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: What does the speedometer show?

The speedometer is located on the instrument panel, and displays the speed at which you are driving. The speedometer is a semicircle, with a hand and numbers. The hand corresponds to the speed that you are currently traveling.

Q: Recently got a estimate to repair the intake manifold. I have anti-freeze in the engine oil and was told it's the intake gasket.

Hi there. To check for a blown head gasket, put a compression tester on each cylinder and see if the engine has compression. If the engine has 130 psi of compression or more, then the cylinders are sealed and working...

Q: Car overheating when idling or in stop-and-go traffic

It sounds to me like the cooling fans aren't coming on. I would suggest having a certified mechanic test for power at the fans while the AC is on, and verify the fan switch, relays and wiring are all working...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
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...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...