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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
*** This project is still under active testing ***

I wanted a method of monitoring a low coolant level situation without modifying the reservoir. Anytime you drill holes in a chamber designed to contain pressure risks compromising the structural integrity(for traditional float switches). I'm already seeing micro fractures in the plastic being only 4 years old. It may be due for a replacement soon (last I checked FordParts, they are out of stock for the 1.0L).

Apparently contactless water level sensors seem to be compatible with coolant (doesn't usually work with oil though). As of right now I'm testing 3M double sided sticky tape to adhere the sensor to the outside of the reservoir to see how long it stays. A longer term solution would be to use adhesive for the included sensor mount. Obviously I'll be testing this through the Arizona summer to see if the sensor survives engine bay conditions.

The dash LED illuminates briefly with key-on, which is a good test to let you know the warning LED works. If coolant drops below sensor level, the dash LED illuminates. This photo is just the prototype setup, the heat shrink tubing does a pretty good job blending into the background. I plan on making a cosmetic mount for the LED to snap into the same location on the instrument cluster, perhaps with a coolant level icon.


*update* Here's the dash LED holder



Here is the sensor stickied to the tank (temporary). Oddly enough this LED is active when it senses coolant.



The wires are run inside the fender back to the passenger door upper grommet, which enters right near the passenger fuse box directly behind the glove box. I'm using the heated seats circuit for the sensor so its only active during key-on.


Parts needed:



Everything can be found on ebay:
$4.69 WS-03 Non-contact Tank Liquid Water Level Sensor Switch Container Water Level Switch
$0.13 3mm Blue LED
$3.62 3mm LED dash clip on holder (optional) or download the stl and print yourself - coolant-0.04.stl
$0.35 10k ohm 1/4 watt resistor
$1.37 ATM Fuse Tap
$0.37 2amp fuse
$0.20 2x eye thingies
$0.85 Heat Shrink Tube
$0.77 Solder
$2.95 Wire
------------
$15.30




I'll update this thread with more detail after I've confirmed the sensor lives at least a week. The 10k ohm pull up resistor jumpers between the positive sensor lead and the output lead. The dash LED attaches to the sensor output lead. All grounds can go anywhere to the body. I've grounded the sensor to an existing ground near the tank. The dash LED ground is behind the glove box. The dashed lines indicate the long wire runs either to the instrument cluster or to the engine bay.



Right now you're probably asking yourself how do these sensors peer through a plastic container and detect water? Pure black box magic. I'm sure there's a reason why auto manufacturers don't use these sensors. (actually the electronics logic and circuitry inside is pretty basic)
 

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This is awesome. Thanks.
I’ve actually purchased some of the components to do similar myself, but I’ve got a light that has a buzzer in it also. I’d be interested to know how you go with “sloshing” when driving in a spirited manner.
Can you explain the resistors purpose in more detail please?
Thanks
 

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Nice job Dirtbag! Thai, the tank is baffled internally which should help prevent sloshing around to some degree. I'm pretty sure the resistor is to keep the led from drawing too much current.
 

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Good one. I have everything but the sensor and I'll order that up today. Thanks man.
 

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Just FYI, we use 3M 4910 "clear foam" adhesive to attach glass and acrylic to one another or to various bases (wood, stainless, etc.)
Pull strength is really good, "shear" not so much. I've got a couple things in the interior using that tape to secure. Don't know about under hood temps, adhesive may not like the heat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is awesome. Thanks.
I’ve actually purchased some of the components to do similar myself, but I’ve got a light that has a buzzer in it also. I’d be interested to know how you go with “sloshing” when driving in a spirited manner.
Can you explain the resistors purpose in more detail please?
Thanks
I'm testing a few sensor locations. So far sloshing isn't an issue. I'm not sure how much current your buzzer draws, but the output lead from the sensor can only handle 50ma, which is why I think they use a pull up resistor (there's probably a NOT gate/inverter internally in the sensor). If you attach an LED to the output alone, it's too dim. So the jumpered resistor steals some current from the positive side. You probably don't want to go too low in ohms though, it could damage the sensor or heat up the resistor too much when the dash LED path is not illuminated. This is an area you'll have to experiment with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So far it's still holding up great. The sensor survived a trip from Tucson to Flagstaff and back. I've created a 3d printed clip-on dash piece with a low coolant icon to hold the 3mm LED. No sticky tape required for the dash anymore.






