engine coolant low - told routine top up is normal

Discussion in 'VW Mk6 Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Sportwagen TDI forum' started by electoys, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. electoys

    electoys New Member

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    I have a 2010 VW Golf TDI, with 23000km on it when the coolant warning light came on. VW service department told me it's normal to have to top up the coolant. Had to add 200mL just to get to the min level mark. I'm surprised by the amount of, as they said, "evaporation".

    The warning came on while away on a trip. The level was below the prongs in the coolant reservoir. The coolant was cold because it occurred after starting the car one morning. I found a NAPA parts store and bought some G12 [Pentofrost SF] (couldn't get G12+ or ++ [Pentofrost ++]) and added a 50/50 mixture with water. Added 200mL to the min level. Once back from the trip, took it into a dealer. I wanted them to check for the tell tale signs of leaks...the G12 leaves behind white crystals at the point of the leak. They found no leaks, but topped up the coolant to the max line and mentioned it's normal to have to top up.

    I was surprised by the amount of top up for only 23000km! If the coolant system capacity is 5.2L, then this is more than 5%.
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  2. BarryT82

    BarryT82 Member

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    A friend of mine has a 2011 Golf TDI and at 1k miles the water pump started leaking. The dealership pressure checked it and looked for leaks, but never found any. He kept adding coolant and went through two gallons. He threw a fit and they figured out that the water pump was leaking already.
  3. Keithuk

    Keithuk Super Moderator

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    Thats more dealer :BS

    I noticed not long after having mine that the coolant level was below the minimum mark so I topped it up. The next time I checked it was below again so I left it and it hasn't lost anymore since.

    Just keep a check on the level.

    Please add 2010 VW Golf TDI to your car spec?
  4. SeaTDI

    SeaTDI New Member

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    I call bs, too. I also got the low coolant warning a few months ago, but stopped at a dealer to get some coolant and the service guy volunteered that I shouldn't need to do that with such a new car (2010). Had it happen again last month, took it in and they also found the water pump had a very slow leak and replaced it under warranty.
  5. Frank M

    Frank M Member

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    Adding some coolant over time, not 23k km is exactly normal.

    Do you have a baseline to start with. perhaps it was a little on the low side from day 1?

    You have a base line now. I would monitor it closely.
    All it takes is very slight seepage from something, hose clamp, water pump etc. to get you down to the add line in 23k km.

    Look for dried coolant stains everywhere within the cooling system plumbing.
    Do you smell coolant unhood when the engine is hot and shut off for awhile?
  6. electoys

    electoys New Member

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    OP again, now at 40K km and the coolant warning occurred again. That's 14 months later or 17k km. I checked under the hood and into the engine compartment behind the front wheels. I didn't notice any discoloration. Since liquids run down to the lowest point, I likely won't see any thing unless I take the bellypan off. That's a little difficult since it's getting colder now, 0C. Guess I'll make an appointment at the dealer while I'm under warranty.

    @Frank: What color is the coolant discoloration color, and what does coolant smell like when burning off.
  7. Frank M

    Frank M Member

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    it is a pinkish white stain trail.


    not sure of your setup but a seepage at the water pump inside the timing bely area can't be seen.
  8. Jan 1979

    Jan 1979 Member

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    Coolant leak

    I had the same issue as you described and dealership replaced the water pump. They have to pressure test it as the leak might be very small. You should not have to add coolant on a car with 30000k.


    Jan
  9. canux

    canux New Member

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    I can chime in here and say that I had the same problem and it turned out to be the water pump as well. Common issue with the 2010.
  10. electoys

    electoys New Member

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    Thanks for all votes. It was at the garage all day today and I haven't heard back, so let's hope this is good news that they found the leak and are waiting for the part to arrive tomorrow...and that it's the water pump.
  11. electoys

    electoys New Member

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    arghhhh. Heard from the garage. They did a 30 minute pressure test and saw no drop. The car was cold. left overnight with a temp of 0C. Also no stains were spotted with the belly cover off.

    How can it be possible for the coolant system to consume more than 250mL approx every 20K km? If this was "normal" a significant amount of customers should be reporting the same, with many of them making service appointments because of the warning light. I cannot believe it expands so much when hot to escape the overflow port.

