Coolant loss mystery

Pilchard

Member
My 1.4 diesel is losing coolant somehow.

It was serviced and topped up 11 days and 110 miles ago. Following the warning alarm today it took 0.85 litres to bring it to the max line.
The same happened 2000 before the service, and again just before the service, so I asked the garage to check. He had it on a pressure test while he did the service and he reported no pressure loss.
A bit of a mystery.

The temp-gauge is very lazy and never moves from its 60 degree start point unless on a long run... and then never hits the middle point where you'd expect it to be. There could be a connection... but maybe not. Either way... the lazy gauge is another mystery I've had in mind to look into.

There is no engine-bay staining visible from just casual inspection and, fortunately, there is no sign of oil contamination.

I did notice a little windscreen misting the other day, but assumed it was condensation from the water ingress I've been getting in the rear battery/underfloor area from the (I presume) vents behind the bumper.
Water-pump was done along with the cam-belt early last year.

So... can anyone advise on classic or well-known coolant loss locations?
 

Pilchard

Member
It's good that there seems to be a consensus of opinion similar to mine... i.e. that paying for a head job might be good money after bad and that, with 170k under it's belt, other expensive failures are bound to be waiting in the wings on a car that (now) looks as if it might have suffered some historical neglect.
I'll give it a chance with the additive. It may not even fix the problem, but it's not a huge outlay.
Re Webasto... mine don't even work. It never has.
I'll wait 'til we get back from our Scottish NC500 trip and get my act together in early June. The delay will give me more pondering time and the opportunity for further research.
My main thing is... should I do it myself, or take it to the garage that told me about the bodge... and had successfully done one a few years back. If it were petrol I'd probably have more confidence. I have some limited but distant history stripping and rebuilding pushrod (yes that far back) bikes and car engines, but a modern diesel.... I don't know. And, as I said earlier, the thought of running a 3 cylinder engine until it gets hot with one injector removed to depressurise the leaking cylinder isn't something I'm terribly enthusiastic about.
The process/technique needs research... pondering... and more research I reckon.

Whatever the eventual outcome, I think I'll be looking for another... sooner or later; but a decent one this time.
 

Proghound

Admin Team
Having seen a set of injectors for an AMF engine like yours, they take in fuel under enormous pressure from the common rail, through almost microscopic holes in the injector body. You won't be able to run the engine at all without all three injectors physically present. What you could do is disconnect the injector for the cylinder concerned and take out that glowplug though. This is very easily accessible, you just need a deep 10mm socket and the 'plug not to shear off. There will be advice on here and Google about the best tactics for glowplug removal. Good luck on getting the engine hot though ... not a forte of this very efficient design, let alone at 2/3rds of its heat production capability. At least it won't throw any engine fault codes with the injector not working, and in the middle of summer you've got the best chance of getting the thermostat to open.
 
If it were your situation I’d maybe be tempted to try a ‘product’ rather than scrap it if those were the only options. If it’s a heat selective thing then turn off the Webasto but it might be something clever like it only hardens in contact with exhaust gases... what do you have to lose? Weigh it up.

What I’d do for my car, since I know the history, is to get ANOTHER A2 to run around in and then have a laugh stripping the engine and head gasket at the roadside over 12 months to the vast annoyance of my wife and neighbours. A hobby-project to learn about the work involved and something to keep me interested during my resulting messy divorce.

I’m pretty sure people used to crack eggs into radiators in Ye Olden Days...


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Apparently its some kind of resin which hardens when it boils/gets very hot - which it should only do if it’s coming into contact with the very hot gases inside the cylinder - through a leak.

I would probably make sure that there weren’t any air pockets in the coolant system where the coolant might boil before use. And definitely put the Webasto off - it stays hot and the coolant in it could boil after the water pump stops.

Presumably the coolant doesn’t get above the critical temperature threshold in normal use - only if there is a direct introduction of exhaust gas. I would try to avoid overheating the engine though.


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Pilchard

Member
Having seen a set of injectors for an AMF engine like yours, they take in fuel under enormous pressure from the common rail, through almost microscopic holes in the injector body. You won't be able to run the engine at all without all three injectors physically present. What you could do is disconnect the injector for the cylinder concerned and take out that glowplug though. This is very easily accessible, you just need a deep 10mm socket and the 'plug not to shear off. There will be advice on here and Google about the best tactics for glowplug removal. Good luck on getting the engine hot though ... not a forte of this very efficient design, let alone at 2/3rds of its heat production capability. At least it won't throw any engine fault codes with the injector not working, and in the middle of summer you've got the best chance of getting the thermostat to open.
Thanks for the advice Progs.

Below is part of the Steel Seal instructions from its website. Having re-read it, some of it doesn't really make much sense to me... especially the first sentence of the second bulleted point, and running the car with cooling system open... unpressurised. I don't see the logic.

