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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Update: Help me! AC smelled like coolant yesterday, today gurgling sound...

Update 2/09/06:
My car was towed to the dealer last Thursday and the dealer "gladly" diagnosed the problem (coolant smell in cabin probably meant $$$$ for dealer). After waiting about half an hour my service advisor took me to look at my car while it was being diagnosed and see what the technician had found. He had not found anything yet, but had a hunch the heater core was leaking.

After waiting another half hour I was told it was the heater core for sure that was leaking. Cost to replace it: around $1,050. I had no option and authorized the repair. I got my car the next day (extremely dirty ofcourse).

Upon getting my car back I noticed the following problems: ashtray cover wasn't working properly, one dash vent light wasn't working, a metal clatter behind the dashboard, and something rolling left to right behind the dashboard when making turns, and ofcourse some scratches and scuffs here and there. I'm going back to the dealer today to have them fix these problems.

On the bright side, I called VWoA and asked for assistence and they approved and are going to pay 75% of the bill (I did not threaten or anything, just a casual conversation about my problem). I am extremely impressed with VWoA, as my car has been out of waranty for around 2 1/2 years.


Original post:

OK, so yesterday I was driving home and noticed that the AC smelled like coolant. The smell didn't go away after 5 minutes, so I ran the fan instead and the smell disappeared. I ran the AC again about 20 minutes later (right before entering my driveway) and the coolant smell returned. I have a climatronic if that helps.

Now today, driving out of my garage I hear this loud gurgling/boiling sound when accelerating from a stop or very low speeds. The sound is loud and seems to be directly behind the dashboard. I didn't drive that far since I knew something wasn't right. I also didn't turn on the AC to see if it smelled like coolant.

I've had this smell before, but I thought it was battery acid that leaked from my battery. I also checked my coolant level (5 hours after parking the car) and it seems that there is more than enough coolant, actually more than the max level. Is the coolant supposed to be brownish/muddy/diarrhea like? I inspected the car and I didn't see any damage or punctures. There are no puddles or dried up puddles.

What could be wrong? Any advice on what to do or look for? Can I drive the car to the dealer?
BTW, I have a 2001.5 GLX Tiptronic if that helps.

Thanks.
 

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oh no! sounds like your oil and coolant are mixing and you are on your way to major engine damage.. do as recommended above and do not drive it anymore! have it towed to dealer/mechanic
 

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The oil and coolant mixing is a problem with the 1.8T's. Not the V6's. The coolant color will be a nasty color, but if you've had diarrhea like I have, I tend to have large chunks mixed together with a sinewy liquid like solution that sometimes burns on the way out.

If your coolant is still water like, just discolored, you should sitll be fine. Watch your water temp gauge, and make sure you don't overheat. you could have just had some coolant end up in your HVAC system and it finally creeped into your car as you ran the system.

If it persists, take it into the dealer, but i haven't heard many problems with the v6 and coolant/hvac issues.
 

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Mixing

"Muddy" coolant can also be the result of mixing conventional coolant (green stuff) with dexcool (red stuff). Did you have an oil change somewhere? Some kid might have topped off your coolant with the wrong thing......
 

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The coolant in my 2001 is still pink and pretty clear. If you have anything that looks like it is in suspension in the coolant than there is a good chance you have problems. At the very least if you thinkn there is the chance that somebody put the wrong stuff in there get it flushed. But you have other symptoms so it sounds like you have a problem.

If you want to check this yourself you can start with warming up the car, while it is running check inside and outside for smells or drips, look at the coolant level, check the oil. See if you can narrow it down. If the car starts to get hot or the oil looks funny then it is not safe to continue running the car.
 

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"Gurgling" AND a coolant smell? Ouch. Are you low on coolant? If so, my money is on catastrophic head gasket failure. That would explain contaiminated crap, and could also explain coolant loss and the smell.

This could affect a V6 just as easily as a 1.8T.

SirWired
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I made an appointment with the dealer for this Thursday. I will probably get the car towed to be on the safe side. I did not drive/start the car again after the gurgling noise. The gurgling noise is what worried me. There were no signs of overheating at all nor did I smell anything funny when I opened the hood (while the car was running).

I also checked my oil level and it is ofcourse overfilled, but the color seems fine.

I've always had the car serviced at the dealer (they do overfill everything) and they are the only one's who have ever touched my car. In fact I had my 50,000 mile service done about 2 months ago.

chrisyoon: The coolant is water like (maybe just a tad thicker), just discolored (light brownish/reddish). No chunks in it or something.

sirwired: No, the coolant level seems fine, actually it is about 1/2" above the max line.

Thanks everyone for the hints/advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Can anyone help me? I'm towing my car to the dealer tomorrow regarding the problem above. Ayway, I looked at my car again today. It seems that the coolant is still pink. I took a paper towel and let it soak in the coolant tank. The paper towel came out pink. Is this a good news? What is weird is that if you look at the tank and the liquid in the tank, it looks brown. Anyway, the gurgling noise as well as the faint smell of coolant in the AC is still there. Hopefully it isn't something major...
 

