Coolant low, car computer tells me to stop

Pulling out of the driveway my 2004 Passat’s computer told me there’s an issue with the coolant and that I should STOP, so I pulled back in. My VW dealer has this coolant in stock (G12, red) but considering it is 7 degrees outside (or minus 14 C) I wonder whether I can’t ignore the warning and drive the 2 miles rather than get on my bicycle.

Have You Verifed (Visual Inspection) That The Coolant Is Indeed Low ? If It’s Low, You’ll Need To Find Out Why.

Let me give a warning again about handling coolant in really cold weather, too. If the coolant is kept in an unheated place, like a garage or shed and allowed to assume ambient winter temperatures it becomes quiet dangerous if spilled on flesh. It can cause frostbite almost immediately. Don’t ask how I found out about this.


Thanks for the warning. This will come straight from the dealer, but I’ll check. My main question though is whether I can drive it two miles to the dealer or whether I have to brave the arctic chill. Plus I need to decide within 10 minute or have to make arrangements for school pick up.

If the coolant level in the radiator is just slightly low there should be no problem in driving to the dealer. What needs to be determined is why the coolant level is low. It sounds like there is a small leak somewhere. Hopefully it is just due to a loose hose clamp. You should be able to top off the level and keep driving the car but keep checking the coolant level. If you have to keep adding coolant then there is a leak and you should have it fixed.

You can probably drive the 2 miles without the car even coming close to warming up.

Second…you don’t need coolant from the dealer…VW doesn’t make and coolant…they buy it from one of the coolant manufacturers.

Good point, I’ll try a mechanic closer by.

I did drive the two miles, no problem. G12 red coolant is hard to find. I’ll find a smaller tight container to take some on longer trips, lest I be caught without it.

Why not fix the leak? Then you wouldn’t have to worry about having some to add.

The car is scheduled for an overhaul mid week, it’s on the list. Are you saying a leak must be responsible? The car is six years old, 90k miles.

If you have your coolant changed every three years, then yes a leak is the problem. At least in my experience, there isn’t enough evaporation between changes for the level to go below the cold fill line.
If you haven’t changed to coolant in six years /90K miles, then you may have more problems than just a leak.

It had the required larger service at various mile markers - wouldn’t the coolant have been replaced at some point during there? I assumed so, given how much they cost.

Basically, if you’re low on coolant always suspect a leak. Coolant doesn’t get used up in any way so if there’s some missing it has to go somewhere. It is the case that small amounts can be lost to evaporation or other incidentals (I lose a little everytime I open my radiator cap to check it). But generally it just means you’re leaking some.

Your second response is very inaccurate. Obviously you do not own a VW product. VW’s coolants are proprietary and do not mix with other coolants even those that say they can be mixed with any other coolant.