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Help with IDing a leak please

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Old 03-18-2017, 09:58 AM
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Help with IDing a leak please

Hi all - took my car out for a drive last night - hadn't been driven much in the last month or so. All was fine until the way home, when I turned onto a residential street and heard a very strange noise from the driver's rear - almost sounded like a flat tire, but was burbling at low speed like an exhaust issue. No loss of power, no loss of boost, no lights - noise would come and go and was not present at normal speeds, just occasionally at low speeds (less than 15 mph). I couldn't get it to reliably reproduce before shutting it down for the night.


This morning there is an orange fluid on the ground, and I can barely see under the car to find where the drip is coming from. See pics attached - the fluid is slightly oily, not a huge amount but obviously has been dripping overnight. I have not started the car at all today since this kind of stuff freaks me out. Any ideas as to the culprit - what fluid and where the leak might originate? I wonder if the noise was from the fluid hitting the hot exhaust and burbling.



I figure it's coolant coming from somewhere underneath the tank - can't tell if the tank has a split, a hose has failed, or if maybe a fitting is giving out. Power steering leak would be towards the front, wouldn't it?

Sorry for the pics - the car is in a small one car garage and I don't want to start it if it could worsen the issue.


2004 TT cab - 6 speed, 63k miles.











Last edited by leftlane; 03-18-2017 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 10:21 AM
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Your pics are pretty small... What does the fluid smell like? If fruity - coolant, if not, oil. From the distant drip pictures, it could be coming from the water pump (coolant). I have never "heard" a bad water pump, but I could understand if it did make some noise.
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Old 03-18-2017, 10:33 AM
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I can't figure out how to make the pics bigger on Photobucket.

There isn't much of a smell - maybe very slightly sweet. I don't think it is oil based on the color and the consistency. The color in person is very orange with maybe a tad bit of red/pink.
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Old 03-18-2017, 11:16 AM
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Bigger pic attempt of the fluid - of course now I can't figure out why they are sideways.
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Last edited by leftlane; 03-18-2017 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 11:23 AM
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Looks like coolant. Your coolant tank is directly above the leak and are known to crack. How's the level? You could wipe it all clean and start the car and look for leaks. It might not leak until up to operating temperature though.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:03 PM
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Likely a coolant tank failure. Common problem.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:39 PM
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What's coolant tank look like? Yellowed or white? They turn yellow and brittle over time. Fluid level okay? See fluid from up top anywhere?
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Old 03-18-2017, 05:03 PM
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Coolant tank looks surprisingly good - white with no signs of yellowing or brittleness as far as I can tell. Coolant level is at the MIN line - not sure if it was much higher prior to yesterday though. The puddle isn't getting significantly bigger after sitting all day. I also can't see anything from up top - no leaks or drips, and cap is on tighter than hell.

Not having a lift makes it damn near impossible to see anything. My fat head barely even fits under the car from any angle. Even if I jack it up, I probably won't know what I'm looking at anyway, and I sure won't be fixing anything myself.

I really appreciate the help!
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:41 PM
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i would put in a few cups of distilled and check the level again, overnight, start the car idle it and watch for seepage.

this i would do first, whether i was planning on taking the chance at driving it to the shop or not. based upon the severity of the leak, then you can decide whether or not to drive or flatbed it. if is IS the exp tank? and it doesn't leak overnight? make sure your at the "max" level line and drive it to the shop, without worry. ( depending upon distance of course and watch your temp gauge! )

but adding some distilled will probably help you in making a more educated "guess" and will help you know what's what.
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:09 PM
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Awesome - I'll do this. The shop is about 5 miles away so not too far at all. I appreciate it!
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Old 03-19-2017, 09:24 AM
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Looks like mine. A bit to the drivers side. I didn't have a leak until I topped off the coolant from the min level to the max level. Now the coolant stopped leaking and it is down to the Min level again. I'm betting on the coolant tank and will replace when I do the 60,000 service.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:49 AM
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looks like it is coming from right where the water pump is .Check the hose connections to the pump and the area right behind the pulley.Doesnt appear to be the tank,it would drip a little further left if it was cracked
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by joetwint View Post
looks like it is coming from right where the water pump is .Check the hose connections to the pump and the area right behind the pulley.Doesnt appear to be the tank,it would drip a little further left if it was cracked
Thanks Joe - I'm honestly more worried about the sound that preceded the leak and wonder if that was an impeller giving up the ghost. It hasn't leaked much more at all since Friday but I haven't started it either.

The noise was somewhat like a playing card in the spokes of a bike but only at very low speed/revs and slower and deeper. How's that for a description? ��
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Old 03-19-2017, 01:28 PM
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Water pump I'm betting, don't think that's super bad to swap...
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Old 03-19-2017, 09:13 PM
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Water pump I bet.
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