It's worth reading all their instructions, and the link to that web-page is here.... https://steelseal.com/how-to-use/

How To Use - Head Gasket Repair - Steel Seal
Pretreatment. Head gasket failure is a symptom, not the cause of overheating. The original source of cooling system failure, if still present, must be repaired before attempting to repair your head gasket.
steelseal.com


Also... I don't know why they don't offer the same sound advice you've given re removing the glow-plug instead of injector.

I'll have to look into what is entailed, and the consequences thereof, of merely disconnecting the injector rather than removing it.

I also don't understand why they say to add the additive to a cold system It'd save a lot off hassle if the car were warmed up with plain water, and then pouring the additive in



ADDITIONAL DIRECTIONS FOR BACKPRESSURE:

These directions are for people that have a lot of back pressure building up in the cooling system, usually shown as bubbling in the header tank or air forcing past the coolant cap.

  • Locate the cylinder causing the bubbling in the overflow tank or backpressure. (Remove plugs one at a time till bubbling stops)
  • Before starting the engine, remove the spark plug or injector from the cylinder that was causing the bubbling in the overflow tank or back pressure. If accessible, remove injector wire from that cylinder. This will limit the amount of unburned fuel going into the combustion chamber.
  • If you cannot find the spark plug/cylinder that is causing the back pressure, run the engine with the coolant level down to the top of the radiator core and with the radiator cap off or leave the expansion cap off the expansion bottle with water only just visible.
    Make sure to run the engine up to temperature with the spark plug/Injector out and for the one final time with the spark plug/injector back in place.
RECOMMENDED ANTIFREEZE

Prestone Low-Tox
—– (Propylene Glycol pH 8-11) — Biodegradable/non-toxic antifreeze.

available at O’Reilly Auto parts.

Prestone conventional green antifreeze – (Ethylene Glycol— pH 8-11) Low solvent effect, silicate stabilizers and high pH provide the best protection
 

Pilchard

Member
If it were your situation I’d maybe be tempted to try a ‘product’ rather than scrap it if those were the only options. If it’s a heat selective thing then turn off the Webasto but it might be something clever like it only hardens in contact with exhaust gases... what do you have to lose? Weigh it up.

What I’d do for my car, since I know the history, is to get ANOTHER A2 to run around in and then have a laugh stripping the engine and head gasket at the roadside over 12 months to the vast annoyance of my wife and neighbours. A hobby-project to learn about the work involved and something to keep me interested during my resulting messy divorce.

I’m pretty sure people used to crack eggs into radiators in Ye Olden Days...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Pinky, my wife wouldn't give a monkey's if I had a car with its guts spilled out for months on end, but... because it really would annoy our sanctimonious nosey hypocritical Hyacinth Bucket neighbour... she would gladly help me do it. But we unfortunately live in a tiny country hamlet with narrow lanes with no room to keep a dead car, other than on our small drive which only just has room for the A2 and our motorhome.

Since I got this car in Jan 2020, the Webasto has never fired up... never made a peep. I didn't even know it had a pre-heater for the first few months, and by then the ambient temps would have been too high to trigger it. Don't know if it's dead or it's just an electrical fault. I in fact naively thought... eventually... as it was silent... that it was a 12 volt heater rather than a diesel burner. I imagined it to be like one of those little heater coil thingies you could plug into the cig lighter socket to make a hot brew. Har, har... what an idiot! I knew all about Eberspacher diesel heaters, but had no idea Webasto did them too.
 

kp 115

Member
Pinky, my wife wouldn't give a monkey's if I had a car with its guts spilled out for months on end, but... because it really would annoy our sanctimonious nosey hypocritical Hyacinth Bucket neighbour... she would gladly help me do it. But we unfortunately live in a tiny country hamlet with narrow lanes with no room to keep a dead car, other than on our small drive which only just has room for the A2 and our motorhome.

Since I got this car in Jan 2020, the Webasto has never fired up... never made a peep. I didn't even know it had a pre-heater for the first few months, and by then the ambient temps would have been too high to trigger it. Don't know if it's dead or it's just an electrical fault. I in fact naively thought... eventually... as it was silent... that it was a 12 volt heater rather than a diesel burner. I imagined it to be like one of those little heater coil thingies you could plug into the cig lighter socket to make a hot brew. Har, har... what an idiot! I knew all about Eberspacher diesel heaters, but had no idea Webasto did them too.
Hi pilchard,
The cam cover would need to be removed to disconnect the injector as the plug for each cylinder is in the oil side not external, an alternative way would be to identify the correct pair of wires in the screwed plug on the side of the head & withdraw the connectors with the correct tool if possible!
The Webasto may well need resetting as they can lock out if to many failed start attempts (clear using VCDS )
Test can be carried out once fault cleared by placing an ice pop on the O.A.T sensor located in the lower grill if the Outside Air Temperature is above 6 or 7 deg,
It will need to have the air bled from the upper air bleed screw near the brake fluid reservoir first.
Hope that helps
Keith.
FF062133-B113-4A94-8E4B-4DEC331449F2.jpeg
E78E0124-F6A3-4915-8729-6ECF39F28929.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Pilchard

