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coolant level sensor?
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allsierra123
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 3:29 pm    Post subject: coolant level sensor? Reply with quote

I was driving a long this morning. And the coolant light started flashing. So in a hurry I pull over and check and my levels are fine. I start it back up and the light goes out. About 2 -3 miles later it does it again. I check all looks fine. The engine isnt running any hotter than normal. Now I let the van sit for a bit and it didnt do it again. Is my level sensor on the fritz? Or is there some other hidden problem?
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levi
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question.
Here's some of the things that will set of that blinking led.

You lose coolant....If that sensor detects no coolant, it'll start flashing.

The coolant temp gets too high.

That coolant sensor goes bad.

There's a wiring problem from the sensor to the gauge.

The gauge is bad.

Bad capacitor. (quantum flux capacitor?)

Bad relay.

Mine has been flashing forever and then some. If you find a solution that does not involve any of these, let me know so I can try... Confused
btw I put in a gauge from egauges.com, so I have the actual temp covered, but it would be nice to have the protection of the "low coolant" aspect of the flashing led, which I no longer have.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try unplugging the sensor connector atop the expansion tank, bridge the pins in the connector, then drive it and see. If the light doesn't come on anymore, it's trouble wit the sensor. Often the probes get gunked up and can't sense continuity thru the coolant. Just pulling out the sensor and cleaning the probe pins does the trick.

Here's a diagnostic for the level sensor electrics:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=184096
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

9 times outa 10 the sensor is dirty.

Take it outa the tank, clean it with CLR and reinstall it.

This should solve your problem.

If not--it's time to replace it.
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r39o
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The old style sensors used to crack inside the connector. Coolant would wick up the wires and the connections would go bad.

Use the above tests to figure out what is wrong.

In a repair shop the sensor will just be replaced. They are cheap.
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allsierra123
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ordered one. But upon further inspection I did find a small coolant leak. Just a tiny drip. Looks like it coming from where the T stat housing meets the head. So I ordered some O rings. And a T stat. Im going to put the proper T stat in I was running a cheapo from the local parts hut. So hopefully this will take care of my leaking problems. For now anyway. The sensor must be acting up.Everytime it flashes there is coolant in the tank still and its not low at all.
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indytriple
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to tencent and TK for the suggestion of cleaning the coolant level sensor. My coolant level LED would sometimes blink continuously or longer than normal when starting up the van. Usually, the problem would go away once the engine and coolant reached normal operating temps. However, the problem was annoying so I decided to remove the coolant level sensor from the tank and I found this...

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Wow. It looks like barnacles on an old shipwreck. Cleaned it off with a rag and some Clean Streak dry degreaser, and now it looks good as new...

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The problem is completely fixed, and the light blinks for a few seconds on startup and then goes off. No more annoying blinking light unless my coolant level actually drops too low. On to the next project!
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since the sensors crack with age it makes sense to just replace them every now and then. No qualms with cleaning them if need be but periodic replacement of the tank and sender is in order if you want a dependable rig.
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levi
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

as for the barnacles on a shipwreck.... now you know what the inside of the radiator tubes probably look like.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
Since the sensors crack with age it makes sense to just replace them every now and then. No qualms with cleaning them if need be but periodic replacement of the tank and sender is in order if you want a dependable rig.


I've got a new one in a bag in my emergency spare parts kit, but I'm cheap, and I'm gonna see how long I can make this one stretch. If I need to change it in a campground or a car park it will be quick and easy. Good suggestion, though. I'm glad that I have the piece of mind of a backup.

levi wrote:
as for the barnacles on a shipwreck.... now you know what the inside of the radiator tubes probably look like.


Yep! Just put in a brand-spankin new Behr radiator in last week which completes my overhaul of the cooling system. It's nice to see that temp gauge steady as a rock.
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Altan
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 9:14 pm    Post subject: 1.9 westy temp sensor flashes overflow tank fills @deceler. Reply with quote

Hello,

I am new to the Vanagon, but not new to VW. We bought our first Westfalia in March of 2012. It is a 1985 GL. We love it! Although, it has a perplexing issue that I can not figure out. It drives wonderfully down the interstate on our typical 150 mile one way trips. I won't push it over 65, usually averaging around 60mph. The engine is the original 1.9 with 108K on it. Compression tests have come out fine and a recent coolant pressure test held at 15psi prior to a flush and refill of coolant. Yet, the problem persists.

