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Old 01-21-2020, 12:27 PM
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Losing coolant (no visible leaks)

Hello everybody!
So I bought a 1999 TJ sport about 7 months ago. It has 182xxx miles with the 4.0l and manual trans. I've never had any problems with it since I've bought it (besides fixing rust spots on the frame). Recently, about 2 and a half weeks ago, I was sitting in traffic and all of a sudden I get the warning sign and the temp. shot up to the middle of the red. I pulled off to the side of the road and had to get a friend to take me to the parts store and ended up buying 2 gallons of G-05 antifreeze just in case and even bought oil cause oil change was due. After leaving my jeep on the side of the road for a couple hours, I opened the hood and saw no leaks but saw that the reservoir was empty. It used about a gallon and a half of antifreeze. I drove it home and the temperature stayed below 210. When I changed the oil, there was no antifreeze (didn't look milky at all) and looked underneath of the jeep closely and saw no antifreeze. There was no white smoke coming out of the exhaust or anything. It hasn't been giving me any problems ever since that happened and even bought a radiator cap. It started to happen up until a few days ago when I notice that the temp was rising above 210 (but not in the red) and just staying there when I was sitting in a drive thru. When I started to drive the temp when back down to 210 and stayed there. That night after waiting for it to cool off, I added some UV dye in the radiator along with the rest of the antifreeze. Still nothing in the reservoir. I bought another gallon of antifreeze and had to use some these past couple days. Checked to see if there were any leaks using the UV light, even checked the oil and saw nothing. Recently did a pressure test (non-start, cold) and it held 18lbs. Also did the pressure test when first starting the jeep and it showed no pressure. I tried looking to see online if anyone has had this problem but couldn't find anything. Any suggestions or ideas would be great!

I have pictures that show top of radiator. I can provide more pictures.




Thanks!

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Old 01-21-2020, 01:12 PM   #2
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I had a Silverado with a 350 in it that did this. It sipped a little antifreeze for 150,000 miles. Never puffed white exhaust. Finally went in and replaced the intake gasket to resolve this. Our inline sixes are quite different and the only way this could happen is if the head gasket has a small leak into the combustion chamber. You can probably determine if it’s a head gasket leak by looking at the spark plugs.
On a more positive note, maybe the cooling system was never bled of air completely and your problem just now showed up. Maybe a hotter day?
Drive it, watch it and see what happens. Just keep an eye on your temps and levels.

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Old 01-21-2020, 01:53 PM
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I had a Silverado with a 350 in it that did this. It sipped a little antifreeze for 150,000 miles. Never puffed white exhaust. Finally went in and replaced the intake gasket to resolve this. Our inline sixes are quite different and the only way this could happen is if the head gasket has a small leak into the combustion chamber. You can probably determine if it’s a head gasket leak by looking at the spark plugs.
On a more positive note, maybe the cooling system was never bled of air completely and your problem just now showed up. Maybe a hotter day?
Drive it, watch it and see what happens. Just keep an eye on your temps and levels.
I have yet to check the spark plugs. The thing is I've already been through about 2 gallons of antifreeze and will probably need to purchase another gallon soon.
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Old 01-21-2020, 03:07 PM   #4
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It could be a head or head gasket leak allowing combustion into the cooling system. I had an older vehicle with the same symptoms you're having. It got bad enough that under operating temp with the engine running I finally found air bubbles pushing into the overflow reservoir. I then confirmed combustion byproducts in the coolant with a block tester (about $40 for the tester).
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Old 01-21-2020, 03:18 PM   #5
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Put in a couple bottles stop leak, like Bar’s Leak and forget bout it! It will fix leaking head gaskets and radiators.
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Old 01-21-2020, 03:51 PM   #6
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by leroybrown View Post
Put in a couple bottles stop leak, like Bar’s Leak and forget bout it! It will fix leaking head gaskets and radiators.
I wouldn't do it. Stop leak can plug your radiator, plug your heater core and cause overheating, rather than cure it.
I suggest checking your spark plugs and while the plugs are out, doing a leak down test. If you need a head gasket, replace the head gasket. Then, you'll have a permanent fix and won't have to worry about what will go bust later.
A Leak Down Tester is around $140.00 at NAPA and probably the same at other parts stores. Perhaps your local parts store has one to rent or loan.

