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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently started noticing a very unusual amount if coolant dissappearing from my reservoir. I inspected all hoses and clamps and was unable to find any noticeable leaks. The only thing I could think it would be was a note from scanwest from 3 years ago saying there was a small leak from water pump that needed to be kept an eye on. I was honestly hoping that this would be the issue, and not the much scarier "vanishing coolant into head gasket"! Took the 900 into scanwest this morning and sure enough, HEAD GASKET!

I have a 1200 mile round trip road trip that is supposed to begin Sunday morning. Scanwest is going to do their best to finish the job in time. I decided to spend the extra money and just do a full top end rebuild. Car will running extremely well soon!!
 

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Zach, how much coolant were you losing? Like week to week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Zach, how much coolant were you losing? Like week to week.
Scantar,

It was progressively getting worse. Id fill coolant up to 'MIN' line when the car was completely cold. So when it was warm it would sit between 'MIN' and 'MAX'. After about two weeks the coolant would drop to just above the rad hose leaving the reservoir. Then I'd fill back to 'MIN' and after just one week the coolant was no longer barely visible in reservoir. At this point I called scanwest up immediately. I wasn't seeing any white smoke or anything at this point. Scanwest ran full pressure test after checking everything; and sure enough it was the head gasket. Why do you ask? Are you seeing similar issues with yours?
 

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Scantar,

It was progressively getting worse. Id fill coolant up to 'MIN' line when the car was completely cold. So when it was warm it would sit between 'MIN' and 'MAX'. After about two weeks the coolant would drop to just above the rad hose leaving the reservoir. Then I'd fill back to 'MIN' and after just one week the coolant was no longer barely visible in reservoir. At this point I called scanwest up immediately. I wasn't seeing any white smoke or anything at this point. Scanwest ran full pressure test after checking everything; and sure enough it was the head gasket. Why do you ask? Are you seeing similar issues with yours?
I see a coolant level with mine that hovers around the MIN line. If I fill it to the MAX line it will end up at the MIN line again, though occassionally it will drop just below that. With 167K on the engine it's probably something looming larger down the road.
 

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I see a coolant level with mine that hovers around the MIN line. If I fill it to the MAX line it will end up at the MIN line again, though occassionally it will drop just below that. With 167K on the engine it's probably something looming larger down the road.
Check the res. filler cap and if necessary clean the cap valves, or buy a new one.
 

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Check the res. filler cap and if necessary clean the cap valves, or buy a new one.
Done and done...cap on there is new within the last 10 months. I'm going to change the water pump as the next little project. Radiator is new, thermostat and thermostatic switch are about 10 months old. Might as well bring the pump to the 21st century as well :)
 

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Done and done...cap on there is new within the last 10 months. I'm going to change the water pump as the next little project. Radiator is new, thermostat and thermostatic switch are about 10 months old. Might as well bring the pump to the 21st century as well :)
I know it is difficult but it is possible to get the 900 so it doesn't use any water at all. My last difficult minor leak was from a hose joint. Wipe your finger underneath all hose joints on a cold engine. (Hot they evaporate, and burn your finger) look for evidence of dampness on your finger. Tightening the clamp solved my last one.
 

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I know it is difficult but it is possible to get the 900 so it doesn't use any water at all. My last difficult minor leak was from a hose joint. Wipe your finger underneath all hose joints on a cold engine. (Hot they evaporate, and burn your finger) look for evidence of dampness on your finger. Tightening the clamp solved my last one.
I'll check all of them...going to drive the 3 door today so the vert will stay nice and cool. Or as cool as it can in near triple digit temps. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Scantar,

Are you filling to 'MAX' line when the car is cold? If so then that's why you are losing so much coolant. When your car is hot that level becomes way to high and your 900 will purge the coolant somewhere. Thus beginning small leaks do to too much pressure. However, I have 165k on my car and scanwest said that they've seen many a head gaskets fail around this mileage. So something to be weary of.

Jesda,

I'm having them put brand new performance valves in at the same time so that's running an extra 500ish dollars. The whole thing was quoted (with the performance valves) to be right at 2k dollars. I'm going to feel a lot more comfortable with the pile of performance mods I'm getting ready to do though. I'm actually curious to see if there is any noticeable performance after this job alone. Probably going to be the most expensive PLUS-5 horse power mod known to man.
 