The problem is once you pull off for a pit stop after a steady speed of 60 mph for 150 miles, it seems that the coolant all rushes to the over -flow tank upon deceleration. If you check it while stopped, it is to the top and a little has percolated out. (is that normal?) If you check the expansion tank, it is low and the temperature sensor light will have started flashes as soon as you slow to normal city speeds upon exiting the interstate. Inevitably, both expansion and over-flow tanks must be topped off. It is rare for the temperature to register more than what is normal at the halfway mark or just over the temperature sensor bulb (just over halfway).

Sometimes the excess coolant isn't drawn back into the expansion tank.

I have replaced the blue expansion tank cap, replaced both the water pump (it went out) and the thermostat, all associated gaskets and all hose clamps. I had it flushed, pressure tested and refilled and still this...

Has anyone had this issue? Is it related to a head gasket issue? Something with the Digijet system? Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated... Thank you!
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BillM
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new caps for the expansion tank can be hit or miss in quality
right out of the box. You need to test the cap to make sure its working
correctly. Just a bad cap can cause the very issue you describe.
So double check that blue cap with the nipple on it...
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Altan
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:10 am    Post subject: 1.9 liter coolant issues/ overflow fills at deceleration Reply with quote

Thank you Bill. I will do the blue expansion tank cap test. I have also been wondering if it could be the temp sensor 2 causing me problems? Does anyone know if the ECU temp sensor (temp sensor 2) could be causing the same symptoms I described in my initial post?

Someone else has mentioned that it could be that I am getting combustion gases in my coolant, meaning bad head gaskets. I did compression tests a year ago when I bought the van that came out fine, it passed fairly stringent DOT/DEQ standards getting it titled in Portland, plus recent flush and refill, pressure test of coolant system show none of this... Wouldn't one of these actions have shown compression gasses in my coolant system? Also, wouldn't the OS/2 sensor flash if this was happening?

So, on to test the blue cap but how about temp sensor 2? Could it be the problem? Or bad heads?

Thank you all,

Taylor
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have an exhaust leak into the coolant you may be able to see bubbles continuously streaming up through the pressure tank when the engine is hot.

You could also follow the advice in this video:

http://www.ehow.com/video_12213890_check-exhaust-fumes-antifreeze.html
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djkeev
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He is how my sensor failed. Original 1986 unit (date molded in).

Coolant seeped up the metal rods via the cracked plastic and oozed out from the top plug.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Dave
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:48 am    Post subject: Re: 1.9 liter coolant issues/ overflow fills at deceleration Reply with quote

Altan wrote:
...Someone else has mentioned that it could be that I am getting combustion gases in my coolant,... did compression tests a year ago... recent flush and refill, pressure test of coolant system show none of this... Wouldn't one of these actions have shown compression gasses in my coolant system? Also, wouldn't the OS/2 sensor flash if this was happening?...


Could be combustion gases and no, such a leak wouldn't necessarily show up in a compression test and wouold mean nothing to the O2.

I believe the reason such a leak doesn't show up is that it may be pretty small and the pressures involved when the engine is running are much greater than those of a compression test. Additionally, the leak may only occur once the engine is hot.

I hope a new cap solves it but my money would be on the head gasket. There are tests that may or may not be able to detect combustion products in the coolant.
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Altan
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:47 pm    Post subject: Coolant issue, light blinks and overflow tank is full Reply with quote

