Well, here's another how to for the us, the mechanically inept. There's really not a lot to it but there are a few tips that may save a newbie like me a little headache.
I have owned more clunkers than I care to mention. Because of that, I can walk up to a car and smell what's wrong with it. Thus when I got a whiff of antifreeze while cruzin' the Vette one weekend, I knew I was leaking coolant. The only problem was I couldn't find the leak. I thought since I couldn't see the leak it must be the water pump. Since I found no coolant on the garage floor and I didn't know where the water pump was I just keep popping the hood in hopes that one day, I might see the leak. Well, I finally did and it was the overflow tank. So, thanks to Gene Cully over at GM Parts Warehouse, I got my brand new replacement tank and installed it right away.
Removing the tank was nothing special but for one hitch. There are 3, 10mm nuts that hold the tank on the car. The two on top are obvious. The third one was hiding like a Alabama tick on a hound dog. If I had not had the replacement tank in my hand, I might not have found it. You're going to need a 10mm deep socket and maybe an extension to get to that puppy.
As you can see by the picture, the T-connection is damaged on one side. How that happened is beyond me because I never messed with that area of the car. Once I realized that coolant was leaking there, I tried using an adjustable hose clamp to connect the hose there. My line of thinking was that the stock clamp was just to weak to get a good seal.
That caused coolant to flow like Niagara Falls all over that area of the engine. My rookie-ness never fails to keep me grounded.
Okay, lets take off the tank!
Here are the tools you'll need. A very clean bucket, a racket, 10mm deep socket, and the tool that makes this job a breeze, some flexible hose clamp pliers.
Now you can use some regular pliers or whatever else you can find to get these hose clamps off the hoses but I'm one who looks for the easiest way to do a job. Having the correct tools for the job makes it a LOT easier. If you follow the link, you can see that they run about $40 bucks. If you look at your engine, you'll see a lot of places that you can use this sweet tool. I spent the $40 bucks after sweating in a O'Riley's parking lot trying to get those darn clamps off with a pair of pliers. I've embraced the fact that I am not a automotive mechanic so I need all the help I can get.
First off, do not remove the tank cap!
Second, remove the 3 nuts.
Next, move the 3 hose clamps back away from the hose ends (there are three hoses connected to the tank, thus three clamps). Now here's the important tip: work each hose off of it's connector. As soon as you get one hose off it's connector, put it back on but not all the way, especially the hose on top. Make sure that it is on but very loose.
The reason you're doing this is because you want to save as much coolant as possible.
Once all three hoses have been removed and put back on, here's the trick to keep from losing a lot of coolant. Take off one of the bottom hoses (on the T-connector) and plug the T connector with your finger. Next, remove the other bottom hose and plug it with your thumb. The top hose should be very loose, and at this point you can pull the tank out of the car and the top hose should come off by itself. Put the tank in the bucket and then remove the cap. Let your coolant drain.
The reason you left the cap and the top hose connected is to keep the coolant from being able to flow fast once you disconnected the bottom hoses. Just like a gas can, if you don't open that little tab to allow air in the can, the gas won't flow fast or at all. This is the same premise. I figured that little tip out all by my lonesome.
At this point you want to clean that side of the engine of all the coolant you've spilled or that was leaking. Be sure and get any coolant off the paint ASAP.
Now putting the new tank on is a breeze. Connect the bottom hoses first making sure you seat them all the way. Get your clamps in place and then seat the tank in it's proper location. You can now bolt the tank down making sure that you do not over-tighten the nuts.
This is not a moving part and does not need a gorilla twist on the nuts. Connect the remaining top hose and the hard part is done.
As you fill up the tank with the coolant you saved, you'll notice something. You can actually see the coolant in the tank! I used flashlights and every kind of trick I could think of while trying to read the level in my old tank but I couldn't see crap. Now, its clear as day! If you buy some new coolant, make sure that it is Dex-Cool as your owner's manual recommends.
That crappy yellow color that the stock tank came in was hard to read but this new tank is nice. I can even see the level from across the engine.
That's pretty much it folks. Go for a drive and check for leaks. Also keep an eye on the temperature. If you did everything right, you will smell no more antifreeze.