Three Easy Steps to Installing 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. The coolant reservoir is attached to the radiator and the engine's hoses. The cap for the filler is also found there, so you'll just have to pour the liquid into the reservoir instead of pouring directly into the radiator. However, 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 a 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.
Coolant Reservoir Buyer's Guide
- A coolant reservoir keeps recommended coolant level, reduces air bubbles in the system, prevents rust and gives less you less reasons to open the radiator cap.
- Coolant is sucked from the reservoir by a water pump and transferred to the engine. Coolant then gets passed to the radiator to lose the heat. Excess coolant from the radiator then flows back to the reservoir.
- Signs of 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.
- Coolant reservoir is important to avoid damaging the engine from constantly overheating.
The coolant reservoir, also known as coolant recovery tanks, 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 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?
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. 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 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.
Installing a Coolant Reservoir Made Easy
The coolant reservoir isn't just any plastic bottle. It plays a vital role in your vehicle as it's tasked with the function of holding excess antifreeze fluid. If you need help in installing one, read our guide for it.
Required skill level: Novice
Needed Tools and Materials
Park your car on a level surface (preferably in an area where there's an ample amount of light so that your work would be easier). To make sure that it stays in place, activate the parking brake and chock the wheels. Also, don't start working until your engine has cooled down.
Positioning the reservoir
Once you're with the preparations, open the hood of your car. Now, you need to find where to position the coolant reservoir. The reservoir's placement varies from vehicle to vehicle, although you can usually position it near the air cleaner. Installing it in its designated location shouldn't be that difficult as all you have to do is to fasten it in place with a wrench or a screwdriver. You may have to remove some components (the air filter housing is most likely included) for the meantime in order to install the reservoir, though. Be sure to remember which goes where as you'd have to reinstall them later on.
Connecting the radiator hose
After securing the coolant reservoir in place, connecting the radiator hose to it is your next step. It's pretty obvious where the hose should go. Grab your pliers or your screwdriver since you'll need it to fasten the hose clamps.
Reinstalling the components that you took out earlier
Basically, you're done with the installation process. What you need to do now is to reinstall the components that you took out earlier (again, such as the air filter housing). Hopefully, you remember which part goes where. Putting back the components shouldn't give you trouble at all.
APA/URO vs. Transdapt: Which Brand Will Win the Battle of Coolant Reservoirs?
Should you go for an APA/URO coolant reservoir or a Transdapt coolant reservoir? That's the question that we're going to answer with this guide (or at least help you make a more informed decision). Read on to find out which of the two is the better coolant reservoir brand.
Transdapt has a very limited range of products. It's because the brand only offers stainless steel coolant reservoirs. On the other hand, APA/URO coolant reservoirs can be made of stainless steel or plastic. For that reason, APA/URO reservoirs are also available in a wider variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
Obviously, stainless steel is more durable (and therefore better) than plastic. And as said above, both APA/URO and Transdapt offer stainless steel coolant reservoirs. That means that no brand is better than the other in this category.
Both APA/URO and Transdapt offer limited warranties. For that reason, this category mostly comes down to the length of the said warranties. A Transdapt coolant reservoir comes with a one-year limited warranty. An APA/URO coolant reservoir, however, comes with a two-year limited warranty. With those said, it's fairly obvious which brand takes this category.
This may be the deciding category for you. We won't be including APA/URO plastic coolant reservoirs (which are usually priced around $35 to $50) in this comparison, though, since Transdapt doesn't offer plastic coolant reservoirs. So yeah, we'll be pitting the price of both brands' stainless steel coolant reservoirs.
APA/URO stainless steel coolant reservoirs can cost as much as $160. That's basically more than a hundred dollars pricier than the brand's selection of plastic coolant reservoirs. Your wallet will surely feel much lighter after purchasing an APA/URO stainless steel coolant reservoir. That won't be the case, though, if you go for Transdapt stainless steel reservoirs. It's because these are available for as low as $60. Even if you're not a math whiz, it's pretty obvious that you can save a lot by choosing Transdapt over APA/URO.
