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Old 11-30-2019, 09:26 PM   #1
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Default High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Yesterday, I drove a short distance to pick up my son from his friend's house in the early evening, about 5:15 pm, fully dark and rather cold - low 50's (F) and dropping. Driving away from the house I noticed an extra noise from the engine and could tell that the cooling fans were running at a high speed. I next noticed that as I took my foot off of the accelerator pedal and allowed the car to decelerate without braking the RPM would increase and decreases repeatedly between 950 and 1200. However, when braking there was no irregularity. The idle speed RPM in gear was at about 1,000 to1,100 which is high. (Normal idle speed in gear is closer to 800 RPM, IIRC.) The temperature gauge reached to just before the 1/4, or first hash mark from the left. After arriving at this house which is less than two miles from my own, I turned off the engine and waited for my son to come out - approximately 5 minutes. The engine the high fan speed continued for a couple of minutes after we had left, but finally quit and with it the irregular surges while coasting.

This has never happened before. No telltale light illuminated at the dash console, neither engine/SES nor wrench. Without knowing any better, I had a hunch that this might simply be an odd "one-off" kind of thing and so I didn't panic over it. I thought that I'd wait and see if the thing might "correct itself" so to speak. So this morning I went into L A for work and all was normal.......(somethin' kinda goofy was goin' on yesterday ).

What do I think was going on? I'm really not sure. My first thought was that perhaps the thermostat seal was allowing antifreeze to bypass the thermostat, but since the temperature gauge showed a fairly normal reading for this type of weather I didn't think it likely. My second thought was that perhaps the throttle position sensor was showing a sign of failure. As I write this, another thought comes to mind - an errant speed sensor. In any event, the car drove quite normally today. We'll see if this kind of event pops up again some time.
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Old 12-01-2019, 01:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Do you have a code reader? Some codes will set and not turn on the cel until the second occurrence. Last time I had high fans I had a code but no light for engine taking too long to reach operating temp. The internal rubber seal in the thermostat had started to fail letting coolant flow when it was not supposed to. Purchase the better quality thermostat for better results. I always buy a Stant Superstat in the original temp if available.
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Old 12-01-2019, 02:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Thank you, 02 LW300, for making the point about when a code will be set. I do have a code reader, happily, but I will certainly be irritated and disappointed if the thermostat has failed since the part was replaced last Summer. I use Stant thermostats regularly and at the OE temp setting. Well, I suppose that I shouldn't complain too much. I've never had a defective thermostat as a problem so one could consider that as being fortunate. I will let folks know how things have turned out after some time has gone by.
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Old 12-11-2019, 02:15 AM   #4
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Sad Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Update: I was heading to Superior Court for jury service this morning - not too far away. I was stopped at a traffic signal about one mile from my house when I heard the engine cooling fans begin to run at high speed. The temperature was normal for cool weather - just over the first hash mark, or 1/4 - and stable. This event lasted thirty seconds or less and the fans then went quiet. The return drive home was uneventful. This would suggest, however, that some irregularity is present to cause the cooling fans to improperly engage at high speed.

Until this morning the fans had been operating normally apart from the story in the thread starter message. If all goes well tomorrow morning I will have enough time to get my scanner hooked up to the car before I depart for work to see if anything comes up.
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Old 12-11-2019, 12:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

The temperature indicated on my temperature gauge is very stable. My car warms up to that temp in the first 1/2 mile unless the heater fan is on medium or above. When using the heater on a freezing day the car still warms up in the first mile and a half.
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Old 12-11-2019, 03:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Would it help to monitor coolant temps with a reader while driving (distracted driving aside)? Before I created a way to hold my tablet with a window suction mount, I laid it down on the console to slide off at random during moderate braking/turning maneuvers. I wanted a larger OBD II display as opposed to popular cellphone apps like Torque. Having eight eyes (think about it) can be an exercise in choosing which part of eyeglasses is right to view a tablet or cellphone display while driving (head bobbing). Frustrating moments occurred while driving and pressing the record tab to save a moment of screen display for later review of parameters. I needed several baseline parameters; cold idle, warm idle, and a few chosen speeds to record parameters above idle rpm. I'm not sure if OBD Wiz has a record mode to allow recording timed events. Perhaps I'll spend some time looking into this feature.

Monitoring coolant temps at several points beginning with cold start, a half mile down the road as mentioned and several other mileage waypoints may reveal something. It would be even more valuable if parameters were captured when cooling fans turned on. This presumes a host of parameters can be captured as a freeze frame or recorded at length for later review.
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Old 12-11-2019, 04:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Pierrot,

Don't know if this link to an earlier thread (2008) is of any use, but covers fans going awol.