Member
Hi pilchard,
The cam cover would need to be removed to disconnect the injector as the plug for each cylinder is in the oil side not external, an alternative way would be to identify the correct pair of wires in the screwed plug on the side of the head & withdraw the connectors with the correct tool if possible!
The Webasto are may well need resetting as they can lock out if to many failed start attempts (clear using VCDS )
Test can be carried out once fault cleared by placing an ice pop on the O.A.T sensor located in the lower grill if the Outside Air Temperature is above 6 or 7 deg,
It will need to have the air bled from the upper air bleed screw near the brake fluid reservoir first.
Hope that helps
Keith.
That's interesting and very useful info Keith. Thanks
 

Howey

Member
Very much doubt a cracked head. I don't think you are ment to skim the heads (needs confirming I'm sure I read that somewhere?) if it does it's injectors out which is a bit more cost. If it was me I'd just get the gasket replaced assuming cambelt and water pump recently done. Definatley look at what gasket thickness are available. I did have a picture of mine when it leaked but can't find it in my very disorganised photos. I'll try searching again as I'll bet it's the same place it's leaking. Good luck.
Can the head be removed without disturbing the injectors at all??
 

Rusty911

A2OC Donor
Thanks for the advice Progs.

Below is part of the Steel Seal instructions from its website. Having re-read it, some of it doesn't really make much sense to me... especially the first sentence of the second bulleted point, and running the car with cooling system open... unpressurised. I don't see the logic.

It's worth reading all their instructions, and the link to that web-page is here.... https://steelseal.com/how-to-use/

How To Use - Head Gasket Repair - Steel Seal
Pretreatment. Head gasket failure is a symptom, not the cause of overheating. The original source of cooling system failure, if still present, must be repaired before attempting to repair your head gasket.
steelseal.com


Also... I don't know why they don't offer the same sound advice you've given re removing the glow-plug instead of injector.

I'll have to look into what is entailed, and the consequences thereof, of merely disconnecting the injector rather than removing it.

I also don't understand why they say to add the additive to a cold system It'd save a lot off hassle if the car were warmed up with plain water, and then pouring the additive in



ADDITIONAL DIRECTIONS FOR BACKPRESSURE:

These directions are for people that have a lot of back pressure building up in the cooling system, usually shown as bubbling in the header tank or air forcing past the coolant cap.

  • Locate the cylinder causing the bubbling in the overflow tank or backpressure. (Remove plugs one at a time till bubbling stops)
  • Before starting the engine, remove the spark plug or injector from the cylinder that was causing the bubbling in the overflow tank or back pressure. If accessible, remove injector wire from that cylinder. This will limit the amount of unburned fuel going into the combustion chamber.
  • If you cannot find the spark plug/cylinder that is causing the back pressure, run the engine with the coolant level down to the top of the radiator core and with the radiator cap off or leave the expansion cap off the expansion bottle with water only just visible.
    Make sure to run the engine up to temperature with the spark plug/Injector out and for the one final time with the spark plug/injector back in place.
RECOMMENDED ANTIFREEZE

Prestone Low-Tox
—– (Propylene Glycol pH 8-11) — Biodegradable/non-toxic antifreeze.

available at O’Reilly Auto parts.

Prestone conventional green antifreeze – (Ethylene Glycol— pH 8-11) Low solvent effect, silicate stabilizers and high pH provide the best protection
I suspect their instructions are actually for petrol engines, hence their casual suggestion of injector removal.

Odd though about not wanting back-pressure, you'd think that's exactly what you'd need to help drive the magical formula as far into the failure as possible.
 
We have the same neighbour apparently... We eventually had to sell our campervan because of regular, very pointed, comments about the lack of street side (public parking)... and let’s not mention the back fence, the bins, the food waste, the new shed, the bird feeder, the back gate, the shared hedge... Neighbours can be the worst.
I’d happily come and help you just to get one over on her with you - but I’m a mechanical numpty.

I wonder if the advice to start the engine cold and unpressurised is to limit the chance of sufficient heat to ‘cure’ to the gasket leak only and to avoid having too much pressure in the leak so the resin has a chance to plug it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Rusty911

A2OC Donor
We have the same neighbour apparently... We eventually had to sell our campervan because of regular, very pointed, comments about the lack of street side (public parking)... and let’s not mention the back fence, the bins, the food waste, the new shed, the bird feeder, the back gate, the shared hedge... Neighbours can be the worst.
I’d happily come and help you just to get one over on her with you - but I’m a mechanical numpty.

I wonder if the advice to start the engine cold and unpressurised is to limit the chance of sufficient heat to ‘cure’ to the gasket leak only and to avoid having too much pressure in the leak so the resin has a chance to plug it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Yes, but you'd think you'd want as much pressure on the cooling side as possible to counter the combustion gases on the other.

On the other hand, I wonder if the manufacturers are taking it as read the failed cylinder will be run decompressed, and therefore there might be a danger of the product being forced into the combustion chamber via cooling system pressure? Perhaps the ideal is that the product virtually capillaries into the flaw, but goes no further?

It's all interesting stuff, albeit a shame to be discussing under these circumstances.
 
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