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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of you guys might have a quick answer for this one: So I'm idling in a Starbucks drive through for about 15 minutes, waiting to go to the window, and I start to see a bit of steam vapor wafting up from the front of my hood. Not a lot of steam...but noticeable. When I pop the hood, the steam (with that hot coolant smell) is coming from these little vents (see photo). I think my electric fan "should" have come on during this? But temp gauge is steady in the normal middle position (there's no degree scale on the C30 temp gauge unfortunately). I know the coolant is quite hot, and if you own this model, you know this car runs pretty hot anyway, (and I'm not sure why that is). But I simply turned on the AC to test the fan, and it comes right on. Of course shuts off when you shut off the AC like it's supposed to. No other symptoms than that. But I don't think I want to get stuck in a freeway traffic jam having experienced this little "visual warning". I'm thinking thermostat? Your thoughts?

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The common failure points are the upper radiator hose, thomostat housing, coolant tank, and heater core hoses which none are seated where those vents are.

Any noticeable loss of coolant?


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Check your coolant level, you definitely have a leak. On that side there are two hoses connected to the radiator. If none of them are leaking, then it could be the radiator.


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The common failure points are the upper radiator hose, thomostat housing, coolant tank, and heater core hoses which none are seated where those vents are.

Any noticeable loss of coolant?


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Coolant level in the reservoir is normal. I have a just painted garage floor and there's no noticeable leaks anywhere under the car...but maybe I should let the car idle longer until the vape wafts again...and check for leaks. I'm guessing the ac condenser is underneath those vents. I don't even want to think about radiator replacement (that is not a fun job from what I've seen). I'm leaning to thermostat (or it's housing, as you suggest). I'll let it idle longer tomorrow and see what I see and post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Check your coolant level, you definitely have a leak. On that side there are two hoses connected to the radiator. If none of them are leaking, then it could be the radiator.


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Yes I will check with a longer running idle again tomorrow. ...A leaking hose or two = not a problem.
A leaking radiator = problem.
 

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I’m doing the hose on my V50, I figure I might as well swap out the thermostat housing as well while I’m there cause I do not want to remove that air box again.

Coolant tank, hose and housing is about $100.

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If none of the suggested topics work, dig into it a bit to find the Spaghetti Monster (official Volvo part name) under the air box. It’s a common failure point and had me scratching my head for months. I also had a dry garage floor - it was dripping onto the splash guard and drying / flying away as I drove down the road.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I’m doing the hose on my V50, I figure I might as well swap out the thermostat housing as well while I’m there cause I do not want to remove that air box again.

Coolant tank, hose and housing is about $100.



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Yes I've seen a video of the air box removal. I would not look forward to that either. Coolant tank, hose and housing at about $100 is not as bad as a pinhole in the radiator though. God willing that's not the problem.
 

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Replacing the radiator is not that hard of a job FYI hardest part is removing the air box :), if you are seeing vapor coming from that vent I would all but guarantee you have a leaking radiator. Most likely a small puncture in one of the fins.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If none of the suggested topics work, dig into it a bit to find the Spaghetti Monster (official Volvo part name) under the air box. It’s a common failure point and had me scratching my head for months. I also had a dry garage floor - it was dripping onto the splash guard and drying / flying away as I drove down the road.

View attachment 139577
YES YES...I did not think about the splash guard "hiding" the source of a leak. Excellent observation. I'll find out shortly.
Replacing the radiator is not that hard of a job FYI hardest part is removing the air box :), if you are seeing vapor coming from that vent I would all but guarantee you have a leaking radiator. Most likely a small puncture in one of the fins.
I hope it's not the radiator...I mean 62K on this car, and really? ...the radiator? I'll find out shortly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I’m doing the hose on my V50, I figure I might as well swap out the thermostat housing as well while I’m there cause I do not want to remove that air box again.

Coolant tank, hose and housing is about $100.