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=120310
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Old 12-12-2019, 03:45 AM   #8
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Thank you for the link, floridasl22002, I appreciate it!

fdryer, I would like to be able to directly monitor the engine cooling system's temperature. The scanner I own doesn't have that capability and I don't plan on spending any money for such a thing at this time. My daughter's car is at a Mitsubishi dealership and may require a BCM replacement (although I hope that it won't). They're about the same price as the GM versions we're so familiar with. A large household expense has already hit me this month. Oi vey...

Today I was on the run to get out for work and didn't take the scanner with me which was too bad. The event occurred again at about the same time frame and distance from home this morning. After the event ended there was no further issue for the rest of the day. This time I noticed that it was causing a small increase in the curb idle speed, about 50 RPM or so. We'll see about tomorrow. As a side note, 02 LW300's vehicle warm up experience mirrors my own. The ECOTEC engines don't take long to reach, or nearly reach, normal operating temperatures.

Candidly, I'm thinking that the problem may stem from a partially failing thermostat seal.
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Perhaps considering a new scanner that can be used on many vehicles? You may have read of Torque apps for cellphones using a Bluetooth adapter (BAFX seems popular around these forums). If I'm not mistaken, Torque comes in two flavors, base setup (free) and more options for a few dollars. There are several YouTube videos to view to see if it meets your needs. These two seem to be a low cost way to have live readouts while driving.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:56 AM   #10
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

My 2.2 L200 does that when it hits about 40f Getting ready to do a Radiator and Tstat soon. Will report if seal on Tstat is damaged. I can not find the thread on here but do remember reading about this problem on here. If I recall correctly Solution was Change Temp pressure sensor.
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Old 12-17-2019, 12:25 AM   #11
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

So today the engine cooling fans hit high speed again after about a mile of driving and with the coolant temperature just beyond the first hash mark to the right (1/4) followed by a corresponding increase and decrease in the idle speed - up and down with the RPM. Shortly thereafter the fans died down and the idle speed went down to normal, 750 (or so) RPM in gear and no further irregularities for the day.

I had my code reader with me and it found a P0507: Idle Speed High. In short, the FSM doesn't describe any malfunctioning of the cooling fans related to this code. My hunch is that the code appearing is not the primary problem, but a secondary one driven by the high speed of the cooling fans at a low cooling system temperature. Unlike the abnormal fan behavior, the high idle speed does - in this instance - trigger a DTC to appear.

I should have another FCM here in the garage; the factory original. The current unit in the car was from a donor L-Series car that was younger than mine. I may swap them to see if that changes anything. Nevertheless, I need to do more reading.
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Last edited by pierrot; 12-17-2019 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:04 AM   #12
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

There must be someone you know with a reader to borrow. If I were nearby and not on the Right Coast, you'd have a reader to monitor coolant temps..........and other parameters.

I'm leaning towards an errant t-stat.
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Old 12-17-2019, 01:19 AM   #13
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
There must be someone you know with a reader to borrow. If I were nearby and not on the Right Coast, you'd have a reader to monitor coolant temps..........and other parameters.

I'm leaning towards an errant t-stat. (emphasis by pierrot)
Firstly, I need to look into the app you referred to in a previous post and see if it can help. (Oh, BTW, you may be closer to a coast line than I am. My home is about 45 miles away from the nearest oceanfront beach.)

