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Discussion Starter #1
I went to Valvoline for an oil change today (don't judge me) and they said my coolant reservoir was low and asked me if I wanted a flush. I said no and to just top off the reservoir. I let the truck sit for a few hours and went back out to check the fluid level in the actual radiator, when I took the cap off I didn't see ANY fluid. My question is should I get the OEM genuine Honda 50/50 coolant off Amazon and put it in? If there is still some coolant in the radiator and engine block that is green is it ok to mix with the blue?

Thanks
 

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The color of the coolant really doesn't mean anything, it's the formulation that is important.

Either buy Honda coolant or a coolant the meets the same specs.
 

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Well I don't think it matters in the least what kind of coolant you put in there until you figure out where it's going first.
 

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2008 Ridgeline RTS in Billet Silver Metallic
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So was there fluid in the reservoir but none visible in the radiator? That sounds very odd to me.

If you are DIY inclined, it's a simple job to drain the radiator and replace the coolant. I suggest OEM coolant. A couple of gallon jugs should take care of it. Then monitor the level and see if you have a problem or not.

You can get a special funnel to help burp the air out of the system if you decide to change the coolant yourself.
Robot Check
 

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For the minimal price difference between a coolant that is "compatible" with Honda and the genuine Honda fluid that is designed for use in your truck, I'd stick with the genuine Honda Type 2 stuff. If you can confirm that you have absolutely no leaks, you may have a radiator cap that isn't doing its job in sealing. Any non-sealed point in the system will cause more advanced evaporation of the 50% that is water and your coolant disappears much faster. When the truck is cold, take off the radiator cap and check its seal. Wipe off any contamination and put it back on. Then, fill your overflow reservoir to about 3/4 of the way to the top mark. Run the truck for a day and then check the level again when it's warm. If it's between the point where you filled it to and the top mark, you're good. If not, top off again and drive it for another day. The system could just be burping itself of air. If it's still low after the second day, you've got an issue. Pull out the transmission fluid dipstick and ensure that the fluid is still a deep red color. If it's a milky pink color, stop driving IMMEDIATELY. You have a broken radiator and it could be a very serious problem.
 

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Agree. Check the transmission dip-stick right now.

Chip H.
 

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Fill the radiator (I would use Honda coolant), put on a new cap. See what happens. Go from there.

(Yes, check tranny fluid dip stick, just to be sure it's not contaminated)

Let us know how things work out, or what you find next, if anything.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the replies everyone. I bought the OEM Honda Type 2 coolant off Amazon and topped everything off. The radiator took almost half of the jug which is odd because the temp gauge always read normal temp. I noticed small spots in my driveway and at work after doing this so I suspect a small leak somewhere and will have to get it checked out. I'll check the transmission dip stick as well although I just had a new transmission installed in October right after I bought it (long story) so I'd think if the mechanic saw anything strange he would have alerted me to the fact unless it happened afterwards. Working on Hondas used to be my lifes purpose when I was in my early 20's however I am now 32, live in the city and no longer have the space, resources, or time to really mess around with DIY stuff as much as I'd like, so as noobish as this may sound I promise I'm not as inexperienced as I come off to be - just a little rusty.
 

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I've not found the temp gauge to be linear. It seems to be normalized such that it indicates the same relative gauge reading even though the actual coolant temp varies by 50-60*F or so. If you connect an ODB2 scanner to the OBD2 port, you can watch the coolant temp and compare the indication on the gauge.
 

