Alfa Romeo 4C Forums banner
1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was driving for ~20 minutes (non-highway) last week. I parked in the shade for 5-10 minutes to go into a store. I returned, turned the car on, and backed out of my parking spot. As soon as I put it into drive and started to drive out of the parking lot, there was a notification chime and something to the tune of “Radiator Fluid Overheated — Turn off engine immediately” popped up on the instrument panel.

Scared sh!tless, I turned the car off for a couple of minutes. When I turned it back on, the temperature gauge was still elevated, but the written warning was gone. I turned the car off again, and waited another 10 minutes. When I turned it on this time, the temperature was normal. Luckily, my dealership was only about 5 miles down the road. I drove there with the A/C off half of the way, but then turned it on to test things. Everything was normal?!

My dealership (who probably won’t be my dealership after this), has had my car for a week and they haven’t been able to figure what’s wrong. They told me that my coolant level was low, that I must have a slow leak somewhere, and that they can’t locate it. There was no smoke/steam or burning smell when this all went down.

So….

1. I’m this👌 close to picking up my car and taking it to a different dealership, unless I can get talked off the ledge by you guys. should I give these guys more time, or is a week enough for locating a coolant leak?

2. Could this be a simple temperature gauge malfunction and the low coolant level a coincidence?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
352 Posts
Have you smelled your exhaust for a sweet maple syrup like scent? Perhaps the car is burning coolant in the turbo or past the head gasket.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Alfanut

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,319 Posts
Anyone looking at this car should do a head gasket leak detection. DI turbos that have coolant vanishing should be suspected of a head gasket leak. Left untreated, it's a death sentence for an all aluminum engine. A hot spot and warping will develop. More coolant will be drawn in, cycle worsens.

It is always possible a gauge malfunctioned, but that is a resting place after major variables are cleared.

With the underpan hiding some things, and radiators and hoses front to rear, you need to really look it over for a drippy leak and really push the shop to. A basic leak would be party time and relief. No signs? The head gasket must be considered.

Reminder that year, odometer reading, use, and any other info about the car can only help.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Alf Alpha

·
Registered
Joined
·
637 Posts
I was driving for ~20 minutes (non-highway) last week. I parked in the shade for 5-10 minutes to go into a store. I returned, turned the car on, and backed out of my parking spot. As soon as I put it into drive and started to drive out of the parking lot, there was a notification chime and something to the tune of “Radiator Fluid Overheated — Turn off engine immediately” popped up on the instrument panel.

Scared sh!tless, I turned the car off for a couple of minutes. When I turned it back on, the temperature gauge was still elevated, but the written warning was gone. I turned the car off again, and waited another 10 minutes. When I turned it on this time, the temperature was normal. Luckily, my dealership was only about 5 miles down the road. I drove there with the A/C off half of the way, but then turned it on to test things. Everything was normal?!

My dealership (who probably won’t be my dealership after this), has had my car for a week and they haven’t been able to figure what’s wrong. They told me that my coolant level was low, that I must have a slow leak somewhere, and that they can’t locate it. There was no smoke/steam or burning smell when this all went down.

So….

1. I’m this👌 close to picking up my car and taking it to a different dealership, unless I can get talked off the ledge by you guys. should I give these guys more time, or is a week enough for locating a coolant leak?

2. Could this be a simple temperature gauge malfunction and the low coolant level a coincidence?
There has been a guy that had a small leak here on forum and it was a clamp down the bottom left from pipes joining rubber. Lower wheel well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just spoke to the dealership. They told me that there was NO coolant in the car when I brought it in — the term “bone-dry” was used. They filled it with coolant, drove it around for about 10 miles, and still couldn’t find the leak. They want me to take the car back, drive it for a few hundred miles, and then bring it back to them. I’m not the least bit mechanically inclined, but this doesn’t sound like a great solution to me.

Do as they instructed, or take it to dealership #2?

