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for me, it wasn't the coolant level or the sensor, it was the wiring harness. I managed to fool it with a paperclip. Let me know if you can't get it off, and I'll give you more detail about what I did..
Dan, Steven and Scott -- Thank you. Looks like you saved me a trip and a bill to the mechanic, who by the way was betting on a bad sensor.
I started the car, gave the driver side radiator hose a few squeezes, which takes very little effort and can raise the level surprisingly high, and then added coolant. Even though I could easily see coolant level at bottom of neck, the system took at least 1/4 gallon. So for those with this issue don't be deceived like I was thinking it was pretty full. When it filled to top I squeezed the hose once more and the level actually went down a little more. Afraid to ask where it is going.
If you remove the wiring connector at the reservoir sensor and jump the harness connections with any kind of wire the ECM will see a full reservoir all the time. Careful, the sensor is a very breakable tube that can be damaged by removing the connector. It is isolated from the coolant so breaking it will not cause a leak.
And I think the above instructions on filling the degas bottle are shy one step. Seal the top of the coolant reservoir with your hand while squeezing the radiator hose. That forces coolant from the reservoir to the recovery (degas) bottle from which it can be recovered by the vacuum caused by a cooling engine.
It could be that your sensor is stuck and not floating inside the reservior.
After I had the cooling system flushed and refilled by a local indy garage, the coolant warning came on and stayed for several days. I called the mechanic and he told me that the float sometimes get stuck after the service is done.
I got it to float by using a medium sized plastic spoon to stir the coolant in the reservior. The coolant warning light went out and I had no problems since.
I have this problem periodically. I start to smell coolant and the low coolant light comes on but I see no evidence of coolant in the engine bay or on my garage floor. I think it is the radiator hoses. I replaced them a few months ago and when I did, I replaced the tensison style clamps with the screw style hose clamps and those seem to loosen over time.
Each time this happens (light comes on and smell of collant) I check the clamps and need to tighten them (just a little). I am afraid to put too much tension on them because the flanges they connect to are plastic.
I think I am loosing small amounts of cooolant when they loosen but not enough to show - vapor maybe or it's burning off? I have been going 2 to 3 months between events and I now carry extra coolant in the trunk just in case.