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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2002 Wing with 44K. Bought the Wing a few months ago and have been riding it pretty regular. I've put around 400 miles on it since I bought it and the temp gauge has shown good, but the weather (Florida) has been warm or cool with no hot days. Previous owner's maintenance log shows the last coolant change was in 2014 so I decided to change it.

The bike has been sitting overnight and is cool. First thing I did after removing the lower cowl was to use a hand pump to pull all the coolant out of the overflow tank. The tank had plenty of coolant in it; the picture of the red plastic coffee container is the used coolant from the plastic tank. The coolant was very clean and tested strong with a tester. Next I went to the radiator cap and removed it. I was surprised to see no coolant in sight, the cap was wet and inside the radiator is wet but none in view; the second picture is looking into the radiator right after I took the cap off. Next I drained the system and let it drain while I scrubbed the lower cowl clean; the picture of the milk jug is the used coolant from draining the engine. I have never smelled that unmistakable smell of antifreeze during or after riding it, nor has there ever been anything leaking or puddled in the garage since I've owned it.

My question is this - shouldn't the coolant in the radiator have been up to the top when I opened the cap? My thinking is when the engine cools it should have pulled coolant from the overflow tank back into the radiator and kept it full. Makes me wonder if there is an issue with the tank or the hose, or am I just making something out of nothing as I have a habit of doing?
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When the anti- freeze was changed previously it might not have been burped and the air space you see is the air that was in the system, if in doubt go to an auto parts store and loan a pressure tester and test your system for leaks. If it was mine I would refill and burp and ride.
 

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I would say if you got the coffee can and milk jug out there, that looks like it is really close to being a gallon. That would be enough to fill the system
So I would not worry about it
 

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The air space at the top of the radiator fill is a minor space, that you have fluid at the top around the cap area indicates you have sufficient fluid in the radiator proper. You might have an air leak in the overflow tube, reducing or eliminating the pull up from the overflow tank.

Put some water in the overflow tank. Carefully remove the overflow hose from the radiator nipple. Apply a suction to the hose end and see if you get water, air, or a mixture of both. If not water, then replace the hose.
 

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I replace my coolant every season, when I put her away for the winter, I always have an airspace (so I would not worry) BUT If I was you I'd listen to ssncob above, he knows what he's talking about, and does not speak with fork tongue....
Plus, this way here you won't be riding around always worrying about it, especially in the Fla. heat..... And it will give you a chance to get to really know your new bike, and the peace of KNOWING that it was honestly changed..............
My 2cents worth

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11/25/21
 

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The air space at the top of the radiator fill is a minor space, that you have fluid at the top around the cap area indicates you have sufficient fluid in the radiator proper. You might have an air leak in the overflow tube, reducing or eliminating the pull up from the overflow tank.

Put some water in the overflow tank. Carefully remove the overflow hose from the radiator nipple. Apply a suction to the hose end and see if you get water, air, or a mixture of both. If not water, then replace the hose.
When I change mine, I slowly fill to the top and the rock the bike side to side. Fill again start the bike and burp it. Let is settle and fill and burp. I do this until it is full. Then add some antifreeze to the overflow.
Just remember to stuff some rags around the filler neck.
 

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On a 20 yo bike I wouldn't be a surprise if the overflow tube (from rad to tank) is dry-rotted enough that air leaks, making it so the rad can't draw coolant back in as the engine cools.

Possibly it will carry coolant to the overflow tank (gravity), but be unable to draw it back (with vaccuum)

Also possible it's separated or disconnected...
 

