Low Coolant Alarm - How to fit one on the cheap.

7 years 11 months ago - 2 months 5 days ago #183 by David Aiketgate
One of the most common root causes of Head gasket failure is unknown coolant loss. Our engine objects strongly to being run with insufficient coolant, and usually responds by blowing the head gasket.

Because of the complicated nature of a mid engined car with associated poor natural (wind) cooling and add in a front mounted radiator with externally routed coolant pipes, you can see that coolant loss can occur without being readily seen.

Obviously, regular checking of the coolant level is helpful, and any losses investigated immediately. However, what if you spring a leak whilst travelling a couple of hundred miles along a motorway? The first you might know of it, could be too late!

A low-level alarm in the expansion tank is the obvious answer, indeed MGRover began to fit these as standard in 2005.

There are commercial kits available from the likes of Brown & Gammons, and Rimmer Bros.

Being keen to have the protection of an alarm, and also being strapped for cash, I decided to make up my own.

I purchased one of these float switches from Farnell. Float switch



This switch good up to 110c, and I have had ours in use for two years with no problem.

After dropping the coolant level, I removed the expansion tank from the car, and drilled a 16.5mm hole in the side, (I intended to fit the switch so that in use it was normally open, and that a drop in level would allow the switch to close, completing a simple circuit.), so I made the hole towards the bottom of the tank.

I fitted the switch using the supplied seal and tightened it up carefully. I checked for leaks at this stage, but all was well.

I then refitted the tank to the car, I refilled and bled the coolant. I then ran the car up to operating temperature and checked again for any leaks.

The electrics

I simply took a feed from a switched live through a fuse to a 5mm blue flashing led, which I mounted into one of the spare switch blanks. I took the return wire through to the engine bay via the centre console,and under the parcel shelf.
I connected this wire to one side of the switch and the second switch wire to earth. With the float switch in this position.

In that way the light will begin to flash only when the switch is allowed to close by a low coolant level, allowing the circuit to earth.

I'm sure that an auto-electrician would do it differently, but that's how I have done it, and it has been working effectively for two years. The simplicity of the circuit makes it easy to achieve but the alarm system is prone to false readings caused by bumpy roads, fast cornering, or speed bumps.

It is possible to fit a delay circuit into the system, and that will eliminate false readings.

David
:shrug:
The following user(s) said Thank You: Leigh Ping

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7 years 8 months ago - 2 months 5 days ago #6974 by David Aiketgate
This is the unit required to provide a delay in the operation of the alarm.

This prevents false alarms being caused by road conditions moving the coolant within the expansion tank.

DELAYED RELEASE MODULE



And the required connections are:-


David
:shrug:

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7 years 8 months ago - 2 months 5 days ago #8210 by David Aiketgate
I bought a small plastic enclosure from Maplins and fitted the circuit board into it.



This unit will be fitted behind the switch panel in the console.
edit:-Having now fitted this circuit, i can confirm that the enclosure fitted perfectly behind the switch panel.

David
:shrug:

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7 years 8 months ago - 2 months 5 days ago #8988 by David Aiketgate
The complete system is now in place and working perfectly.

I adjusted the delay to about 10 seconds. In other words, the alarm needs to be activated for 10 seconds continuously before the warning light is triggered to illuminate.

I did experience a bit of consternation, because after I had fitted the circuit board into my original simple circuit, the alarm was working in reverse.
It was flashing all the time until I held the floating arm down for 6 seconds when it went off!

I eventually realized that the float switch needed to be inverted to get the system working properly with the delay circuit. Positioned like this in the tank.

So that the float switch is earthed until the coolant level drops sufficiently to allow the float to fall breaking the earth circuit, and triggering the alarm.

David
:shrug:

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6 years 6 months ago #21655 by David Aiketgate
I've been getting a few false positive alarms and, on investigation, a dodgy reed switch inside the float switch was the culprit.

I replaced the float switch and all is good again.:yesnod:

David
:shrug:

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5 years 10 months ago #30864 by Looneygoon
Thanks David
i understood all that but I just see a shiney Sports car and cant trust myself to set about it with any tools :blink:

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5 years 10 months ago - 5 years 10 months ago #30875 by David Aiketgate
I know that Russell will supply and fit these systems. If you don't feel confident, give him a try; MGRover solutions, in the glove box, under recommended. :broon:

David
:shrug:
The following user(s) said Thank You: bryan young, monteray sam

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5 years 10 months ago #30876 by bryan young

David Aiketgate wrote: I know that Russell will supply and fit these systems. If you don't feel confident, give him a try; MGRover solutions, in the glove box, under recommended. :broon:


We are both answering this. I know that Russell will only fit the B&G system and Not the LO-Larm :broon:

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5 years 2 months ago - 4 years 6 months ago #59568 by Leigh Ping
The following info is courtesy of 'Ianovic'. :broon:



Here is the most straightforward circuit which will work perfectly.
Float switch.
Timer on Ebay.
The following user(s) said Thank You: David Aiketgate

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4 years 6 months ago - 4 years 6 months ago #105693 by David Aiketgate
I have added a cheap 'Maplins' buzzer to my circuit like so. The buzzer is behind the centre console.


David
:shrug:
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4 years 1 week ago #128546 by bensewell
I'm building this coolant alarm now after my cheap alarm failed. Here is a couple of videos of how fast the coolant tank empties...

Let this be a warning if you haven't got a coolant alarm and you have a major hose leak you have about 20 seconds until your expansion tank empties and maybe starts to Cook your engine....



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4 years 1 week ago #128549 by bensewell
I used a 16mm drill circle thing instead of a 16.5 one and the fit is super tight here's some pics.





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