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Yes...swapping out the thermostat makes good sense with the coolant drained. I'd probably dot my i and do the housing for it too at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
If none of the suggested topics work, dig into it a bit to find the Spaghetti Monster (official Volvo part name) under the air box. It’s a common failure point and had me scratching my head for months. I also had a dry garage floor - it was dripping onto the splash guard and drying / flying away as I drove down the road.

View attachment 139577
They should call this the Black Widow Hose Cluster!
Yes...swapping out the thermostat makes good sense with the coolant drained. I'd probably dot my i and do the housing for it too at the same time.
 

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For removing the airbox, you may be able to get a little more room by removing the two passenger side motor mount bolts that go into the frame and push the motor back a little.
 
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For removing the airbox, you may be able to get a little more room by removing the two passenger side motor mount bolts that go into the frame and push the motor back a little.
+1, Taking the vacuum pump, vacuum lines and the battery box out also helps IMO.


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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
...you know...I so don't want to do this. My luck I'd torque something out of whack.
____♠♥♣♦ ...So here's the final update on this game... I don't get it. And maybe I've been dealt a lucky hand... and I'll take it.
But ran the car at idle for 25 minutes today.
As long (or longer) than the Starbucks wait time in line.
Just as hot as always in that left upper corner of the hood, you know, where the resevior sits.
But No vaping. No steam. So I'm just going to monitor the car for now...
and hope it was just a fluke or something?
But there's been some great take away in this post and thanks to all for the info who others that may get referenced here can benifit from as well...which is the basis of Swedespeed...a great site.
And I will post again if something changes.
For what it's worth I did some checking around and found a Behr Hella radiator on ebay for $168 shipped. Pretty good deal...German...I think they use them in BMW's.
Here's the link: One New Behr Hella Service Radiator 376729601 36000378 for Volvo C30 C70 S40 V50 | eBay
And Pelican Parts (great site) for C30 radiator replacement:
 

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sounds like a plan. that being said, make sure you get a really good look at that spaghetti hose T fitting. you maybe can get just enough of a peak by pulling the flexi/ridged connector off the back of the airbox and the front of the top intake pipe.

I had the T fitting break finally at 160k miles but would only drip under higher temp/pressure. (daily commuting wouldn't drip but I noticed it dripped after getting particularly hot after a good cruise)


pulling the bumper off of these isn't too bad at all and can be done in about 10-15 minutes if you want to do one final look before just monitoring it. Would give a read good look at the radiator and anywhere that loose coolant could be hiding from where you first observed the steam. Volvo C30 Front Bumper Cover Removal (2007-2013) - Pelican Parts DIY Maintenance Article

side note: always nerve racking doing that final pop getting the bumper off but hasn't broken anything the 3 times i've done it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
sounds like a plan. that being said, make sure you get a really good look at that spaghetti hose T fitting. you maybe can get just enough of a peak by pulling the flexi/ridged connector off the back of the airbox and the front of the top intake pipe.

I had the T fitting break finally at 160k miles but would only drip under higher temp/pressure. (daily commuting wouldn't drip but I noticed it dripped after getting particularly hot after a good cruise)


pulling the bumper off of these isn't too bad at all and can be done in about 10-15 minutes if you want to do one final look before just monitoring it. Would give a read good look at the radiator and anywhere that loose coolant could be hiding from where you first observed the steam. Volvo C30 Front Bumper Cover Removal (2007-2013) - Pelican Parts DIY Maintenance Article

side note: always nerve racking doing that final pop getting the bumper off but hasn't broken anything the 3 times i've done it.
Yes...thanks for the last check info unodos96!
"BKXC90" first brought the "Spaghetti monster" to my attention...
I then named it the Black Widow Hose Cluster! ...because I think if you cut yourself removing it, you may need to visit the walk-in clinic for a Tetanus shot. But yeah it ain't over till it's over ...and steam doesn't just appear for the fun of it...so I'll double check using your suggestion and report back if anything changes. You know...there's only 61K on this car...it's like it just left the factory. So radiator failure "should" be highly unlikely in my opinion...(but that's just my opinion).
 

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A brand new car can take an unlucky rock in the wrong spot and can puncture a radiator right off the lot, so age or mileage wouldn't really play a factor.
 
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