leak

That’s why some scientists have invented a special solution that was designed to dissipate the heat from the engine. This solution was named coolant. But in reality, the coolant is an ethylene glycol-based solution in most cases. It’s far simpler to call it coolant than with the name of its formula. In some places, the coolant is also known as antifreeze, which is another good name for it since it describes its role in the cooling system.

But what if I pour water into my system? It’s still going to work right? Yes, it will. But your engine will tend to overheat and start the losing coolant no leak problem that we are going to elaborate on later. Water is not so good when it comes to cooling or protecting the system from the cold.

In winter, water starts to freeze much sooner and expands. Causing cracks in the engine block. Scrapping your engine. That’s why you shouldn’t run the engine with water only. Overall, it is a bad idea to run water only.

But what about losing coolant no leak? We will cover that in a bit after we learn how the cooling system works.

How Does The Cooling System Work?

Before we dive into the symptoms of the problem losing coolant no leak. Let’s first learn how the cooling system works. This will be of great aid for you if you want to learn some troubleshooting and understand how everything works in practice. As they say, the book is the mother of all knowledge. So, you have to learn before you become great at something. And we are going to help you out.

The cooling system is a fully enclosed system that is circulating the coolant inside and outside of your engine. Thus, delivering proper cooling to the engine block. But for this cooling process to be possible, the air drag is necessary if not the fans will kick in to cool off the front radiator.

The cooling system is constituted out of a couple of major components. The first component is the water pump that is pumping the coolant into the engine, a thermostat that opens and closes, cooling hoses, front radiator, rubber hoses, and overflow tank. But how this system works?

It has a fairly simple method of action. The engine starts and warms up, when the coolant is warmed up, the thermostat opens. In this situation, the water pump kicks in and the coolant is passed from the block to the front radiator where this coolant is cooled by the air drag coming from the front grille. Then the coolant returns to the engine. The coolant is simply running in a circle. Warms up and cools off, then again in another cycle.

Pretty simple and straightforward, to be honest. When you know all these components you also might understand how car losing coolant no leak can happen. But more on that in the following chapters.

Losing Coolant No Leak Symptoms

When you are experiencing the losing coolant no leak problem. There are a few accompanying symptoms that often happen in parallel with this problem They are worth covering because if you have a problem of losing coolant no leak they are almost always there.

And knowing them will give you that extra edge when it comes to successfully diagnosing the issue and learning what could be the root cause for the losing coolant no leak problem. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the symptoms that are associated with losing coolant no leak problem.

1. Lack Of Coolant In The Coolant Overflow Tank

The first thing you will notice is the lack of coolant in the coolant overflow tank. This tank was designed to release the pressure that is built up in the cooling system. At the cap, there is a valve that releases the extra pressure when there is too much pressure in the system. In other words when the car is running really hot.

Also, when you are losing coolant from somewhere like in this case of losing coolant no leak problem. You will notice how this tank is getting emptier and emptier.

The coolant will start to disappear from it and you will notice this symptom first. What is worse is that some vehicles do not have these tanks. And it is much harder to spot if there is something wrong with the car. That’s why checking out the coolant more often will make you sure that you don’t experience some overheating issues that we are going to cover next.

2. Engine Overheats Caused By Losing Coolant

If there is a lack of coolant in the system, the engine will eventually overheat. The coolant temperatures will rise and you will notice the temperature gauge on your cluster go into the red zone.

This is not good and it is of great importance to react quickly and not to run the car as it is. An overheated engine will result in hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars in damage repairs. And you don’t want that.

Stop your car at the nearest gas station and let the car cool off. Once it cools off, you can inspect the overflow tank and add fresh coolant to it (with some guidance on where do I put antifreeze in my car). Just make sure to wait at least an hour or more to let the engine cool off. You don’t want the hot coolant to splash in you and get yourself third-degree burns.

Then after you come home you can jump into diagnosing the problem. But more on how to diagnose this issue of losing coolant no leak we are going to explain later after we cover the symptoms.

3. High Pressure In Coolant Hoses

If there is a problem with the coolant like losing coolant no leak. You will also experience a change of pressure in the hoses. The pressure will become too large to handle and may cause the hoses to fail. Why is this the case?

