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Pelican Technical Article:

Coolant Expansion Tank Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$20 to $75

Talent:

*

Tools:

Pliers, Philips screwdriver

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (2000)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)

Parts Required:

New expansion tank, coolant

Hot Tip:

Replace the tank with the engine cold

Performance Gain:

A major cooling system leak fixed.

Complementary Modification:

Flush cooling system

Over time, the coolant expansion tank tends to turn yellow, become brittle and form micro fractures and sometimes leak. When the car warms up, both the heat and pressure of the coolant starts to attack the weakest point of the tank, eventually causing it to fail and the car starts leaking coolant. The good news is that the replacement tank is relatively inexpensive and can be changed in less than an hour.

Take a look around the coolant tank. In some instances, you can instantly see it has been leaking. In others, you may only see a faint trace of coolant weeping/staining the crack or seam. It's important to tackle this problem as soon as possible.

You do not need to drain all the coolant from the vehicle just drain enough so that it is below the coolant reservoir. If the coolant in the car is new there is no reason to replace it as long as you drain it into a clean container. Coolant is expensive and not great for the environment so if the coolant in your car is good, try and save it to reuse.

Begin by safely jacking up and supporting your car. With the car safely off the ground you will need to remove the engine tray. A great many of these car have had the engine trays and front side shields removed over the years and not replaced. If you happen to have a car that still has all the under trays and original hardware here is what you need to do. There are four T25 Torx bolts holding the tray on, remove them and slide the tray back out of the friction clips on the front air dam.

There is access hole in the left side shield that you can access the drain plug from, or if you want to remove the shield it is held in place by friction at the front and a speed clip on the frame rail.

With the tray removed you will see radiator drain plug on the lower left front of the car. Place a catch bucket or tray under the plug and turn the drain knob to open. The fluid drains out a small spigot facing downward. Remove the cap on the fluid reservoir to help drain the coolant. Again, you do not need to drain all the coolant from the car, but just enough to get below the coolant reservoir level. If you are going to flush or replace the coolant, drain completely.

Working from the top you will need to; remove the cap (which if good you can reuse), the sensor harness and the over flow tube.

The sensor harness removes by squeezing it in and pulling it straight off the reservoir.

Use a set of pliers and carefully remove the overflow hose. The nipple on the reservoir can get brittle and break off in the hose so take care.

Remove the two Philips head screws holding the reservoir to the mount in the engine compartment.

Lift up the reservoir and remove the lower hose.

The new reservoir comes with sensor already built into it. There are markings on the side of the reservoir for the fluid level and type of fluid. Make sure to check with your owners manual on the type of coolant used in your vehicle and do not mix them. Installation is the reverse of removal and don't forget to top up the reservoir.

Begin by safely jacking up and supporting your car.
Figure 1

Begin by safely jacking up and supporting your car. With the car safely off the ground you will need to remove the engine tray. A great many of these car have had the engine trays and front side shields removed over the years and not replaced. If you happen to have a car that still has all the under trays and original hardware here is what you need to do. There are four T25 Torx bolts (yellow arrows) holding the tray on, remove them and slide the tray back out of the friction clips (red arrows) on the front air dam.

Figure 2

This photo illustrates where the plate connects to the two side shields (red arrows)

There is access hole in the left side shield (red arrow) that you can access the drain plug from, or if you want to remove the shield it is held in place by friction at the front and a speed clip on the frame rail (yellow arrow).
Figure 3

There is access hole in the left side shield (red arrow) that you can access the drain plug from, or if you want to remove the shield it is held in place by friction at the front and a speed clip on the frame rail (yellow arrow).

With the tray removed you will see the radiator drain plug (red arrow) and spigot (yellow arrow) on the lower left front of the car.
Figure 4

With the tray removed you will see the radiator drain plug (red arrow) and spigot (yellow arrow) on the lower left front of the car. Place a catch bucket or tray under the plug and open the drain plug.

The fluid drains out a small spigot facing downward.
Figure 5

The fluid drains out a small spigot facing downward. Drain the radiator completely.

Working from the top you will need to; remove the cap (yellow arrow.
Figure 6

Working from the top you will need to; remove the cap (yellow arrow. which if good you can reuse), the sensor harness (red arrow) and the over flow tube (green arrow).

The sensor harness removes by squeezing it in and pulling it straight off the reservoir (red arrow).
Figure 7

The sensor harness removes by squeezing it in and pulling it straight off the reservoir (red arrow).

Use a set of pliers and carefully remove the overflow hose (red arrow).
Figure 8

Use a set of pliers and carefully remove the overflow hose (red arrow). The nipple on the reservoir can get brittle and break off in the hose.

Remove the two Philips head screws (red arrows) holding the reservoir to the mount in the engine compartment.
Figure 9

Remove the two Philips head screws (red arrows) holding the reservoir to the mount in the engine compartment.

Lift up the reservoir and remove the lower hose (red arrow).
Figure 10

Lift up the reservoir and remove the lower hose (red arrow).

The new reservoir comes with sensor already built into it.
Figure 11

The new reservoir comes with sensor already built into it. There are markings on the side of the reservoir for the fluid level (red arrow) and type of fluid (yellow arrow). This is made for the G12 coolant. Make sure to check with your owners manual on the type of coolant used in your vehicle and do not mix them. Installation is the reverse of removal and don't forget to top up the reservoir.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Ed Comments: Is it really necessary to drain the radiator? Isn't emptying the coolant reservoir sufficient?
August 27, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, just lower the coolant level enough to prevent spilling. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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