Coolant tank nearly empty! Help! [Archive] - Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Forums

: Coolant tank nearly empty! Help!


IanRTL
03-30-2010, 06:15 PM
I just bought my '07 RTL on Saturday. It has 75,000 miles on it and has been very well maintained; however, I opened the hood to check all my fluids this evening. Everything is fine except the coolant overflow tank is nearly empty. This really worried me, so I starting looking everywhere. There are no leaks or drips anywhere that I can see. I'm going directly to the Honda dealer tomorrow to get a gallon of the Honda coolant to fill it up to the appropriate level. Everything seems to be running fine and it's not overheating at all. Is this a really bad thing? I have read the downfalls of getting air into the system, so of course I'm going to fill it up asap. Any input will help...

davedad
03-30-2010, 06:46 PM
Fill it up to the proper level, if after a few days it's staying at the level you filled it too, you have nothing to worry about, if it goes down a lot in a couple of days,,, start worrying.

TraumaTruck1
03-30-2010, 07:16 PM
I agree. You can also use any pre mixed antifreeze from any parts store. You don't have to use the twice as expensive Honda stuff. Just make sure that you don't get the stuff with the GM additive.

IanRTL
03-30-2010, 07:57 PM
Thanks for the replies. I checked the actual radiator cap and the fluid is all the way up to the top. I'm guessing it's just low and the water content has evaporated over time. I'm a little wary of using non-Honda products when it comes to this truck. The Honda coolant may be more expensive, but it's what was formulated to work in this thing and it's what I'm going to trust. I'm also going to very carefully and slowly fill it from the radiator cap itself so the fluid flows down the tube and into the tank. That way there's no way I can get any air bubbles. Just curious... how much does a gallon of Honda coolant typically cost at a dealer?

xridgelinex
03-30-2010, 08:03 PM
Add the fluid to the tank... The cap unscrews.

RTLGATOR
03-30-2010, 08:07 PM
Thanks for the replies. I checked the actual radiator cap and the fluid is all the way up to the top. I'm guessing it's just low and the water content has evaporated over time. I'm a little wary of using non-Honda products when it comes to this truck. The Honda coolant may be more expensive, but it's what was formulated to work in this thing and it's what I'm going to trust. I'm also going to very carefully and slowly fill it from the radiator cap itself so the fluid flows down the tube and into the tank. That way there's no way I can get any air bubbles. Just curious... how much does a gallon of Honda coolant typically cost at a dealer?

Ian, I'm with you on this one, not sure how much a gallon is but if it gives you peace of mind using Honda parts/fluids by all means do so. I have several times had to add fluid to the overflow tank, Hot here in Fl and perhaps your extra cold winter has evaporated some over time so like others have said get it back to the normal level and just check often until you feel good about it.

IanRTL
03-30-2010, 08:29 PM
Ian, I'm with you on this one, not sure how much a gallon is but if it gives you peace of mind using Honda parts/fluids by all means do so. I have several times had to add fluid to the overflow tank, Hot here in Fl and perhaps your extra cold winter has evaporated some over time so like others have said get it back to the normal level and just check often until you feel good about it.

xridgelinex, I know the cap unscrews, but I was worried about getting air in the system. The tank is pretty much empty, so therefore the tube connecting the tank to the radiator fill cap is also empty. If I just put the fluid in the tank, won't that trap air in the tube, and subsequently put air into the system?

Gator, coincidentally, this is a Florida truck. The original owner was a retired state policeman from just outside Tampa who passed away in late January. His nephew, who is from just outside of Pittsburgh up here, inherited the truck and sold it to me. Because of the warmer temps down there, I guess it's no wonder some of the coolant has evaporated. I'll get it all fixed up tomorrow after work, though. H&A accessories lists a gallon of Honda antifreeze at $14.00 from the dealer and $10.99 on their site. I don't want to wait a few days to receive it just to save a few bucks. I'll probably pick up a few oil plug gaskets and some other random goodies while I'm there, too.

RTLGATOR
03-30-2010, 08:35 PM
xridgelinex, I know the cap unscrews, but I was worried about getting air in the system. The tank is pretty much empty, so therefore the tube connecting the tank to the radiator fill cap is also empty. If I just put the fluid in the tank, won't that trap air in the tube, and subsequently put air into the system?

