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Discussion Starter #1
Hey yall. I just checked my coolant levels and it was about half an inch below the "Low" level. When I drive it its right at the "Low" mark. My car is almost 8k miles. Is this normal? Seems not normal. I checked all over for leaks or anything but did not find anything. I've also never checked the coolant level at all since I've gotten the car so I dont even know if it was full or not when I bought it. I'm wondering if anyone else experienced this problem.

I'm also wondering if driving around with low coolant has screwed up my car at all. The car runs excellent and I've never seen my engine heat meter go past the half way mark. But there are some things I've noticed. In the morning (40-50F degrees) the car loses heat if I have the heater on and I'm idling at a stop light or something, I can see the meter drop down below the half mark and go back up again as I am driving. Is this normal? I am in california. I could understand maybe if I was in freezing temperatures, however, its cold but definitely not freezing. One more thing is that my heater seems extremely weak compared to my 2001 camry. The heater in my 2001 camry is like amazing. On most days even if I just turn it to 1 bar on the hottest setting its like too hot. In my corolla, I can turn it up to like 4 or 5 bars and its hot enough for me to not be cold, but no where near as hot as my camry, where I have to take off my sweater or something.

Im really just worried that I've been driving around with low coolant for a long time and it has damaged my car somehow. Car is running PERFECT though, other than my heater being weak.... Maybe the corolla heater is just that bad? Anyone else feel this way? My Camry is almost 20 years old and the heater is like ridiculous heat for a 20 year old car.
 

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2006 Corolla XRS
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As you drive, the coolant will circulate through the engine and heater core. You will see level drop. It returns to the tank when the engine is cooling.

Sounds normal to me. I'd be more worried if the level didn't rise back up.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
When the car is driving the coolant level is right at the "low" mark. When It's not being driven, like if I let it sit there for 2-3 hours. The coolant level will be about half an inch below the "low" mark. This was way too low to me, there was still some in there but I went to the dealership to get them to top it off. I am just worried about how long its been that low and if its done any damage to my car. Fortunately the car runs excellent, just hoping problems dont come up later.
 

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You should be ok. 1/2" drop seems normal. Just keep in mind, the tank may or may not be pressurized like on some other makes. But this doesn't mean there's an issue.

The Corolla is still new and should be good. On my 9th gen, the tank isn't pressurized and the system has good pressure.

Think of it this way. When you start the car from a cold start, the coolant goes from the tank to the radiator. From here, the ECU will command the thermostat to open and flow through the engine. From there, it goes through the heater core then back to the tank. There's always residual still in the system as the engine cools.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Cool, thanks for the response! Hopefully if the coolant level doesnt drop within the next few days it will mean theres no leaks or anything. But it would also mean that they sold me a car with a coolant level below the "low" mark... even after "detailing" my car before selling it to me. I dont know anyone trust dealerships. These people are so fucking incompetent. Glad I made the choice not to let them my car ever. Although I am a little annoyed I never bothered checking the level myself until 8k miles lol...
 

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The coolant reservoir is just an expansion tank, which allows space for the coolant to expand as it warms up. You never did run low on coolant, as you always had some coolant in your reservoir. It will read slightly lower in winter when colder than room temperature. If overfilled when cold, it'll simply spill excess coolant to the ground and make a bit of a mess when it's hot.

By the way, try leaving your vent fan speed at low while idling in colder climate to allow engine to better achieve normal operating temperature.
 

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What Invader said.

On a related note, I keep my reservoir coolant level at max as a matter of course. If you do that, the level should only be set at max when the engine is already hot, and the fluid is already expanded.

If you fill to max when the engine is cold, then it will probably overflow the bottle once it gets hot.
 

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Seems normal as I also noticed my coolant is at the low mark when it's been sitting for a few hours. Once car is started it's between max and low.
 

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Coolant reservoir at "LOW" mark in winter is quite normal for most cars. Check again in summer, it'll go up to between the low and high marks in warmer weather.

BTW, the new Dynamic Force engine is extremely thermally efficient and doesn't generate as much waste heat as older cars.
Typical gas cars are only 20% TE, the DF engine in the Corolla is 40% TE. Less heat for your heater. Try to keep the heater on RECIRC so you're not trying to heat cold outside air.
 

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Coolant level is checked when cold.
Coolant full level is what I keep all my car. When cold ALL my recovery/overflow bottles are at the full line.
Coolant evaporates with time. So, top off as needed when cold. Keep it full.

I also recommend(preach) that oil level should always be kept at the full dot/line/mark and that you check the oil regularly, the same way always(hot engine 3-5 minutes after shutdown on a level surface).
 

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You should call Toyota customer service. This article shows recalls regarding engines to leak coolant and/or oil during the combustion stroke. Corolla isn't listed, but should inquire anyways.

 

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If you can't get a resolution, try this.

 
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