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Old 09-20-2010, 02:24 PM
daximilian daximilian is offline
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Unhappy Coolant full reservoir, low radiator LONG

Hello,

First, I would like to apologize for requesting advice/guidance on a problem that has been discussed to death. Iím not car smart.
At this point I have read a few hundred threads here and in other forums and right now Iím overloaded with information and donít know what to do, therefore I ask for your advice.

My car is a Honda Accord EXR 2000, 4 cyl, 112,000 miles; I have owned the car for the past 6 years.
4 months ago the thermostat was replaced (OEM, direct from Honda).
Timing belt and water pump were replaced at 70K miles.

A few days ago when driving back home from work I got in a huge traffic jam and after 25 minutes of very slow traffic I saw the temp gauge slowly rising above normal. Outside temp was 92F and I had the AC on max.

I turned off the AC and opened the windows, the temperature kept rising, then I put the heater on full blast and the temp gauge instantly dropped. I then managed to get back to the office and tried to replicate the problem, but couldnít.
I left the car idle for 30 minutes with AC on max, both fans engaged normally and the temp gauge never rose above normal. When the traffic went down, I drove to my house and the temperature stayed normal for the entire trip (8 miles).

On the next morning I opened the hood and saw that the reservoir tank was full, way above the max line, I checked the coolant level in the radiator and it was low. (my guess is overheating the day before was because coolant in radiator was low).
I put some water in it, took about 16 oz (500 ml) to fill the radiator.
The coolant in excess in the reservoir was about the same amount missing from the radiator.

The next day I took the car to the mechanic for a scheduled tune up (spark plugs, oil change, filters..) and told him about the overheating problem I had. When I picked up the car in the afternoon, the guy say he didnít find anything wrong with the car, he could not replicate the problem, I specifically asked about coolant in the oil or something weird in the spark plugs and he said everything was normal, according to him, there are no coolant leaks.

The next 2 days I went to the office and back (8 miles each way) with no problems, traffic was very light those days. On each trip I checked coolant in the reservoir tank and radiator (when cold) and radiator stayed full, as well as the reservoir (when I say full reservoir I mean really FULL).
Then 2 days ago the radiator was missing some coolant again (about 3 oz, 100 ml) and the reservoir was still full.
Since the reservoir was full, I couldnít tell if the missing coolant leaked or overflowed from the reservoir tank.

Yesterday I put on a new radiator cap (1.1 bar, 16 psi) and took some coolant out of the reservoir with the tools I had at hand (around 7 oz), so I could see if it is going up and down, then took the car for 3 test drives, checking the coolant level in the reservoir with the engine hot after each drive, then allowing the engine to cool down to check the coolant level on the radiator before the next drive.

1st test drive, 8 mi, AC off, 15 minutes, light traffic, no change in reservoir, rad full, temp normal.
2nd test drive, 11 mi, AC off, 25 minutes, light traffic, no change in reservoir, rad full, temp normal.
3rd test drive, 11 mi, AC on, 45 minutes, heavy rain, light traffic but slow moving, no change in reservoir, rad full, temp normal.

Today I drove to work, 8 miles, 20 minutes, light traffic (city), no change in reservoir, rad full, temp normal. Reservoir tank was cold to the touch.

When is coolant supposed to go to the reservoir tank? Im almost sure there is no flow from the reservoir tank to the radiator when the car cools down, how can I tell for sure?
I canīt find any leaks.
No coolant in oil.
No oil in coolant.
No white smoke in the morning.

Any suggestions? What should I look for? What should I check now? Am I crazy for thinking something is wrong?

Thank you for reading this far.
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Old 09-20-2010, 03:39 PM
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Fredsvt Fredsvt is offline
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You had a bad radiator cap.

The cap is venting fluid TO the tank, but not allowing the coolant to be pulled back into the engine when it cools.