Gator, coincidentally, this is a Florida truck. The original owner was a retired state policeman from just outside Tampa who passed away in late January. His nephew, who is from just outside of Pittsburgh up here, inherited the truck and sold it to me. Because of the warmer temps down there, I guess it's no wonder some of the coolant has evaporated. I'll get it all fixed up tomorrow after work, though. H&A accessories lists a gallon of Honda antifreeze at $14.00 from the dealer and $10.99 on their site. I don't want to wait a few days to receive it just to save a few bucks. I'll probably pick up a few oil plug gaskets and some other random goodies while I'm there, too.

Good Luck and have some fun with your Ridge

TraumaTruck1
03-30-2010, 08:43 PM
IAN pouring the coolant into the reservoir won't put air into the system. Your radiator is full, so there is no air in it. The water is drawn into the radiator from the reservoir as it either leaks or the coolant gets cold lessoning the volume. Then the radiator puts it back into the reservoir as the coolant heats up and the coolant expands. The only way that air can get into your system is that if the reservoir runs completely out and there is no coolant to replace what leaks. It is intended to be filled at the reservoir.

IanRTL
03-31-2010, 10:04 PM
Stopped by the dealer on the way home tonight and got some Type 2 Honda coolant. It was $15 for a gallon. Certainly a little more expensive than, say, Prestone, but it's worth it IMO. I'm just gonna stick with all genuine Honda fluids with this truck with the exception of the oil. I'm gonna switch it over to a full synthetic, but I'm not sure which one yet. I have about 2000 miles before I have to decide. Anyways, I let the truck sit for about 2 hours. Before it got totally dark outside, I went to fill the overflow tank. The radiator was still just slightly warm to the touch, so I filled the tank to halfway between the two marks. I'm gonna check it tomorrow before I start it and then when I get to work when it's hot. Thanks for all of you guys' help!

Andy-Montreal
04-01-2010, 07:17 AM
Where did the coolant go? Ask General Motors that question. Over twenty years ago, the coolant in most of their FWD vehicles was mysteriously disappearing. Something about porous engine block castings.

Keep an eye after filling and don't worry too much about it. Enjoy your new ride. Also, good choice on sticking with Honda's long-life Type-2 coolant.

IanRTL
04-01-2010, 11:13 AM
You don't have to tell me twice. I owned a Grand Am for 8 years. I had to have the coolant flushed out and filled up 4-5 times and the water pump was replaced twice. I used the recommended Dexcool antifreeze, and it SUCKED. I constantly had deposits and a brown sludgey substance in the overflow tank. No matter how much I tried to take care of the cooling system, it always seemed to act up. I had coolant disappearing and I still have no idea where it went (neither did the GM techs).

As far as the RL goes, I'm pretty positive the low coolant level was due to evaporation. It spent the first 75,000 miles of its life in Florida, so the warm temperatures aided in that evaporation, I'm sure. Fluid level was still good this morning and was to the top line when I got to work after a half hour drive.

I'm not messing around with anything other than Honda certified fluids. Like I said, I'll be switching over to a full synthetic oil, but all Honda other than that. My dad (lifetime GM owner) doesn't understand why Honda's fluids are better even after I explained all the formulations and engineering behind them. Ah well. He'll drive his Monte Carlo for another five years, put a bunch of money into maintaining it, and I'll laugh at him when all I ever do is change out the fluids and put gas in the RL.

arteegee
04-01-2010, 11:20 AM
Keep an eye after filling and don't worry too much about it. Enjoy your new ride. Also, good choice on sticking with Honda's long-life Type-2 coolant.

Cold level halfway between lines, correct?

hiPSI
04-01-2010, 11:28 AM
You don't have to tell me twice. I owned a Grand Am for 8 years. I had to have the coolant flushed out and filled up 4-5 times and the water pump was replaced twice. I used the recommended Dexcool antifreeze, and it SUCKED. I constantly had deposits and a brown sludgey substance in the overflow tank. No matter how much I tried to take care of the cooling system, it always seemed to act up. I had coolant disappearing and I still have no idea where it went (neither did the GM techs).

As far as the RL goes, I'm pretty positive the low coolant level was due to evaporation. It spent the first 75,000 miles of its life in Florida, so the warm temperatures aided in that evaporation, I'm sure. Fluid level was still good this morning and was to the top line when I got to work after a half hour drive.

I'm not messing around with anything other than Honda certified fluids. Like I said, I'll be switching over to a full synthetic oil, but all Honda other than that. My dad (lifetime GM owner) doesn't understand why Honda's fluids are better even after I explained all the formulations and engineering behind them. Ah well. He'll drive his Monte Carlo for another five years, put a bunch of money into maintaining it, and I'll laugh at him when all I ever do is change out the fluids and put gas in the RL.

