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Unread 11-29-2012, 10:25 AM   #1
keebz
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1999 WJ 
 
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Wj Only Half Coolant Left?

Hey all. Today morning, I started up my '99 WJ as usual and noticed that, although there were no warning icons on the dashboard, the overhead unit showed "coolant low." I proceeded to pop the hood and looked at the coolant container -- it was only filled up halfway (relative to the "max" line). I didn't see any leaks anywhere (although the Jeep was only idling for 5 minutes).

What exactly does this mean? It is cold where I live right now, so would that have anything to do with the coolant being "used" up like this (since I can't see any leaks)? The heat has been working fine in the car. Could the coolant have been "boiling" and escaping as gas...?

I have heard of people buying antifreeze ("coolant"), especially for older cars, before winter comes and refilling the coolant tank as necessary. Would I be able to do this, say by buying a container of antifreeze from Autozone and refilling as necessary?

Is it safe to drive the car like this as long as I keep the coolant tank topped off?

Thanks for any and all help...!

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Unread 11-29-2012, 10:32 AM   #2
JeepGuy66
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I just had a similar problem with my Chevy 2000 S10 DD a couple months ago. It's probably head gasket or intake gasket. It's a sealed system so antifreeze shouldn't go anywhere fast. If you top it and drive it, check the level when you get back and see how far the level has gone down. In my case, it was the intake gasket. Any drips from your exhaust pipe?
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Unread 11-29-2012, 10:37 AM   #3
JeepGuy66
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btw...if it is a intake or head gasket, I wouldn't suggest driving it any distances. It will eventually get worse and you will eventually overheat and potentially cause more damage. I'd get it checked out ASAP. You could probably do the the intake gasket(s) yourself, head gaskets are usually a bit more involved and time consuming.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 10:47 AM   #4
keebz
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I haven't checked if the exhaust pipe is leaking yet since I never paid attention to that, and I haven't driven it since I encountered the problem this morning.

I had an overheating issue several months ago for which I got the radiator, one of the fans, and a couple other smaller things replaced. I was concerned about the head gasket then since the overheating happened near the end of a bridge (white smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe) so I had to keep driving for about 1 minute until I could stop. However, they said there was no damage to the head/intake gaskets at the time. I'm not getting any error codes via the dashboard diagnostic either (by turning the key 3 times) nor am I getting any warning lights.

I've heard of this happening in winter to older cars before and I know people carry or pour in antifreeze (which is "coolant"). Do you really think if I pour the coolant and it doesn't drop too much after driving 30 miles that I run the risk of overheating mid-trip?
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Unread 11-29-2012, 10:52 AM   #5
rm2001wj
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Before you get too worried, just add some more coolant (50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water) to the overflow reservoir and check the level occasionally. You can expect the level to be different for hot and cold coolant. The cooling system is not exactly a sealed system. Coolant does move back and forth to the overflow reservoir which is not really sealed and some evaporation can occur.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 11:03 AM   #6
JeepGuy66
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True. And that is how I started diagnosing my problem. Added coolant to the reservoir and problem fixed for a while. Eventually, for me, the problem grew. Having to add more coolant more often until one day it died on me. I could actually see the coolant in radiator drop before my very eyes when I turned on the engine (after I filled the radiator). Drips from the exhaust pipe sealed the deal. So, if you don;t have white smoke anywhere or drips from the pipe maybe you're ok but keep an eye on it.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 11:16 AM   #7
keebz
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Okay great, thanks a lot guys. One last question since I haven't added coolant/antifreeze before.

I simply open that big coolant reservoir (the reservoir on the passenger side towards the back of the car) by turning the cap and then pour the coolant in directly, correct?

And is there any specific 50/50 antifreeze-water coolant type to use for this model/situation? (Do I need to worry about the coolant type that is already in there?)
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Unread 11-29-2012, 11:20 AM   #8
JeepGuy66
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I don't have a WJ so not sure. Make sure it's not the Windshield washer fluid reservoir. Any coolant should be OK. I usually stick with prestone but whatever. Also, some come 50/50 and some you need to mix so be aware of what you get. Keep us informed. Good luck!
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Unread 11-29-2012, 11:24 AM   #9
keebz
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Will do, I'm going to go to Autozone later tonight and pick up some 50/50 coolant and will do the refilling tomorrow morning. I'll let you guys know what happens. Thanks again for everything!
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Unread 11-29-2012, 01:53 PM   #10
rm2001wj
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keebz View Post
Okay great, thanks a lot guys. One last question since I haven't added coolant/antifreeze before.

I simply open that big coolant reservoir (the reservoir on the passenger side towards the back of the car) by turning the cap and then pour the coolant in directly, correct?

And is there any specific 50/50 antifreeze-water coolant type to use for this model/situation? (Do I need to worry about the coolant type that is already in there?)
It can make a difference if the added coolant is not chemically compatible with the coolant already there. If at all possible, check with the people that replaced your radiator to see what they used. The two main types of coolant are OAT and HOAT, and they don't live well with each other. If they can't say whether they used OAT or HOAT, ask about the brand. Post what info they gave you.
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Unread 11-30-2012, 08:30 AM   #11
keebz
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Unfortunately, I couldn't check with the car mechanic what kind of antifreeze they used, but I bought the 50/50 "universal" one from Autozone last night, and poured it in today morning.

The coolant reservoir bottle had coolant in it up to the "ADD" mark, so I poured coolant until the coolant level hit about 75% of the "FULL" mark (relative to the "ADD" mark).

I also opened the radiator cap, and there was coolant in there, but I topped it off with just enough so that when I put the radiator cap back on, it wouldn't come out (while I would be twisting the radiator cap shut).

(At this time I also checked the engine oil with the dipstick, and it was fine. Brown and at the "safe" level. I'm guessing this means that coolant hadn't leaked into the engine/engine oil.)

I then turned the car on and let it idle until the temperature hit normal (about 190, just left of the middle (210) mark). Popped the hood and checked the coolant reservoir bottle, and it was up to just above the "FULL" mark (which would be fine).

I went to the back by the exhaust pipe and saw that there was a little bit of thin white smoke (not the crazy amount of thick white smoke associated with overheating), as well as liquid leaking from the pipe. The liquid was clear and I don't think it was coolant... don't exhaust pipes usually have thin white smoke and a little bit of liquid (with the consistency and appearance of water) coming out? Should I be worried? I'm keeping the gallon of coolant in my car in case.

I drove around the block for about 20 minutes after all this, and there were no issues, and the coolant level was at the same level (just above "FULL") after, though there was a little bit of leaking again from the exhaust pipe after I parked.
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Unread 11-30-2012, 08:55 AM   #12
ZB_WJ
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NO!!! Universal
Coolant is wrong, you need mopar! Or zerex g05 HOAT!

But your issue sounds like a water pump/thermostat leak (hopefully not head gasket). So at least you will have to flush the coolant anyway and can put the right stuff in there.

Check underneath for coolant loss, also check on the underside of the hood for spray off the belts. If its spraying on your hood its the water pump leaking on the belts.

Since its a slow leak you will be ok for a while. The only thing that worries me would be the improper coolant. Won't matter short term but long term it could be bad. Especially if you mixed 2 different coolants. Sorry I didn't see your post earlier.
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