VW Beetle Forum banner
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello forum. First post. Finding myself a tad stuck on and could use some ideas. Worked on vehicles, but never touched a VW.

About 8 months ago my ex-wife purchased a 99 VW Beetle 110,000 miles. From the beginning it was having intermittent overheating according to the temp light. I checked it out and didnt see any coolant leaks at this time, but given the symptoms and that nothing else came up incorrect, I surmised that it was the water pump starting to give on it and told her as much. Well she filled it up with coolant and after a short time it stopped doing the overheating bit on her.

Fast forward to a month ago and 14,000 miles later. She calls me up, telling me its over heating and hemorrhaging coolant. Turns out it had been losing coolant and over heating for a week or two before that and she just kept topping it off with coolant. So I go take a look at it (*side note* Wheel lock bolts *insert frustration comments here*) and yup, there is a fairly quick flowing coolant leak that I can see dripping off the lower inside portion of the Crank pulley. Couldn't get much light up in there, but I know the signs of a water pump failure when I see one.

Could not locate a service manual (Bentley) near me since I wanted to play it safe as generally never touch a VW. No Chilton's, so stuck with Haynes :crying:
Anyways, drained the coolant from the radiator and opened the timing assembly area. Belt condition looked good, assume it was changed within last 15-20k miles. Got water pump off and yeah, it was pretty well shot and could see the cause of leakage. ORIGINAL WATER PUMP, Wow!!
Picked up a new one with O ring (Made sure the impeller was metal). Installed, double checked timing, and put it all back together. Filled with coolant and ran the motor, adding more when the air had worked itself out.
No more over heating, no more red light, no leakage. Ex was over-joyed. Problem solved.

Yesterday it started losing coolant in mass quantities. Was told that a large puddle had formed underneath (middle) of the engine, low coolant sound/light was dinging, and that even after filling it up and driving, the ex could see the trail of coolant loss going from street to parking lot. So I check again (coolant in reservoir was below min line at this time) and all I can see for immediate leakage is a very small droplet forming from the same Crank pulley area as previous. However, the underside of the engine from middle of oil pan to drivers side was soaked. Visual inspection didnt help much, to compact in there, but since the wetness is on the front end I focused there. Did not see any ruptures in hoses or connections that looked like they were leaking. Hoses going to oil cooler looked fine and dry.

She intends on leaving the vehicle at her parent's house so I can work on it again, so I can check more during daylight. No real idea where it could be spilling that much coolant from that quickly.My initial thought is that all that over heating has gone and warped a head or damaged head gasket. Maybe there is suddenly too much pressure in the coolant system and its forcing coolant out from any escape point it can, hence the leak that seems to be from the weep again on the water pump and whatever connection that I cant see. How does one pressure test the coolant system on a VW that does not have a radiator cap? Is there something that I may have missed for the large loss of coolant? Given the wetness on the underside of the engine I know its not coming from the new pump. I heard aftermarket pumps have a high failure rate, but 3 weeks after?? At a loss here folks and can really only come up with excessive pressure.

PS: Also informed (not sure if they're all relevant) that the heater blows cold. I did note a pending P0422 code for the CAT.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,841 Posts
Hey, the common leak points; are the plastic pipes/"flanges", these are on the front of the engine (where thermostat resides) and off the head, that has the coolant temp sensor in it. When the engines overheat; typically, these plastic flanges will warp and leak. The only option; at that point, is to replace them.

Pinpointing the exact source of the leaks; can be a challenge. I would recommend you get, rent or borrow a coolant system pressure tester. I bought the kit from Harbor Freight; it has the correct VW adapter and it has helped me find, all the leaks I have struggled with.

Home | Radiator Pressure Tester Kit
Pittsburgh Automotive 69258 Radiator Pressure Tester Kit
Double click on above image to view full picture
Radiator Pressure Tester Kit

Pittsburgh Automotive - Item#69258 (be sure to look online; for a extra 20% off coupon)

Radiator Pressure Tester Kit

There are other pressure testers out there and some people have even fabricated their own, by purchasing a new coolant tank cap, modifying it and pressurizing the system.