I seriously doubt Honda makes their own fluids. What they do however is develop stringent specifications that the vendors have to meet or exceed before Honda buys the fluid. The vendor just sticks "Honda" on the label and now it is "Honda" oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, etc. It's all in the specs. are you going to buy "Honda" winshield wiper fluid? Prestone and all the others COULD meet the specs and actually be the one furnishing the antifreeze to Honda but unfortunately only the Honda engineers and purchasing department know for sure.

IanRTL
04-01-2010, 10:17 PM
I seriously doubt Honda makes their own fluids. What they do however is develop stringent specifications that the vendors have to meet or exceed before Honda buys the fluid. The vendor just sticks "Honda" on the label and now it is "Honda" oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, etc. It's all in the specs. are you going to buy "Honda" winshield wiper fluid? Prestone and all the others COULD meet the specs and actually be the one furnishing the antifreeze to Honda but unfortunately only the Honda engineers and purchasing department know for sure.

Whether the Honda engineers actually created the fluids in their labs with their endless supply of bunson burners or not is of no concern to me. What IS important is that those engineers have chemically formulated fluids that provide optimal protection and lubrication for the Ridgeline's mechanical systems, moving parts, and heating/cooling systems. Whether they produced them or contracted another company to make them, the bottom line is that those fluids have been tested and approved by Honda's engineers - the same engineers who CREATED the Ridgeline. I'm going to trust their findings and only use Honda fluids. No, I probably won't go as far as using Honda windshield fluid, but my truck will never see anything but a steady diet of Honda coolant, ATF, VTM-4 fluid, etc.

Andy-Montreal
04-02-2010, 08:26 AM
Cold level halfway between lines, correct?

Good point Artee.

Honda's recommendation is to verify that the coolant level is visible between the 'min' & 'max' lines inside the translucent coolant reservoir. They do not specify if this check should be made while the engine is warm or cold.

However, since the coolant level will actually vary depending upon engine temperature, a general rule of thumb is that the cold engine coolant level should be just above the 'min' line while the warm engine coolant level (std operating temp) should be just below the 'max' line.

IanRTL
04-02-2010, 11:04 AM
Good point Artee.

Honda's recommendation is to verify that the coolant level is visible between the 'min' & 'max' lines inside the translucent coolant reservoir. They do not specify if this check should be made while the engine is warm or cold.

However, since the coolant level will actually vary depending upon engine temperature, a general rule of thumb is that the cold engine coolant level should be just above the 'min' line while the warm engine coolant level (std operating temp) should be just below the 'max' line.

Agreed. Mine was still a little warm to the touch, so I filled nearly halfway between the lines. I checked it when it was totally cold and it's just above the "min" line. Then I checked when it was warm and it's just below the "max" line. Of course it will vary, but the fluid is holding well.

Valk97
12-30-2012, 10:53 AM
Fill it up to the proper level, if after a few days it's staying at the level you filled it too, you have nothing to worry about, if it goes down a lot in a couple of days,,, start worrying.

Just bought an 06 Ridgeline last week with 73K. Coolant tank was empty but there was coolant in the radiator. On two occasions I have filled the reservoir (with the Honda stuff), to the top fill line only to have it drop just below the minimum fill line after driving only 25 - 50 miles.

There is no smell of antifreeze, no visible leaks anywhere (in the engine or on the ground) and thankfully no sign of antifreeze in the oil.

Wondering what I should begin worrying about?? Whats the most likely cause of the disappearing antifreeze?

Thinking about replacing the cap even though there is no sign of a leak and no smell).

IanRTL
12-30-2012, 11:04 AM
Just bought an 06 Ridgeline last week with 73K. Coolant tank was empty but there was coolant in the radiator. On two occasions I have filled the reservoir (with the Honda stuff), to the top fill line only to have it drop just below the minimum fill line after driving only 25 - 50 miles.

There is no smell of antifreeze, no visible leaks anywhere (in the engine or on the ground) and thankfully no sign of antifreeze in the oil.

Wondering what I should begin worrying about?? Whats the most likely cause of the disappearing antifreeze?

Thinking about replacing the cap even though there is no sign of a leak and no smell).

Being that the coolant is 50% water, anything that causes the system to be unsealed will cause evaporation. I believe this is what happened to my truck originally. I took off the rad cap and cleaned it really well. I also did the same thing to the cap on the tank. I filled it to just over halfway between the low and the high mark. I haven't had an issue since. My fluid has now been drained and filled twice since then (TB/WP service and a radiator replacement) and I have not had any issues. Try cleaning both caps really well and filling to the proper level. If it drops significantly over a short period of time, try replacing both caps.

