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: Car won't shift while it is running - 1995 Honda Civic del Sol

Hi there. The shift rail fork on the shifter is bent. Remove the rubber boot to the shifter and remove the bolts to the shifter to take it off of the transmission. Remove the shifter from the transmission. Check the...

Q: What am I doing wrong

I would suggest you have the system pressure tested and the exact leak pinpointed to make sure you do not have a crack in the head or block where it is leaking. Only a pressure test will indicate where the...

Q: Car was overheating will turn over but not crank is it okay to put water in if it's cooled dwn with out it

Give it extra time (like 1 hr +) to cool down before adding any coolant, then trickle the coolant slowly into the radiator/coolant recovery tank. It doesn't take very much cold water (at one time) against a hot block to...

Related articles

Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.
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.