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Intermittent coolant leak?

2100 Views 25 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Knappy414
My son is driving our 2015 Cruze with 118K miles back and forth from Kansas City to Lincoln Nebraska. On his way back to Kansas he had the "turn off AC message" come on going up and down some hills. The temp gauge went slightly above the middle. At home he took the car to work and noticed the heat was working, then not working. He's not mechanical (is an electrical engineer but never worked on cars). I explained to him how to check and add anti freeze, which he did and it helped. Because we saw a puddle under the front of the car when he was adding coolant, we both figured it had a leak that needed attention soon. So he drove the car all the way back home last night, some 250 miles and this morning I looked at it and I see nothing! Nothing on the ground as far as a leak and the coolant reservoir is full! I'll look at it again but I hate problems where you want to fix something but it's not apparent where it's broke. Wondering if anyone else has had this problem or any insight. As a side note I had at least two issues with my 2005 Trailblazer that's been a really good vehicle and both issues seemed to magically go away and I've not had them happen in years and it has 265K miles on it now. So I do realize that some problems can indeed come and go. I'm thinking about taking the car to the dealership for it's first 4 wheel alignment anyway so maybe I could just let them take a look at it I figure.... Maybe they could do one of those fluorescent dye checks and put the system under pressure.
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The water pump has a bad seal. Replace the water pump as soon as you can, you will destroy the engine if you don't.
Seeing no evidence of the water pump leaking. That's not to say it's not, or it didn't happen. No sign of leaking coolant in engine bay. Coolant tank still full to top of mark after nearly 4 hours on highways. Don't like throwing money at cars so thinking of waiting until it's really "broke" before fixing.
I totally get what you are saying. A leak should be obvious, right? I have two questions for you. How many lumens is your flashlight? And how big is your inspection mirror?

I have literally spent my life fixing all manor of machines, and believe me there is no magic involved. Your car has a failure in the cooling system, just because the symptoms are intermittent means very little. And sure, I'm just basing my opinion of what very little you have wrote and could be mistaken.

Consider this, you have looked so hard and are baffled. Yet here I sit very confident in what your issue is. Hmmm.

I look forward to any updates.
Thanks, I'll keep you updated. There's only two options. 1) My son decides to take it back home next week and wait on the issue for now, or 2) he leaves the car with us and we have it inspected when it goes in for an alignment.

I've done water pumps on front wheel drive 4 cylinders before. Not too thrilled about the prospect but one thing I insist on is knowing what's broken before I fix it. Right now it's as if it never had a problem - no leak and coolant level stays full. If the dealer tells me it needs a new water pump and the estimate is over 8-$900, then I probably will just do it for him and save the money for him because I have the time to do it.
Hey Johnny B, thanks again for your insight and reply. I've been thinking about what you've been saying. I was going to pull my son's car into the garage (It's very cold here today) to get a better look, but I couldn't find the keys so I decided to take a THird look under the hood. The whole area around the water pump is devoid of any signs of leakage or moisture due to antifreeze. I used my flashlight (only a phone but it lit things up fairly well) and I could be mistaken, because the roads we live on here are real crap and the car gets very dirty just from having been driven here. But it's just looking like nothing from the water pump, period. It's very dry around the whole area and you know antifreeze is a lot like oil in that if it spills somewhere it kind of stays wet looking for a while. The whole issue about having recalls up to 2014 for the water pump makes me more inclined to have the dealer check it out because the last time I had the car in they fixed everything for free under warranty even though the sticker warranty had expired. That's my update - thanks If you got this far!
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Thanks! I will check that. I didn't look over on that side of the car.
I didn't see anything there but thanks again for the suggestion. I didn't stick my hand under the tank because it just looked like nothing was wet. It was all dry in appearance all around and the reservoir was filled slightly above the full line. I'm hoping to convince my son (without being too harsh because I want him to start making decisions and taking more responsibility - a learning experience hopefully) to simply leave the car with me and take our older Trailblazer temporarily while I get this sorted out. It's also a bit hard for me to believe that Chevrolet could extend the warranty to 10 years and 150K miles for all gen1 Cruzes, except the 2015, for the water pump. The dealer may be able to shed some light on this. We are the original owners and Chevrolet fixed a different problem prior to this completely free. Even provided a loaner car. I'm not expecting that this time because it has a lot more years and miles but I'm hoping they know something more about this problem than I can see.
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my 2014 has always used coolant. I fixed the inlet housing and bypass hoses. But it still uses coolant with no puddles. The pressure tank is a good place to start. I also noticed someone had an over heating issue, when I experienced this it was not showing on the gauge but the thermostat was actually stuck open triggering the AC code and over heat massage because it took to long to get warmed up -GM wants you to bring it to the shop for the simple repairs so they have that message for hot of cold coolant temperatures. I would look at the temperature senor if it shows on the gauge. Good luck on the coolant leak but the dealer will replace part even if it is not the real problem. I would look at the tank and the plastic inlet to the engine. The plastic assembly is about 90 dollars two years ago, tank I do not know, the bypass hose was $45 dollar also two years ago. I keep coolant in my trunk with this car.
best of luck.
Thanks to everyone for reading and replying. I have an update but it's not much of an update. My son went back home (250 miles or so) after we decided we could not find any noticeable coolant leak. I test drove the car with my mom one day when I took her to the doctor and the check engine light came on. So I had them run the codes at Advance Auto and, to my slight surprise, it was to do with the fuel pump relay voltage, two codes. It reset after he pulled the codes and has not come back on again, so like the coolant, I'm not going to fix anything if it's not broken. I also saw how the car was holding good pressure in the cooling system because after I got it home I loosened the antifreeze cap on the reservoir tank and it hissed away at me with a good deal of pressure. My son's been checking the coolant but it hasn't gone down in nearly a week now, and everything is going just fine with the car. I'm still suggesting to him that he take it in for an alignment as I think it needs it after buying a new tire that was worn on the front driver side a bit more than the others. I'm going to make sure that he asks them about the check engine light and the coolant, and the dealer can make any kind of determination if they want to do anything under warranty, but of course the car is high miles and out of warranty now so this would have to be something covered under defects. Other than that the car is doing very well! I might not be coming back for a while because I'm not sure I can offer much assistance to anyone else seeing as I have not had to do much work on this car in the 118K miles that we've owned it since new.
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