Bethard728
12-30-2012, 11:28 AM
Ian has a good idea, any opening will aid evaporation. They only problem I see, is 25-50 miles is not enough time for evaporation to be noticeable even if you had the lid completely off the overflow tank. I would inspect any coolant hose. I have seen a few cases over the years, where a tiny pin hole in a radiator hose was spraying the coolant out at a slow enough rate that the coolant smell was not present. In one case, it was actually spraying on the exhaust at the bottom of the engine. If you really get down close to a leak, it will smell, but from above, it is unnoticeable. But...this theory would not likely loose that much coolant in 25-50 miles.

It could be possible that the previous owner had recently changed the coolant, and some air was is the system. When you top off the tank, it was just displacing the air in the system after driving long enough to open the thermostat.

If that is not the case, then your leak appears to be severe, my guess is that it will show up soon. That much coolant disappearing that quickly is likely a problem. I don't know how much the tank holds between the lines, but I'm guessing your losing a pint every 50 miles, or more. If its not in the oil, and not leaking externally, the only other option is burning it through the cylinders. If it was burning it, you would likely have some misfiring when the engine is cold and a check engine light on.

Valk97
12-30-2012, 01:02 PM
Very much appreciate the suggestions. Other than the disappearing antifreeze, have zero issues. It runs great, idles smoothly and no problems with starting. I don't see anything underneath that shows an indication of a leak of any kind.

Going to keep my fingers crossed that this is just a matter of air being replaced in the system. Should know more in a couple of days!!
Thanks...!!!!!!!

PS... Don't know about everyone else, but some of the posts scare the hell outa me.. I did a search using the keyword "antifreeze" and saw posts about blown head gaskets, ruined transmissions, bad radiators, etc. Just going to keep telling myself that these types of issues can be found in any car forum.

Bethard728
12-30-2012, 01:31 PM
Very much appreciate the suggestions. Other than the disappearing antifreeze, have zero issues. It runs great, idles smoothly and no problems with starting. I don't see anything underneath that shows an indication of a leak of any kind.

Going to keep my fingers crossed that this is just a matter of air being replaced in the system. Should know more in a couple of days!!
Thanks...!!!!!!!

PS... Don't know about everyone else, but some of the posts scare the hell outa me.. I did a search using the keyword "antifreeze" and saw posts about blown head gaskets, ruined transmissions, bad radiators, etc. Just going to keep telling myself that these types of issues can be found in any car forum.

I believe any of the problems could be an issue with any manufacturer. Although it seems to me like the ridgeline has more than its fair share. The ridgeline is known to have a problem with the radiator design where the tranny cooler lines enter the radiator. Washers will rust causing trans fluid and coolant to mix. The coolant will wipe out the teanny in a hurry.

Valk97
12-30-2012, 02:10 PM
I believe any of the problems could be an issue with any manufacturer. Although it seems to me like the ridgeline has more than its fair share. The ridgeline is known to have a problem with the radiator design where the tranny cooler lines enter the radiator. Washers will rust causing trans fluid and coolant to mix. The coolant will wipe out the teanny in a hurry.

Yep, have read a few of those threads but it's really tough to tell just how widespread the problem is. Enough to take some type of preventative action before it happens??

Or, does one go by the Reliability History as listed by Consumer Reports. For all Ridgeline model years, Engine Cooling, Transmission Major and Transmission Minor have reliability history listed as excellent.
Not too many vehicles have that good of a rating.

BTW.. I noticed you are from Litchfield IL. I'm in Bethalto..35 miles....almost your neighbor :)

Bethard728
12-30-2012, 02:31 PM
Small world. I come to bethalto area often. Stop at the flea market in medowbrook and shop in Alton. And I have a friend that lives outside of hamel.

IanRTL
12-30-2012, 03:01 PM
Yep, have read a few of those threads but it's really tough to tell just how widespread the problem is. Enough to take some type of preventative action before it happens??

Or, does one go by the Reliability History as listed by Consumer Reports. For all Ridgeline model years, Engine Cooling, Transmission Major and Transmission Minor have reliability history listed as excellent.
Not too many vehicles have that good of a rating.