This is the case because there is too much air trapped into the system and little coolant. The cooling system is basically sucking air into the system instead of coolant.

A low coolant level means hot air that will possibly destroy the cooling components and make them fail.

4. White Smoke Coming Out From The Exhaust Because Of Losing Coolant

White smoke can also be one of the symptoms of losing coolant no leak. Why is this the case? This is the case because there is a big possibility for the coolant to leak from the head gasket.

This head gasket is between the head and the block. The coolant escapes from the coolant chamber and enters the combustion chamber. So, then the coolant burns.

When the coolant starts to burn, it creates white smoke from the exhaust. You can often confuse white smoke with condensation vapor when you start your engine early in the morning.

But in the case of the losing coolant no leak problem, you are going to experience white smoke while driving the car.

When this is the situation, the important thing is to act quickly and don’t let the car run like this for a very long time. If you let the car burn the coolant, you will experience some rather unpleasant problems like overheating that we covered above as well as engine damage.

The engine head is going to bend from all this heat. Remember that engine heads are manufactured out of lightweight aluminum. This metal is very fragile when it comes to heat and could easily twist.

The only way around this would be to resurface the head. But this doesn’t help in every situation and you might end up replacing the whole head if this problem isn’t detected on time. That’s why follow us till the end where we will cover how to diagnose the issue of losing coolant no leak. But for now, let’s finish the rest of the symptoms of losing coolant no leak.

5. White Stains On The Side Of The Engine

In case if the coolant escapes out of the engine, you will experience some white stains on the side of the engine block.

These stains should be right where the head gasket is located. More precisely beneath it. This is the case because the coolant sips and when it comes in contact with the engine block it evaporates, leaving some white stain residue on the block.

This is more precisely the element in the coolant that cools the engine. The water evaporates. If you want to give it a check, turn on your flashlight and see where the gasket goes. If there is something white around it, it means that the engine is losing coolant from that specific place and cause you the strange problem of losing coolant no leak happen.

But how can I diagnose the problem of losing coolant no leak? More on that in a bit after we cover the symptoms.

6. White Smoke Coming From The Engine Bay

If the coolant is coming from the side and is in contact with the warm block. It will evaporate. So, when you open up the hood and you notice how there is slight evaporation.

Then there is a high chance that this is the coolant that evaporates and causes the losing coolant no leak problem to appear. When it comes to this, the only way is to diagnose the problem and how you can do that we are going to explain later in the article.

7. Damaged Spark Plugs

Spark plugs will also get damaged if your car is burning coolant. Why is this the case? This is the case because the spark plugs are not meant to be running on coolant and gas mix.

Whenever there is coolant burning inside of the combustion cylinder there will be damage to the spark plug. The spark plug will get blisters and will be all white. Similarly to the whiteness that we covered above when the coolant escapes from the sides of the block.

This will make the spark plugs not work properly and you will also experience misfires and other issues that are really common with fouled spark plugs. The car will simply not be happy running like this and these spark plugs will have to be replaced whenever there is losing coolant no leak problem.

8. Damaged O2 Sensor

Another symptom of burning coolant in the combustion is the failure of the O2 sensor. The oxygen sensors are located inside the exhaust system. So, let’s say that your car is burning coolant, then these sensors will get polluted by the coolant.

These components do not like coolant to be thrown at them. It will mess up the readings of the sensors and will almost trash them. The outcome from this situation would be replacing the sensors with new ones and that can cost you hundreds of dollars.

Not to mention that when the sensors are not working properly, you will see how your engine is not happy. It will misfire, burn more fuel and develop a ton of other issues. So, when you notice losing coolant no leak issue. It’s best to address the problem quickly and effectively. Not wait until the problem becomes too big. But how you can diagnose this problem? Let’s find out in the following chapters.

How To Diagnose The Problem Of Losing Coolant?

Now let’s get to diagnosing the problem of losing coolant no leak. Diagnosing the issue sometimes can be pretty easy while in some cases it can require complete removal of the head. Why is this the case? This is the case because if it is an outside leak, it is easily doable. But if the leak is inside of the block, then it is much more difficult.

