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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I did a stupid thing. I decided to drive (in July heat) from Texas to PA in my 2000 Beetle. I had the fluids checked before I left, but at the 7 hour mark the red temp light started beeping and flashing. It's never come on before ever but she's been lightly banged twice in the last 6 months. The light wasn't steady - no steam or smoke so, I proceeded to bunny hop (1 mile at a time 20 mph with the AC off from restart to when the light came on again) 15 miles to the nearest town. The coolant isn't completely full but it's between max and half. I started her this morning but as soon as I backed up, red light. So at this point, I don't want to drive it at all bc it's 30 miles of nothing in either direction. I'm fully prepared to rent a U-Haul and tow dolly and tow her home Monday but do you think it's worth having someone look at it locally before I do that? Someone who might not work on VW's - and a dealership at that. <--more expensive.
I'm not even sure if I should try driving it the three miles to the U-Haul. Might get AAA to tow me if you think that's the smart thing?
What would you do?
Also - any guesses on what it could be?
 

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Catch me riding s00ty!
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How many miles do you have currently?

because you said:
The coolant isn't completely full but it's between max and half. I started her this morning but as soon as I backed up, red light.
My guess is going to be that you need coolant. That happened to the bug I was looking at. They added Coolant (G12) and all was fine for it. But I am not certain in your case.

I've read that the Green coolant is bad for vw, so thats a no go. But i doubt you are close to anywhere that has Vw's Pinkish coolant. I read that adding a little distilled water could help, but adding to much is bad because it can dilute the G12.

:dunno: Maybe someone with technical knowhow can chime in and help. Sorry this had to happen in the middle of your trip! :(
 

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Probably MIA
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Top it off with distilled water, the level is not low enough to cause significant dilution.

Flashing red coolant light means low coolant level. Top it off and you should be fine.

Steady red coolant light means overheating - STOP the engine.

Have you ever had the water pump replaced? It should be done whenever you have the timing belt replaced. If not, or if it has been awhile, it should be checked to ensure that is not the source of the leak. If the water pump is leaking, that means the bearings in it will soon fail. Since the water pump is part of the timing belt circuit, if it fails your timing belt will also fail. And since this is an interference engine, pistons will hit valves and you will have an expensive repair on your hands.

Where are you located now?
 

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ElectricHarleyHouseOfLove
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do add some distilled water and see if the light goes away. when you fill the coolant initially you have to dilute it with distilled water anyways. I'd rather dilute it a little bit more and figure out if the low level is causing the problem. the little red light temp light is not one to be taken lightly.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Have you ever had the water pump replaced?

Where are you located now?
I don't think it's been replaced so that's likely something I should do when I get home.
There is a VW dealership 45 miles back and 150 miles forward but none where I am. Towing with AAA would be costly.
I just turned on the car and as soon as I backed it up (with the cold light on) the red light started beeping.
I'll try the distilled water - can't hurt while I'm sitting here waiting. There's a car dealership (not vw) close by, so I can ask if they can run a diagnostic but I'm thinking I should tow it home and get it fixed there vs. trying to drive back about 7 hours with diluted coolant or repairs that might not take. Does that sound like the smart thing?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
do add some distilled water and see if the light goes away. when you fill the coolant initially you have to dilute it with distilled water anyways. I'd rather dilute it a little bit more and figure out if the low level is causing the problem. the little red light temp light is not one to be taken lightly.
If I do add the water and it goes away, do you think it's safe to drive any distance? The min I could drive to get to a friends house would be 4 hours. Too long on distilled coolant in July heat? I'd hate to risk an emergency towing to an even smaller town with no U-Haul.
 

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Probably MIA
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G12 antifreeze is used primarily to keep the coolant mixture from freezing in cold climates. It does offer some additional boilover protection but your engine would be just fine in the heat with straight distilled water. You're only going to be adding a few ounces to get it full so it is NOT A PROBLEM.