BTW.. I noticed you are from Litchfield IL. I'm in Bethalto..35 miles....almost your neighbor :)

It is prevalent enough to be concerned. I replaced my radiator this past July as preventative maintenance. Due to Honda's use of a plain steel belleville washer on the tranny cooler line fittings going into the radiator, the washers rust over time, expand, and cause the fittings to pull away from the radiator. This, in turn, causes coolant and tranny fluid to mix. If it is caught quickly, it can be remedied by changing the radiator and completely changing the tranny fluid. Otherwise, it will ruin your transmission. It's not just limited to RL's and not just to Honda, for that matter. The same design is used on Pilots, older gen MDX's and some Odyssey's. You will find little issues like this with any make or model. Nothing is perfect. Unfortunately, a substandard use of materials on Honda's part can cause HUGE damage. The best thing you can do is inspect your fittings. If the washers look rusty, it's best to replace the radiator with an aftermarket one that uses brass, aluminum or SS fitting materials like Koyorad or Silla.

speedlever
12-31-2012, 07:30 AM
Agree with Ian. With an '06, check those Belleville washers for condition. A $400 radiator job is cheap insurance if it protects your tranny.

Bethard's suggestion about a possible coolant change leaving air in the system sounds viable to me. A radiator change (and subsequent coolant replacement) will address that issue. But if you have no need to replace the radiator, you might consider doing your own coolant replacement and use an inexpensive device to help prevent air in the system (which can also be damaging).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001A4EAV0/ref=oh_details_o03_s01_i01

Read the first review to see how it can be useful (great for burping your radiator).

Valk97
12-31-2012, 03:32 PM
just an fyi follow up....

After adding coolant to the overflow tank for the 3rd time, it does not appear to be going down anymore. So apparently there was air in the system. My guess... the radiator itself was probably a bit low as well and I probably should have added coolant directly to the radiator as well as the overflow tank. Live and learn I guess.

thanks again......

Bethard728
12-31-2012, 04:02 PM
just an fyi follow up....

After adding coolant to the overflow tank for the 3rd time, it does not appear to be going down anymore. So apparently there was air in the system. My guess... the radiator itself was probably a bit low as well and I probably should have added coolant directly to the radiator as well as the overflow tank. Live and learn I guess.

thanks again......

Excellent news!!! Let's hope it stays full.

speedlever
12-31-2012, 04:34 PM
Air can be trapped creating hot spots. I would recommend you still burp it with a device designed for that purpose.

Bethard728
12-31-2012, 05:06 PM
Speed - that is the second time I have heard someone mention a bleeding device for the coolant system. What is it??? I had never heard of one in my life until ROC. I have never had a major issue with bleeding a system, but a special tool might be handy. Below is a couple things I have done or heard of before for stubborn systems.

1. If you have an old radiator cap, drill a hole in it and silicone a funnel to it. Make sure the funnel is taller than the highest point of the system and fill slowly.

2. Drill a 1/8 hole in the thermostat before filling the system. This was the method of choice on a mustang forum....but I am not a fan of that. Then you always have a little coolant bleeding through even when stat is shut.

3. Tap and install a blender on the thermostat housing. I did this once on a cutlass supreme that was notorious for air bubbles. Worked great!

4. Older ram pickups were notorious for cavitation and air bubbles in the heater core. To solve this, I would take the outbound heater hose off and let coolant flow out, then reattach the hose while truck was running.

5. Remove the highest coolant hose, and fill system from there.

Some of these methods can be a Pita!! I would be interested in a device to make bleeding easier!!! Do ou happen to have a link?

speedlever
12-31-2012, 06:18 PM
Yes. Check out the Lisle 24610 Spill-Free Funnel linked in post 26. Tell me what you think.

I've used it once thus far when I replaced the coolant in the Pilot. It seems to burp the system pretty well and sucks in replacement coolant as the air exits the system.

Read the description and the reviews.

Bethard728
12-31-2012, 06:31 PM
Yes. Check out the Lisle 24610 Spill-Free Funnel linked in post 26. Tell me what you think.

I've used it once thus far when I replaced the coolant in the Pilot. It seems to burp the system pretty well and sucks in replacement coolant as the air exits the system.

Read the description and the reviews.

Thanks speed!!! I didn't even notice it in your post #26. Apparently I didn't read it closely. That looks handier than pockets on a shirt!! That is kinda the basics beind the radiator cap with a funnel siliconed to it....but a whole lot less redneck and I'm sure a lot more functional. I will be getting that kit before I change at the ridge coolant.

Edit: interestingly enough...the engine in the picture of the funnel kit is the same engine I tapped the bleeder into to stat housing. It could be time consuming burping that style engine.