 

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So far it's still holding up great. The sensor survived a trip from Tucson to Flagstaff and back. I've created a 3d printed clip-on dash piece with a low coolant icon to hold the 3mm LED. No sticky tape required for the dash anymore.






Very nice
Would you consider making the “thing” for that 3D printed piece available?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here's the raw STL if you have your own printer:

coolant-0.04.stl


If you want Shapeways to print and dye it black, there's no price markup:
Shapeways - Ford Fiesta Low Coolant LED Clip

You'll have to paint the icon with nail polish or something. It's raised up to make it easy. If anyone would like a different icon for another function, I should be able to make that modification fairly easy.
 

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Adding this to my "to-do" list.

I'm all out of black ABS and PETG, or I'd offer to do a run of these for people that wanted one. I don't think I'm willing to do it in PLA as it would likely soften too much in a sun-baked car.

BTW, dirtbag, did you ever put together a write-up or snap any pictures of your sound symposer mod? I'd be interested in trying it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
BTW, dirtbag, did you ever put together a write-up or snap any pictures of your sound symposer mod? I'd be interested in trying it out.
I don't think I ever did. I can do that tomorrow and update the thread. It's a joke really. Just drill out the unused PVC cap in the airbox that houses the filter and run a hose to one of the existing holes in the firewall. The sound is a bit hollow, but that's expected without any real audiophile engineering.


I plan on making a two coolant warning kits because a few folks asked if I could build them that don't own a soldering iron. One Fiesta specific, another with a generic LED holder that can be stickied to the steering wheel column for other vehicles. I want to make sure the sensor survives an Arizona summer before putting them out there. I think the last component I need to source is a tiny two-wire connector. Some older Honda's would benefit considering a single overheat guarantees a head gasket replacement.
 

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I don't think I ever did. I can do that tomorrow and update the thread. It's a joke really. Just drill out the unused PVC cap in the airbox that houses the filter and run a hose to one of the existing holes in the firewall. The sound is a bit hollow, but that's expected without any real audiophile engineering.


I plan on making a two coolant warning kits because a few folks asked if I could build them that don't own a soldering iron. One Fiesta specific, another with a generic LED holder that can be stickied to the steering wheel column for other vehicles. I want to make sure the sensor survives an Arizona summer before putting them out there. I think the last component I need to source is a tiny two-wire connector. Some older Honda's would benefit considering a single overheat guarantees a head gasket replacement.
I would appreciate it if you could, but don't go through any trouble if you're too busy. Honestly, I have no clue where any available holes in the firewall are on this thing since I haven't wanted to pull the battery just to explore - being a black car, finding grommets where it's hard to fit a flashlight has been difficult, at best. I ended up using the driver's door side grommet to run my boost gauge line.
 

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Thanks, dirtbag. Cool, you got them all off eBay too.




New 2015 1.0L Fiesta:


Old 2011 1.6L Fiesta:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If this is still on anyone's to-do list, I have two prototype kits I'm willing to offload at cost that's specific to the Fiesta platform. The only difference between prototype and production, is production uses larger, more robust connectors, and an optional generic LED holder (for water/methanol injection).





First come first serve for these two kits. (I know the site is bare bones right now, I'm in the process of populating it)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
For those who have gone the DIY route, I've discovered a revised best location for the sensor. I didn't catch this early on, but the turbo return tube sprays coolant at great force throughout half the degassing bottle while at higher RPMs. If the sensor is placed in the path, it will indicate a false-positive reading while it senses coolant along the walls of the tank.

The new location is void of the return spray pattern behind a baffle. I've also raised the sensor to above the seam and slightly overfilled my tank. This has been working well for the last 2,000 miles. I've tested with low coolant levels and higher rpms with no false-positive readings.


You can also calibrate these sensors. Some tanks are really thick and can cause a false positive reading (too sensitive). The image shows how to go through the calibration procedure.



 

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Hey Dirtbag do you have anymore of these coolant sensor kits? Going to start using my car as a commuter again so want the extra warning if something gives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey Dirtbag do you have anymore of these coolant sensor kits? Going to start using my car as a commuter again so want the extra warning if something gives.
Yeah I have a couple in stock. Enter "twentyfivepct" on checkout to get 25% off. It might actually be below cost since Shapeways upped their pricing recently for the LED holders. The units I have were printed well before the price change.

https://getyours.com/product/low-level-warning-indicator-kit-for-coolant-water-methanol-injection/
 

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Just seeing your reply now. I don’t want you to lose money so if you need to make some adjustments before I order let me know.
 
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