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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2004, 05:17 PM
thebear
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Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

Hi guys,

I have a serious problem that just developed in the last week when temperatures here in Syracuse, NY dipped into negative numbers at night.

What is happening is this...

As I drive, the the temperature guage starts to show overheating, and within about two miles of starting out, I can hear the bubbling sound of coolant bubbling out the top of the plastic resevoir in the engine compartment.

Now, prior to this, I have had a problem with no heat, it just blows but is never warm. Do not know how related that is.

So, the first time this happens, I feer a frozen rad, and limp down to a service station. They of course say the rad is empty and fill it up. However now there is a pretty regular leak in the rad, but I always ensure it is topped up and the plastic resevoir is to level before I drive the couple miles to and from work. However, the problem persists.

Tonight, I topped off the coolant levels at work, drove the couple of miles home, just as it was getting to the red mark on the temp guage. Historically, a little further and that plastic resevoir would be bubbling full and spewing out the top. However, I got home before this happened, and quickly parked and popped the hood. The plastic resevoir hadn't filled up and boiled over yet, but one thing that is probably important that I noticed: None of the hoses were hot. Hell, none of them were even warm. Not the rad hose, the heater intake our exit hose. None of them. What the heck?

Can anyone tell me what is going on here? To just start replacing every cooling components at random is simply cost prohibitive for me... I need a starting point. I know the rad needs replacing because of the pin hole leak, but that can be addressed in time...this greater coolant flow issue is really my concern at the moment.

I am scared I am going to damage a gasket if this keeps up.

What would cause the coolan resevoir to fill up and spew out the top?
What would happen if the heater core froze solid or was completely blocked? Is this consistant with the other symptoms? I am at a loss here.

Scott
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2004, 05:34 PM
Lnedermeyer
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

check the thermostat,
post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2004, 07:15 PM
thebear
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

Could a faulty thermostat give rise to the overflow of the plastic conainer full of coolant though?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2004, 08:02 PM
 
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

a thermostat replacement is the first thing you should try. they are about 10 bucks and worth that just fopr the peace of mind. min acted similarly when the tstat went out. also, check the coolant to see if it has been mixed. dexcool and the green stuff can not be mixed. they will coagulate into a playdoh like paste. bad stuff
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2004, 08:29 PM
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

Are any of your hoses frozen? What often happens is someone runs poor coolant, the coolant freezes, then they drive it. The fact that they never get heat in the cabin (which should be a telltale sign since the thermostat is bypassed for the heater) and run the motor. Eventually the coolant thaws or they crack the block. Sometimes the coolant thaws then the block cracks from the cold coolant hitting the motor. I see it happen all the time.

You need to thaw it out and put new antifreeze and distilled water in. Since the coolant has frozen then the water and glycol has separated and the coolant is junk. Not to mention it was obviously too weak.

Here are my recommendations:
Run the vehicle until it gets warm then park it indoors and put a piece of cardboard in front of the grill. If you can't put it indoors then put something on three sides of the vehicle to keep wind out of the engine compartment. It'll take all night for this to work since the engine has to "heat soak" to thaw stuff as far away as the hoses.

More radical recommendations:
1. Use two 500watt lights and aim them under the hood while inside a garage to go along with running the engine.
2. Use a forced air heater, either electric or kerosene along with running the engine. I recommend aiming a kerosene one under the truck with the hood up to promote heat rising up through the engine compartment. The kerosene heater will probably take a couple hours if you do it outdoors. The electric one will take quite a while even indoors.
3. Garden hose. Chances are your water is at least 50 in the cold water line. That's more than enough to thaw out a radiator and lines. You can run the engine and then use the garden hose to spray through the radiator and spray on the hoses to thaw it out. If your water heater isn't too far away you might want to tap into it, or attach to your kitchen sink, the garden hose. Keep in mind that you might not want to do this on your driveway.


No matter what, get that ****ty coolant out of the motor as soon as you get it thawed out. I recommend pulling the two block drains and pulling off your lower radiator hoses to make sure it ALL gets out. Don't forget your heater core either.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 01-15-2004, 08:43 PM
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

Well, it is bitter cold here, and I have no access to a heated garage. Therefore, I may just have to leave it parked until the weather gets above freezing again. The curious thing is that this happened again, after I took it to a shop who said they had the truck in the shop (who knows) over night, then changed out the coolant, and put in a healthy 50/50 mix. However, the exact same thing happened again.

What causes that coolant resevoir to fill up and overflow? I still don't really know what is happing to cause that to happen when it gets to the red on the temp guage...

How do I know if the head gasket is blown, or if my block is cracked? This is sounding pretty scary...


post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-16-2004, 01:52 AM
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

Did that shop flush your system or just "change" it? My old truck had a blown intake gasket and I had antifreeze in the oil. Check the oil for a milky substance, and of course, check the level in the radiator when it's cold. But you probably have a clog somewhere, and that's why your reserve bottle is filling up, it has nowhere else to go.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-17-2004, 07:21 PM
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

The same probs you're having was happening to me. I found the cat converter needed to be replaced. Once I did that the overheating had stopped. Take it to your mechanic to have it tested. The honey cone inside had turned and blocked the opening. I know it sounds stupid, but it might just be your problem.
post #9 of (permalink) Old 01-17-2004, 08:22 PM
thebear
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

When your cat was clogged, did it overflow the coolant in the resevoir bottle?
post #10 of (permalink) Old 01-17-2004, 10:02 PM
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Re: Serious cooling system emergency. Please Help

Did the shop drain the entire system or did they just drain the radiator? The engine, hoses, and heater core hold half the water in your cooling system (total in system is around 4 gallons).

Did you ever find out if any of your hoses are frozen? Once you run the motor it is going to thaw the entire motor.

Do you have a radiator cap on your radiator or is it on the reservoir only?

A radiator cap does two things. It allows pressure to build up in the cooling system (usually 16psi) which is what actually gives you the boilover protection. At sea level, 50/50 mix boils at 226. If that pressure is exceeded the valve in the cap allows coolant to be forced out into the reservoir. Now, when the coolant in the system cools the radiator cap allows coolant to be sucked out of the reservoir back into the radiator.

At this point, I'd take the radiator cap off the truck when it is cool. I'd then start it and watch down the radiator to see if coolant is coming back from the heater core. The heater core path bypasses the thermostat. If there is no coolant flowing then for some reason either the system is plugged or the pump isn't pumping.

In theory, if the system is frozen right the pump could be cavitating. It needs coolant to move coolant. If it never has coolant in it it'll never pump any. I'm not aware of any way for the impeller to come off the shaft due to the way it is pressed on. I also don't believe there is a way for the shaft to break without it happening catastrophically.

Since it's already a chore to change the thermostat (my truck is a 10 minute job) I'd replace the pump as well. With any luck, something fishy happened in the pump. Since you'd both have the water neck off and the pump off you could find out if you've got any slush. You can tear the back off the pump and see if anything is broken.
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