While driving, the coolant light came on. I drove to the nearest auto parts store and put coolant in. It looked like there was none in the resevoir! Since then, the same thing has happened twice, in a bout a month. Luckily, I carry this coolant with me everywhere. What steps do i take and have I ruined my car?
check for any external leaks. if none, then check your oil. if its like a muddy brown then you have a bad head gasket or cracked block.
Flush and fill should correct the problem.
The coolant is being pushed out by steam pressure.
This can happen when an air bubble in the system expands and pressure builds up to push the fluid out the overflow tube while driving. Then when you stop and check the fluid whats left gets pulled down into the system. A good pressure test on the system would be a wise thing. You can barrow the pressure test equipment from Autozone, it’s free and easy to use. Hope this helps.
Likely you have not ruined you car . . . yet. There are several possibilities, but one thing is sure, you are loosing coolant for some reason, likely a leak of some kind. That leak needs to be located and corrected.
Now if you had any work done in the last few months that involved working on the cooling system, then you might just have some air in the system.
Under normal conditions you should never need to add coolant. If you do then you need to find the reason, not just add coolant. Putting off finding the reason can cause serious $$$ damage.
If you don’t know or don’t want to know how to do it, then take your car to a local independent mechanic recommend by a friend or neighbor. Otherwise I suggest a book from the autoparts store.