My 4C is my daily driver (~10-15 miles daily)
2016 spider
35k miles
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
483 Posts
That sounds like a bad idea. Did they do a pressure test on the coolant system? If not, that is a great way to find a leak. If you do take the car back, you can buy a pressure test kit and do it yourself, it is easy. The obvious places are hoses and the water pump.

I don't believe the coolant system was bone dry. It would have been pretty hard to not be find where all of the coolant leaving left the system if that was true. You should see a white film on the surfaces where the coolant leaked.

I don't know where the sensor is placed, but it isn't the sensor if the system was bone dry. I have had a situation in another car where an air bubble was in the system and the temperature sensor would go really high even though the coolant was fine. Why? Because the air gets much hotter than liquid inside the engine.

This just doesn't sound right and sounds more like a dealer who doesn't want to take the time to find the issue.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,898 Posts
I just spoke to the dealership. They told me that there was NO coolant in the car when I brought it in — the term “bone-dry” was used. They filled it with coolant, drove it around for about 10 miles, and still couldn’t find the leak. They want me to take the car back, drive it for a few hundred miles, and then bring it back to them. I’m not the least bit mechanically inclined, but this doesn’t sound like a great solution to me.

Do as they instructed, or take it to dealership #2?

My 4C is my daily driver (~10-15 miles daily)
2016 spider
35k miles
Bone dry and no pool of coolant on your garage floor? Sounds a bit of an exaggeration. Check your oil condition. Does the oil look clean or slightly milky? A leaking head gasket usually means coolant finding it’s way into the oil galleries then the sump.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,431 Posts
Hi @beekrock - I don't want to alarm you but here is my 2-cents worth of advice:

...They told me that my coolant level was low, that I must have a slow leak somewhere, and that they can’t locate it. There was no smoke/steam or burning smell when this all went down.

The weak point in the coolant system is the expansion tank - the seam splits and vents, which drops the pressure in the cooling system and lowers the boiling point of the fluid. Coolant smells sweet, there is usually not a burning smell when it leaks (unless the coolant happens to land on a hot exhaust - it is flammable). By the time it's steaming, you may already have done damage. The splits in the expansion tank are hard to spot, but you can normally hear them after the engine has stopped. If the cap on the expansion tank was not fitted correctly, you could lose the fluid level over time and not notice it. The expansion tank is clear for a reason, so that you can check the level routinely and take action before the level disappears from view.


2. Could this be a simple temperature gauge malfunction and the low coolant level a coincidence?

NO !!! The sensor & gauge are working - the low coolant level and subsequent alarms is proof of that.
The problem when there is low coolant level is that the sensor, once clear of the fluid, can give a false temp indication and a false sense that all is OK. It's not ! I think that this is why you didn't get a warning when you were driving it initially. You should not have driven it to the dealer after the initial warning without having checked the coolant level in the expansion tank (the owners manual tells you how to do this if you aren't mechanically inclined). You don't have to open the cap to check the level (this is actually very dangerous on a hot engine and can lead to scalding from hot coolant being ejected under pressure) - you just look through the translucent (see-through) walls of the expansion tank.
[Click to expand the embedded quotes above as I have provided some comments in there too]

If your display tells you to shut down the engine immediately, it is giving you good advice.
If the dealer told you that there was no coolant in the car, then that is cause for concern. If it was only the expansion tank that had no coolant, then that is slightly less of a concern.
The coolant system once emptied, has to be filled, bled (to remove air-traps in the high points) and pressure tested. Your dealer should have done all of that as a minimum. If the system doesn't hold pressure, then it needs to be checked systematically until the leak is found. The usual suspects (in addition to the expansion tank mentioned above) are coolant hoses, clamps, heater matrix, bleed points, drain points & water pumps to mention a few areas to be checked. The radiator hoses run from the engine in the rear to the front of the car and back again, so panels have to be removed to gain access to visually check all of the system.
Just filling it with coolant and going again, waiting to see what happens is not a bright idea.

