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Coolant Reservoir Empty? Here’s What You Need to Know About It

Coolant Reservoir Empty? Here’s What You Need to Know About It

When you’re driving around in your car, the engine inside of it will get to be very hot in a relatively short period of time. It’s why your car has a cooling system inside it that’s designed to cool your engine off and keep it from overheating. But every so often, you might experience issues with your cooling system that will prevent it from doing its job. If, for example, you have a coolant reservoir empty, it could cause complications with your cooling system and lead to your engine being way hotter than it should be. Learn about what a coolant reservoir is, how it works, and what you should do if you notice a coolant reservoir empty below.

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What Is a Coolant Reservoir and How Does It Work?

To start things off, let’s talk a little bit about your car’s coolant reservoir and the role that it plays within the context of your car. You’ll be able to understand why it’s dangerous to drive around with your coolant reservoir empty once you know what exactly your coolant reservoir is and how it works.


The coolant reservoir in your car is a plastic reservoir that is located in your engine bay. It’s responsible for storing all the coolant that your car’s cooling system needs to cool your engine off when your car is turned on. It’s important for your car to have a fully-functioning coolant reservoir in it because your engine is going to need different amounts of coolant at different times. It’s going to rely on your coolant reservoir to send coolant in its direction when it needs it and to store it when it doesn’t need it.


Generally speaking, your car’s engine is actually going to need to have more coolant in it when it’s cold since the pressure of your cooling system is going to be on the lower side. By contrast, it’s going to need to have less coolant in it when it’s hot since the pressure of your cooling system as a whole is going to increase at that point. Your coolant reservoir needs to be able to give and take coolant as necessary based on the conditions of your engine and your cooling system

What Are the Signs That’ll Show Your Coolant Reservoir Is Empty?

Now that you know what a coolant reservoir is and how it works to keep your car’s engine cool, you should be able to figure out why it’s so essential for it to be in good working condition. If you have a coolant reservoir empty in your car, it’s not going to be able to provide your engine with the coolant that it needs, which could cause serious engine problems in many cases.


Because of this, you need to know about some of the signs that’ll show you that your coolant reservoir is empty. You should keep your eyes peeled for these signs at all times so that you don’t ever put yourself in a position where you’re driving around with little to no coolant in your car. You don’t ever want to have a coolant reservoir empty in your vehicle.


So, what are some of the signs that’ll indicate that you have a coolant reservoir empty? Here are just a few of them:

  • You don’t see any coolant in your car’s coolant reservoir when you pop your hood and look at it while your car is turned off
  • You notice that the temperature gauge on your car’s dashboard is telling you that the coolant in your car is entirely too hot
  • You spot coolant leaking out of your car’s engine over time and suspect that it could be leading to your coolant reservoir emptying

You shouldn’t turn a blind eye to any of these signs of trouble. If you do, it could result in you driving around in a car that has its coolant reservoir empty. This is one of the worst things that you can do to your car since it’s often going to lead to engine issues before long. You’ll want to get to the bottom of why you have a coolant reservoir empty and proceed from there.

What Can Cause an Empty Coolant Reservoir?

If you take a look at your coolant reservoir and notice that it’s nearly empty, this is typically a sign that you have a leak somewhere in your cooling system. You’re going to want to investigate the source of this leak sooner than later to see where all your coolant is going. If you don’t do this, it’s going to lead to even more coolant leaking out and, before long, you’ll have a coolant reservoir empty. Check out some of the things that can cause an empty coolant reservoir to occur.

1. You Have a Hole in Your Radiator

Your car’s radiator obviously plays a big role in your car’s cooling system. It’s also under a lot of pressure at almost all times, which can cause it to suffer from normal wear and tear. Additionally, it can cause corrosion to build up within the radiator, and that could eventually lead to a hole forming in it. When that happens, it’s often going to result in coolant leaking out of your car and leave your coolant reservoir empty.


When you have a mechanic look at your car to see why your coolant reservoir is empty, they’ll usually start by assessing the radiator and everything that comes along with it. There are all kinds of hoses running in and out of your radiator, and all it takes is one bad connection to lead to a coolant leak. By fixing your radiator, a mechanic will be able to fill your coolant reservoir back up and keep it that way.