APA/URO is more popular than Transdapt, but both are reliable coolant reservoir brands. APA/URO products come with a longer warranty; however, Transdapt offers its products at a much more affordable price. Because of that, you may want to go for Transdapt. But either way, you really can't go wrong with the brand you choose.
Choosing the Right Coolant Reservoir
Your engine cooling system keeps everything under the hood of your car from overheating. One important part of this cooling system is the coolant reservoir. It holds the very element that cools your entire engine--the coolant. So when your car starts overheating and you find a leak underneath it, it's about time you go shopping for a new coolant reservoir. Choosing the right one can get a little tricky because of all the available options. So be sure you've got every coolant reservoir question answered before you decide on one.
Plastic vs. aluminum vs. stainless steel coolant reservoirs
To get the most out of your coolant reservoir, you have to make sure that it is made from the toughest material available in the market. But what is the best material for a coolant reservoir? There are basically 3 types of reservoir according to material-plastic, aluminum, and stainless steel.
If you're talking about durability and resilience, it is a choice between getting either an aluminum or stainless steel reservoir. Both are highly resistant to corrosion and are more visually appealing. The important difference between aluminum and steel, besides the price, is their weight. Aluminum is relatively lighter than steel. So if you want a faster and leaner car, a more aerodynamic aluminum coolant reservoir is your best bet. However if you're strapped on cash and you just need a cheap replacement for your already leaking coolant reservoir, you can buy one made out of plastic. It is a more practical and cost effective alternative to both aluminum and steel. But be wary when choosing plastic. It tends to develop minute and almost invisible cracks over time.
Buying an individual coolant reservoir or choosing one sold in a kit
Topnotch engine cooling starts with perfectly fitted parts, so it's only natural to consider whether you should buy a coolant reservoir individually or in a kit. The answer to this question will largely depend on its material. If you decide to go for plastic, you'll hardly find one that is sold in a kit. Plastic coolant reservoirs are already made with fasteners that attach them to your system, which eliminates the use of gaskets and O-rings. But if you have your eyes set on either an aluminum or stainless steel coolant reservoir, it is best to purchase one in a kit. This will ensure that all mounting brackets, hoses, hardware, and other connecting parts are of the right shape and size.
OE replacement parts vs. aftermarket products
Some might experience difficulty when looking for replacement coolant reservoirs from secondary sources. There is no generic, one-size-fits-all part when it comes to coolant reservoirs. Most aftermarket products have limited variety and might not fit the rest of your engine cooling system. So just to be on the safer side, make sure you get an OE replacement part. This will save you the hassle of going through tons of dealers just to find one that will ensure a perfect fit.
How to Replace Your Coolant Reservoir
Coolant, also called as antifreeze, serves a dual purpose in keeping your engine running properly. This solution cools and lubricates the metal parts to prevent overheating under extreme heat. During winter months, it acts as the antifreeze that prevents the engine from locking up with ice and becoming frozen. This essential fluid is stored in a container called the coolant reservoir. Once this storage tank leaks or cracks, the engine might suffer from loss of lubrication, overheating, and metal corrosion. Immediately replace a damaged coolant reservoir to prevent engine malfunction. Here are the tools you'll need and the steps in replacing your old coolant reservoir:
Difficulty level: Moderate
Tools that you need:
- Drain pan
- Radiator hose
- New coolant reservoir
Step 1: Allow your engine to cool down for at least an hour prior to doing the replacement. This will allow the coolant to drain back into the engine so that you won't have to dispose a large amount of it. Disconnect the battery for safety purposes.
Step 2: Remove the bolts keeping the coolant reservoir in place but do not remove the coolant hose. Detach the reservoir from the vehicle body. Wrap a rag around the hose first before disconnecting it from the reservoir. Allow the remaining coolant to flow back into the drain pan.
Step 3: Take out the damaged reservoir and drain it of old coolant. Pour the fluid into an air-tight container and screw the top back on tightly. Do not allow the coolant to leak out, as it is highly toxic. Dispose of the container properly.
Step 4: Attach the coolant hose to your radiator and tighten the clamp firmly. Connect the other end of the hose to your new coolant reservoir. Secure it into place using a set of mounting bolts. Tighten all bolts to ensure there are no leaks. Fill the tank with new coolant and run your engine for testing.