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Possible coolant leak, any ideas?

Discussion in 'A3/S3 Forum (8L Chassis)' started by jgrand, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Jul 31, 2005]
    I've noticed in the last couple of days that my car has been a bit lumpy when starting from cold, although it has been getting smoother as it warms up. Yesterday the car wouldn't start, although there were no warning lights on - a bit of throttle seemed to sort this. Anyway, today the car started straight away but lumpy, and almost immediately, the coolant level warning light came on. I check the resevoir, and it was empty. Luckily I had some coolant top-up of the right spec in the garage. Looking under the car, there does seem to be something leaking, very slowly, from somewhere near the front of the engine, on the passenger side.

    Any ideas what might be up (apart from a coolant leak /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif)? Is there anything around that part of the engine that the coolant would pass by/through?
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  3. jojo
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    jojo S3 Drift King! Staff Member Moderator

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  4. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Jul 31, 2005]
    Possibly, although I think the compressor is on the other side of the engine. I put a tin can underneath to catch the drips, so that I can see how much fluid leaks over night. However, it just rained so now I don't know if what's in the tin is rain or something else /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif
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  5. RichA3Turbo
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    RichA3Turbo ...Watching you! Staff Member Moderator

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    [Aug 1, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    Possibly, although I think the compressor is on the other side of the engine. I put a tin can underneath to catch the drips, so that I can see how much fluid leaks over night. However, it just rained so now I don't know if what's in the tin is rain or something else /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]

    If its the passenger side, you should check the oil fiklter housing as this acts as an oil coller too and coolent is pumped around it to cool the oil down. If this is loose, then it could leak from here. Also, the radiator tap (passenger side, bottom corner) could not be closed properly, or a pipe clamp could have broken somehow. You should also check the clips for the coolant temp sensor to make sure that its seated properly.

    Rich
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  6. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 1, 2005]
    Is any of this something that may have come about as a result of something done during a service?
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  7. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 9, 2005]
    I've just had word from the local VAG specialist that I'd booked it in to. Apparently they've been pressure testing it and have found no signs of a leak. Interesting that, considering I've had to put 2 litres of coolant in it over the last week /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

    So, any ideas what to do next? I'm tempted to book in with Audi, perhaps they'd have more luck finding the problem. I could try AmD, but it's a hassle having to take a day off work, and if they have to keep it for longer than a day, then I'm stuck up there with no car.
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  8. Kellerman
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    Kellerman New Member

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    [Aug 9, 2005]
    I had exactly the same problem in my 1.8T a couple of months back. Both the AA and my local specialist pressure tested the system and found there to be no leaks - despite the fact that I was topping up the coolant on a weekly basis!

    Anyway, it turned out that the system was leaking (what a shock!) - it was coming from the radiator itself. There was a small leak in the bottom right-hand corner which wouldnt have been affected by a pressure test.

    Fitting a new rad solved the problem, although it wasnt cheap.

    /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ok.gif

    Hope this helps?
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  9. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    There was a small leak in the bottom right-hand corner which wouldnt have been affected by a pressure test.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Do you mean the on the passenger side of the car? This would tally with where I have seen fluid leaking from.
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  10. dummi
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    dummi smoking a6

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    just had the same on way back from london, coolant warning and empty just as leaving then in leicester, tried looking for what it might be, there is some water or oil next to the passenger side head gasket area which is bothering me, i'm going to have another look in a bit and ask any advice from you guys
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  11. Kellerman
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    Kellerman New Member

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    [ QUOTE ]
    There was a small leak in the bottom right-hand corner which wouldnt have been affected by a pressure test.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Do you mean the on the passenger side of the car? This would tally with where I have seen fluid leaking from.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Yep, it was on the nearside. Fortunately i was able to see where the coolant was leaking from the radiator (just) so i felt confident enough that a new rad would fix the problem.
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  12. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    Ok, looks like I need to do some further investigation around the rad. How much did it cost to replace it?
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  13. Kellerman
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    Kellerman New Member

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    How much did it cost to replace it?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Guildford Audi quoted me £425 all in, but the Audi specialist i use (Autotechnik in Southampton) did it for £222 - that's parts/labour/vat. Its not really the kind of thing you can replace unless you're certain it's the source!

    But i'm not sure if the 1.8T and the S3 use the same rad - perhaps someone else on here knows? Also, i remember being asked if i had air con (i dont) as this would make it more expensive /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif.
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  14. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    That sounds like it would be much cheaper to fix than the head gasket, although I do have climate control (aircon). However, I thought I ought to check the oil filler cap and found this:
    [​IMG]
    Now, I suspect this means that there is water getting in there but can anyone confirm it? It certainly doesn't look normal, particularly as the last service was only about a month ago.
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  15. Khufu
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    Khufu Active Member

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    sometimes you can get a spot of emulsioned oil on the cap due to condensation but it isnt a problem.
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  16. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 10, 2005]
    Ok, but I've not seen it there before and, given the symptoms, I reckon it's a good indication the head gasket is fecked.
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  17. imported_VaulterTim
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    imported_VaulterTim Guest

    [Aug 11, 2005]
    I agree, that doesn't look good mate I'm sorry to say...

    It's a little bit more than your usual little bit of emulsioned oil.

    I'd get it checked out if I were you... a head gasket may be expensive to repair but not when you compare it to a totally knackered engine.
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  18. bampy
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    [Aug 12, 2005]
    The puddle under the front of the car can't be from the aircon, if you are loosing coolant from the system dhhhhhhh.

    Take it to a specialist and get the system checked. Don't forget coolant is corrosive.
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  19. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 15, 2005]
    @VaulterTim - it's booked in for Thursday this week, and has been off the road since I got it home after discovering the emulsion on the filler cap. A guy on Tyresmoke just had the head gasket sorted on his S3 for a cost of around £700 /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

    @bampy - I'm not sure if the puddle was coolant though. I seemed to lose more when there wasn't a puddle.
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  20. imported_VaulterTim
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    imported_VaulterTim Guest

    [Aug 15, 2005]
    MBM,

    Good luck bud... I hope it doesn't cost too much.

    One other point re. other comments above... it IS possible that the puddle could still be condensation from the Air Con. and that any water being 'lost' from the engine so-to-speak is not actually being lost over the floor, it could simply be that due to a fecked head gasket the water is being used by the engine. Not uncommon if indeed it is knackered (which I'm sorry to say it sounds like it may be). I'm unsure of the exact layout of the 3's underworkings(!), i.e. I don't know where the Air Con. pump is situated or where any condensation would be vented but it is possible, even if it's across the other side of the engine, that it may be running down the undertray and then onto the floor? Maybe... maybe not...

    Keep us informed either way... fingers crossed for ya mate /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

    Tim
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  21. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 26, 2005]
    Feedback from the garage is that it's the head gasket - just as I told them. Apparently cylinder one is leaking. Anyway, it's going in next week to get fixed. I've been told it should cost £500-600, which is cheaper than I was preparing myself for.
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  22. jgrand
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    jgrand Member

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    [Aug 31, 2005]
    The car went in yesterday. I had a call in the afternoon telling me that they'd found a hairline fracture in the exhaust manifold that wasn't a problem right now, but could well become one in the future, and did I want them to change it while they had the head off. I said yes, as it only adds a couple of hundred quid to the cost and I'd rather it be fixed now than have to fork out more to fix it later.

    Also, the courtesy car they gave me broke down this morning - suspected cam belt problem. I spent an hour and a half sat on the hard shoulder of the M3 while the receptionist drove down in a replacement car /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif
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