There is a real possibility that if the coolant is not leaking externally, then it must be leaking internally - possibly via the head gasket. That could admit coolant into the cylinders when the engine is stationary - not great and would make starting difficult (appear like a discharged battery), and possibly even cause a hydraulic lock, which can bend con-rods and destroy an engine. The other place the coolant ends up is in the engine oil - this is easy to check if you drain a sample, wipe the dipstick or even take a peek into the oil filler cap (making sure you put it back on again properly). Again - coolant in the engine oil will rapidly cause severe wear, overheating and damage, so it's not something that should be overlooked.
Your dealer's technicians must know this stuff - I would ask for them to provide you with a written report about what they have checked and that they are happy for you to drive the car on a "few hundred miles" fault-finding test drive - that way you will have something in writing if the worst happens and you damage your engine. It will give you some legal recourse should you need it in the future.
I hope that I haven't scared you, but you do need to take this seriously as very expensive engine damage is a real possibility. If you don't understand what the service manager is telling you, take a car-savvy mate with you when you pick the car up and have the manager explain it all to them so that they can tell you in layman's terms what they have done to your car.
I imagine that after a week in the workshop, the repair bill is not going to be a cheap one, so I do hope that they have fixed whatever the issue is.
Personally, I wouldn't be taking "No Fault Found" as an answer unless you can actively prove that someone is syphoning your coolant to drink at the park.
I hope that this is of some help to you.
Good luck !!!
Cheers,
Alf.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
OMG! Yes, I am scared now! (which could be a good thing, in the end).

The other, more reliable dealership is located 16 miles away from where the car is currently. I REALLY don’t want to do any [further] damage by driving the car around without a proper diagnosis. Should I have it towed to the other dealership?

One thing I left out is that the first thing the dealership did when I dropped the car off was the PA State inspection. Could my car have even passed an inspection in its current condition?

Thank you guys SO much for the guidance here. I have a lot on my plate right now, and really didn’t need car issues on top of everything.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,898 Posts
Out of warranty by a year.
Like Alf, I wouldn’t be taking the no fault found answer since you don’t know what inspections and tests were actually carried out. You mentioned another dealer. Go with your gut feeling. Sort proper transport for your car.
Edit: The coolant tank is known to crack around the inlet and /or outlet pipes or the mid-seam. Check there for leakage. There should be some telltale signs of colouration.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
18,681 Posts
The “inspection” is likely for safety (lights, brakes, windshield, tires, suspension), and coolant or lack thereof would have no bearing on the outcome. But whoasked them to do this, would be my question.

Call the service manager of dealership #2, explain the situation, ask his advice including if he thinks it is safe to drive. Depending on the advice he gives (bearing in mind that he has not seen or diagnosed the car) and the impression you get from him, act accordingly.

Towing, if you aren’t sure, is probably a good idea. What’s a couple hundred $ or less? As long as they use the right equipment, it’s pretty risk free. Who cares if it insults dealership #1 if you plan never to return there again. “Never” is a long time, though.

Sorry this happened, but it sounds like something worth the money to investigate, to give you peace of mind and hopefully many more years of enjoyment!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,431 Posts
OMG! Yes, I am scared now! (which could be a good thing, in the end).

The other, more reliable dealership is located 16 miles away from where the car is currently. I REALLY don’t want to do any [further] damage by driving the car around without a proper diagnosis. Should I have it towed to the other dealership?

One thing I left out is that the first thing the dealership did when I dropped the car off was the PA State inspection. Could my car have even passed an inspection in its current condition?

