Two coolant refills, no problems. Good tool. - Pontiac Solstice Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Two coolant refills, no problems. Good tool.

Wanted to pass along that I've done two coolant refills in the last week (two K04 big wheel installs) with zero issues. After reading about the issues with getting air out of the coolant system and reading up on the various methods I ordered a vacuum refill tool.

$70 and I didn't have to cut, install, modify, or even open and coolant lines in any way.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BW39HJS..._Vr.6CbFEKDRW3

The tool comes with several rubber nipples. The conical one works best with the Kappa surge tank.

Here is the procedure we followed, and some notes:

1. Install conical nipper on main valve assembly of the tool.
2. Connect the Venturi assembly to the main assembly of the tool.
3 Insert firmly in tank (support tank from under side).
4. Turn large knob on tool to expand the nipple and seal the system.
5. Connect to compressed air, open compressed air valve on Venturi assembly to start air flow.
6. Open main assembly valve to Venturi. You should almost immediately see a vacuum drawing down. In about 30 seconds or so it should reach -25.
7. Close Venturi valve on main assembly. Do this BEFORE the next step.
8. Turn off compressed air valve at Venturi assembly.
9. Wait five minutes or so to make sure vacuum holds. This is a good time to prep new coolant. Mixing it in a CLEAR container is very helpful. Six or more liters in size is ideal, but I used a 1 gallon.
10. Assuming vacuum holds, insert the coolant hose from the main assembly into the new coolant container.
11. *Slowly"* open the coolant valve on the main assembly until coolant fills the hose (to eliminate the air).
12. Close the coolant valve on the main assembly once the line is full of coolant. Minimize the amount that enters the tank.
13. Now we want to remove the air that entered the system from the coolant line. Open the compressed air valve at the venturi assembly (do this BEFORE the next step).
14. Open the main assembly valve to the Venturi to draw out the little bit of air that got in from the coolant line. Run for 30 seconds or so.
15. Close Venturi valve on main assembly. Do this BEFORE the next step.
16. Turn off compressed air valve at Venturi assembly.
17. Slowly open the coolant valve at the main assembly. It sucks the coolant into the tank FAST. Do not let the coolant container level get low; you do not want to suck air into the system. This is where the clear container is helpful.
18. If the vacuum gets low before the surge tank is half full, or your container gets low, close the coolant valve at the main assembly. Refill your coolant container as needed. If needed, repeat steps 13-16 to draw down more vacuum. You may get some coolant sputtering out the compressed air line now. That's okay.
19. Repeat steps 17-18 as needed until the surge tank is half full.
20. Close the coolant valve at the main assembly.
21. Slowly open the Venturi valve at the main assembly to let air back into the system. Some bubbling here is normal.
22. When the pressure has equalized, turn the large knurled knob and release the entire tool from the surge tank.
23. Note coolant level. Fill to halfway as needed.
24. Start car. Monitor surge tank level, temp at the DIC, and watch for leaks wherever you disassembled.
25. Assuming no leaks and stable coolant level, take car for slow test drive. IMPORTANT: In both cars we did, the temperature spiked to the 230-245 range ONCE (not high enough to trigger a temp light), stayed there for a few minutes then dropped to normal. My car has about 100 miles on it now without any further issues other than topping off the surge tank.

Don't be intimidated by 25 steps here: I tried to be thorough. This is a pretty simple process; the most difficult part the first time was selecting the correct nipple and that I goofed and reversed steps 15 and 16, letting air back into the system.

One more note: Dexcool compatible concentrate was $18 a gallon at our local parts store. 50/50 was $16.
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sirwm, raygun, Alannn and 1 others like this.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 09:45 AM
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Nice find. We have used an Airlift tool for several years but it costs twice as much!

I will recommend this one from now on
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 10:00 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rob the elder View Post
Nice find. We have used an Airlift tool for several years but it costs twice as much!

I will recommend this one from now on
I seem to recall that with the Airlift there is only one valve on the main assembly, so you have to change from the Venturi assembly to the coolant fill line. If not Airlift, one that I looked at was like that. and the two-valve system on this tool seemed easier.

Either way, $80 or $130 and no airlock/overheating problems is a no-brainer for me
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 11:36 AM
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I just watched a Mike Martin thermostat replacement video last night using a small air compressor to direct the air into a coolant tank inlet tube, clamping off a coolant line, and using another coolant line into a water bottle to push air bubbles out until the coolant started flowing uninterrupted into it. Seem to work.

