Do I really need a new coolant expansion tank in my 2013 Jetta?

Took my Jetta to the dealer for another problem and he told me there are mixed colors of coolant in my car and it’s brown and muddy and therefore I need a whole new coolant expansion tank ($150) plus flushing the coolant twice ($200 for the flushing and all the coolant.) My Jetta has about 75,000 miles. Do I need to do all this, including changing the tank just because it’s dirty? It’s not causing any noticeable problems now. If so, would I save a lot of money if I have my local shop do it?

Your vehicle is out of warranty. There’s no reason to have the dealer do this. (if it actually needs this)

Take the vehicle to an independent shop, and ask them what they think.


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The aftermarket tanks are around $15. Shouldn’t be too hard to clean it, but then you’re still paying to remove it. It would have to be really caked on dirty inside to even worry about it.

It should be possible to remove the plastic expansion tank and clean it. But the shop may have noticed it has some other problem, like the plastic is cracked or otherwise degraded, so that’s why they recommend it be replaced. I had to replace the plastic tank that holds the windshield washer fluid on my Corolla recently, b/c one of its mounting holes had cracked and there was no longer a way to secure it.

In any event it sounds like the main issue is to get the coolant drained, the cooling system flushed, and renewed w/fresh coolant. Coolant reacts with the metal parts inside the engine-- especially problematic w/ aluminum cylinder heads — and that causes it to acidify over time. Eventually the acid level will cause very expensive to repair problems. That’s not something you want, so it is a good, common-sense idea to replace the coolant every 2 or 3 years as a matter of course. Coolant is usually replaced on a time schedule, independent of miles driven.

Any good inde shop can do this, but make sure they use the correct coolant for your car. The coolant part number for the 2.0 L non-turbo cpba engine is either g-12-a8f or g-12-a8g. Jetta’s come with a variety of engine options however, so double check w/your shop that the coolant spec used to refill the cooling system matches what your car’s engine requires.

Sounds like you do need a thorough cooling system cleaning. I’d find a good independent shop to do it, let them determine if the tank needs replacing. I doubt it, it’s under pressure, so if it was cracked you’d be overheating.

Yes, I agree with what everyone else has said thus far. You could just clean out the old tank you have esp if it is not leaking or damaged. The tank can be cleaned internally using some Castrol Super Clean…do not use Super Clean for your Rad or engine block !! That stuff eats Aluminum as if it were its job…so do not do that.

You should be fine after a full rad and block flush, clean out expansion tank and refill your Jetta with the proper coolant…which is very specific to VW… If memory serves me correctly it is called G12 ? You can look into that on the net…but there is a very specific formulation for VW and since your water pump is lubricated with the coolant AND it is driven by the Timing Belt…you want to make certain that your water pump is as happy as possible because that pumps failure will easily ruin your day as well as the contents of your wallet and or bank account Quick, Fast and in a Hurry.

Incorrect coolant is the reason I own a 20th Anniversary VW GTi… I bought it with a snapped T belt and 20 bent valves. I had to replace all of them including the head gasket and all other stuff encountered along the way during a job like that. ALL due to the incorrect coolant used…and also due to too much water as well… So the pump seized and took everything out with it…and I do mean everything. The VW Dealer repair estimate was over $5000 dollars…so the guy just abandoned the vehicle till I offered to buy it for a song and dance.

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The cost might be about the same as a new overflow tank at dealer labor rates. Getting a new part for the same money is a good deal.

I do agree with the others that cleaning the overflow tank is probably cheaper at an independent shop. How the coolant got themuddy appearance is the biggest concern. You should have the coolant system flushed as the dealer recommended andhave new coolant added.

Sounds like you had pink coolant and someone topped it off with hopefully multi car green/yellow Prestone stuff. Most likely at a Quick Lube place with an oil change

May still be fine just an ugly color but you may as well have it drained and replaced. What is the bid deal with removing the expansion tank? I have always removed mine to drain it when doing a coolant change. Not very difficult to rinse out with water. Sounds like the dealer may be engaging in fear tactics.

The muddy color means that the corrosion inhibitors are completely used up and the internals of your engine are starting to get eaten up. It is your immediate concern, however I still recommend against a flush. You do have to drain both the block and the radiator. Just draining the radiator at this point is not going to be enough.

Then refill the system with the specified coolant, either a premix or a concentrated diluted with distilled water to the required 50/50 or stronger, up to 2:1 coolant:distilled water mix. In your case I would go 2:1 just for the extra inhibitors.

The expansion tank is not an urgent need. It would be nice to be able to see the level without removing the cap, but it is not urgent.

I have salvaged several neglected cooling systems in the past doing this with no further issues.

Plan on another coolant change in about three years instead of the normal 5. There will be some residual coolant from this change that will immediately start to use up the fresh inhibitors and shorten their life. But after that, you can go back to the 5 year interval and the 50/50 mix.

Be careful with the anti-freeze/water mixture.

Too much anti-freeze in the mixture can cause the engine to overheat.


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