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Old 09-26-2015, 01:15 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1977 25' Tradewind
Florence , South Carolina
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 40
2004 Yukon XL Leaking Coolant rapidly

Hey everyone, I have a 2004 GMC Yukon XL with the 5.3 engine in it. I was towing my Airstream home this morning from the place where we keep it stored (a total trip of about 5 miles or less) and when I pulled up to a stop light I noticed steam coming from the hood. The whole time the temp gauge never went above the middle line. I also have a Scan Guage II in there and according to it my coolant temp rose to a high point of 229. (It normally runs in the 195-205 range), though again the actual temp gauge on the dash never registered above the middle line where it always runs.

Anyways, once I noticed the steam I immediately pulled over and shut the car off. I got out and coolant was literally flowing out from underneath the car. At this point I was only a mile from my house so I simply walked home to think things through. I later came back to the Yukon with a couple of gallons of water and poured it into the empty coolant reservoir. Again, immediately it leaked out - like it was empty within a minute of getting the water in there.

Someone stopped and helped me look at it and he suggested that it was probably the water pump, but it was hard to tell because it was raining at the time so everything was already wet and it was hard to pinpoint exactly where the leak was coming from.

I ended up borrowing a truck from a friend and getting the Airstream home (I felt much better about leaving the Yukon in this random parking lot than I did leaving the Airstream) - in order to do this I did start the Yukon back up for maybe 30 seconds or so to move it out of the way. The shop that I normally use does not open again until Monday, so I am sort of just playing a waiting game at the moment.

I would love to be able to drive the Yukon back to my house rather than leaving it in this unused parking lot on the side of the road. Again, my house is less than 1 mile from the Yukon's current location. The trip would take five minutes total and except for about a tenth of a mile the entire trip would be on residential streets so there are no high speed limits or stop lights or anything like that to deal with. Do I run the risk of damaging something further if I drive it to my house? Obviously I don't want it to overheat, but I don't think that would happen in the short trip from the parking lot to my house. I am more concerned with driving it with no coolant (because even if I filled it up before I left it would be out of the car before I left the parking lot), or driving it with a bad water pump (or possibly a broken/busted hose but I could not find a leaking hose when I looked earlier.)

What do you think - can I drive it home or not? I would feel much better about it being at my house and then I can get someone to tow it from my house to the shop on Monday. Or should I just leave it in the parking lot and have it towed on Monday? Thanks everyone!

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Old 09-26-2015, 01:49 PM   #2
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
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I would look at the lower hose first. The amount of water you mentioned should not be the water pump. They fail but lose water at a much slower rate. Another area to check are the heater hoses.

If you can't fix it there.

If you start the truck while it is cold you should be OK for a mile. The oil will not have time to reach temperature in that distance and will act as the coolant.

Never trust a dashboard gauge over an after market one. I know a dealer that bent the needle because a customer questioned the high temperature reading. Customer went away happy.

2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 09-26-2015, 02:07 PM   #3
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1977 25' Tradewind
Florence , South Carolina
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 40
Ha! (About the dealer bending the needle - and that is pretty much why I use the ScanGauge II to monitor temps vs the dash one anyways). Thanks for your response. That was my thinking too about the amount of water leaking out of it - I almost think that it has to be a hose. But I sure could not see it.

Thanks again for your response - I will go back up there in a little while and check it out again. When I left it there this morning it was raining so everything was already wet which made it harder to pinpoint where the leak was coming from. It has dried out a little bit now so maybe with some more water I will be able to more accurately tell where the leak is coming from.

Thanks again!
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Old 09-26-2015, 02:09 PM   #4
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
Cary , North Carolina
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If its but a mile I would do the following but that's just me....

Let it cool off. Remove the radiator cap carefully and fill with distilled (or osmosis purified water). Leave the cap off or just put it on partially so no pressure builds in the radiator. Then drive home.
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Old 09-26-2015, 02:34 PM   #5
2 Rivet Member
1977 25' Tradewind
Florence , South Carolina
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 40
I am going up to the car again in a few minutes, and I will test this out again. (The car is completely cool at this point, and the trailer is at home with me so IF I decide to bring it home it will not be towing anything behind the car.) BUT... when I put the water in last time it started leaking even before I put the cap back on. Which makes me think it is just a hose (is my thinking right on that?)