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Scantar,

Are you filling to 'MAX' line when the car is cold? If so then that's why you are losing so much coolant. When your car is hot that level becomes way to high and your 900 will purge the coolant somewhere. Thus beginning small leaks do to too much pressure. However, I have 165k on my car and scanwest said that they've seen many a head gaskets fail around this mileage. So something to be weary of.
You can't run too much pressure. The reservoir cap is set to release at 15-17psi, and that's it. Too much pressure? I don't think so. I fill to the line. It goes down when it's hot, then back up to the line when it's cold. You need the pressure to maintain a high coolant boiling temp. 120°C at these pressures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You can't run too much pressure. The reservoir cap is set to release at 15-17psi, and that's it. Too much pressure? I don't think so. I fill to the line. It goes down when it's hot, then back up to the line when it's cold. You need the pressure to maintain a high coolant boiling temp. 120°C at these pressures.
When you fill to MAX line when cold you are retaining MAX line level after driving hot and car returns to cold? What I mean by too much pressure is that the level does rise when the car is hot, thus bleeding from reservoir cap as well as other places, like clamps that aren't securely fastened. 17 psi is a lot, coolant doesn't always just bleed away from the cap like it's supposed to. I'm simply suggesting that Scantar try filling his take to the MIN line and seeing if coolant is vanishing then.
 

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When you fill to MAX line when cold you are retaining MAX line level after driving hot and car returns to cold?
Yes, the coolant level returns to MAX when the engine cools down. I'm sure Saab marked it MAX because that's where they wanted you to fill it up to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, the coolant level returns to MAX when the engine cools down. I'm sure Saab marked it MAX because that's where they wanted you to fill it up to.
My understanding is that MAX is where the coolant level should be when the car is hot, as with other cars. That's just how I've always been instructed.
 

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On a related note, why are there multiple t-stats listed for our t16's? They vary by a few degrees, and I've always thought you'd want to go with the lowest degree one, so the t-stat opens sooner, rather than later, to help avoid overheating? Or does that have nothing to do with overheating?

The reason I'm asking is, I'm making plans on driving my t16 from VA to CA in early Aug, and my main concern is overheating. I just replaced the expansion cap, and have been driving it the last few days in 90+ degree (F) heat here in VA. The temp gauge doesn't go past about the 2/3 mark, no smoke, no mysterious loss of coolant, no funny smells, no steam from under the hood, no white or greenish residue around the hose clamps, etc. The previous owner replaced the hoses, t-stat, and water pump within the last 12-15 months, and I just replaced the expansion tank cap, and the expansion tank doesn't appear to have any leaks either. The only things I can think of that haven't been replaced are the radiator itself, and the cooling fans.

From all indications, the cooling system seems to be working like it should, so I shouldn't worry? Or should I replace the t-stat with one that has the lowest opening temp (or just not run one at all for the trip, since it'll probably be pretty hot?), and of course put new coolant in if I get into the t-stat?
 

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Turbo and non for the different T-stats. However, for your cross country, I would suggest the following- hose change, if unknown when they were done. Check autozone, o'reilly's and NAPA, and if they are not common hoses, get one before departure. I am thinking of the T shaped line from the heater outlet to the pump and the metal line (if on yours). Also the elbow at the thermostat housing, specifically. Antifreeze you can find anywhere, but carry a couple of gallons of distilled water. Reason? May only be able to find undiluted coolant at a stop and parts stores cannot sell "grocery" items like distilled water. Also have it if you feel the need to hydrate going through LA, TX, NM, AZ, and CA. I am assuming your fan does turn on. Even though they were changed recently, spares for the "unobtanium" road pieces can't hurt. If you want to put the lower opening T-stat in, shouldn't hurt.
 

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Yes, the coolant level returns to MAX when the engine cools down. I'm sure Saab marked it MAX because that's where they wanted you to fill it up to.
That is my thought as well. Remember, these are not not not expansion tanks. On an expansion tank you have a "Cold" and "Hot" level. These are "Min" and "Max" more akin to a dipstick or brake fluid reservoir.
 

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That is my thought as well. Remember, these are not not not expansion tanks. On an expansion tank you have a "Cold" and "Hot" level. These are "Min" and "Max" more akin to a dipstick or brake fluid reservoir.
I think most of the expansion takes place within the engine system, probable hoses etc. My level certainly goes down when it's hot then returns to normal when it's cold.
 

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Well, hoses are all dry at the fittings so that's good. Coolant level is sitting just above the min line so I guess my worry is all in my head ;oops:
 

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Leak?

Scantar, one more place to check for coolant leaks. Look at the drain plug housing located on the engine block just above the passenger side drive axle. These corrode from the inside and can develop a crack or hole. My '92 vert with 79k miles was weeping coolant through this housing. When I finally found traces of coolant above the RH drive axle and replaced the housing, it was filled with corrosion. When I tried cleaning out the housing, I punched a big hole in the housing with a screw driver. There are several old posts on this problem as it is common.
 
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