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Old 09-27-2020, 01:36 PM   #1
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Chevy workhorse how to check if a coolant leak

Hi,

Was on way home from a trip and pulled in half a mile from home to disconnect the toad and noticed a rusty looking liquid coming out of the back of my workshorse UFO. It stopped after a minute or so, I went to drive home and a coolant message came up, its disappeared straight away. I thought it was run off the coach Hvac.

I have a shop I can bring it to tomorrow to check ot out but is there anything I can check myself today?

Thanks,
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Old 09-28-2020, 11:02 AM   #2
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The shop told me to check the overflow but could not find it.

I started the coach and did not get the alert.



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Old 09-28-2020, 11:55 AM   #3
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This is a better photo.Click image for larger version

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Old 09-28-2020, 12:06 PM   #4
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You couldn't find the overflow or the leak? The overflow is the square tank on the left in the top picture.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David 70 View Post
You couldn't find the overflow or the leak? The overflow is the square tank on the left in the top picture.
Thanks David,

I will check the overflow I think the water I saw yesterday came off the frame but them got a coolant alert.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:21 PM   #6
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Well, if it's leaking coolant you would see a corresponding drop in reservoir tank level, or it may be dry and you're sucking air into the radiator. Look at the reservoir and see. If it's coolant you see and it's "rusty" you have more to worry about than just a leak.

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Old 09-28-2020, 12:31 PM   #7
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On my UFO, the reservoir cracked and everything ran out. The GM dealer got me an exact replacement

If itís cool, you can take the radiator cap off and stick your finger in the radiator tank and see if it is just a little low. If itís more than a little stick a piece of clear tubing in it, cover the end with your finger and withdraw the tube. This creates a vacuum and the coolant shouldnít run out and you can check the level

I have a coolant system leak tester. Itís a pump and a modified radiator cap. You pump the system up to pressure and look for the leak

If you are really low, adding coolant is fun. Due to hose routing, air locks form and getting the air out takes patience
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Old 09-28-2020, 01:12 PM   #8
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Thanks both, will check the reservoir later. Will report back then.

RS505, It's nice to hear from another UFO owner.
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Old 09-28-2020, 01:24 PM   #9
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I did check for the error code with a scan gauge and nothing came up.
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Old 09-28-2020, 01:36 PM   #10
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I’ve been lurking here for a while, ever since I’ve had this motor home. I decided to start returning the free help and good guidance that I have gotten from other posters over the past 6 months

I’m intimately familiar with the cooling system on my UFO. I had a rough week one day last summer in Texas, and I’m glad I didn’t wind up buying a new engine.

If you take it to a mechanic I recommend checking especially carefully the water pump and harmonic balancer. My balancer separated only a very small distance, shredded one rib off the serpentine belt, which then lashed a hole in the lower hose.

This set off a series of events that resulted in me spending two days fixing things. I replaced every part that touched the fan belt.

If you get parts, I highly recommend Brazels. They know all about the cooling system problems that workhorse had to sort out during the recall
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:22 PM   #11
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I have spiken Alan in Brazels many times, mainly about the issues we have had with the braking system.

I checked the overflow and its looks empty, I don't really know a whole lot about this. If this an overflow from the radiator?

The shop is about 8 miles away and the temps will be in the mid 40's, I am trying to figure out if it will be ok to drive it or need to add coolant.
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Old 09-28-2020, 04:29 PM   #12
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Coolant expands when it gets hot. This causes the system to pressurize. When it reaches a certain pressure, the radiator cap will relieve the pressure and the excess coolant from expansion goes into the reservoir surge tank This tank collect coolant that would otherwise spill on the ground. When the engine cools off, the coolant thusly collected is sucked back into the radiator.

A very common point of failure is the radiator cap developing an age related leak. A common symptom of a bad radiator cap is the engine getting hot, the surge tank overflowing, and at higher elevations boiling over and steam.

You might start by replacing the cap, and at the same time topping the radiator off with coolant. If it takes a lot (several gallons) you need to look for a big leak.

Driving without coolant, at least any further than the end of a short driveway, is not a good idea. Different parts in an engine get hot at different rates and running under load, even for a short period of time can do stuff like blow head gaskets and warp heads. The 8.1 is a lot tougher engine than most, but I still wouldn't do it.

I would first determine if it is a little low, or a lot low on coolant. If it's a little low, just add some coolant (top off the radiator) and drive it over.

If it's a lot low I would call my mechanic out and have him look at it. If you are on good terms, it would be a lot less stress than second guessing what is going on.

If I was stuck out in the woods 50 miles from the nearest town, I'd try some other things, but I wouldn't risk an expensive repair job for a 16 mile round trip for a field mechanic.
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Old 09-28-2020, 04:32 PM   #13
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One other thing, unless someone has changed out the coolant for something different, your unit uses something called Dexcool. Usually not recommended to mix different coolants like G-05 or the standard green stuff with it.
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Old 09-28-2020, 04:52 PM   #14
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I pulled the cap of that reservoir and could see its empty.

I did find a hose coming off the heavier cap loose.

Yesterday we drove on a road surface that was stripped for about 10 miles and several bunks, maybe that knocked it loose. I could see the same colour fluid I saw on the ground.

I have never changed the coolant and don't have any service records for the coach past 2.5 years. Any way to tell what was previously added?

Here are some photos, the hose was laying on the oppposite side of frame where I saw the fluid come from.

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