As for the waterpump; the prep and cleaning of the mounting/sealing surfaces is crucial. I use scotchbrite pads and disks on my die grinder. If there are any rough areas; I smooth them out, so the o-right doesn't get damaged and I lube it will some coolant (some use silicone spray to make installing in the bore easier)> Hopefully, that is not it but sometimes, it won't seal correctly or the o-ring will get damaged when installed. Check out this video; by blauparts.com, to get a idea of correct prep and install procedures.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUcbU3Z2v4A

https://vimeo.com/15037201

Pressure test the coolng system; let us know, what you find and we can go from there. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting. Thank you for pointing out the plastic flange leak points. With the thermostat being tucked back like it is and it being dark . . . I know the hoses beneath the oil filter and near bottom of radiator were wet, wondering if that point is where its coming out from. Curious to know if warped, why it would suddenly start leaking with a vengeance weeks after . . . VW's - :rolleyes: not my forte it seems.

Great link for the blauparts.com video. Did make sure the area was ship-shape before seating the water pump. Granted I didn't take a sanding pad or other abrasive to it. When I pulled the old one off I did find it a tad odd that there was no gasket other than the O ring. That video mentions a separate gasket. The Haynes manual makes no mention of a gasket and I did double check at the parts store if there is any that goes with it. Really, really, do not want to have to take the pump back out.

I will check around to see if someone has a tester for rent. HF is a good deal, but a bit short at present for a tool that I've only had to use once before. Hopefully it will not be needed, but you know what they say: sod's law
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,841 Posts
There is NO paper gasket; on the 2.0L, if you notice the video is showing other VW engines. While the cooling system pressure tester; is a tool investment, the kit works on most cars on the road today. So, it will work on other cars you would work on; the VW's tend to have coolant leaks, as much of the system is plastic. You WILL use this tool again; it is also, an excellent way to confirm the coolant system is fully sealed, after a repair. While, these types of tools; do not seem necessary to most people, the ability to test things make a huge difference and this can pinpoint leakage problems, eliminating guesswork and down time. Work smarter; not harder! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Finally got a short amount of time today to take a look at it during daylight hours. Sadly, it was such short notice I wasn't able to procure a pressure tester.

Engine was just driven when I looked at it. With it off I checked underneath for any current dripping. Didnt see any. Opened the reservoir cap and slowly released the pressure and had some steam coming out, was just about empty. Put little less than 3L (about 3/4 gallon) of distilled water in and intentionally over-filled to the top. Started the car up and squeezed the upper radiator hose to help with any air. Coolant tank dropped by about 1/4 after this, left the cap off and kept an eye on it in case needed to add more. Checked underneath - no leaks showing. Closely checked the thermostat area, drivers side flange area, and the front of the engine coolant connections. Still wasnt seeing anything leaking.

Must note that most of the wetness that I did see existed around the oil filter and hoses directly under it and a tad off to the drivers side. Dabbed with a paper towel to try and absorb any moisture, didnt absorb anything, so not sure if the wetness may just be old oil deposits. (thing is in bad need of an oil change, 11,000 past due!!)
Had the ex hold RPM at 2,000 for a few to help get everything flowing and fully open the thermostat. Still nothing showing. Had her shifts through all gears then drive around the parking lot. Still nothing leaking and no change in reservoir level.

Scratching my head thinking " Okay... by all rights, this thing should be bleeding all over the place." Checked oil stick. Yeah, its dirty but nothing mixed. Pulled off oil cap and found a slight amount of water moisture and some milky residue in crevices of oil cap. So i can say there is some internal damage at this point, but no where even close to the amount that would even suggest a massive internal coolant leak.

Put the cap back on coolant tank. Lo and Behold, the heater is blowing hat air again. Pretty sure the cool was just from an air pocket and not a possible heater core block.

Ran out of time checking things over, but she drove it off and no dinging of low coolant or over heating lights. And still no leaks

The only off thing that I noticed is that the main fan wasnt kicking on, unsure if perhaps it wasnt hot enough or there is another electrical hitch with it. When she bought it, the fan connections were hooked up with a paper clip to keep them both running. Assume this was because of the over heating that was going on for last person who owned it.

