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Discussion Starter #1
My daughter owns a 99 Beetle, and my wife was driving it today when she noticed it was running hot. When she got to work she checked the fluid and it was empty, so she re-filled it after letting it cool and drove it again, and within 5 minutes it was hot again. She could see water dripping in the area where the coolant bottle is but couldn't see where from. Is there any easy way to inspect the hoses or does this include removing alot of stuff?
 

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If the coolant is coming out that fast it shouldn't be too hard to find the leak. It could be a cracked expansion tank (the spherical tank with the blue cap on it). There are two hoses connecting to it, one from the back of the engine going to the top of the tank and one from the bottom of the tank going to the front of the engine. Removing the engine cover should allow you to see or feel most of the length of those.

Incidentally, a flashing red temperature light means low coolant, a steady red temperature light means the engine is overheated.
 

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When was the timing belt/water pump changed last?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Not sure what has and has not been replaced... would a bad pump or belt cause water to dump from the expansion tank after 5 minutes of driving or could it be a crack in the tank or hose leaking?
 

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need to find out EXACTLY where its coming from. if its not leaking from a specific part i would first check the thermostat. if water is leaking from somwhere other than the overflow, take a pic of it and we will try and diagnose it.

-jd
 

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Not sure what has and has not been replaced... would a bad pump or belt cause water to dump from the expansion tank after 5 minutes of driving or could it be a crack in the tank or hose leaking?
An inoperative water pump (the original pump had a plastic impeller which has been known to fail) could cause local coolant overheating, boiling, and overpressure in the system, which could cause any weak component to fail.

If you don't know if the timing belt and water pump has ever been replaced, it needs to be done a.s.a.p. since a failed timing belt will cause major engine damage when the pistons collide with the valves.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Removed the expansion tank and found no cracks, checked the two hoses going to the tank and they both look fine. I re-filled the tank a little while ago and drove apprx 5 minutes before the red light started blinking. Got home and popped the hood, no fluid in the tank and the only place I could find it was around the expansion tank. Is it possible that the fluid is escaping out of the overfill tube?

What should be replaced first in order to fix this problem? Thanks for the help, would be lost without this site.
 

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Is it possible that the fluid is escaping out of the overfill tube?

What should be replaced first in order to fix this problem?
Are you running just water at this point? If so, it could be boiling and being pushed out the overfill. The cooling system will not work correctly with just water. It must have the higher boiling point of the coolant/water mix.

If you do have coolant, you need to diagnose the problem more. Run the engine at idle until the fans cycle and watch for a leak. You could have a bad head gasket which is letting the coolant into the exhaust, so watch for excessive steam from the tailpipe. Air bubbles escaping the coolant in the expansion tank can be another sign of a leaking head gasket.
 

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2.0l also have a common problem where the small hose that connects to the expansion tank gets clogged and does not allow air to purged and water to circulate properly and will cause the car to overheat quickly.

FYI, a properly operating engine will warm up in about 10 minutes. If you are only driving 5 minutes and the engine is very hot you have a problem.

Make sure the small hose connecting to the expansion tank has a good flow even when first stated cold.
 
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