Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car ran out of engine coolant

asked by on

My Holden Barina has run out of engine coolant today. My car was serviced a week and a half ago which doesn't make sense - was the mechanic ignorant or can my car really run out of engine coolant after driving it four times? The car has made gurgling or rattling sounds for some time now and eventually while stopping at the traffic lights I watched the temperature scale rise very quickly in a matter of seconds. The oil was new and fine, the engine coolant was COMPLETELY dry. It sounded fried. I refilled it with the little spare coolant I had left in the car and I am going to buy more coolant today to refill it. My question is, could this have damaged my engine? Should I refill the engine coolant almost all the way to the top? I'm a new driver and my dad is overseas right now so I have nobody to ask about these sorts of things. I'm scared to drive the car again in case it breaks down on a main road or the engine explodes or something. Any help is appreciated. Thank you so much.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: It may be possible that you have a bad cool...

It may be possible that you have a bad coolant leak. It is also possible that the technician looked at the coolant overflow but didn’t open the radiator cap. Engine damage could have been caused by the overheating, but you could be fine. I would first refill the cooling system with a 50/50 mix of coolant and water.

You will need to start the engine and allow it to get to operating temperature so that the thermostat will open. Once it is full, check for leaks. If you are leaking the entire system worth of coolant within a few days, it should be easy to find. The most common failure from overheating is a blown head gasket.

You may notice that the oil looks milky, or the exhaust has a lot of steam, or excess pressure in the cooling system may produce bubbles in the reservoir. The best way to make sure you have no engine damage is to have a certified technician test your cooling system and check your engine for damage. I am guessing that you are in Australia, by the car you drive. YourMechanic is currently based only in the United States, so unfortunately, we can’t come to you to check your vehicle. I would go ahead and add extra coolant to test how it runs. If the engine is running rough, I would take the car straight to a local mechanic to verify whether or not it is safe to drive.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Wiper blades overextended

It sounds like your may have some wiper blade linkage problems. I would have a technician come out and remove the wiper access panel and inspect the linkage connected to the wiper blades. They might just need to be removed...

Q: My vehicle is leaking anti-freeze like crazy and I have no heater

It sounds like you may have some coolant that is leaking out, causing the motor to overheat. Or, you could have a bad thermostat or a faulty cooling fan relay that is causing the motor to overheat which is then...

Q: Overheating now hesitates today start 2001 Buick LeSabre

Hi there - I think your cooling system needs careful attention. If the thermostat was replaced, the system may not have been adequately bled, and there is a large air pocket in the engine. This will cause a rapid overheat....

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.