    What can I watch for to tell if its a head gasket leak. I'm afraid at this rate the vehicle will be out of warranty when the head gasket leak is undeniable.
  12. golfinoregon

    golfinoregon Member

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    It sounds like a possible Head gasket leak to me then. The engine itself is consuming/burning the coolant. Get that checked out!
  13. Jan 1979

    Jan 1979 Member

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    Coolant

    Whatver the problem with the car is, it should not need coolant every 15000k. Call vw us costumer service get them to document the problem. Take the car back to dealership and ask them to give u a rental until they fix the problem. Diagnosing the issue is not your job, it's theirs.

    Jan
  14. electoys

    electoys New Member

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    An update...a bit late.

    After picking up the car the other day, I went for a second opinion to a very well respected inde garage familiar with VWs. They took the belly cover off and quickly spotted pink cystalline deposits on the bottom of the block below the drive belt! Soo back I went to the dealer to show the service manager. He quickly got the car up on a hoist. He said those crystals were all there from the installation of the intercooler TSB. The front of the car is removed to access the hoses. In doing so, lots of coolant spills. Okay, that's reasonable. It's very unfortunate they didn't wipe off the spills because now we've lost the holy grail of evidence. I also asked, since the water pump is hidden behind the cover with the timing belt would the coolant have spilt there too. I was told there are hoses to the water pump and those also must be removed for the intercooler TSB.

    I was also told the environmentally friendly G12++ coolant is more prone to evaporation. Apparantly the coolant can evaporate through the bleed hole. I thought a closed coolant system would only release when the pressure built up above the safety threshold, which is part of the coolant reservoir cap.

    My wife and I have checked the coolant level with each fuel fill. Except for maybe the last fill. We didn't see any drop. I mentioned the 1cm+ drop to the warning level must have occurred in the last 1600km, not slowly over the last 17000km. The extra drop to the bottom of the reservoir could have been due to the recent outdoor temp drop to -7C. It's going up to 14C this weekend, so I'll see if the reservoir will rise appreciably. (Oh, and the car won't be driven during until then.)

    I have now marked the coolant level, which they overfilled by more than cm, with a marker so it can be monitored accurately. My other next step is to check the engine oil for coolant at the next oil change. That's 8Kkm away, so I'll know by spring.
  15. electoys

    electoys New Member

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    The comment about pink crystal at the water pump due to the intercooler TSB seems incorrect to me. There are no hoses to the water pump. After all it's behind the timing belt cover. Also the water pump simply pumps coolant inside the engine block. I don't think this should have been touched with the intercooler TSB. This means when we change the timing belt, we'll know for sure if the water pump as a very slow leak. A leak that didn't show up on a cold engine coolant pressure test.

    Unfortunately the timing belt is not changed until 180Kkm...well outside of the warranty.
  16. amstel78

    amstel78 Member

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    What does the coolant or oil look like? Any evidence the two are mixing? My coolant level has remained the same after 30,000 hard-driven miles.
  17. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

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    coolant is pink/light purple fluid.

    when mixing with oil you'll either get brown coolant or milky engine oil.
  18. amstel78

    amstel78 Member

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    Yes, I know what they look like; was asking the OP if he's seen evidence of the two mixing thus indicating a serious condition. :thumbsup
  19. edV44

    edV44 New Member

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    The low coolant warning light on my 2010 golf 2.5 came on last month at 51k and upon checking, the reservoir was almost empty. I topped it up to the mid level (i.e. equator) of the sphere. This morning, at 53K I did a check and found out that I lost coolant again as the level was down. It took 500ml to top it up to the same level I did at 51K. I believe that this is not normal coolant loss so I checked under the car and removed the belly cover. Peeked into the bottom of the rad and found pink coolant stains on the left bottom and right bottom of the rad. I think the rad has a leak. Will bring the car in on Tuesday to the dealership and have this thing corrected.
  20. electoys

    electoys New Member

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    The coolant in the reservoir is still the original light pink colour. As for the oil, I eagerly await my next oil change...unless it's visible enough on the oil dipstick.

    P.S. Found a very similar post on tdiclub.com.

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