Good Luck, L.M.
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Old 01-21-2020, 11:18 PM   #8
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I too experience coolant loss, but it's slow. I've replaced the overflow tank and hose, radiator cap, radiator, water pump, thermostat, and the upper and lower hose. I also sent off a sample of oil to see if there was any coolant and the results were excellent with nothing in the oil. I have also replaced the spark plugs and they seemed fine. I see no drips around the heater core and smell no coolant!


At this point I've just given up and rather than continue to look for the leak, I just monitor the fluid.
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Old 01-22-2020, 11:12 AM   #9
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I too experience coolant loss, but it's slow. I've replaced the overflow tank and hose, radiator cap, radiator, water pump, thermostat, and the upper and lower hose. I also sent off a sample of oil to see if there was any coolant and the results were excellent with nothing in the oil. I have also replaced the spark plugs and they seemed fine. I see no drips around the heater core and smell no coolant!


At this point I've just given up and rather than continue to look for the leak, I just monitor the fluid.
If it's going into the exhaust it will eventually ruin the catalytic converters. Just something to consider.
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Old 01-23-2020, 02:01 PM   #10
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Do you ever smell antifreeze?? These are similar symptoms to when my heater core first started going bad. You can look for coolant around the drain tube on the heater box.

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Old 01-24-2020, 09:14 AM
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Do you ever smell antifreeze?? These are similar symptoms to when my heater core first started going bad. You can look for coolant around the drain tube on the heater box.

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I would get the antifreeze smell sometimes. I might look to see if there’s any coolant around the heater box but I know for sure that it’s not leaking/dripping anywhere on the passenger side.
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Old 01-24-2020, 10:40 AM   #12
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Mine never did drip on the passenger side. Just out that little drain hole in the engine compartment. Even then it wasn't constant just once in awhile when I was driving

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Old 01-24-2020, 11:00 AM   #13
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Probably the cracked head the TJ is so infamous for. Mine drank antifreeze for years.
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Old 01-25-2020, 03:42 AM   #14
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Mines loosing coolant too. For a while I couldn’t find it. Now that the temps here are colder, I think it helped ID the leak or it just got worse to the point I can clearly see it is leaking now.

Mine seems to be leaking near the thermostat housing/upper rad hose and running down the front of the engine and oil pan now. It was leaking and then drying up immediately before on the hot engine I assume and leaving no traces. I noticed I was loosing coolant but didn’t know where after I overhauled my cooling system.

I’m just gonna monitor the levels until it’s warm enough to fix it.
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Old 01-25-2020, 06:39 AM   #15
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How long did you pressure test it for? I've seen problems like this with difficult to find leaks and they passed a very short pressure test, but running the test a bit longer [20-30 minutes] indicated a leak. Never exceed the pressure indicated on the radiator cap when pressure testing a cooling system. Also pressure test the cap, I usually do that first. Keep in mind when you're driving your cooling system is under pressure for hours at a time. Most leaks were from the heater core and the antifreeze was pooling somewhere and hard to find. Other leaks are in an area where the coolant slowly leaks out and quickly flashes off. It might take a while for the dye to collect, keep checking with the black light.
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Old 01-27-2020, 08:31 AM
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How long did you pressure test it for? I've seen problems like this with difficult to find leaks and they passed a very short pressure test, but running the test a bit longer [20-30 minutes] indicated a leak. Never exceed the pressure indicated on the radiator cap when pressure testing a cooling system. Also pressure test the cap, I usually do that first. Keep in mind when you're driving your cooling system is under pressure for hours at a time. Most leaks were from the heater core and the antifreeze was pooling somewhere and hard to find. Other leaks are in an area where the coolant slowly leaks out and quickly flashes off. It might take a while for the dye to collect, keep checking with the black light.

