Coolant Reservoir Buyer's Guide
- A coolant reservoir keeps the recommended coolant level, reduces air bubbles in the system, prevents rust, and gives less you fewer reasons to open the radiator cap.
- Coolant is sucked from the reservoir by a water pump and transferred to the engine. It then gets passed to the radiator to lose the heat. Excess coolant from the radiator then flows back to the reservoir.
- Signs of a failing reservoir include constant low coolant levels and frequent engine overheating.
- A coolant reservoir can be sold individually, in sets of three or in kits.
- Prices start from $20 to $1,302.
- The coolant reservoir is important to avoid damaging the engine from constantly overheating.
The coolant reservoir, also known as a coolant recovery tank, is the plastic container which holds the excess coolant fluid used to cool the engine. Coolant tanks come in various shapes but all of them feature a translucent surface to show the coolant level. You can locate your car’s coolant reservoir either by the cowl blockage or adjacent to the quarter panel or fender near the radiator.
Keep in mind that there are pressurized and non-pressurized coolant reservoirs. Pressurized reservoirs are usually mounted higher than the radiator system. You can differentiate pressurized and non-pressurized coolant tank by examining their caps. If yours has a plastic cap on, then it’s a non-pressurized one because pressurized tanks have metal lids labeled with specific pressure ratings.
How does a cooling system work?
To better learn about coolant reservoir, you must first look at the car’s cooling system. Internal combustion cars need a system that will keep the engine from overheating. It is only natural for a conventional engine to generate heat from combusting fuel, but long periods of exposure to heat is catastrophic for your vehicle. In simpler terms, the cooling system is installed to regulate the engine heat from combustion with the help of the radiator.
The job of the cooling system is to keep the engine in its optimum operating temperature by using a water pump to deliver the coolant agent from its reservoir to the engine. A coolant is pumped by the water pump through the engine’s belt system. A coolant agent is a mixture of ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze, and water. The formula is well known for absorbing heat and preventing corrosion.
The role of a coolant reservoir in your car’s cooling system
After circulating the cylinders, the coolant flows to the radiator, which then pulls the heat from the fluid and transfers it to the atmosphere. If the radiator becomes too hot, some coolant exits the cap and flows back to the reservoir, where the fluid is stored until the engine cools down. Once cooled, the reduced pressure pulls the fluid from the reservoir back to the radiator, leaving the radiator with roughly a third of the whole coolant volume. This means that you can top-up coolant through the reservoir instead of putting it directly in the radiator.
The main tasks of coolant reservoirs
If you think coolant tanks are only intended to store fluid reserves, you are mistaken. This hollow piece of translucent plastic does far more tasks than just holding an amount of coolant agent, such as keeping the right amount of coolant in the system by working alongside the radiator cap. It also helps in reducing air bubbles that might infiltrate and affect your cooling system. The antifreeze ingredient found in coolant agents is also good in keeping the components of your engine from rust formations. Lastly, it negates the need to open the radiator cap for coolant level checking—which is great because radiators can be very hot after distant drives.
What are the signs of a failing coolant reservoir?
The coolant reservoir is an integral part of your cooling system. If this piece of plastic container fails, a domino effect of system failures could unravel along the way. It would be best for you to know how to pinpoint a problem in the system before things could turn out pretty badly. If you ever stumble upon these symptoms, give your coolant tank a check.
1. Constant low coolant level
Typically, it is not alarming to lose some amount of coolant fluid once because all you have to do is to top up all the way to the optimum level. However, if you notice you get constant coolant levels, it’s likely due to a leak in the reservoir. It could be from a crack in the plastic wall or a hole in the hose. It’s best to check as soon as possible, to determine where the leak is coming from.
2. Frequent engine overheating
Since there is a constant low level of coolant, the engine receives less cooling support. If the cooling system can’t cope up with the combustion heat of the engine, it could fry up and overheat. The problem could also be due to an issue in the reservoir’s pressure, which keeps it from properly holding the fluid. The first overheating problem should not be ignored; bring your car to the mechanic for a proper evaluation and service quotation.
Things to consider when buying an OE replacement coolant reservoir
A damaged reservoir calls for an OE replacement because shrugging your shoulders about it would just make things worse in the long run. When scouting for an OE replacement coolant tank, you must determine what other components are affected first. The coolant reservoir is connected to the engine and radiator by hoses that could be damaged as well. Fortunately, coolant reservoirs can be purchased as a single piece, as well as in kits and sets.
Another thing to consider is the location where your coolant reservoir is located. Apparently, there are coolant reservoirs that are mounted either on the driver side or the passenger side. There are also coolant tanks that are part of the intercooler so you might want to double-check before buying.
How much is a coolant reservoir?
If you are looking for an individually-sold coolant reservoir, you’re likely to find items around $20 to $725. For location-specific items, the prices are $250 for a driver side piece and $75 for the passenger side. For a better deal, opt for OE replacement coolant reservoir kits, which include hoses, cooling fans, radiators, and even temperature sensors. Kits are priced from $287 to $1,302. If, for instance, you are looking for a set of three OE replacement coolant reservoirs, the price is $405.
Why should you replace a damaged coolant reservoir?
Coolant is a quintessential fluid that keeps your engine cool and running. Without coolant, your car won’t last a long road so a damaged coolant reservoir won’t do you any good. Coolant leaks from its tank will slowly deplete the level of coolant reaching the engine and radiator. Constant low level of coolants is like a gradual farewell to a working combustion engine so the moment you notice a coolant reservoir problem, run to your mechanic and have it replaced.
How to install a coolant reservoir
The coolant reservoir is a tank that contains the excess coolant, which is a liquid used as a cooling agent in your car's cooling system. Usually, the reservoir is just a clear plastic bottle found near the radiator-to see it, you can follow the pipe of the radiator and you'll see the tank.
If the tank breaks and the coolant leaks, your car's engine will be prone to overheating. Should this happen, immediately replace the old or faulty coolant reservoir with new stock.
Required skill level: Novice
Needed tools and materials:
- Socket wrench
- Philips screwdriver
- Drip pan
Locating the coolant reservoir
Pull the hood release lever underneath your car's steering column on the driver's side. After that, push the hood all the way up until it's fully open, and prop it up with the tension bar. Locate the clear coolant reservoir positioned on the passenger's side of your car. It is next to the clear washer fluid tank but is larger than that container. In some cars, the reservoir is found in the back of the engine on the driver's side right next to the wheel well.
Removing the old coolant reservoir
Using a socket wrench, take off the three bolts that attach the tank to the vehicle. Then, place a pan underneath the coolant reservoir to catch the liquid coolant that may drip out when you remove the component. After setting the pan, take out the clamped hose from the bottom of the coolant tank. Detach the two clamps that hold the front of the coolant reservoir to two smaller hoses. Remove the tank from the car.
Installing the new coolant reservoir
Place the new coolant reservoir where the old component used to be. Reattach the bolts that fasten the part in place. Then, reconnect the hoses by fastening the clamps. Once everything is connected and secured, refill the tank with a new coolant until it reaches the fill line. Now that everything is done, you may now close the hood.