Hi guys. I think my car needs some major help and I’m trying to figure out, “how much” help it needs since I’m strapped for cash while awaiting a new gig (and money) to kick in. Basically it’s a coolant leak problem for my 1996 Saturn SL1 Sedan. Here are the details of the problem…
About 6 months ago my Saturn started leaking coolant. It was very minor, I’d have to add a pint or so every 1 hour worth of driving or 40 miles (I experienced these early stages of a coolant leak before with a 1997 Buick Century). The problem very slowly increased 4 months ago and at about this time I noticed coolant residue on some of the engine parts. Using logic I determined the coolant must be leaking onto the belt which was spraying the fluid around, including the underside of the hood in a very fine line.
By 1 month ago I was adding about a quart of coolant every 15 miles. Still, very manageable with no other problems. Then 2 weeks ago it happened… For the first time when I’d start my car it would issue that high-pitch squealing sound I’m sure we’ve all heard on older cars and thought, “man, that driver needs to get their car checked out.” The noise would last for a few seconds, then stop. Rarely the sound would kick in also when coming out of a full stop.
Then 1 week ago, it all got worse. Now the car squeaks for around 2-5 seconds 50% of the time after a cold start. 80% of the time from a full or partial stop. About 90% of the time if my speed drops around 15mph. And now it even makes the noise for a few seconds (10% of the time) while driving +30mph. And the coolant leak is really bad. I have to fill the reservoir (add about 90%) anytime I drive more than a few blocks or +5 minutes. Also, for the first time, anytime I stop the car the coolant just drips onto the ground at a significant rate.
I know I should take the car in to the shop. I have no money right now. Can anyone tell me what sort of a problem I might be looking at based on my description?
As always, thanks so much for your tips and information everyone!