I've had the pressure tester up to 15-16 psi but my radiator cap says it holds up to 18 psi. I only tested it for about 8-10 minutes so i'll try and test it again later. I haven't used the black light for a bit now so i'll check up on that also.
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Old 01-27-2020, 09:49 AM   #17
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I've had the pressure tester up to 15-16 psi but my radiator cap says it holds up to 18 psi. I only tested it for about 8-10 minutes so i'll try and test it again later. I haven't used the black light for a bit now so i'll check up on that also.
Be patient, you'll find it.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:11 AM   #18
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I wouldn't do it. Stop leak can plug your radiator, plug your heater core and cause overheating, rather than cure it.
I suggest checking your spark plugs and while the plugs are out, doing a leak down test. If you need a head gasket, replace the head gasket. Then, you'll have a permanent fix and won't have to worry about what will go bust later.
A Leak Down Tester is around $140.00 at NAPA and probably the same at other parts stores. Perhaps your local parts store has one to rent or loan.

Good Luck, L.M.
Total BS!!! Barr’s leak never plugged up a old Chevy and Ford V8s! The Chevy head gasket was so bad it was blowing white smoke (just coolant vapor) out like crazy. A gallon about every 20 miles. I had to use a quadruple dose to stop the leaking. Drove for two more years and no more coolant lose. The Ford was just out of warranty and had a radiator leak. Fixed this also and I drove it six months and traded it for a new Ford. I didn’t care about either vehicle so it didn’t matter to me. Just wanted a cheap fix. Both ran normal temps and heaters worked like new. But with the piece of shit Pentajunk who knows what will happen. They send them out new full of casting sand and they plug up anyway. If I was my primary driver, I wouldn’t do it. But for something your wanting to stick up some dealers ass, it’s the way to go. Most dealers are crooks anyway and they screw you on your trade, so it’s the cheapest way out! And it works and it made me feel good to trade it in full of Barr’s leak. Probably a $1000 bill for Ford to replace a new radiator in a V8 pickup. For about $30 worth of stop leak it’s all fixed. The more you put in the better it works. It’s the American way!
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:27 PM   #19
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What goes around, comes around.
Leroy, do you think that the Ford dealership repaired the truck prior to putting it out on the lot to sell? Most likely not.
Then, some unsuspecting soul buys the truck and is stuck with a $1000.00 repair on a vehicle he just purchased.
I'm an American and that's not my way.
Just sayin'.

Good Luck, L.M.
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:50 PM   #20
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What goes around, comes around.
Leroy, do you think that the Ford dealership repaired the truck prior to putting it out on the lot to sell? Most likely not.
Then, some unsuspecting soul buys the truck and is stuck with a $1000.00 repair on a vehicle he just purchased.
I'm an American and that's not my way.
Just sayin'.

Good Luck, L.M.
The Ford dealer didn’t have anything to fix! Barr’s leak did that. It was just a small seep in the corner that really didn’t drip, but you could smell it. Smell went away. This truck was immaculate inside and out. But they looked it over before the trade, but didn’t even test drive it as I just drove in from 150 miles away! I went to pickup the new one that I had ordered some months before. I’m sure they made plenty off the new one to throw a new radiator in my trade, but they probably never knew. That was in 2013 and it may still be running somewhere without a radiator problem. I didn’t lie or deceive anybody. The Chevy on the other hand was a $500 piece of junk. I sold it to some high school kids and they hot rodded the crap out of it ,and in about 3 months they blew the motor. I think they had more then $500 worth of fun. But the moral of the story is, stopleak does work and it usually in my first hand experience does not cause overheating or heater problems! And the consensus of my friends who knew that I had repaired a head gasket with stop leak on the Chevy, and had seen the way they drove it. Was that it was from abuse as they threw a rod through the block.
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Old 02-16-2020, 10:59 AM
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I know this is bringing back an old post, but I have an update. Turns out there’s a small hairline crack on the top of my radiator after doing another pressure test. Not sure if this can cause all that coolant to be lost and also not sure what caused it to crack. I know it’s the radiator that’s been in the jeep since it was produced (1999).
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