Can you please snap a pic of the engine, since either your car is a Canadian or Euro model and which engine model. (on the square pad on the front of the engine near the exhaust manifold)
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Old 09-24-2010, 12:13 PM
daximilian daximilian is offline
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Thanks Fredsvt,

Here are a couple of pics, the engine model plate reads F23A1.

Update, since someone as stupid as me could find this useful in the future...
The car kept sending coolant to the reservoir and not flowing back to the radiator but at a much slower rate than before.
After doing some research, looking for diagrams to understand how the cooling system works I found this:
http://www.hondapartsnow.com/electri...ator~hose.html

Then I realized I was missing hose # 3 in that diagram (hose inside reservoir tank)... I feel so stupid now!
All this time I thought coolant was supposed to flow back to the radiator thru some imaginary hose at the bottom of the tank...
I removed the reservoir, and the hose was there sitting at the bottom of the tank, I reattached it to the reservoir cap and will test drive it on the weekend.
I guess the hose was removed from the cap when the thermostat was replaced and the coolant flushed 4 months ago...

Thanks!
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Old 09-24-2010, 03:51 PM
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Fredsvt Fredsvt is offline
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Was the reservoir hose all swollen up?

Can you tell me about the upper hose? Is it mushy or feels like normal rubber. The shine, is that engine "dressing"? I'm asking because when I see the factory constant tension (spring) clamps missing and replaced with the awful screw clamps, I get curious as to what's happened to the car over time. That's all.

You should just double check that its bled properly when it cools down. Pull the cap, and then open the bleeder at the thermostat housing, if a solid stream of coolant comes out, you're fine.
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Old 09-25-2010, 09:08 AM
daximilian daximilian is offline
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Hi Fredsvt,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredsvt View Post
Was the reservoir hose all swollen up?

Can you tell me about the upper hose? Is it mushy or feels like normal rubber. The shine, is that engine "dressing"? I'm asking because when I see the factory constant tension (spring) clamps missing and replaced with the awful screw clamps, I get curious as to what's happened to the car over time. That's all.

You should just double check that its bled properly when it cools down. Pull the cap, and then open the bleeder at the thermostat housing, if a solid stream of coolant comes out, you're fine.
Reservoir hose.
Nope, it was not swollen. I took it out and washed it with regular water, blew air from one end while punting my finger on the other side, no air leaks.
When it dried it did show some white strips on the exterior, I guess I need to replace it.
It fits very tight to the elbow in the reservoir cap.

The upper radiator hose looks normal to me, I can squeeze the hose when the car is stone cold and when it's hot, the hose is very firm and well, very hot.
Lower hose is not as hot as upper but equally firm.
The upper radiator hose was replaced 3 years ago.
The shine, well, I guess it's the picture; it doesn't look that shiny in real life although when I took the car for the tune up they did wash the engine.
The clamps, well, I don't know about that.

Repair history (past 6-7 years):
- 3 years ago the upper radiator hose was changed after a routine maintenance inspection.
- 2 years ago the upper radiator tank (plastic) had a hairline crack on it, replaced the plastic tank and cleaned the radiator inside and out.
- 4 months ago the thermostat went bad, replaced with new OEM thermostat and radiator cap.
- Last week this, but I don't consider this much of a repair...

For the past 6-7 years the only problems with the car have been with the cooling system.
Everything else just routine maintenance.

I cant speak for the previous owner.

I will double check for air in the system.

Thanks!
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Old 09-25-2010, 09:19 AM
daximilian daximilian is offline
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Forgot to update,

Yesterday I was forced to do an involuntary test drive, got in a traffic jam.

I traveled 8 miles in 1 hour, most of the time in stop and go traffic.

Before going out I checked the reservoir tank, I left it exactly at the max line so I can know for sure exactly how much it is going up or down and the radiator was full.
When I got to my destination, I checked again, the reservoir was 1/4 inch above the max line.

This morning the level in the reservoir was 1/4 inch below the max line and the radiator was full.

So I guess coolant is properly flowing to and from the reservoir tank, at least for now.

Iīll keep checking everyday for the next couple of weeks just to be sure.
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