Your water pump may not be leaking, it could have leaked off somewhere else. I'd say you're fine to top it off now and drive home. Keep an eye on the coolant level every now and then to see how much it loses and how fast. Remember to never open the cooling system when the engine is hot. You can get burned very badly as the system is under pressure.

Get your timing belt, water pump, and tensioner roller/pulley replaced since it sounds like it needs to be done. VW dealers are not always the best place to go for this.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
G12 antifreeze is used primarily to keep the coolant mixture from freezing in cold climates. It does offer some additional boilover protection but your engine would be just fine in the heat with straight distilled water. You're only going to be adding a few ounces to get it full so it is NOT A PROBLEM.

Your water pump may not be leaking, it could have leaked off somewhere else. I'd say you're fine to top it off now and drive home. Keep an eye on the coolant level every now and then to see how much it loses and how fast. Remember to never open the cooling system when the engine is hot. You can get burned very badly as the system is under pressure.

Get your timing belt, water pump, and tensioner roller/pulley replaced since it sounds like it needs to be done. VW dealers are not always the best place to go for this.
Yeah, I have a guy back home and would much rather he repair it than risk it being done wrong or too expensively. I'll try the distilled coolant and see if I can make one town back and check the level. If it's still good, I'll try to make the 2 hour jump from there to Dallas. Worst case it's back to half level, I can run a diagnostic at that town's VW and tow if needed from there. Thanks for your help!!!
 

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Before you do anything: have you replaced your thermostat?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Before you do anything: have you replaced your thermostat?
No, I haven't had that replaced ever that I recall. If the coolant has gone from max to halfway between max and half do you think that might be a simple answer? I can't have anything replaced until tomorrow but can certainly mention it when I do get it to a mechanic.
Generally speaking - is going from max to halfway between max and half typical with 7 straight hours of driving? Just wondering if it usually goes down that fast, or if that's a good indicator that there is a leak somewhere. She is 9 years old and is around 95k miles.
 

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Thermostat is the cheapest option, and if the light goes just keep an eye on the coolant level until you get to a mechanic to replace that timing belt and waterpump...as you are on borrowed time with the waterpump.

Also, any signs of leakage near the coolant flange?
 

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What town are you stuck in btw? Might be able to find a trusted mechanic near you...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
FL-Bug - Don't know for sure. I am also not the original owner. Original guy had it for more miles than me. I've had great mechanics too. I may have had it replaced and am just not recalling. The guy I go to now specializes in VWs.

beej - I'm going to go check for leakage.
I'm in Hope Arkansas but everyone in town is telling me to take it to another town, so I don't think there is a lot of "Hope in Hope" to find a local mechanic. There's a chevy dealer with a repair shop close by and the lady here told me that it's probably my best local bet come tomorrow morning.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
OH - the timing belt WAS replaced _ I do remember that. That was 4 years ago. Would they have replaced the water pump in that process?
 

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Bobby's Mommy
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Im not sure if this helps, and it might suck in the heat, but if you turn the heater on while driving, doesn't this help to draw heat from the engine???? It might help if you need to limp somewhere, that's all I can contribute lol... I'm not much of a mechanic and I hope you get it handled.

Otherwise, do you have AAA coverage? If you don't and you find that you may need it towed, send me a PM. I work for a roadside assistance company, we're AAAs largest rival almost LOL, and I would be happy to make whatever calls necessary to find you the best tow or arrange some kind of way to trailer it back home. I'm sure I could get one of the best prices if not a discounted rate through my company... It's my job and I'm quite good if I do say so myself. Keep us updated sweetie!!

Kate
 

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Now, that is super sweet of you.
 

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Bobby's Mommy
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Now, that is super sweet of you.
I'd do it for any beetle member, so just keep it in mind. I hear people's stress of breaking down every day all over the country, it's not fun and very frustrating when the country's in the state that it's in, and everyone's hurting. Just my way of paying it forward.:eek:
 
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