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tl;dr:

The coolant is just pouring out of the bottom of the front of the car (2007 Pontiac Wave) as fast as it goes in. This started in the winter, after the car suddenly got very slow and then steam erupted from under the hood (it hasn't been used since).

What should I tell the mechanic(s) when getting a quote? (I can’t take it in, so I’ll have to described it before getting it towed there.)

(Recent) History:

Slow

This past winter (December 13th), we had our first big snowfall of the year. I had two appointments that day and had to go out, but I found that the car would not go faster that 20kph. The gas pedal felt mushy and pressing it did not help; the car simply would not go faster than 20kph. I figured maybe something was frozen and turned the heat up to help thaw it while I slowly made my way through residential streets to avoid blocking traffic on main roads.

Every now and then I would find that I was able to get up to 40 and occasionally even 50kph, but every time I stopped, I would top out at 20 again.

Steam gyser

Eventually I realized that I simply would not make it in time and decided to head back home. Unfortunately a few blocks from home, something suddenly blew from under the hood and a huge plume of steam erupted. I quickly turned the car off and opened the hood. I could not see anything obviously amiss, and after letting it cool down for a while, I turned it on. It seemed okay, so I made my way home and parked.

Overheated

I avoided using the car for about a week, but then I needed to use it. I made it the few blocks to my destination and back in ~10 minutes without any issues, it ran just fine. However, when I got home, I noticed the temperature gauge was topped out (I didn’t notice any indications of engine damage, but with my luck…)

I checked the coolant and saw the tank was empty. I filled the tank with antifreeze, but noticed it pouring out the bottom (the ground was now covered in poisonous yellow snow).

DIY… or not

Anyway, the car has now been laid-up for six months; of course the battery is completely flat, but the coolant leak is the problem. I did some research and hoping desperately that it was just a slipped hose, I got some jack-stands and got under the car to see if I could fix it. Nope. I can’t even see where the leak is (I think I’d have to take the bumper off to get access).

I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll likely have to take it to the mechanic (I’ll have to get it towed), but I’d like to know what the problem is so that I can both try to avoid getting taken advantage of as well as to shop around for a good price.

Gallery

I’ve attached some photos of the area around the leak as best as I could (it’s very difficult to get the camera in there). I also managed to record a bit of the tail-end of the leak (it was gushing more, but was almost done by the time I got the camera ready). I also found a plastic screw-ish thing at the time which I just left hanging in a hole under the hood. The other end has a small hole in it and almost looks like it gets plugged into a hose of some sort.

Coolant leaking from rubber nipple thing Leak is below radiator Another shoe of leak below radiator Leak is at very bottom of car Plastic "hose-cap" screw? Video: Video of leak rate

  • 1
    Coolant is leaking and draining into the core support (pic 1) then draining to the ground, so the leak is either the radiator itself or something very close to the radiator or core support. – Moab Jun 18 '18 at 0:39
  • Apparently the "radiator was cracked". My research said it would cost $200-$300 (parts and labor) to replace a radiator, but it ended up costing $428+tax. :-\ (I'll ask the mechanic for details about the crack so that anyone who has a similar problem and finds their way here won't have to start from scratch.) – Synetech Dec 7 '18 at 6:50

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