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98 Saturn SC1 coolant bottle oddity

My girlfriend has a '98 Saturn SC1. It’s a decent little car, from what I can tell, but she was out of the country and her friend who she let use it apparently let it just sit for a few months because the tabs expired. (She had the new ones, they just didn’t get put on … weird but no one ever asked me about it so I assumed all was well. Anyhow, the battery was dead and replaced, which was OK since it was a 5 year battery that had 6 years on it, so no biggie. Now, though, the coolant is a bit low. The weird thing is, there’s absolutely no Hot Fill line on the coolant bottle. Do I really have to wait for it to be cooled down to add coolant? Also, is there a “best” coolant to use or is the standard universal stuff OK? Hopefully it is, since that’s what’s in my Neon and I’d hate to have to have 2 jugs of coolant for those rare top off needs.

Thanks, folks!

I’d just fill it up close to the mold line like this one is:

Absolutely wait until it’s cool before adding. You can tell if it’s cool enough by squeezing the radiator hose. If there’s no pressure in it, you can remove the coolant cap.

Thanks. Haven’t run into one without a hot fill line before is all so it threw me; wasn’t sure if I was missing something obvious. Of course, my experiences are limited compared to others. :slight_smile:


The car is supposed to get Dexcool

Some other people hate that coolant, but in my experience, it’s fine if it gets changed every 5 years. It’s quite often the people that don’t change it on time, that get into trouble

I’ve been using Dexcool in my GM cars for a long time with no problem whatsoever. The new universal coolants have been problem free for me also.

Don’t use Deathcool.

That stuff can turn acidic if air gets into the cooling system causing major damage.

Use a universal coolant.


No danger of air getting into the coolant in a Saturn, its a self bleeding system and does not have a radiator cap that lets air in.

If it has Dexcool in it now, use only Dexcool to top off. Dexcool is pink in color. You can do a drain and refill with a universal long life coolant, any major brand will do or you can top off with the universal coolant if it has that in it now.

I haven’t had any trouble with either Dexcool or the universal long life.

Fill it to the mold line when cool, don’t worry about hot, but if you have to add when hot, fill to the mold line and then refill when cool.

Not true Keith.

If there’s a coolant leak air is going to get in.


I thought DeathCool was orange, hence the orange coolant cap. Toyota uses a pink coolant, which is a silica-free ethylene glycol.


Dexcool used to be orange

Nowadays, it’s closer in color to pink

tester, if there is a coolant leak, then the type of coolant is no longer the most important argument.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it now again

Dexcool is fine, if you change it every 5 years ago, like you’re supposed to

It’s the guys that have problems with 10 or 15 year old dexcool that are often the ones that are blaming the coolant

We have hundreds of GM vehicles in our fleet. On the ones that get serviced every 5 years, there is no problem. Degraded coolant and plugged heater cores are the ones that slipped through the cracks.

While I service Dexcool every 5 years on vehicles I work on, I can’t control what my coworkers do

I’ve also seen plenty of cooling problems, plugged heater cores and radiators on vehicles that have neglected universal green coolant

it’s not the coolant . . . it’s the lack of maintenance

Did you ever think that some people don’t realize that the vehicle has a coolant leak?

I just had a vehicle come in for a brake job. And while I was removing the tires I noticed coolant dripping on the floor. When I looked closer the water pump was leaking. I then looked in the reservoir and it was empty. Then looked in the radiator and it was 1/4 down on coolant.

I notified the owner and asked if they noticed any leaks, and they said no.

So now am I not only doing the brake job but also a water pump/timing belt.

But this vehicle doesn’t use Deathcool. So all’s good.



Of course some people don’t realize there’s a coolant leak

I see this all the time. Since I work on fleet vehicles, the drivers care less, versus it was their own vehicle. Many of them never open the hood to check fluids, they never look underneath to look for obvious spots/puddles on the ground. They never look at the tires to check if one is obviously flat

So when I say the vehicle will be done later than planned, because of a coolant leak, they always seem surprised, even if the leak is large

You obviously hate Dexcool, since you refuse to call it that . . .


In your search engine enter “deathcool”. And read the horror stories.

I didn’t come up with the name, the auto repair industry did.



I already know about the horror stories. I’ve already seen pictures posted on the web. But I have no way of knowing if the picture represents a well maintained system, or if it’s 12 year old neglected coolant. A stranger on the internet can say all sorts of things

But those stories and pictures are not going to sway me. I’ve already made up my mind that Dexcool is fine, as long as it’s maintained properly

On the other hand, I don’t actually believe I’ll convince any Dexcool haters that it’s okay

The thing about Dexcool is you MUST keep the system full. If you do that the system will stay sparkling clean. If you let it get low enough that air pockets form that’s when the real trouble begins. Corrosion will run rampant.

One advantage of the green stuff was that even if you had air pockets the silicates would still coat the surfaces and prevent corrosion.

Another problem with Dexcool was that it was not compatible with certain gasket materials. I had a Malibu with a 3.1 V6 where I had to replace the intake manifold gaskets (common problem). They were made of fiber/rubber and the fiber just disintegrated. I replaced them with the metal/rubber upgrades and had no more problems.

Incidentally, I understand that Dexcool was reformulated to correct these problems but I now use the universal coolants anyway.

Edit: just want to add that Dexcool and universal coolant contain organic acid but in a different formula than the original Dexcool.