Mysterious LEAK, loosing coolant, NO sign of it

Discussion in '2012-2016 VW Passat TDI forum' started by BigMiro, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. BigMiro

    BigMiro New Member

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    Car:
    VW Passat TDI SE 2012
    Location:
    Chicago, IL.
    Hi everyone. First time here, new member. I hope I can get some help and help others down the road.

    This is going to be a little long, but bare with me! Just trying to be detailed, as I have tried various things to find and resolve the problem. No luck yet!

    I have 2012 VW Passat TDI. There are 4700 miles on it. I do not have the warranty on the car, as it was purchased at an auction.

    Problem is: The car has been loosing coolant since I've had it. I need to refill the coolant container every 30 miles or so because the light for "add coolant" goes on.

    I started looking for the leak around the engine and I couldn't see anything. I put a piece of cardboard under the car for 30 minutes and there was no leak. And previously I took off the engine plastic cover underneath.

    I went to a local AutoZone and rented a pressure tester for coolant system. I would test it and there would be no leak, but the coolant would somehow escape somewhere. Since I started testing, I did not want to start the car to see if there is a leak on any of the pipes or such. But there was no leaks.

    I took off the air box, there was some sign of coolant in the pipes. I also disconnected the inner-cooler hose and there was coolant there. I then disconnected the hose that goes from turbocharger to inner-cooler and there sign of coolant there. I also disconnected the plastic pipe that comes out of the turbo, on the right side when looking at it, and there was sign of coolant. Every time I would pressure the system, I would look for leaks from turbo where the pipes were and nothing was coming out.

    By this point, one galloon of coolant is gone and there is no sign of that much coolant anywhere.

    I took out the glow plugs and had my brother turn the engine manually to see if the coolant might have gotten into the head, but there was no coolant coming out of where I took the glow plugs off of. But I saw that the glow plugs were a little white at the tip of them, which I think means the engine burned some coolant along with diesel.

    I also took off the valve that is on the EGR cooler in the back of the engine and there was no leak there either, it was completely dry.

    Since I didn't know where to look anymore, I put everything back together on the engine and took the car for a drive. During my drive down the street, there was coolant coming out of the muffler like a stream of water behind me for a good 3-4 blocks (long blocks, not short ones). Then, when the muffler got hot, it started smoking like crazy.

    I have talked to some VW mechanics and they are saying that they don't think it would be a head gasket because the engine would overheat and the coolant would not get in the muffler before the engine, which I agree with.

    So I am now thinking if there might be something wrong with the turbo itself, but I am unsure.

    Please help if you can. I'm not sure what the next option would be for me to check to see how the coolant is traveling to the muffler.

    I hope I didn't provide you with TOO much information, just wanted to be as specific as possible. Hopefully my details helped!

    Thank you,

    BigMiro
     
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  2. Softrockrenegade

    Softrockrenegade New Member

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    My guess is that your water cooled intercooler has an internal leak and is being burned off. I would guess this could cause damage to your very expensive emissions system if left to suck coolant through the engine and out the exhaust. Did the car have a salvage title? Was it in a wreck and repaired before you bought it at auction ?
     
  3. BigMiro

    BigMiro New Member

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    Location:
    Chicago, IL.
    The previous owner he had it fix at the vw dieler after he got it from the auction front end damage.
    When i got the car i know its going to come with a leak guy told me before i bought it. He also took it after the leak started to vw dieler and they changed the hoses and they also replaced the innercooler and that didnt do anything.
    And then he sold it becuse its already costed me a lot to fix the body work at the dieler and the replace the innercoller he give up on it.
    Yes it was salvage now rebuilt IL. Title.
    Are you talking about the innercooler in front of the engine?
     
  4. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

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    There is nowhere in the intake tract that sees coolant other than the intercooler at the front of the engine. Are you sure it's coolant? Pinkish and when mixed with oil it's a gray sludge?

    Follow the intake manifold down and you'll see that big metal box with coolant hoses coming out of it. That's the intercooler and it's cooled by coolant. At least take it off and pressure test it. Then put it underwater and bubble test it with compressed air.
     
  5. BigMiro

    BigMiro New Member

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    Here is picture of the hose where i found the gray sludge and this little plastic hose was stacked with it.

    photo-1.JPG

    When i was pressure testing the system i took of the rubber hose thats on the bottom of the intercooler and i was looking if the coolant would come out but nothing come out at all i dryer it before i started testing. Here is a pic where i was looking for it to come out (where the coper pipe is pointing to. image-1.jpeg

    also i took of the are intake plastic pipe that is going to the turbo from the are filter box and i took of the plastic pipe/hose that is going from intercooler to the turbo and i pressured the system and the was no coolant coming out there to.

    I have pressure tested maybe 6-7 time at 15 to 20 PSI and until the whole gallon of coolant was gone.

    Should i still take the intercooler of and pressure test it with air while its in the water?

    Is that any coolant going into turbo for cooling of the turbocharger or is it turbo getting any coolant supply at all? the reason I'm asking is because the VW diesel tech told me that its doing with the turbo. Turbo might be bad something in those lines.

    Im thinking to take of the turbo exhaust on the left side of the turbo and pressure the system again and see if it comes out there? Just because this guy said that the turbo might be bad. What do you think about that?
     
  6. BigMiro

    BigMiro New Member

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    20140225_174127.jpg This is the two pipes/hose that i said i looked for a leak.

    photo 1.JPG And this is how it was when i first disconnected the intercooler.
     