When you diagnose a leak from the outside, let’s say the coolant evaporates. You only need to get a flashlight and follow the line where the head gasket goes. If there is a place where there are some white stains. Then the coolant is probably escaping from that specific plate and you are losing coolant. If you don’t have any stains on the block. Then taking a peek inside of the block is also a good idea.

But before you remove the head. There is a trick that you can try and that is removing the spark plugs and inspecting them. If the electrodes are white and blistered, then there is a high chance that the engine is burning coolant. Then you clearly know that the head gasket is bad and you have to replace it.

But if the spark plugs are looking alright. Then removing the engine head would be the next logical step. This work will require some skill and mechanical knowledge to get it out.

Then when the engine head is out of the block, you can inspect the head and place it on a flat table. If the head doesn’t cover the flat surface, it means that the head is bent and needs resurfacing. Also, inspect the gasket and see for possible damage.

Can I Fix This Problem By Myself DIY?

Fixing this problem DIY can be a tricky thing to do. This is mostly because of the extensive repair that the engine head will require to be returned back to factory spec.

The head would first be needed to be removed from the block. Then resurfaced by a machine. And after this process, you will be able to mount the head back on the engine with a brand new head gasket.

There are also some resurfacing techniques that a lot of guys are doing at home. And they work, they resurface the heads with fine sandpaper. This is a tedious process. But it is a cheap process after all. Much cheaper than resurfacing the head at a shop. If you are up for the task, you might want to try this. If not, take the head to a professional shop and solve the losing coolant no leak problem.

Cost To Fix Losing Coolant No Leak Issue?

The cost to fix this losing coolant no leak problem can be rather expensive. A lot of disassembling has to be done on the engine and everything has to come off. All the components from the top as well as the engine head.

Then the head has to be resurfaced and this resurfacing process might take a while to be done. Since a lot of these shops that are doing this work already have their hands full with work.

This resurfacing will cost you the same price as getting a good used head. At about $500 to $700. Then the gasket has to be changed, this gasket is quite cheap and can be found for about $30.

Losing Coolant No Leak

Plus the labor will probably be at about $1,000 to $1,200. You might end up paying $1,600 in total for the whole job.

You can also do this on your own as we said and pay only for the gasket. But, this requires a lot of skill and talent to get the head machined the right way. In the best-case scenario, you might only pay for the machining process and replace the gasket by yourself.

In addition to this, you might also want to replace other components like timing belts or timing chains and tensioners, since you are already there. Also, the water pump will be in reach. All these components can cost quite a bit to do. But if their time has come, don’t wait and make sure that you tackle these issues on time. If not, you will pay twice.

Car Coolant Loss: Common Causes and Troubleshooting Guide

  1. Regularly checking your car’s fluid levels is important to prevent engine problems, even if you leave it to the mechanics.
  2. Coolant disappearing without any visible leaks can cause engine overheating.
  3. There are three common reasons for coolant loss: a blown head gasket, a faulty radiator cap, or a leak onto the engine block.
  4. A blown head gasket can cause white smoke from the exhaust, oil in the coolant overflow tank, and coolant in the oil.
  5. A faulty radiator cap can cause steam to escape from the cap when the engine is warmed up.
  6. A leak onto the engine block can cause white smoke from the engine bay.
  7. Finding the culprit of disappearing coolant can be done by checking the exhaust smoke, the oil level, and the engine smoke.
  8. Excessive white smoke from the exhaust indicates a blown head gasket.
  9. Coolant in the oil can be detected by checking the oil level, smell, or feeling.
  10. White smoke from the engine bay without a visible leak can indicate a leak onto the engine block.

Conclusion To Losing Coolant No Leak

In this article, we covered quite a bit when it comes to the losing coolant no leak problem. We learned first what is the coolant and how the cooling system works. As we can recall, the cooling system is a fully enclosed system that circulates the coolant inside and outside of the engine.

Then we covered the main symptoms of the losing coolant no leak problem. These as we can recall are the white smoke coming from the exhaust, engine overheating, loss of coolant in the radiator.

Lastly, we have covered how you can diagnose the problem and what is the cost to fix this issue. It is not cheap to do a head job. But it has to be done if you want to get your car working properly once again.

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