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Thanks for the replies everyone. I bought the OEM Honda Type 2 coolant off Amazon and topped everything off. The radiator took almost half of the jug which is odd because the temp gauge always read normal temp. I noticed small spots in my driveway and at work after doing this so I suspect a small leak somewhere and will have to get it checked out. I'll check the transmission dip stick as well although I just had a new transmission installed in October right after I bought it (long story) so I'd think if the mechanic saw anything strange he would have alerted me to the fact unless it happened afterwards. Working on Hondas used to be my lifes purpose when I was in my early 20's however I am now 32, live in the city and no longer have the space, resources, or time to really mess around with DIY stuff as much as I'd like, so as noobish as this may sound I promise I'm not as inexperienced as I come off to be - just a little rusty.
DO NOT DELAY checking that tranny dipstick (it will take you 1/2 a minute to do). You are just checking to see that you have good looking fluid (not contaminated/milky). The fact that you had transmission work is precisely why you're being told to check this. You have transmission cooler lines that hook up to your radiator, and those lines/passages can cross-flow with coolant if they are improperly installed or otherwise failed. THIS IS BAD, and subsequent failure will have you getting another new transmission.

Having said that, your problem is more likely a coolant system problem (leak), given you're using that much fluid (I don't think you'd get that much into your tranny, but who knows).
Bottom line, checking the dipstick is just a "rule it out" precaution that won't take you any time at all.

After that you can chase down your radiator leak (try looking for your leak after the engine has warmed & it is still running... look under the hood for pin hole spray from a hose or connection for instance). Since you have seen evidence of coolant on the ground, you likely have a simple leak. This is a good thing, from the standpoint of all possible causes. Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I just checked the transmission dip stick and all is well. Actually the radiator wasn't leaking anywhere that I could see either. The small patches I saw on the ground were from when I had the oil change - I'm assuming some oil got on the frame when they took the old oil filter out and never bothered to clean it up so it was just slowly dripping on the ground. I wiped it up and will monitor if it continues to leak at which point it will be safe to assume the drain plug isn't properly sealed. I think they just re-use the same washer.
 

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I've never had an issue re-using the old sealing washers. In fact, I rarely change them out on any of the drain/fill bolts on my vehicles. And with the Fumoto Valve, I have no washers to replace when doing an oil change.

That being said, there is always the possibility of a leak at the drain bolt. But as you say, more likely you have residual oil that was not cleaned up during the change.
 

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Not changing crush washers is a primary issue with why the oil drain threads strip out. YMMV
 

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I bought 20 oil crush washers several years ago right after we got the Accord. Being that both vehicles took the same oil, filters and crush washers, I figured I'd just have them on hand. I put a Fumoto on the RL a few years ago and haven't had to use a crush washer since then. It's just habit to change out the washer when I change oil on the Accord now. Being that they're so inexpensive, it doesn't make sense not to change them on the oil drain plug. Now for the other ones like the rear diff, tranny and transfer case drain plugs, I change them every other or even every third change. I've never had a problem with them leaking. For the fill bolts on those things, I've never changed the washers. Just clean and reuse. I don't torque the bejeezus out of those plugs, so stripping the threads isn't a concern to me.
 

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The only vehicles that I've had experience with the oil pan stripping out were ones which the oil pan had no crush washer or it had been used multiple times without replacement to there was no remaining "soft" washer to "crush". At the price of a crush washer I just don't understand the "reusing" of an engineered part which is intended to be replaced. If I apply the specified torque to a bolt with a crush washer a set number of times, without replacement, once that washer has "flattened" the torque needs to go somwhere, it will have to start applying stress to those threads. I've changed oil in Honda vehicles totaling well over 600,000 miles across multiple engine displacements not a stripped thread. But the two that I've helped other owners with 1 had no crush washer the other looked almost hammered flat, both required replacement oil drain bolts & retreading

I guess the fill ports of various could be skipped since there as long as it was in a location where fluid couldn't leak out or contaminates get in, IMHO, VTM-4 Drain & Fill, & Transfer Case drain & Fill are low enough that personally I'd replace them, YMMV

Obivously if your using a Mity Vac, or a Fujimoto Valve , the oil drain plug becomes irrelevant
 

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I don't know if it's significant, but Honda does not call them crush washers. Honda calls them sealing washers.

