More routine maintenance this time and its something I should have copped myself earlier. A few weeks back I noticed the coolant was low so I topped up, I also noticed a bit of moisture on the top plastic cap on the rad. I stupidly put this moisture down to the insulation flaking off the under bonnet shield and then melting on the heat of the rad.
About 2 weeks ago I noticed coming home from short spins, literally a couple of kms that the fans would be on when the car was stopped. So with the coolant having dropped again and the weep at the top of the rad, added to the fans running, it pointed to a loss of coolant from somewhere. No puddles under the car so I assumed it was some pinhole or small crack in the rad. The rad is 16 years young and has 140k miles up on it so it owed me nothing. Sourced a rad from Dave in RSR CarParts, which was shipped rapidly, bought some coolant and new radiator hoses while I was at it.
The job itself was straightforward enough, filling via the header tank took a good while but I didn’t want to rush it. I was afraid that the bulkhead bolts would be seized and I’d shear one but they were fine so while I had them out i cleaned the threads and applied copper grease going back. I also sanded and painted one of the radiator brackets and one of the clips on the rad. I was a bit worried about how dry the top connection was but it makes sense given the above details. Had a minor heart attack about 1 litre into the fill when I heard coolant leaking onto the floor and saw a puddle of brand new coolant there, despite having double checked everything. It turns out my funnel wasn’t seated properly and the coolant was dripping over the collar of the header tank.
Filled up, bled the system and all seems fine. Haven’t taken it for a spin yet but everything is behaving as it should do-temp gauges fine, fans cutting in way later than before, hot air coming from the blowers and coolant tank level fine. The purist in me doesn’t like not having the OEM sticker and filler cap on the rad but I won’t be losing sleep over it. Speaking of losing sleep, when I was under the car there is evidence of an oil weep at the sump beside the oil filter. It’s not wet, more like a black film, I’ve been watching oil levels religiously since it’s been back on the road and it’s not losing anything. I’ll keep an eye on it and at some stage I’d be half expecting to have to do rocker cover gaskets or sump gaskets given the age and mileage. I’ll leave that to someone more competent than me when the time comes. Until then, next step is to get the car back into school run and essential groceries duties within the 5k, make sure all is well with the coolant and have her ready for longer summer spins.