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96 Maxima coolant leak

Old 03-11-2019, 12:10 PM
  #1  
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96 Maxima coolant leak

Went out to my the other day and saw a big leak under my car on the passenger side coming from the engine bay. I was parked slightly uphill, so the leak had actually run down quite a ways under the car. Looked at coolant levels and I topped off the reserve (not sure if i should have done this) and when topping off, managed to go slightly above the max level, but I did not check the radiator level itself (I know I should have checked it...see below when I did). It was definitely coolant as it was green in color.

Next day park in a spot right next to where I had parked previously ie uphill. Same thing. Big leak under the car. Went to look underneath and saw it dripping down on the passenger side. I thought well maybe when I filled it up the last few times I had spilled some (I didnt have a funnel) and am thinking maybe the fluid that I spilled got caught somewhere in the engine bay and because I was parked on a slope, the excess was now coming out from wherever it had spilled down to. I've also read that when the overflow container is filled past max, that can cause the fluid to leak.

So this time I uncap the radiator and it was slightly low ie I couldnt see any fluid (it wasnt bone dry it was still wet) so I topped it off to where I could actually see it It didnt take that much coolant to get it back to that level. Like a very small amount. The level in the overflow had gone down slightly, but it was still slightly above the "max" level.

So today when I drove it to a flat parking lot my car sat for about 1/2 hour. When I went back out to my car, there was absolutely no leak under the car. Bone dry underneath on the pavement. I drove it home and this time I've parked on a flatter area, this time it's parked slightly downhill. It's been about an hour, and again, no puddle of coolant and no dripping.

So is this something I should be concerned about? I was all ready to take my car in to have it looked at, but after reading more on the issue it might just be an issue of me filling the overflow past the max level? I checked the hose connecting the radiator to the overflow and there is no leak there. Also checked around the overflow container and didnt see anything there either. Of course I cant get underneath my car to check it there. The car runs fine no issues there the temp gauge is showing a normal level.

I am monitoring the leak and will check again later tonight in about 6 hours before it gets dark and report back. I would of course like to limit my cost here as I have another unrelated problem (broke a/c doesnt turn on) I know I'll have to deal with soon, so would like to avoid having to take it in to the shop if at all possible.

In the meantime, though, any ideas as to what could be the issue, if any, here? This may sound stupid, but is it a case in which I just watch where I park and make sure it's not facing uphill, or is it a situation where it's leaking all the time and only drips on the ground when I'm parked uphill? I really dont want to dump more money into this vehicle if I dont have to.

I really appreciate your help in advance.

EDIT: This is probably not related, but just thought I'd throw this in here as well on the off chance it is. Lately there has been a kind of crackling noise that I can hear coming seemingly coming through my vents. Doesnt happen all the time, but occasionally. As I mentioned in my post, my AC/heating system isnt working at all, but I'm wondering if it's related to that issue. But just thought I'd give that info as well.

Last edited by sonicboom909; 03-11-2019 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:46 PM
  #2  
JvG
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The radiator should be checked when the car is cold. It should be full. The over flow tank should be near the add level.

if you filled the over flow tank to the full level when cold, any expansion from the cooling system might cause the expansion tank to drip fluid on the ground.

if you still have a leak when the car is hot and the over flow tank isn't full, you might have a leak from the water pump.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JvG View Post
The radiator should be checked when the car is cold. It should be full. The over flow tank should be near the add level.

if you filled the over flow tank to the full level when cold, any expansion from the cooling system might cause the expansion tank to drip fluid on the ground.

if you still have a leak when the car is hot and the over flow tank isn't full, you might have a leak from the water pump.
Thanks for the reply. I checked the radiator when cold and that is when I topped it off.

That is what I'm thinking regarding the expansion tank, as I did fill it past the max level as mentioned. I'm hoping it is just that. I guess the next step is to wait until the overflow tank is low and check if it is leaking while the car is hot.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:15 PM
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JvG
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Sure, if both the radiator and the overflow tank are full while the car is cold, normal fuid expansion will drip to the ground as the car reaches operating temperature. Water expands as it gets hotter.

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