No matter what, I am leaning towards trying to drive it home and I will be able to look at it much closer once I get it here.

Thanks for your reply!

Originally Posted by Wayward View Post
If its but a mile I would do the following but that's just me....

Let it cool off. Remove the radiator cap carefully and fill with distilled (or osmosis purified water). Leave the cap off or just put it on partially so no pressure builds in the radiator. Then drive home.
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Old 09-26-2015, 03:11 PM   #6

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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Images: 1's not unusual that the DIC gauge didn't read hot, they tend to work much better with the sender immersed in boiling coolant, steam.... not so much.

A split hose may very well leak w/o the engine it.

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:14 PM   #7
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1977 25' Tradewind
Florence , South Carolina
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 40

I did drive it home. The temp rose very quickly - from 80 when I turned it on to 168 when I got it in my driveway. As soon as I got it home I had to leave it there to go to supper at my in laws but I feel much better with the vehicle and the airstream at my house.

I will be able to give it a much better look over at my house tomorrow. I'll report back what I find for future reference.

For what it's worth the trip time from the parking lot to my driveway was less than five minutes and while I think it was fine I don't know that I would have felt comfortable going much further.
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Old 09-27-2015, 11:47 AM   #8
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1977 31' Sovereign
Lynnwood , Washington
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 282
If it's puking coolant like you claim, don't drive it. Trust me, it's not worth it.

Call a tow truck instead. Let them take it directly to your mechanic.

BTW - I trust you've got AAA.

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Old 09-27-2015, 07:38 PM   #9
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1977 25' Tradewind
Florence , South Carolina
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 40
Final (hopefully at least) update:

Despite the fact that I really probably shouldn't have driven it home yesterday, I did. I was keeping an extremely close eye on my Scan Gauge II display as the temps were creeping up on the very short drive home. The temp reached 168 I think before I was in my driveway.

I just felt better with it being at my house which is why I moved it.

However after watching a few YouTube videos I got brave (or stupid) and decided that I could change the water pump myself.

A few broken tools and about six hours later I was done. I'm guessing I saved a hundred bucks or more, PLUS I now have the experience and know-how to do a lot of things that I didn't know how to do before.

I took it for a test drive just a little while ago and it is reaching operating temperature as it should and staying there as it should. No leaks that I could see but I will be keeping a very close eye on that over the next couple of weeks just to be on the safe side.

All in all I am glad I brought it home. Not that I couldn't have changed the water pump in that parking lot, but I definitely wouldn't have.

Thanks to everyone who replied to my post - I appreciate all the advice and help that was given.

If I was advising someone else in the same situation I would tell them to get it towed and NOT drive it like I did. But I'm a daredevil I guess. Hopefully I didn't cause any damage by driving it back home.

Have a great week everyone and look for me at Myrtle Beach State Park this coming weekend. Say hi if you see a 77 Tradewind being towed by a white Yukon XL.

EDIT: By the way it apparently was the water pump itself that was leaking. I'm surprised it was leaking that much/that fast from the water pump but all the hoses were great (I put new ones on anyways though). I'm thinking that the leak was coming from the gasket area and in also not sure that the water pump had ever been replaced. So it lasted about 140,000 miles. With coupon codes I was able to get the (brand new) water pump, a new thermostat, all new hoses, new serpentine belt, coolant, a new cap for the overflow bottle (radiator does not have a cap) and a few other odds and ends for about $180. Not bad at all.
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Old 09-27-2015, 08:05 PM   #10
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2007 22' International CCD
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Yup, not bad. And you took the time to replace all the stuff that should be replaced at this point. Good work!

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Old 09-27-2015, 10:03 PM   #11
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Congratualtions for DIY! Now you have the knowledge for the next time you are out with your AS.

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