So, you got me on this one. Given the hoses up front slightly damp by oil filter, could possibly be intermittent hemorrhage from oil cooler?? :confused:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,841 Posts
Anything is possible; that is why the pressure test, will help pinpoint the problem and help you find these pesky, hard to find leaks. You are not alone and there are MANY threads; of people getting frustrated trying to find the source of their coolant leaks. As for the yellow stuff on the oil cap; this is normal on the 2.0L. If you are concerned about a head gasket failure; you could try testing the coolant system with a combustion leak tester available at auto parts stores.

Having said that; there are some cooling hoses, that can leak that are connected to the oil cooler and I have had to replace mine, because they were leaking.

As for the hacked cooling connections; it is not uncommon, for people to rig the system when they do not know how to fix it. This thread; is a good place, to start troubleshooting the fan issues: (burned out fan control modules and low speed burnouts on the fan motors are common problems, that could be why they rigged the fans on high speed 24/7):

http://newbeetle.org/forums/questio...3260-summers-coming-here-check-your-fans.html
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That is good news that what is on the oil cap is normal. I will get another time with it this week and hopefully work in pressure tests and combustion just to be on the safe side.

As far as the fan. Who knows. It's possible that the therm switch for fan is out and the previous owner jumped it, thinking that was the reason for the over heating. From what I heard, they guy works on cars. I have my doubts, since the water pump was in pretty bad shape and leaking from there causing the over heating.

The ex intends on trading it in or selling it in the next month or so for a car that works more for what she needs. So, not to intent on tossing too many parts at it right now. She did buy a vehicle to replace the NB, but was swindled on it. Wouldn't take anyone with her to check it out and ended up taking the guy at his word and bought a vehicle with severe damage to radiator and at the very least one blown head (it looked bad in that one), did the famous choke, chortle, and death in a way that Shakespeare himself, would have been proud.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,841 Posts
Bummer, sounds like; no matter which way you turn, you are dealing with cars that need repairs. Well, we are here to help and support you; let us know, if there is anything else we can work with you on. Unfortunately, all cars wear out and need repairs! ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
758 Posts
One more thing to check would be for coolant flow from the small hose that goes into the coolant tank. This can clog, which can lead to problems like the inability to purge all of the air from the system (not a good thing). With the engine running, I believe you should be able to look into the coolant tank and see if there is coolant flowing from that hose.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Update:

Ended up doing my own pressure pump similar to a youtube video I found for a Passat. https://youtu.be/5Yg2gD1WuVQ?list=PLwVWUwJN5brezBCDzKKWJc-ISJZ9HsfEM

Put 15psi on the system and didn't have any leaks :eyecrazy:

Last time I had filled the reservoir with water and noted the level then (middle of top and mid-line of reservoir), today it was the middle of empty and mid-line). I think as of now, there is more water than coolant in the system. Pulled the oil cap off on a whim for moisture content and crikey! there was a lot more moisture to be had hanging on the cap and at the fill entrance, than previously.

No reported leakage though. Would a coolant system with more water than anti-freeze boil off that much water somehow? Or does it seem more likely that it's a bad head?

Still doesnt put me any closer on the massive coolant loss in the original complaint. :(

Beginning to wonder if German automobiles are possessed from ship date. Anyone know a priest that speaks auto techese and OBD :grovel:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,841 Posts
Based upon what I experienced in my car; I would do multiple pressure test cycles. When, I did mine the first time; I did not see ANY leaks but after do three pressure test cycles, I started to see a leak. Aside from that test; a combustion leak test, might be your next step to confirm the head gasket is ok.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,301 Posts
The cooling system won't work right with just water. The engine operates too close to the boiling point normally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
758 Posts
Also, did you confirm you have coolant flowing through the small hose that connects to the coolant tank? If not, you might have air in the system which will cause overheating. If you also don't have enough coolant in your coolant/water mix, this will cause boiling of the coolant which will over-pressurize the system and force coolant out of the system (a very bad thing).

You need to make sure you address both of the above possible problems before trying to move forward with other possible tests.

As for the milky foam under the oil cap, that can often be a problem with these engines which is completely unrelated to a head gasket leak. I'd personally not worry about this until you make sure you have the right coolant mix, coolant flow, and have removed all air from the cooling system.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top