'02 Neon spewing coolant



Here’s what happened:

-We heard a high pitch, foreign noise

-Almost immediately thereafter the car started smoking

-I popped the hood and coolant was pouring out of the overflow valve in the reservoir. It was burning on the hot hoses and causing the smoke

-We were two blocks from home so we let it cool and drove home to park it

-After 1.5 blocks, the car acted like it was in neutral, and reved up only to kick back into gear and squeel the tires a bit

-Other noteworthy item: I could hear the coolant sucking out or in of the hose that attaches to the radiator.

-When I push on the coolant reservoir it comes pouring out of the overflow valve

-When the car is given gas it comes pouring out

-The oil level is a bit low, but I think it’s fine–it’s due to be changed tomorrow

Any ideas? I was actually going to take it to a buddy’s tomorrow night to do a whole lot of work on it, but now I’m not sure if I can even drive it?


my guess is a the water pump seized up and the high pitch noise is the timing belt skidding over seized pump pulley. Do not drive it or evan crank it over until this is checked because this is a interference engine and if the timing belt brakes big engine damage. A tow truck is your friend in this case. Err on the side of caution.


The high pitch noise was a one time only occurrance. It happened right before it started spewing coolant. I had my friend who is a mechanical engineer advise me that if the temperature gauge remains normal (which it was), and if the coolant level isn’t low, and if the transmission fluid isn’t low, I should be ok driving it to get it looked at. Avoiding the cost of a tow truck would be nice…

I really appreciate your input. Is there anything I can do that might narrow down whether or not your diagnosis is indeed true?


I agree wholeheartedly with Americar. And once the pulleys become lubricated with spewing coolant, the squealing stops.

Ignore the temp gage for now. Once the coolant spews out and the gage ends up in a pocket of air it no longer gives you a reliable reading. Besides, you already know you have serious problems. The gage is supposed to be a reading to help prevent a problem, not a gage to help deny a problem.


Thanks for the advice. I appreciate your help.


I opened up a manual and found the pump is driven by the cogged side of the belt so that make it impossible for the belt to slip on the water pump pulley without destroying the belt cogs messing up the timing. There may be a little inspection plug on the side of the timing cover that you may be able to inspect the belt. Otherwise the motor mount and timing cover needs to be removed to inspect it all. I would still err on the side of caution


Thank you for taking the time to do that. Unfortunately my owners manual is gone, I bought the car used and it didn’t have it. And most of what you said doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as I haven’t spent much time working on cars. I’ve worked on other motor’s and such, but cars are not something I’ve worked on much so most of the lingo is greek to me. I hate this car.