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Unread 04-25-2015, 08:38 AM   #1
jcg1004
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Empty radiator but full reservoir

I have a 2003 TJ 4.0 and I noticed I was running hot. I checked and the reservoir was completely empty and so was the radiator. I filled them both back up and everything was fine. However from time to time I could smell radiator fluid. I initially assumed it was due to some of the fluid I spilled when I was filling it up and the spill was burning off. However after about a week the smell was peaking my curiosity so I checked the fluids again. The reservoir was completely full but the radiator itself was almost empty.
There are no visual indications of any leaks.

Any ideas?

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Unread 04-25-2015, 09:37 AM   #2
Red Rubicon
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Replace the radiator cap and when you refill the radiator be sure you purge all of the trapped air.
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Unread 04-25-2015, 10:32 AM   #3
Jerry Bransford
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Yep could be nothing more than a bad or loose radiator cap. Make sure the replacement cap has the proper 18 lb. pressure setting.
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Unread 04-25-2015, 10:32 AM   #4
Raist11
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Perhaps I'm crazy here but... Initially if you found your radiator and reservoir to be empty.. there should be a leak somewhere?
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Unread 04-25-2015, 10:51 AM   #5
The_'ster
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Start by replacing the radiator cap and check for any external leaks. Another possibility is if the head gasket has a slight combustion leak it could be forcing combustion gasses into the cooling system and the coolant into the radiator, or coolant leaking into the cylinders or the engine oil, so check the oil for contamination also. A shop should have a cylinder combustion gas detector kit to sniff the coolant.
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Unread 04-25-2015, 11:25 AM   #6
vosevichs
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If you find no external leaks. I believe the 0331 head ran till 03. This head has a tendency to crack. Check the oil level. Make sure your crankcase isn't full of water.
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Unread 04-25-2015, 11:38 AM   #7
EricsGreen98Tj
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If your not finding antifreeze (radiator fluid. ) puddles then it sounds like you do have a head gasket leak or a cracked cyl head.

Defiantly replace you radiator cap and fill your radiator up. Also when you do get the radiator almost all the way full squeeze your upper and lower radiator hoses, with the cap off, to see if you can get any bubbles out (trapped air).

Check it the next day after driving, while the engine is cool, to see if it needs topped off or if you've lost any antifreeze. DO NOT WAIT ANOTHER WEEK.

Also check your oil to see if there is water/antifreeze in it. It will look soupy and white in color.

Also look at you exhaust while the Tj is running. Does it look like steam is coming out your tail pipe? If so the you've got a problem.
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Unread 04-25-2015, 04:21 PM   #8
jcg1004
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Thanks for everyone's help and expertise. I checked the dip stick and the oil looks normal to me. After the engine cooled I removed the cap and started the engine. I watched as the water level rose over the top and spilled out. However I didn't see it bubble up. Hopefully that is a good sign.
I ended up buying a new cap and I'll run it and check it periodically. Hopefully that's all it is.

Thanks again and I'll update again if it's not the cap!
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Unread 04-25-2015, 09:05 PM   #9
Knuckelhead
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Remove the fill cap on the valve cover and look for signs of water contaminated oil buildup. If it doesn't look like the oil on your engine dip stick and has a white/yellow goo on it, you're leaking coolant into your oil...
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Unread 04-26-2015, 06:28 AM   #10
vosevichs
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Good deal, cracked head sucks
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leaking coolant , overheating , radiator , reservoir , tj

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