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Old 02-16-2011, 07:33 AM   #1
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Radiator Fluid Leak Issues

So I noticed that the radiator fluid was leaking a few days ago as there was a tiny few spots of green in the snow. I didn't notice any issues with engine temp however as it stayed right at 210 when it heated up. I went out and bought some more and filled up the reservoir (a little to much as it was over the full line) I didnít think anything of it, as I hadn't noticed any leaking.

I drove up to NH this weekend, which was a 3-hour drive each way and I had no problems and didnít notice any leaking and the gauge never went over 210. I also didnít have any problems on the way back.

This morning I checked it and it has been about 2 weeks since I filled up the tank and there is about 3-4" still at the bottom of the reservoir. I did notice that there was some radiator fluid that was on the hood in the inside on the left (if you are facing the jeep). It looks as though somehow the radiator fluid leaked on the fan, which in turn sprayed it all over the left side of the engine compartment (when facing the Jeep).

Any ideas as to what this may be? I would imagine that it is a hose or a crack in the reservoir, as the Jeep is showing no signs of over heating. I will try and post some pics later. Thanks in advance.

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Old 02-16-2011, 07:57 AM   #2
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Most likely a leaky radiator. TJ rads fail. I just replaced mine in Nov. The plastic separates from the aluminum. Get in there and look around, my fan shroud was full of coolant, look from the top and bottom and you'll probably find a puddle of coolant somewhere... I got my replacement from Rock Auto. They're forum sponsors, so you get a discount, and they were very helpful and fast in getting me my new one...

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Old 02-16-2011, 07:58 AM   #3
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Could be numerous things. Did you check the lug nuts? Or it could be a pin hole in one of the hoses. The radiators are notorious for leaking around the plastic end caps, too. Drive it around till it gets hot, then pop the hood to see if you can see it leaking. Its going to leak when it is hot and has pressure in the system if its leaking.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:00 AM   #4
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Most likely a leaky radiator. TJ rads fail. I just replaced mine in Nov. The plastic separates from the aluminum. Get in there and look around, my fan shroud was full of coolant, look from the top and bottom and you'll probably find a puddle of coolant somewhere... I got my replacement from Rock Auto. They're forum sponsors, so you get a discount, and they were very helpful and fast in getting me my new one...

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Old 02-16-2011, 08:08 AM   #5
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Could be a simple pinhole right under one of the hose clamps. Had that happen and it's a bitch to find...because it only 'opens' up to spray when the engine is hot. My remedy...any problems with radiator fluid I run right down to my friendly 'radiator shop' man, and he pops on a pressure pump radiator cap and pumps it up. Doesn't matter if the engine is warm or cold-it builds up pressure in the system and then if there is a leak, you will SEE the stream of fluid and bingo...he knows what to replace or fix. Saves having to tear down everything just to find out you needed a $20 hose or something tightened up....
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:55 AM   #6
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Pictures

here are a few pictures to give you a better idea. there is the spray on the inside of the hood. and the pooling on the box next to the fan. as i said it still has a few inches in the reservoir and i have not once seen it get over 210 on the gauge or cause any smoking/steaming on my 3 hour ride to and from NH from Quincy. I will prob have someone check the pressure in it for me. hopefully it is just a hose/connection and not the whole radiator itself.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:14 AM   #7
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Check the fluid height in the resevor between the engine being cold and the engine being warm. if there is no change, wait for the engine to cool, remove the radiator cap, and see if you can see fluid in the radiator. if you can't, you should probably add some. it won't fix your problem, but it will help you keep going longer until you can figure the problem out, because from what I can see, that a lot of fluid and your eventually going to run out and over heat the motor...
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:24 AM   #8
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If you don't have a friendly shop or can't find it, you can always get a tester like this from ebay. Stant Got mine for 60 bucks, cap was shot, pin hole leak near a clamp very hard to find without, and the water pump started seeping. Love the tester.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:04 AM   #9
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Get under there

The photo above dont show any leaking. Can you start the engine, put in D, and take more pictures?
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:59 AM   #10
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The photo above dont show any leaking. Can you start the engine, put in D, and take more pictures?

The Jeep is running during those pictures. its in park not drive though, i took them while it was warming up this am. I cant take any more pictures until tonight as my GF has my Jeep. I take the T into Boston everyday as there is no point in driving. On the plus side it means I have a blonde chauffer to drop me off and pick me up every day which is a bonus. what should i notice being different when i have it in park and in drive when i take the pictures?
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:48 PM   #11
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Having the Trans in Park, Drive or otherwise is irrelevant to this problem.