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Assuming the Overflow Tank isn't empty (doesn't have a leak) and the Hose that connects it to the Cooling system is intact, the most likely cause is a failed Radiator Cap. The Radiator Cap has two jobs: Its first job is to maintain a maximum pressure above atmospheric Pressure when the engine is running and its second job is to connect the Cooling System to the Overflow Tank when the pressure in the Cooling System falls below Atmospheric Pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Put some water in the overflow tank. Carefully remove the overflow hose from the radiator nipple. Apply a suction to the hose end and see if you get water, air, or a mixture of both. If not water, then replace the hose.
This post is just to update in case anyone is curious. I filled the overflow tank with the old coolant, removed the overflow hose from the radiator and used a small hand vacuum pump to see if it pulled the coolant up from the overflow tank. It pulled the coolant easy with no bubbles in it, and maintained it. So I refilled the radiator, including burping and burping and burping. Brought her up to operating temp until the fans came on (forgot the fans blow backwards on these), then filled the overflow tank until the level was almost to the top of the dip stick. I had the pictured amount of new coolant left out of 1 gallon.
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Makes me wonder if there is an issue with the tank or the hose, or am I just making something out of nothing as I have a habit of doing?
Pull that reservior hose off and post a picture of its end. Chances are its end is all cracked out. The same is probably true with the end that goes into the reservior. Not removing the reservior, to properly inspect the hose going into it, as well as the tube level that the nipple fits into, is most likly foolish ... for a proper cooling system check, the reservior needs removed, cleaned, and inspected. The tube-level in the reservior is probably cracked too. As far as not smelling a leak, or seeing one, that is not unusual ... most riders don't. The low level under the cap can be cause for many reasons, but usually it is cause from not inspecting, or knowing how to inspect the system correctly. On a Wing that's old, you can easily have more then one coolant leak. To tell ... do 2 pressure tests, each test do for at least 4 hours each. Do the first test at 16-18psi, and the other one at 6-8psi. If a coolant leak shows up, repair it, and test again until the system passes both tests. Be sure to test the radiator cap too. Most likely your leaks will be resolved by tightening a radiator clamp(s) ... there are more then 44. If you have a belly pan, start by removing that first. Putting new coolant in, without resolving leaks, can make leaks worst.
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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Pull that reservior hose off and post a picture of its end. Chances are its end is all cracked out. The same is probably true with the end that goes into the reservior. Not removing the reservior, to properly inspect the hose going into it, as well as the tube level that the nipple fits into, is most likly foolish ... for a proper cooling system check, the reservior needs removed, cleaned, and inspected. The tube-level in the reservior is probably cracked too. As far as not smelling a leak, or seeing one, that is not unusual ... most riders don't. The low level under the cap can be cause for many reasons, but usually it is cause from not inspecting, or knowing how to inspect the system correctly. On a Wing that's old, you can easily have more then one coolant leak. To tell ... do 2 pressure tests, each test do for at least 4 hours each. Do the first test at 16-18psi, and the other one at 6-8psi. If a coolant leak shows up, repair it, and test again until the system passes both tests. Be sure to test the radiator cap too. Most likely your leaks will be resolved by tightening a radiator clamp(s) ... there are more then 44. If you have a belly pan, start by removing that first. Putting new coolant in, without resolving leaks, can make leaks worst. View attachment 392428
I took the hose off radiator to check and see if it pulls coolant from the tank (post above yours). I was expecting the hose to be brittle or cracked, and was sort of expecting I would have to replace it, but it wasn't. Used flashlight to look closely at the end of the hose and the only mark on end of hose is the indent from the clamp on the outside and a small mark on the very end that I made from getting the hose loose. As far as not removing the overflow tank; well, that is on the to-do list when I have more time. The overflow tank looks pretty beat up from debris etc. so I need to thoroughly check the tank and the connections but can't do it without removing it. Goal was to change coolant that may have been from 2014, that at least is accomplished for now.
 
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Personally I wouldn't go thru the hassle of pulling the overflow tank. Outside condition means squat - it's the inside that matters. The overflow tube is not that easy to get back onto the tank. The tank isn't leaking, the hose isn't either. Your tank inside had clean fluid. End result, not worth pulling.

Pressure test is worthwhile, you can borrow a complete testing set from the auto parts store. I just finished up a full maintenance for a gl1500, pressure test was good. No offense but I think you're over-thinking your coolant issue.
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I too think it’s being over-thought a bit. If leaks aren’t happening, and it’s not overheating to the point of coolant lose. I’d Finnish the change, purge the air as best you can, and ride a short ride to open the thermostat. It’ll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
No offense taken @ssncob I appreciate everyone's advice. Pressure test and cap test are also on list of things I want to do and we have several parts stores close to us. One thing at a time you know how it is. @GoldWingrGreg has some good posts on pressure testing too since that is something I have never done. I'll be riding it before I get any of them done though, can't stand looking at it just sitting there 😉.
 
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