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Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank
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CGriz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:17 pm    Post subject: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Ok I have lots of air bubbles or boiling, but it looks like bubbles, coming out of the coolant overflow tank. Background is I replaced the heads and gaskets 2 years and 17,000 miles ago. Iíve pressure tested the system and am not seeing any leaks and I have a brand new Blau cap on the expansion tank.

1) Do I have to replace my head gaskets again? I may be in denial because I feel like I just did this job. Tailpipe appears to be dry without any steam.

2) Dumb question and may be wishful thinking, but most of what Iíve seen states that air bubbles in the expansion tank = faulty head gaskets. Is it necessarily the same if I have air bubbles in the overflow tank?
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

check for combustion gases... inexpensive to do and pretty sensitive.
https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/BK_7001006?cid=pai...gKgEPD_BwE
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CGriz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Yeah that's what I'm thinking I'll have to do next, maybe drop the push rod tube cover as well and see if I find anything suspicious
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Just to be clear... your expansion tank is full (no air pocket)?

I would expect the expansion tank to see 'air' first and then perhaps push it into the overflow.
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CGriz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Correct, expansion tank is full and I am not seeing any air pockets in it, but I am seeing significant air bubbles coming from the overflow tank, really enough that I feel like I should be seeing other issues. Should also note that the gowesty pressure tester (bicycle pump) appeared to loose about 1 psi over the course of a couple minutes, but I could not find a leak...
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CGriz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

I havenít checked the front heater core either, but suppose this is also a possibility and worth checking before tearing the engine apart
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CGriz
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 5:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Update: I pulled the pushrod tube cover yesterday and the head gaskets still looked nice and clean. I decided to pressure test the system again. About 10 minute later I found another small leak coming from a hose clamp. Tightened up the hose clamp and the problem seems to be solved! No more bubbles in the overflow tank have appeared the past two days. Lesson is to proceed carefully and check twice and thoroughly before drawing conclusions. Very glad I pressure tested the system again, I will still monitor carefully but I believe the problem is solved. Of course, Iím still a little superstitious and hope I am not jinxing by posting my conclusion too early.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

CGriz wrote:
...No more bubbles in the overflow tank have appeared the past two days...


I do hope it's good, but I have seen engines where the combustion gases would only get into the coolant on an extended long hot drive. Makes the problem hard to recreate for diagnosis.
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CGriz
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Yes, Iím still a little worried about that, but am back in the ďmonitoring closelyĒ phase, which is what Iím always doing with this cooling system rather than considering another rebuild, gowesty engine, subie or just throwing in the towel. Fingers crossed.
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CGriz
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PostPosted: Today 4:36 am    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Just a reminder to pressure test your system for leaks annually folks. This is literally the life force of our vans we are talking about. After taking care of the above issue I pressure tested the system again yesterday after replacing the original automatic transmission cooler with an FAS heat sink cooler. I found small leaks coming from 4 hose clamps I kid you not. This is after I got the system completely leak free last year. Itís also just a reminder to do the work yourself or at least know how to get around your van if you can. I am the definition of an amateur and if it not for this forum would be totally lost - but I paid someone last spring to change a bunch of hoses and replace the coolant and they clearly didn't tighten up the new hoses well. The amount of air and dirt that has now been introduced to the system is extremely disturbing to think about and if I had the time I would replace all the coolant again right now. I also noticed that my less than 1 year old blau cap is no longer holding pressure....time for a new one.
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PostPosted: Today 6:50 am    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

It's a balancing act of tightening and why some people prefer the constant tension clamps. Too tight and you strip the clamp, too loose and it leaks. Good and tight when a hose is new is also not good and tight after the rubber deforms a bit. It's even worse with silicone hoses.

I like to go around and try to check tightness on clamps every so often (oil change?). It makes me feel like I know what I am doing and it's an easy win.
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PostPosted: Today 7:44 am    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

i was in traffic and got a whiff of coolant. turns out i had a very tiny leak from the tiny hose feeding the oil heat exchanger on my 2.1 - a few minutes later and it was fixed.

maybe i have a super sensitive nose, or maybe it was another car in traffic making the smell, but boy am i glad i gave the hoses a through examination.

there is much to be said for knowing how the systems work and where to look for trouble. i can't imagine owning a Vanagon and not wrenching on it myself. i would be lost if something were to happen on the road and i could not address it myself.

the cliche "VW, making mechanics for blah blah years" is true. and i find that a positive.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Today 8:05 am    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

To be honest, I would not to expect to see much coolant exchange in your overflow tank. That could indicate that the cap is not able to control the pressure build up at temp or there is excessive pressure build up. Pressure could get excessive from the radiator fan coming on too late or a radiator that is not removing enough heat. Head gaskets should be the last option.
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PostPosted: Today 1:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

CGriz wrote:
I am the definition of an amateur and if it not for this forum would be totally lost - but I paid someone last spring to change a bunch of hoses and replace the coolant and they clearly didn't tighten up the new hoses well. The amount of air and dirt that has now been introduced to the system is extremely disturbing to think about and if I had the time I would replace all the coolant again right now. I also noticed that my less than 1 year old blau cap is no longer holding pressure....time for a new one.


As mentioned, tightening worm gear hose clamps on new hoses a few times in the first year is something to be expected. I wouldn't knock the installer for that. Maybe for not suggesting that you may need to do a lap and give the screws a twist.

I also wouldn't sweat the dirt that has entered the system: it would have to be tiny to squeeze in and in relatively small proportion to what was not cleaned out in the last flush.

Your point on the pressure test is spot on and it sounds like you're in fairly good shape. Except for maybe the oem tank...

Reports of failing blue caps and old plastic tanks is frequent enough to prompt some folks to replace the oem tank with an aluminum tank.

https://www.vancafe.com/025121403-AL-p/025121403-al.htm
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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4Gears4Tires
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PostPosted: Today 7:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

Even though I really like my vancafe aluminum tank I wish it had the sight glass just for peace of mind. My coolant temp gauge will blink and let me know it's low but... sometimes it's nice to just know know, you know? Laughing
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PostPosted: Today 8:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Air Bubbles in Overflow Tank Reply with quote

^^^ There are a few threads on adding assorted sight glasses or tubes. This is just a quick example, naturally it would need to handle 15 psi or so.

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

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RYR7Z58/ref=sspa_dk_d...NrPXRydWU=
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Current: 1990 Westy Camper - Bostig RG4, 2wd, manual trans w/Peloquin, NAHT high-top, Flash Silver, seam rust, bondo, etc., etc.

Past: 1985 Westy Camper - 1.9 wbx, 2wd, manual trans, Merian Brown, (sold after 17 years to Northwesty who converted it to a Syncro).
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