The spray pattern from under the hood indicates that the coolant is hitting the fan and getting thrown up, which is how you got the puddle on your airbox.


With the Jeep cold, dry up or rinse down all the coolant that's been sprayed about. Then start it and get it hot. Don't drive it, just let it idle and get hot. Then look carefully at all the coolant lines and whatnot. There's a good chance you'll see the leak then. It's almost impossible to find now because there's coolant all over the place.

Barring that, get a pressure tester as was referenced a few posts up. They are completely invaluable when trying to find a small leak.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:31 PM   #12
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The Jeep is running during those pictures. its in park not drive though, i took them while it was warming up this am. I cant take any more pictures until tonight as my GF has my Jeep. I take the T into Boston everyday as there is no point in driving. On the plus side it means I have a blonde chauffer to drop me off and pick me up every day which is a bonus. what should i notice being different when i have it in park and in drive when i take the pictures?

Turn on the heater also, this can open and close the thermalstat. Leaking can come around the thermalstat housing. My Jeep was leaking around there, sometimes leaking sometimes not. I replaced the thermalstat housing with new gasket and problem fixed. Wait, if you look around the radiator and no leaking, all hoses also no leaking, then should be the water pump or the thermalstat housing. Thats all. and water pump and thermalstat housing are very easy to replaced.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:07 PM   #13
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^^^^ Easy to replace is something that makes me smile.
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Old 02-18-2011, 07:19 AM   #14
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Check the fluid height in the resevor between the engine being cold and the engine being warm. if there is no change, wait for the engine to cool, remove the radiator cap, and see if you can see fluid in the radiator. if you can't, you should probably add some. it won't fix your problem, but it will help you keep going longer until you can figure the problem out, because from what I can see, that a lot of fluid and your eventually going to run out and over heat the motor...

I checked the reservoir height cold and hot and it was at the same level. and when it was hot i watched it for about 5min and couldnt see anything leaking and nothing seemed to be getting sprayed up by the fan. today i am going to top off the reservoir again and watch it heat up after cleaning the air box etc off and see if i can see where the leak is coming from. thanks for the tips everyone.
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:10 PM   #15
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So I topped off the Resevior Feb 18th and the resevior is again empty and its been that way for a few weeks (accept for a few inches at the bottom) the Jeep has never broken 210 degrees and there have been zero signs of over heating. at this point i am thinking it has to be a crack in the overflow resevior and i will need to replace it. any idea of the level of skill needed to switch one out? thanks
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:25 PM   #16
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Quiksteel I love that stuff. I used it on a 40 ton motor coach. The radiator had a dime sized hole it ran for 4000 miles and pressure tested double.
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:10 PM   #17
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I've got exactly the same problem, with the spraying up and the extra tank going empty but mine leaks around where the plastic meets the metal.
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:18 PM   #18
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I've got exactly the same problem, with the spraying up and the extra tank going empty but mine leaks around where the plastic meets the metal.
Quiksteel works on metal and plastic so you could seal it.
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Old 03-14-2011, 06:32 PM   #19
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I need to find the crack somehow...recommendations?
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:18 PM   #20
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I need to find the crack somehow...recommendations?
Pull it and run water throughout it. Pulling the rad is simple.
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:46 PM   #21
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So I noticed that the radiator fluid was leaking a few days ago as there was a tiny few spots of green in the snow. I didn't notice any issues with engine temp however as it stayed right at 210 when it heated up. I went out and bought some more and filled up the reservoir (a little to much as it was over the full line) I didnít think anything of it, as I hadn't noticed any leaking.

I drove up to NH this weekend, which was a 3-hour drive each way and I had no problems and didnít notice any leaking and the gauge never went over 210. I also didnít have any problems on the way back.

This morning I checked it and it has been about 2 weeks since I filled up the tank and there is about 3-4" still at the bottom of the reservoir. I did notice that there was some radiator fluid that was on the hood in the inside on the left (if you are facing the jeep). It looks as though somehow the radiator fluid leaked on the fan, which in turn sprayed it all over the left side of the engine compartment (when facing the Jeep).

Any ideas as to what this may be? I would imagine that it is a hose or a crack in the reservoir, as the Jeep is showing no signs of over heating. I will try and post some pics later. Thanks in advance.
Pressure test it, then you will know what and where the leek is, although it could be a crack in the plastic tank ...
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:52 PM   #22
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My 99 had a bad rad in it when i bought it so luckily i got it fixed for free...... But i did some research in to it and the OME rad they use are notorious because of the plastic and aluminum after i got mine replaced and there was a sticker on it that said that it was only 2 years old.

