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1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos)


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gladlybeyond
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Jul 17, 2012, 11:46 AM

Post #1 of 17 (1367 views)
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Drove my car to work yesterday and just as I pulled into a parking space, I noticed my "low coolant" light come on. When I went to check on the car about 2.5 hours later, pretty much all of my coolant had leaked onto the pavement. I grabbed a flashlight and found the leak source, which was still dripping. It's coming out of a short pipe on the firewall that looks like it was attached to a hose, but I can't find the hose or the other end the hose attached to. Very near the heater core, but there's no leaking inside the car. Took some pictures on my phone:


General area of leak


General area from the other side


From above


The actual source. Note the wetness around the end of the pipe here - it's definitely the culprit - but what the heck is it? I can't figure out where it's coming from and where it's going to. Is this a simple matter of replacing a hose or does this look like it warrants more serious repair work? Any insight? Let me know if you need any additional information.


Hammer Time
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Jul 17, 2012, 11:50 AM

Post #2 of 17 (1363 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

That is the drain for the evaporator condensation. Make sure it's actually coolant leaking out of there, not clear water, and if it is, you have a bad heater core. You can either replace the core or temporarily bypass it by connecting the heater hoses together but you won't have any heat if you do that.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



(This post was edited by Hammer Time on Jul 17, 2012, 11:51 AM)


gladlybeyond
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Jul 17, 2012, 11:57 AM

Post #3 of 17 (1349 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

Okay that's good information. It was certainly coolant leaking - it was green, smelled sweet, and when I opened the cap to the coolant reservoir, there wasn't any coolant left inside. What would make the system purge like this all of a sudden? I haven't been using my heater at all.


Hammer Time
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Jul 17, 2012, 12:18 PM

Post #4 of 17 (1336 views)
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That doesn't matter. It always contains coolant under pressure and it can't be driven that way.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
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Jul 17, 2012, 1:32 PM

Post #5 of 17 (1316 views)
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That has to be the "condensate" (water) drain for A/C and would have near certainly dried by the time you could take a pic so it is engine coolant. Why oh why did you drive 2.5 hours with the warning of low coolant escapes me?

T
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Long retired now


Hammer Time
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Jul 17, 2012, 2:25 PM

Post #6 of 17 (1306 views)
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Yep, you may already have serious engine damage if you got it real hot.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Double J
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Jul 17, 2012, 5:15 PM

Post #7 of 17 (1289 views)
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Quote
Why oh why did you drive 2.5 hours with the warning of low coolant escapes me?



Tom, he drove it to work ,park it and came back to check on it 2.5 hrs later


Quote

Drove my car to work yesterday and just as I pulled into a parking space, I noticed my "low coolant" light come on. When I went to check on the car about 2.5 hours later, pretty much all of my coolant had leaked onto the pavement.



Tom Greenleaf
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Jul 17, 2012, 5:26 PM

Post #8 of 17 (1285 views)
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That's what going blind causes! Sorry, I don't have my coke bottle lenses onCrazy

Tom
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gladlybeyond
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Jul 17, 2012, 5:42 PM

Post #9 of 17 (1281 views)
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I'd never dream of doing something so astronomically dumb, believe me. I had walked out to my car in the first place because I had planned on going to buy coolant right away.

I may be forced to do a heater bypass for the time being, but I'll certainly need my heater come winter. I can get the appropriate replacement core for $30, and I'm very interested in doing the work myself, since it's apparently a very labor intensive fix and that could get expensive! I'm going to check out the Chilton guide and see if it has anything to say. Does anyone have any advice on the repair if I decide to go that route?


Tom Greenleaf
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Jul 17, 2012, 5:55 PM

Post #10 of 17 (1277 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

Yes, you can by-pass it and I suggest making it a "U" turn not just plugging hoses and think about new ones of those too.

Heater core: They don't cost that much but could be a tough job or broken little widgets in doing it to deal with. Here used silly crap is about gone for anything older with plain metal value exceeding about any wanted parts left.

Hope it behaves and no further damage than just that,

Tom
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Long retired now


Hammer Time
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Jul 17, 2012, 6:09 PM

Post #11 of 17 (1269 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

This one is actually pretty easy to change. There is a cover and a tray to remove (#11 and 13) under the center of the dash and there is the core.






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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



(This post was edited by Hammer Time on Jul 17, 2012, 6:10 PM)


gladlybeyond
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Jul 17, 2012, 7:14 PM

Post #12 of 17 (1260 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

Oh my goodness. That diagram is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Thank you so much, guys. Gonna tackle this thing tomorrow.


Tom Greenleaf
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Jul 18, 2012, 4:30 AM

Post #13 of 17 (1240 views)
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Hope you can get that to print for you. Try not to break anything and be gentle with new core which can break just jockeying into place.

Let us know how you make out,

T
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Long retired now


Discretesignals
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Jul 18, 2012, 7:51 AM

Post #14 of 17 (1231 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

The toughest part is item 13 in the diagram. Gotta be careful because it likes to hang up in item 21 towards the firewall. Very easy to crack.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.


gladlybeyond
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Aug 9, 2012, 4:46 AM

Post #15 of 17 (1142 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

I almost forgot to let you all know how it went! This is my first foray into car repair, so it took me quite a while - two 4 hour shifts after work and class. In my defense, a good portion of that was spent lying under the car or dash just staring at whatever stubborn component refused to budge, and another good portion was spent scrounging for tools (most of which I just borrowed from the biodiesel lab I work at).
$30 for the core, another $30 for some good jack stands, a couple bucks for hose clamps, and a couple more for a drain pan, funnel, and some good shop paper towels = ~$70. (I didn't go for new hoses; they felt and looked just a few years old, no more than five - definitely not 22 years old! Perhaps they were replaced before I bought the car in 2009) I talked to a guy I know who consults at a GM dealership and said the typical charge for that work would have been around $700 (at the dealer, but still!)... so I'm pretty pumped.

The car is running wonderfully and I'm kind of hoping some other easy-yet-tedious-to-replace-component fails so that I have an excuse to work on it some more - it's addictive! Thanks for all the input, I couldn't have managed without.


Hammer Time
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Aug 9, 2012, 6:32 AM

Post #16 of 17 (1135 views)
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Quote
I talked to a guy I know who consults at a GM dealership and said the typical charge for that work would have been around $700



I guess that would make him a bit of a thief. The flat rate on this is 2.7 hours which would make the labor about $200-$260 at most shops and you already know what the part costs.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



nickwarner
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Aug 10, 2012, 11:01 PM

Post #17 of 17 (1120 views)
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Re: 1990 Buick Skylark Coolant Leak (photos) [In reply to] Sign In

Congrats on your first DIY repair. Glad it worked out. Realize that its not that easy now, huh? Welcome to our world and trust me you got the graviest heater core job in a front wheel drive car. They get worse in later models. Let us know when you need more problems solved.




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