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.
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.
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