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gomi_otaku, VW Technician
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 3352
Experience:  VW FastTrack '00-'01, VW Academy Chicago and Seattle '00-present, VW Certified
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Helllpp, I put oil in the coolant resevoir of my VW Golf by

Resolved Question:

Helllpp, I put oil in the coolant resevoir of my VW Golf by mistake. I only realised the mistake now several days after doing it because the oil light came back on and I showed my boyfriend where I had put the oil only to discover its the tank for the coolant.   Is this going to be very very bad for my pocket? The car is running fine. Is there anything I can do myself to fix it??
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 7 years ago.
You are going to want to drain the coolant and flush as much of the oil out as possible. There is a drain for the radiator at the lower hose on the driver side, on the back of the radiator. Remove the belly pan (four T25 torx screws) and place a large catch pan underneath it. Follow the hose right up to the back of the radiator, there will be a plastic fitting with a knob on top of it. If you turn the knob couner-clockwise it will turn almost a quarter turn. At that point you can pull it outward and it will start draining. Do this with the cap ON the reservour and it will pour slowly, when you get it open, then crack the reservoir cap and it will dump more of it. When you get it drained, you are going to want to close the drain, put some detergent into the coolant reservoir (you want something that is going to break down oil, some dish detergents are good at this) and add water until it is at the full line. Start the car up and let it run for a little while with the cap off, if the level drops add more water. Then cap the system and let it run until fully hot and the radiator fans cycle a couple of times. Then drain everything out again. You may need to use the detergent more than once. You will likely notice the oil residue showing up in the coolant reservoir. You may need to remove the coolant reservoir and try cleaning it well with detergent when you are done flushing the car system. Then run it again with just pure water to try to flush out as much as possible of the detergent and any left-over oil residue. And finally, you are going to want to fill up with a 50/50 mix of pink (G120 VW coolant. This is time consuming, but shouldn't be more than aobut $30 for the coolant and some dish detergent.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

thanks for the reply, gauging from your response it seems like its something that be sorted easily enough without any other major problems to the car ie i didnt know if the oil was going into places it shouldnt go that was going to make the engine breakdown or seize up or something.


It sounds like its something I prob wont be able to do myself to be honest, but if I take it in and the mechanic starts telling me that there are all sorts of other problems should i tell him to take a hike??? I guess what I am getting at is if they see me coming from a mile off and that I dont have a clue about cars they may try and say I need the engine replaced or something and I really cant afford to be ripped off... so will be helpful if I can pretend I know what I am talking about and tell them its no big deal or something.. if that is the case. So the question is... is this little mistake going to affect any other part of the car that I should be concerned about, or is it simple to fix once its all drained etc.

Expert:  gomi_otaku replied 7 years ago.

THe most common ways for oil to get into the cooling system are for either the oil cooler to leak or the transmission cooler to leak (on an automatic transmission car) The third most common I would say is someone doing exactly what you did- it happens. You don't have to tell a shop what you did, just tell them what you need to have done- Say that your cooling system has been previously contaminated with oil, and needs to be cleaned again with a detergent. Let THEM assume that you have, maybe, already had an oil cooler replaced or something, and are still noticing oil debris in the coolant. Tell them you need it flushed with a detergent, not regular coolant flush (which is normally to remove calcium or lime scale, or rust flakes) and refilled with VW coolant. If anything, they might try to sell you a new coolant reservoir- sometimes it is difficult to get all the residue out of the coolant reservoir and it can coat the coolant level sensor contacts and make your oil light blink, even when the level is OK.

If they try to sell you anything else, just tell them you'll take it under advisement but will "see how it goes" after they do the repair that you are asking for. If they try to push you around you can just take it somewhere else.

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