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Is it possible that the tank is discolored / dirty which is giving the coolant the brown tint when you look at it through the outside of the tank ? Just a thought....
 

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If oil is in the G12 container, it's probably the oil cooler that's failing; the gurgling has happened on some bad heater cores, but if you have enough coolant, it's most likely not that.

Just curious, feel the passenger side carpet and see if any 'moisture' is present.
 

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STOP!

I just had this happen to me a week and a half ago. There is a contamination of mixtures but guess what?????? It may be the Tranny fluid getting into the coolant NOT the oil.

I had the oil cooler replaced thinking that was the issue and I too had a brown diahrea looking coolant before and after the new oil cooler put in. It turns out the trans cooler was leaking and quite possibly the oil cooler was fine.

C'mon guys dont make this member panic like I did telling him the head gasket may be blown..........this is the last thing they will check if none of the problems I mentioned are at fault.

I have since had the trans cooler replaced and had the coolant flushed out 3 times and the pink coolant is holding well.

Dont let them replace the oil cooler unless they check the trans cooler first!

read on http://www.passatworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=202719
 

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Discussion Starter #14
kidvdub said:
STOP!

I just had this happen to me a week and a half ago. There is a contamination of mixtures but guess what?????? It may be the Tranny fluid getting into the coolant NOT the oil.

I had the oil cooler replaced thinking that was the issue and I too had a brown diahrea looking coolant before and after the new oil cooler put in. It turns out the trans cooler was leaking and quite possibly the oil cooler was fine.

C'mon guys dont make this member panic like I did telling him the head gasket may be blown..........this is the last thing they will check if none of the problems I mentioned are at fault.

I have since had the trans cooler replaced and had the coolant flushed out 3 times and the pink coolant is holding well.

Dont let them replace the oil cooler unless they check the trans cooler first!

read on http://www.passatworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=202719
THANK YOU kidvdub! Reading your thread, I think I may have the same problem as you did... I think the gurgling noise could be coming from the transmission. It looks similar to your case. I'll tell the dealer to check the transmission cooler first.

Reading through some old threads, I thought it was the oil cooler.

JEB23: I think that may also be the case. The plastic tank itself seems to have been discolored, it is kinda light yellowish (like old plastic).

Well, again, thanks everyone!
 

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The gurgling noise you are hearing from behind the dash, is most likely coming from the heater core. This is where cold air from the outside flows over the heater core to get hot before the car blows it into the passenger cabin. If the heater core is leaking, you might even be able to smell engine coolant inside the car while you are hearing that noise. If you know how to replace the heater core yourself you will be able to save yourself a lot of $$$$$, but it will take a while for you to do, so make sure you have at least 2 or 3 hours to spare before you begin the job.
 

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Yeah, I'm going with the heater core as well. In older VW's, which I'm much more familiar with, the coolant flow to the heater core is shut off when you turn the heater off, but with climatronic that may not be the case. If it is the heater core that is leaking, and I'd still get a diagnosis from the dealer, think about doing it yourself. It is a real PITA because you have to largely remove the dash to get at it. It's highly labor intensive, so it'll be expensive from the dealer. I wouldn't panic too much yet, if it was a head gasket problem to the extent that you could actually hear it leaking, your car sure as hell wouldn't run, or even start for that matter. I doubt that it is oil mixing with coolant.
As for the transmission cooler failure suggestion, I have never heard of that so I have no idea what it's about. I'm sticking with it being the heater core.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Pagan Wizard said:
The gurgling noise you are hearing from behind the dash, is most likely coming from the heater core. This is where cold air from the outside flows over the heater core to get hot before the car blows it into the passenger cabin. If the heater core is leaking, you might even be able to smell engine coolant inside the car while you are hearing that noise. If you know how to replace the heater core yourself you will be able to save yourself a lot of $$$$$, but it will take a while for you to do, so make sure you have at least 2 or 3 hours to spare before you beging the job.

That's weird, I've never used the heater before (I live in Florida). Also, the the first time I heard the gurgling noise was when I didn't use the AC (climatronic was completely off) the moment I backed out of my garage. I only heard the gurgling noise when accelerating from slow speeds. The second time I heard the gurgling noise was when I was in the garage and in neutral and slightly tapping the accelerator.

It's going to be interesting to know what the problem really is... I'm just hoping/praying its not the heater core.
 

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Big Mac said:
That's weird, I've never used the heater before (I live in Florida). Also, the the first time I heard the gurgling noise was when I didn't use the AC (climatronic was completely off) the moment I backed out of my garage. I only heard the gurgling noise when accelerating from slow speeds. The second time I heard the gurgling noise was when I was in the garage and in neutral and slightly tapping the accelerator.

It's going to be interesting to know what the problem really is... I'm just hoping/praying its not the heater core.
Whether you use the heater or not, the cars coolant still flows through the heater core.
 

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There's a sticky up about bad oil coolers causing coolant and oil to mix.
 
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