Intermittent Coolant Leak

Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby FGravity [OP] » August 13th 2020, 10:59pm

So I've already read through a bunch of the threads on coolant leaks, but still not quite sure how to proceed so I figured I'd start a thread. The situation seems to be as follows:

1. The past few days I've driven my 1999 Safari to the store and back, which is all of five minutes each way. By the time I get to the store, it's clearly leaking, and when I come back from shopping there's like 1/4-1/2 cup of fluid on the ground. However, when I drive home (again, just five minutes) and park, by that time there's BARELY any dripping, nothing like it was at the store. So it seems like this is only happening when it's cold/starting up. Once the van has been driving for a while, it seems to simply stop leaking.
2. Today I decided to open the hood and fire it up in the driveway. Let it do that for a good five minutes - just idling, revved it a little to see if anything happened. MAYBE there was a TINY bit leaking out somewhere - I could see some little specs around that brace near the water pump, but really not anything I'd consider noticeable or a problem. Then I backed it up 25' and then forward again - bingo. All of a sudden there was coolant being sprayed around the front of the engine - to be clear the leak only seems to be in the front, nothing is ever leaking off the back. The problem is it's getting onto the serpentine belt so quickly, and that's just spreading it all around the whole area so quickly it's hard tell where it's coming from. (also, yeah, safety glasses next time)
3. I checked the oil - it's not looking "milk shake-ey" in the slightest, so doesn't seem like coolant is getting into the oil.
4. The van has 150k miles on it.

The obvious answer here seems to be the water pump is on the way towards failure, but just wanted to see if anyone else had any other opinions on it.

-Sky
Last edited by FGravity on August 14th 2020, 12:35am, edited 1 time in total.
Original Poster [OP]
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby tank2 » August 13th 2020, 11:38pm

I have a '99, and had the same issue. Turned out to be an intake manifold gasket.
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby FGravity [OP] » August 13th 2020, 11:46pm

Oh boy that's the answer I was hoping NOT to hear......
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby FGravity [OP] » August 13th 2020, 11:46pm

tank2 wrote:I have a '99, and had the same issue. Turned out to be an intake manifold gasket.


Where would I look to confirm that's where it's coming from?
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby tank2 » August 14th 2020, 12:10am

Mine was leaking at the back of the engine. I had to take the doghouse off to see it. I didn't actually change the gasket. A mechanic friend of mine suggested a fix that he said works 80% of the time. He suggested a bottle of the gasket repair stuff, which the name escapes me right now, its in a green bottle with a cap that looks like a rad cap. He told me to disregard the instructions and drain the system and wash out as much coolant as you can. Next almost fill the system with warm water and then add the stuff and drive it for 200 to 300 miles right away. The leak should stop relatively quickly but bring extra water just in case. If it is sealed after leave the stuff in until you have driven 600 to 700 miles. If its good after that, drain an clean the system and add your coolant. 8 out of 10 times it is a permanent repair. Mine has been going for 4 years now with no problems. I only used about half the bottle, so if happen again, I'll try it again.
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby FGravity [OP] » August 14th 2020, 12:12am

Hmmm mine seems to be solely leaking from the front.
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby MechBob » August 14th 2020, 1:12am

Have seen water pumps that only leak "under load", meaning driving.You could hose everything off with water,let dry, start truck,have someone inside,set P brake,hold brake put in D and accelerate slightly.Then you might be able to see something.Might even be simple,like a crack in a hose.
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby maximus7001 » August 14th 2020, 5:45am

Run the rad cap at half tightness. Unless you are in a place like Arizona it will be fine and no leak.
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby dramey » August 14th 2020, 8:07pm

I would pressure test the cooling system to see where it is leaking.
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby FGravity [OP] » August 14th 2020, 10:02pm

dramey wrote:I would pressure test the cooling system to see where it is leaking.


Working on tracking down a pressure tester this weekend!
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Re: Intermittent Coolant Leak

Postby FGravity [OP] » August 19th 2020, 8:50pm

Okay! So I got the pressure tester, aaaaaaaand the leak turned out to be way more simple than I thought - the big hose coming off the bottom of the water pump ran itself into the belt right above where the belt comes off the crank pulley. (also possible there are more leaks than just this one, but this is the biggie for now)

I did a 3" lift about six months ago - I'm wondering if the hose was being pulled by that and eventually wore through? That's certainly a possibility. A few questions -

Is this the proper replacement hose?

https://tinyurl.com/y2ft3fe2

The belt is SUUUUUPER close to the hose, so I'm not the least bit surprised it happened - what's the best way to prevent this from happening again? I didn't really see too many good options for zip tying the hose towards the aft, but it was also raining fluid when I was down there and so I wasn't gonna take my time and poke around.

Other than NOT DEX COOL what's the thinking on fluid these days? Might as well flush and replace while I'm at it.

On the plus side it looks like it'll be super helpful to removed the shroud and fan to swap the hose, and so I get to put my fancy new fan shroud puller tool to good use.
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