  7. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

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    Shows how much the tech knows....there was never any coolant line to any TDI turbo ever. Only gas models. TDI= oil cooled only.

    The EGR cooler could leak coolant and go back into the intake through the EGR.

    Remove the intercooler and pressure test it underwater. Only other place coolant sees intake is the EGR cooler.

    Also, since you already have what looks like clean green coolant in there, don't mix it with pink VW coolant. It'll sludge and turn brown. Normally you need a lot of stuff to flush it out so it looks like this has been losing coolant for a while. Personally I'd stick to VW's coolant since it has better chemistry with the metals and whatnot. If it were my car I'd find the leak, flush with water, and drive around to clean it out and test. Cheaper than testing with coolant. Then once I fixed the leak I'd flush the water out and refill with VW coolant. You can use generic Febi G12 or Pentosin G12. Technically I think it uses G12++ but it's compatible with G12.
     
  8. BigMiro

    BigMiro New Member

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    Do you know how much coolant do i need for the passat when i get the g12? ill see if i have to take it of today or tomorrow.

    Thank you I'll keep you posted
     
  9. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

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    I believe about 2L of concentrate is enough but not sure since intercooler also uses coolant. See your manual for capacity. Mix 50/50 or 60/40 with distilled water.
     
  10. darit1

    darit1 New Member

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    I have confirmed that my 2013 Passat TDI SEL has a coolant leak in the intercooler. The car has 70k miles on it. Anyone have an idea what a replacement will cost or if I could reasonably expect to get some help from VW on the cost of replacement?
     
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  11. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

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    Is it leaking out of the car or is it leaking into the air intake path? Leaking into the air intake path = very dangerous as this can hydrolock the engine. If it's leaking and dripping outside it's not going into the engine and should be visible.
     
  12. darit1

    darit1 New Member

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    Unfortunately there were no visible signs of coolant leakage. It was from this and another thread that led me to pull the bottom air inlet hose from the intercooler to check for leaks. And that's where I found it. I found OEM intercoolers for this vehicle listed online from VW and other parts sellers for about $480 to $600+. I have not seen anything that suggests this is a trend so am wondering what luck I will have with out of warranty support from VW. Will likely be talking to my dealership's service dept in the morning. Any advice would be grealy appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  13. xeno555

    xeno555 Well-Known Member

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    That green stuff is DIFFIDENTLY NOT the right coolant. Makes me wonder why such a new car was drained of the correct fluid and replaced with the wrong. I would for sure have that stuff thoroughly flush and replaced after fixing leak.


    ---------------I see that it has been covered...
     
  14. darit1

    darit1 New Member

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    I took the Passat to the dealership so they could confirm the intercooler coolant leak and provide a repair estimate which was $1460+tax. They gave me the VW Customer Assistance hotline number so I could request assistance with the repair. The Passat was delivered in late August 2013 and has ~71k miles on it. I was very disappointed that Volkswagen offered no assistance with the repair whatsoever - especially since this is my third VW with several more owned in my family over the years (including three diesels). The customer advocate I spoke with said they were aware of the intercooler freezing issue (less than ten cases according to him) but no other known cases of an intercooler coolant leak. Seems to me that suggests a defective part. I'm getting a second quote from another dealership since mine routinely prices parts at MSRP+33% and did so with this quote as well. The MSRP on this intercooler is $688.48 and they quoted me $911 + $549 labor (5-1/2 hours at $100/hour). I will likely end up changing it myself as I can buy the OEM part online for MSRP minus 28-31% which is under $500 delivered and it looks like it can be changed out in about half the time the dealership quoted. The car will have to sit until early next week before I will have a chance to work on it. I will post the second quote and repair details later.

    Update: I just received the second quote from Sharrett's VW - a well respected dealership in Hagerstown, MD: $680 for the intercooler, $280 in labor, for a total of $1022 including tax and miscellaneous shop supplies. This estimate is more than $450 less or two thirds the cost of my dealership's estimate. It's pretty disgusting that my dealership's service department gouges their own car-buying customers. Not likely that I will have my vehicle serviced there or buy another car from them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015
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  15. spjackson1

    spjackson1 New Member

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    Have the same issue on a 2013 Passat: leaking coolant with no visible external signs. Performed pressure test with negative results. Wondering if anyone fixed this themselves and/or might have some insights and pointers to rectify this. Much appreciation for this thread and forum.
     
  16. darit1

    darit1 New Member

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    spjackson1 - I replaced the failed intercooler myself. It cost $494 shipped to my door and took about three hours or so to replace. Of course now that I've done it once and figured out some of the pain points, I think I could shave at least an hour off of the that time. The hardest part in the removal was getting the small coolant hoses to break free. There are only three bolts to remove and the intercooler can be removed and reinstalled from below. The hardest part of the install was getting a few of the hose retaining clips back in place. The trick there was to have a pair of long straight needle nose pliers.

    It's been a year and four months since I replaced the intercooler and the coolant level has been rock steady. That is until yesterday when my wife told me the coolant light had come on. I popped the hood and the coolant is near the bottom of the reservoir... Not looking forward to what I might find this time as I already have a suspicion what it will be...
     
  17. Navysealguy1

    Navysealguy1 New Member

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    I have the same problem with my 2013 passat tdi. It was sitting for 2 weeks and had a coolant mixed with what seemed to be oil leak under my car. The leak was about 3 feet in diameter. I filled my coolant with pink G13 with 50/50 distilled water, which stated it was compatible with my vehicle. I am not blowing white smoke out my exhaust. I don't know where my coolant is coming from. Intercooler maybe? Please help thanks.
     

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