2. You Have a Bad Radiator Cap

Your car’s radiator cap is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively small part compared to many of the other parts in your car. But if your coolant reservoir is empty, it could very well be to blame for it since it has an important job. Your car’s radiator is pressurized, which means that your radiator cap is in charge of creating the seal that your car’s cooling system needs to do its job. And if it goes bad on you, it could lead to coolant working its way out of your car and emptying your coolant reservoir.


The good news is that replacing the radiator cap in a car is a very simple task that won’t cost you much money at all. But the bad news is that not everyone realizes they have a bad radiator cap on their hands until it’s too late. You should inspect your radiator cap if you ever notice your coolant reservoir empty to see if it could be the culprit.

3. You Have a Blown Head Gasket

A blown head gasket is just about one of the worst problems that you can ever face when it comes to your car. Your car’s head gasket sits in between your cylinder head and your engine block, and when it starts to leak, it’s considered “blown.” You might not notice it right away, but within a short period of time, it’ll be impossible to ignore a blown head gasket. The engine oil and the coolant in your car will begin to mix together, which can eventually cause your engine to fail completely.


You’re going to have to worry about more than just a coolant reservoir being empty when you have a blown head gasket on your hands. But it is one of the many things that can cause the coolant to drain from its reservoir. You’re going to have to act quickly to stop this from doing serious damage to your car.

4. You Have a Faulty Water Pump

Most people know that they have a water pump in their car, but they don’t always know what it’s for. One of the things that a water pump is responsible for doing is keeping the coolant in a car circulating. Your water pump usually sits somewhere near the bottom of your engine, and it has a hose that connects to your radiator to ensure your coolant is able to move throughout your cooling system.


The hose that your water pump uses to send coolant to your radiator can sometimes get corroded or sustain other types of damage. And when that happens, it’s only going to be a matter of time before your coolant reservoir starts to empty out. You’re going to have to get your water pump replaced in most instances to stop coolant from leaking out of your car.

What Should You Do If Your Coolant Reservoir Is Empty?

If you ever pop the hood on your car and see your coolant reservoir empty, your first instinct might be to grab a bottle of coolant to fill it up. But this is not the right approach to take in many cases. While the new coolant might work for a little while, it’s not going to eliminate the problem at hand, and all it’s going to do is provide you with a false sense of security.


Rather than refilling your coolant reservoir, you should take your car to a mechanic so that they can find out exactly why your reservoir is empty in the first place. They should be able to identify the leak in your cooling system that is causing you to get stuck with your coolant reservoir empty.

Is It Safe to Drive a Car With the Coolant Reservoir Empty?

As long as your car starts up when you have your coolant reservoir empty, you might not think that driving it around is the worst thing in the world. But driving a car without enough coolant in it is actually one of the biggest mistakes you can ever make. You’re likely going to cause your engine to overheat if you don’t figure out what’s wrong with your coolant reservoir and fix it.


You shouldn’t ever, under any circumstances, continue to drive a car when the coolant reservoir in it is empty. In fact, you might not even want to drive your car to your mechanic’s garage if it’s not right around the corner from your house. You could put your entire engine at risk if you attempt to drive a car without the proper amount of coolant in it.

How Much Will It Cost to Fix an Empty Coolant Reservoir?

As we’ve stressed over and over again here, you shouldn’t ever drive in a car that doesn’t have enough coolant in it. You should make every effort to get your car fixed so that the coolant reservoir isn’t empty anymore. You should also prepare yourself for how much it might cost you to fix it.


In some cases, fixing a car’s cooling system so that you don’t have your coolant reservoir empty anymore won’t cost much at all. You should only have to pay about $25 to replace a bad radiator cap so that you can be on your way. But there are also other instances in which you might have to pay a little bit more than you might expect to get your coolant reservoir filled up again.


Replacing a water pump, for example, can cost you anywhere from $300 to $750. Replacing a head gasket, meanwhile, could potentially set you back between $1,400 and $1,600 on average. And if the coolant reservoir itself needs to be replaced, you’re going to be looking at paying right around for it. Making these kinds of repairs will be the only way to get your car and its cooling system up and running again.

Is Your Coolant Reservoir Empty? Make Sure You Do Something About It Now

It’s a good idea to sneak a peek at your car’s coolant reservoir every so often to see how much coolant it has in it. If you ever see your coolant reservoir empty, you’ll need to take the right steps to get it filled up again. Your mechanic should be able to show you what’s wrong with your cooling system and fix it. It’ll ensure that you don’t ever find yourself driving around in a car that’s overheating.