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2004 Toyota Matrix XRS & XR Honda Lawnmower
25 Posts

If you have steam coming from the front of the vehicle when it's running and the coolant tank is empty, then there is a hole somewhere near there where coolant can escape under pressure. If you don't have a radiator pressure test kit you can use to locate the leak then refill the radiator and tank with distilled water an look around for wet spots on or under the radiator or cap, coolant tank, radiator hoses, or the radiator itself. If you don't see an obvious leak start the engine and carefully observe the radiator assembly and hoses as it heats up. The water will start to escape at some point and then you will see the leak. Just keep an eye on the temperature gauge as you do this and don't let the engine overheat while testing.

My best guess from experience is that you have a very small hole or crack in the RADIATOR from road debris which has slowly rusted out and can no longer hold the pressure, which is why is spews steam like a tea kettle when hot.

If you can't find the leak after all of this I would recommend a compression check on the engine to rule out a bad head gasket. But if you haven't had recurring overheating issues I doubt that the head gasket is bad.
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