So ether way even if u fix it expect to have to find and fix another hole some time soon probably best to buy a after market on and be done with it.
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:21 AM   #23
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...well...mine did this the other day. My top radiator hose clamp was loose. By your pictures, that doesn't seem to be the problem. As for the resevior, remove it, fill it with water, hang it up and see if it leaks. Other areas to look at would be the exit and return hoses at the thermostat housing (exit) and at the water pump (return) to see if these are cracked and or weathered enough to allow coolant to leak out. You should also look a the lower radiator hose where it connects to the water pump and check it for cracks...etc. My top heater core hose (at the thermostat housing) was cracked and weathered and was allowing coolant to leak out.

Before diving off into checking the radiator and water pump, check the hoses and hose clamp areas first. Leak check your resevoir too.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:28 AM   #24
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when you see mist residue on the hood, its most likely a pinhole in a hose, they cause those sort of streams. its not likely the radiator or you would see the oxidation marks on it from where it dried.
you most likely wont find a pinhole in a rubber hose without it running. just pop the hood, start the engine and wait till it sprays, look where its coming from. if its a hose, just replace that hose.

p.s. not trying to be a smart ass but its not radiator fluid, its anti-freeze
p.s.s. when refilling it, make sure you use a compatible anti-freeze, there are a lot out there and not all can be mixed. dont buy the pre-mixed crap, you are paying for 50% water. just get an empty gallon jug (even milk will work) and fill it half full with water and top it off with anti-freeze, then top of the jug of anti-freeze with water. 2 jugs for the price of one.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:40 AM   #25
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Its been a while since posting this thread and the engine is running fine and as long as there isnt any fluid in the resevoir the antifreeze* doesnt leak. This makes me think it is a crack/leak in the resevoir itself. Now that it is getting nicer out i will prob take it out and test it to see if in fact that is the case.


*(thanks for the heads up randy and teri)
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Old 05-25-2011, 02:32 PM   #26
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Radiator

Just in case it isn't the reservoir, check the top plastic radiator reservoir. Mine had a pin hole that leaked when the system was full and warm. It was hard to spot. Just a little bubble of fluid seeping out. Pulled the rad, took it to the shop and they rebuilt it with a new top. I flushed the block and heater core and replaced the serpentine belt and thermostat since it was easier to get to while the rad was out.
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Old 05-25-2011, 03:18 PM   #27
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Just in case it isn't the reservoir, check the top plastic radiator reservoir. Mine had a pin hole that leaked when the system was full and warm. It was hard to spot. Just a little bubble of fluid seeping out. Pulled the rad, took it to the shop and they rebuilt it with a new top. I flushed the block and heater core and replaced the serpentine belt and thermostat since it was easier to get to while the rad was out.

there are two reserviors? im confused. any chance you have a pic / diagram for the mechanically un-inclined such as myself?
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:28 PM   #28
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No. The top of the radiator is called a reservoir. On mine it's plastic.
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:08 PM   #29
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So you mean by the radiator cap?
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Old 05-27-2011, 07:45 AM   #30
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Attached is a PDF of the coolant flow diagram and recovery bottle. The best way to test the system is to pressurize it...

A basic explanation of how it works...as the engine coolant temp rises to operating temperature, the thermostat is closed causing pressure to build in the radiator (about 12 to 18 psi) in the radiator...forcing coolant into the "Recovery Bottle" (some call it the reserve) when the engine reaches about 210 F the thermostat opens...the pump draws the cooler fluid from the bottom tank in the radiator circulating it into the engine block, where it draws the heat from the engine components while it is circulated through the thermostat into the top tank of the radiator where the coolant flows through the tubes as the fan draws air through the fins of the radiator cooling the fluid as it flows to the bottom tank of the radiator...when the thermostat opens the coolant in the Recovery Bottle is drawn (sucked) into the radiator...maintaining the proper coolant level...while the vehicle is in operation the process continuously repeats...

The recovery bottle on my 97 developed a crack in 05...a two part epoxy was used and it works fine...Also, as others have stated the factory radiator has plastic tanks, if the radiator is the problem upgrade to an aluminum or copper radiator...do not purchase a plastic radiator...
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File Type: pdf 97 TJ.pdf (324.0 KB, 163 views)

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