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to my post. I am happy to report that there was NOT any exhaust in my coolant system, as is what was thought to be my issue. In the end, it was the radiator fan switch that was bad. After hearing from many folks trying to help me diagnose my issues, I drove to a trusted mechanic who performed the tests using the syring and chemicals and sucking up the vapor. It came back showing no trace of exhaust and then we both began discussing other possibilities. I mentioned the fact that I hadn't ever heard the radiator fan come on. We talked about how that could be it, going at 55 presents no problem as the wind is cooling things via the radiator. When I slowed down, the coolant always rushed back to fill the overflow tank and inevitably some was lost. We deduced that the boiling water/coolant would be pushed towards the lowest point, the overflow tank. Since the switch replacement, I have blown some 27 year old hoses (the pressure is staying where it should, finding the weak links...), but I carry what replacements I might need and the last trip was 100% trouble free! Driving like a dream without the anxiety of the expected breakdown!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Coolant issue, light blinks and overflow tank is full Reply with quote

Altan wrote:
Since the switch replacement, I have blown some 27 year old hoses (the pressure is staying where it should, finding the weak links...), but I carry what replacements I might need and the last trip was 100% trouble free! !


blown hoses scare the crap out of me, I blew an engine because a hose blew and I didn't notice until it was way overheated. Not on a Westy, but still.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I need the plug and a bit of the wiring from the harness for repairs. Couldn't find anything in the classifieds. The same plug is used for the brake fluid reservoir.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:51 am    Post subject: cracked coolant level sensor in Ecuador Reply with quote

1988 1.9cc Kombi Carthago

I have been checking my coolant level regularly after a recent rebuild, mostly because of very small drips from several coolant hose connections. One by one I have been tightening hose clamps and sealing up the leaks.

Then after spending a few days hiking in the Jungle I came back and warmed up the van and noticed coolant dripping out of the back left. Opening up the engine compartment is see it is coming from the coolant level sensor in the expansion tank. Looks like the kind of thing to tighten slightly and I will be good to go. NOPE, tightening made it worse.

I pull it out and yes it was dirty (as per the photos posted here), but I have never seen the red light go on and the van usually runs cool. Hottest temps are just above half way on the gauge. I noticed someone had put a bit of teflon under the O-ring on the sensor, so I thought to add a bit more and put it back. That didn't work.

Then I pull it out and clean off the new and old teflon and see that there is a large crack almost all the way around under where the O-ring goes. In Ecuador there are hardly parts available for a Vanagon, let alone in the Jungle. At a small hardware store I look for a 3/4 inch plastic plug, but the threading is different.

Then out of desperation I get superglue and bicarbonate which hardens the plastic even harder. Gooping it on in 2 different layers the sensor plastic is repaired, but when screwing it in the expansion tank, the top of it is not level (uneven) and the O-ring won't quite seal. So I remove it again and add a layer of hi-temp silicone and let it dry overnight.

Next day it doesn't leak until the van gets up to temperature. SHIT. I have got to try to make the run 3.5 hours up to Cuenca (the closest city) and look for parts. This climb will take me over a 12,000 foot pass. So with lots of extra water on hand I go. Actually the van hardly leaks coolant once it is running at over 2000 rpm's and doesn't heat up and the trip to Cuenca is fairly easy even on a rocky dirt road.

Going back and forth to all the auto parts stores in Cuenca there is nothing that resembles this sensor nor a similar plug. I almost put in an expansion tank from a Chevy, but instead I have a machine shop fabricate a plastic stopper. I figure I have never even seen the red light flicker on the gauge, so I'll get a new sensor sent to me sometime this month.

It is now running great. But the next day my temperature gauge starts showing hotter temps than I have ever seen, about 3/4 of the way up. I have a manual override on the fan and even running down hill with the fan on doesn't bring the temperature down on the gauge. I stop and try to add coolant and bleed it out, but there isn't any air in the system. It doesn't seem to be actually running hot. The return tube from the radiator is cold!

I suspect the thermostat is not opening because turning on the heat in the van seems to bring the temp down on the gauge. I was going to remove the thermostat today when I thought I would check online first. I can't get a hold of a IR (infrared) gun in Ecuador to check actual temperatures. I was going to ask on the forum how bad it would be to drive around without a thermostat? at least temporarily.

In the end jumping the connection of the coolant level sensor (I had just left it disconnected) made the gauge work perfectly again. Just drove up a pass and temperature comes up to about half way with no fan on, then I feel the return from the radiator and it is warm, but not hot. Very Happy

Sorry for the long winded story, but thanks for the info on the forum: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=184096
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