FWIW, I've had no issues with any fill/drain bolt thread stripping or leaking... even when torqued back to factory numbers re-using the old sealing washer. I'm not saying that's a good idea, just a data point from my anecdotal experience of being too lazy to change the washer... or, more to the point, not having a fresh washer out when I'm underneath changing out a fluid. I'm not climbing back out from underneath to find my stash of sealing washers. ;)
 

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The only vehicles that I've had experience with the oil pan stripping out were ones which the oil pan had no crush washer or it had been used multiple times without replacement to there was no remaining "soft" washer to "crush". At the price of a crush washer I just don't understand the "reusing" of an engineered part which is intended to be replaced. If I apply the specified torque to a bolt with a crush washer a set number of times, without replacement, once that washer has "flattened" the torque needs to go somwhere, it will have to start applying stress to those threads. I've changed oil in Honda vehicles totaling well over 600,000 miles across multiple engine displacements not a stripped thread. But the two that I've helped other owners with 1 had no crush washer the other looked almost hammered flat, both required replacement oil drain bolts & retreading

I guess the fill ports of various could be skipped since there as long as it was in a location where fluid couldn't leak out or contaminates get in, IMHO, VTM-4 Drain & Fill, & Transfer Case drain & Fill are low enough that personally I'd replace them, YMMV

Obivously if your using a Mity Vac, or a Fujimoto Valve , the oil drain plug becomes irrelevant
I can see where you formed your conclusions.... BUT: I would surmise that the same attention to proper methods (or lack thereof) that is reflected in the missing washers &/or "smashed" washers you've seen with your friend, says more about the the mechanic doing the work, than it does about the design, parts, or effect of having a washer vs. no washer (or reuse of same). That's not to say that the soft washer doesn't help in this situation.

But I suspect that ANY case of threads being pulled out of those drain pans is the direct result of over-torqueing those drain plugs, regardless of washer configuration. I've never personally experienced a single case of this kind of stripped threads, FWIW.
I would jump to conclusion that cases like this are the result of either cross threading or excessive torque being applied.... and when cases of this coincide with other negligent tell-tale signs, I'm thinking this reinforces my assumption (but I recognize it's an assumption).

For myself, I've never used a torque wrench on any of these plugs, but I always bear in mind the thread size & material types that I'm working with. Knock on wood I've not stripped one in nearly 50 years of doing this. I don't recommend this, but just mention to point out how an experienced 'feel' for tightening these attentively should go a long way. As another data point, I also only occasionally install a new washer..... as Speed said, it's just a convenience thing vs. perceptions of real effect (has nothing to do with cost).
 

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The only vehicles that I've had experience with the oil pan stripping out were ones which the oil pan had no crush washer or it had been used multiple times without replacement to there was no remaining "soft" washer to "crush". At the price of a crush washer I just don't understand the "reusing" of an engineered part which is intended to be replaced. If I apply the specified torque to a bolt with a crush washer a set number of times, without replacement, once that washer has "flattened" the torque needs to go somwhere, it will have to start applying stress to those threads. I've changed oil in Honda vehicles totaling well over 600,000 miles across multiple engine displacements not a stripped thread. But the two that I've helped other owners with 1 had no crush washer the other looked almost hammered flat, both required replacement oil drain bolts & retreading

I guess the fill ports of various could be skipped since there as long as it was in a location where fluid couldn't leak out or contaminates get in, IMHO, VTM-4 Drain & Fill, & Transfer Case drain & Fill are low enough that personally I'd replace them, YMMV

Obivously if your using a Mity Vac, or a Fujimoto Valve , the oil drain plug becomes irrelevant
You won't be applying any more torque to the threads with an old washer compared to new one. Final torque may be achieved SOONER with a already "compacted" washer but final torque is the same.

It is possible with a used washer that with proper torque, the plug is still leaking, in which case someone might tighten further, over torquing the plug and potentially damaging the threads . . .
 
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