Thank you guys SO much for the guidance here. I have a lot on my plate right now, and really didn’t need car issues on top of everything.
Hi @beekrock - Don't be scared - knowledge is power and you have been brave enough to come on the forum for advice, to gain some knowledge around this particular issue.
That advice can sometimes lead any one of us to a heart-attack when the worst possible scenarios are presented, but the reality is usually not as bad as it could be.
The dealer has looked at your car and has told you that it's OK to drive, so the chances of it having a terminally damaged engine right now is remote. If the dealer is satisfied that everything is running well enough for you to drive it away for a test drive of 200 miles, then taking it to the other dealer 16 miles away is probably going to be OK.
You currently have your car at an Alfa approved dealer and they should have already conducted a "proper diagnosis" that you are going to have to pay for (or at least part of it if you are not satisfied with what they have done), so don't just pluck it out of there and hand over the key to another dealer while you bend over and touch your toes.
Get them to provide you with a written report on what has been checked/tested - ask for an itemised bill to get as much detail as you can... Don't accept "Checked the car - six days labour, topped up the coolant, parts replaced nothing....blah blah blah, No fault found".
If this dealer did work that you didn't authorise, and didn't do work that you have asked for, then it sounds like a shady place to be taking your 4C.
If you do decide to move your car and try again, talk to the other dealer's workshop manager before you take your car there - they may not want to get involved in a dispute with another dealer in the network and won't appreciate it if you blind-side them.
I had an Alfa approved dealership's workshop manager try to BS me with my 4C and I vowed to never take my car to that particular dealer ever again. That was 4 years ago and It hasn't been back... it is now serviced by an independent and I am very happy with the care that the Independent takes with my 4C.
Is there a local AROCA group that can point you in the right direction?
I believe that you have "Alfa Cares" that specialises in issues encountered with their Alfa Romeo dealership network in the USA - maybe those guys can help you if you run into issues with the dealership's service department that you cannot resolve yourself.
We are (so far) hearing your side of the story, and not the workshop manager's and maybe they have done all of the checks that we have mentioned and carried out everything properly. It may be something as simple as a loose cap on the expansion tank that went undetected, or a loose hose clamp, but it's definitely something as coolant/inhibitor does not just evaporate entirely between services on a healthy coolant system.
Don't be frightened of the dealership - they are human just like you and if approached in a civilised manner will most likely work with you to allay your fears. There must be a gear-head buddy that you know that can go with you to translate if you are worried that they will talk down to you.
Sorry you are having this hassle on top of whatever you have going on in your life right now and hope that it is soon resolved to your satisfaction.
Cheers,
Alf.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4Canada

·
Registered
Joined
·
375 Posts
@beecrock, a lot of good advice from the forum members. I wouldn't have much confidence in the dealership that couldn't find a coolent leak, get an itemized bill showing what they did. I would go to an independent shop, tell us where you are located and probably someone on the forum could give you a recommendation or as was previously mentioned contact the local chapter of AROC for a shop recommendation . I personally would have my 4C towed. My independent mechanic would never tell me to go drive a couple of hundred miles and then come back and maybe we'll find it. He doesn't give up until the problem is solved . Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
384 Posts
Hopefully this helps. I had my heater core leaking coolant. It wasn't in the piping but the core itself. apparently cracked if I remember correctly
I store my car on a lift and noticed coolant on the undertray, was an easy fix for the dealer.

I'm confused that if you are leaking coolant or did, it is not noticeable on the undertrays of the car????
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
939 Posts
I had a small leak of fluid under my car after I brought the 4C in for service. Saw it when I backed out of the garage. Ended up being a small, hidden leak in one of the radiator hoses. So small .... the dealership didn't even see it when they were doing their annual maintenance to the car.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Alfanut and 4Canada

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
While not ideal, don’t worry about it until it becomes a problem for you…

Become your own mechanic - trace the leak. It’ll cost you $20 and an hour or two (max). Buy a tracer and a uv flashlight.

ACDelco 1149328 GM Original Equipment 10-5046 Dex-Cool Leak Detection Tracer Dye - 1 oz https://a.co/d/5sfalXc

Consciot 51 LED UV Flashlight Black Light 395nm Ultra Violet Blacklight Torch Light Pet Urine Detector for Dry Dog Urine, Pet Stains, Bed Bug, Compact Ultraviolet Flashlight for Scorpion Hunting https://a.co/d/6eOmXuS
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
381 Posts
My car found a very small coolant leak that i never seen. It is always parked in a garage and the floor was always bone dry. Dealer found it when doing an inspection at service prior.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top