CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

O where , o where has all the antifreeze gone

C&C-



I have 2002 Land Rover Freelander V6. Over the last 4-6 months, I have had to top off the coolant every 100-150 miles. There are no visible leaks, the cap is holding pressure, and I do not see any fluid spots in the driveway??? Oil looks normal. Car is keeping its temperature. Land Rover has “pressure” tested and states no leaks. Their fix is a $3200 head gasket repair w/ a 70% probability of success.



I have opted for topping off, but this leaves me in restricted driving distance as I’m afraid to run the car w/out coolant.



My girlfriend thinks that I have added so much coolant that one day it will explode like a pimple.



Any ideas or suggestions on the root cause?

How much coolant are you adding every 100-150 miles?

If it isn’t leaking the coolant is going out the exhaust pipe as steam. I would suspect t a leaking head gasket.

There are tests, however, to confirm a leaking head gasket. 70% probability isn’t good enough for such an expensive repair.

Adding about the amount in the overlow/reservoir to the max line. maybe 20-30 oz or so.
Tests?

That’s a lot of coolant in just 150 miles.

Pressure testing the cooling system is one test. The coolant can also be tested for the presence of combustion gases.

If coolant is going into the combustion chambers gasses are also going into the coolant. It’s a two way street.

You don’t have a leaking heater core, do you? You’d be smelling antifreeze in the vehicle if you had one leaking this much, and the carpet would be wet.

I do smell antifreeze, but no wet carpet. Seems like I smell more when heater is engaged.
Is the heating core an expensive fix?

Is there a flowchart to follow to pin down exactly?

You could bypass the heater core by connecting the inlet hose and outlet hose together. If this solves the problem, then you know the heater core is at fault. Of course, you won’t have any heat, until you make this rather expensive repair.

If you have a leaking heater core the cooling system should not have passed the pressure test.

I think you need to have more testing done, perhaps by a different mechanic.

There are 2 possible issues. There is an internal flaw in the KV6 engine. The cyclinder liners are epoxied in place. These come loose and allow coolant to get into the combustion chamber where it goes out the tailpipe. If you check ebay you will find a lot of Freelanders with blown engines at 60-70k miles because people don’t check their fluids, the engine overheats, and the head warps. I am experiencing this but it is not a great deal of loss. As long as you watch the coolant level, you can live with this. There is a company in California, Rockbound Rovers, that has reengineered the engine with larger head bolts and has solved the cylinder liner issue but it costs $5k for the service.

The more likely cause of your problem is the heater core. The '02 and '03 Freelanders used a heater core that had brazing problems around the pipe connectors. Later cores solved the problem and can be retrofitted to the earlier vehicles. I had the heater core replaced in my '02 under warranty at around 45k miles before the upgraded heater core was released. I had to replace it again last summer at 120k miles. Both times I also had to replace the blower motor because the heater core is above the blower and the leaking coolant shorted out the motor. The heater core is contained inside the heater assembly and leaking coolant will collect in there until it evaporates so the carpet never gets wet. Pulling out the heater assembly is pretty involved. You have to remove the steering wheel, airbags, and dash. It’s listed as 5.2 hours for the dealer to replace plus parts which is going to put it at close to $1000. If you are comfortable doing it yourself, you can get parts from Atlantic British for less than $300 and do it in a weekend. I used repair procedures from Alldata which proved invaluable in locating hidden fasteners. JEF500010 is the LR part number for the current version of the heater core. Fix this problem before the blower motor is shot. It is very expensive and cannot be disassembled for repair. I got a replacement blower from a salvage yard for less than $100 but a new one is close to $500.

Common issue with the Freelander.

Your thermostat is cracked and leaking fluid onto your engine block. The reason you don’t see any fluid under your car is because it is being burnt off by the heat of the engine.