The only thing that seems weird was how slow the coolant dripped out of the plastic pet cock valve before he started anything.

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Last edited by ChopTop; 05-29-2019 at 06:12 AM.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 01:12 PM
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So GM produced a semi-enclosed cooling system in a modern car that resists purging of air and tends to promote pump cavitation. Sounds about right lol!

Is there a good reason for this design, or did they simply louse it up?
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Stored and needing to part ways with a 1970 Skylark Custom convertible I have owned since 1989 and turned into a GS455 clone. 462 with 7/8 primary headers, adjustable roller rockers, TA Performance Stage 1 aluminum heads, auto, Chevy 12 bolt, 3.31:1. Sadly a project car now but a driver from '89 to '06.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 02:24 PM
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Old trick I have used for years on other cars and it has worked well for me on the SOL as well. drill a very small hole in the thermostat, 1/16 or less. It doesn't affect the operation of the thermostat at all at all and eliminates the airlock caused by trying to refill a cold engine with a closed thermostat. Some thermostats come with the hole already in them.

Bill.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lorennerol View Post
Wanted to pass along that I've done two coolant refills in the last week (two K04 big wheel installs) with zero issues.
You had me at "rubber nipple"
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBlair View Post
So GM produced a semi-enclosed cooling system in a modern car that resists purging of air and tends to promote pump cavitation. Sounds about right lol!

Is there a good reason for this design, or did they simply louse it up?
designed by the same engineer that came up with the crummy passenger seat sensor.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joybill44 View Post
designed by the same engineer that came up with the crummy passenger seat sensor.
Probably not wrong

Driving and working on a Sly 2008 Solstice GXP 5spd 260/260, and the worst-built 2012 LS3 Camaro 1SS to escape from Oshawa.

Gone but not forgotten:
2007 Solstice GXP 5 speed 290/340

Stored and needing to part ways with a 1970 Skylark Custom convertible I have owned since 1989 and turned into a GS455 clone. 462 with 7/8 primary headers, adjustable roller rockers, TA Performance Stage 1 aluminum heads, auto, Chevy 12 bolt, 3.31:1. Sadly a project car now but a driver from '89 to '06.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 05:03 PM
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joybill44 View Post
designed by the same engineer that came up with the crummy passenger seat sensor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBlair View Post
Probably not wrong
Makes sense to me. A GM Powertrain coolant systems engineer moonlighting with a European electronics manufacturer.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 07:38 PM
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Mystery solved!

Driving and working on a Sly 2008 Solstice GXP 5spd 260/260, and the worst-built 2012 LS3 Camaro 1SS to escape from Oshawa.

Gone but not forgotten:
2007 Solstice GXP 5 speed 290/340

Stored and needing to part ways with a 1970 Skylark Custom convertible I have owned since 1989 and turned into a GS455 clone. 462 with 7/8 primary headers, adjustable roller rockers, TA Performance Stage 1 aluminum heads, auto, Chevy 12 bolt, 3.31:1. Sadly a project car now but a driver from '89 to '06.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2019, 03:05 AM
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Sounds like a great tool but I think I'll just continue to use the method of lifting up the coolant tank and save the $70 bucks and 25 steps.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-21-2019, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBlair View Post
So GM produced a semi-enclosed cooling system in a modern car that resists purging of air and tends to promote pump cavitation. Sounds about right lol!

Is there a good reason for this design, or did they simply louse it up?
There's a reason, you'll need to decide if it's a good reason: To green-light the program, substantial re-use of existing parts was required. Relative to this discussion, these were a Surge bottle from a Malibu, a HVAC unit from the Hummer H3, and an engine designed to mount tranversely. Add to this the need for some exterior style (low hood profile). With all of these elements together, you have a coolant loop that's less than ideal. Basically the surge tank, air purge lines and heater core are all very close in elevation within the vehicle, so it becomes difficult to purge air out of the system. Packaging of the elements does not provide sufficient fluid head pressure to purge air specifically in a garage fill scenario where the liquid is being added when the system is at atmospheric pressure. A pressure fill, like is done during vehicle assembly, can pull a vacuum and then force the coolant to fill the volume as desired.

Hence the process to raise the coolant bottle during a fill to provide a little extra head pressure.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 11:54 AM
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Thanks for the 'splain. Makes sense when explained in terms of getting-to-market-priorities. VERY glad kappa owners care enough to get to source and share the solutions! Sorta like the 60's with MG owners learning about twin downdraft carbs enough to keep them working as intended.
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