Secondly, I'm more suspicious of a thermostat problem just as you are. I'm thinking more along the lines of fluid bypassing the thermostat seal. The thermostat appears to function normally as the temperature gauge does rise and fall according to ambient temps and driving conditions so I'd be inclined to simply replace the seal. I may happen to have an extra thermostat seal here in the garage as left over parts from the Fel-Pro kit ES-71282 (used with water pump replacement). Making time available for that work is another concern...
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Last edited by pierrot; 12-17-2019 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 12-21-2019, 02:24 AM   #14
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Quote:
Originally Posted by pierrot View Post
...
Secondly, I'm more suspicious of a thermostat problem just as you are. I'm thinking more along the lines of fluid bypassing the thermostat seal. The thermostat appears to function normally as the temperature gauge does rise and fall according to ambient temps and driving conditions so I'd be inclined to simply replace the seal...
As I've continued to drive the car in this odd "estate" it occurred to me that my statement above wasn't as well thought out as I'd supposed. If indeed there is a leak of antifreeze bypassing the thermostat seal within the water outlet (thermostat housing) then regardless of the size of the leak, that leak would continue. This would then contradict my highlighted statement above. Such a leak mean that the engine temperature should tend to be lower than average overall throughout the course of any trip taken. With that in mind, I now believe it is an electrical problem. The more likely source of trouble here appears to be the Idle Air Control (IAC) Valve. It needs to be tested and will be tomorrow.
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Old 12-21-2019, 01:14 PM   #15
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Quote:
Originally Posted by pierrot View Post
...The more likely source of trouble here appears to be the Idle Air Control (IAC) Valve. It needs to be tested and will be tomorrow.
My problem is an intermittent one and there is no doubt that the problem still exists. Yesterday's drive yielded no DTCs - this has also occurred on other occasions as well - although the engine idle did take somewhat longer than normal to settle into proper curb idle in gear at 750 RPM. Intermittent problems lead to the following checks in the FSM: resistance at the IAC valve contacts and throttle linkage inspection.

The FSM states that resistance between terminals A & B and C & D should be from 30 to 60 ohms. I measured both pairs at 45 ohms which seems to be as good as it could get. I would like to note that there is no letter designation on the valve whatsoever so as to know exactly which contacts are A, B, C, or D. So I simply went with each pair of contacts from left to right and that turned out to be the arrangement. No other pairings yielded a reading.

The next check was to inspect the throttle position screw for signs of tampering and linkage for wear (all of which is in the same small area). As far as I could tell the linkage seems fine and the throttle stop screw has never been touched by me or anyone else since I've owned the car. So thus far I'm still in a quandary; do I take the leap and simply replace the IAC vavle or do I replace a thermostat seal which I believe to be okay just to eliminate that as a possible cause for this issue? Is it conceivable that a resistance problem with the IAC valve is only apparent at the time of the irregularly high idle speed? The more I think about that, the answer could be yes. We have learned from others, notably fdryer, about resistance issues related to intermittent CKP sensor failures. (I know others here like to call it the CPS. I prefer the factory's designation.) If I replace the IAC valve then I must remove the throttle body as there isn't adequate space to get a Torx T20 bit onto the lower attaching screw head. It also looks like a throttle body cleaning would be worth while. Of course, I'd need to get a throttle body base gasket as well.

Oi vey...more time to set aside for this...
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Last edited by pierrot; 12-21-2019 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 12-21-2019, 03:35 PM   #16
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

There are some symptoms of a faulty iacv that may or may not be obvious. One is if it sticks in one position. The iacv is supposed to extend and retract from pcm commands to alter idle rpm during all phases of engine running from cold engine startup, warm engine, high electrical loads and deceleration when throttle is released. I think the best way, presuming a normally running engine, to observe iacv action is during a cold engine startup.

With EFI systems no longer needing a choke mechanism to force a rich fuel mixture and cam action to raise idle rpm during cold engine startup on carburetors, the EFI system uses every sensor to automatically adjust rpm and fuel mixtures at every phase of engine running. At cold engine startup, two things occur; rich fuel mixtures as determined by the engine coolant sensor and running a higher than normal idle via the iacv. As we all know, EFI systems do not require anyone to depress the gas pedal at startup as the EFI system knows what to do. Since every cold engine needs a richer fuel mixture, the rich mixture can lower idle rpm so the pcm commands the iacv to retract to allow more air thru the bypass air port without disturbing the throttle plate. More air and richer fuel for cold engine starting results in a high idle. From here and some patience, anyone can observe iacv control by simply sitting in place as the engine warms up.

With a cold idle around 1200-1500 rpm, observe the next few minutes as the idle begins lowering automatically in proportion to coolant warming up. Within a few minutes, depending on outside temperatures, high idling should begin dropping within one or two minutes of starting. If sitting longer, the varying idle rpm will continue to drop as engine coolant warms up. During this sitting (not noticed when most of us startup and drive almost immediately) the fuel mixtures are being leaned the more the engine runs. Both fuel and idle are lowering automatically by pcm control. The changing idle is a direct result of the pcm continually monitoring every sensor then adjusting the iacv until normal idle is achieved whether driving or letting the engine warm-up in place. The change in idle rpm is the iacv changing from retracted (more air) to extended (less air) thru the bypass air port. On my L300 when starting in 9F temps recently, I spent a few minutes brushing off snow from windows. Within two or three minutes the high idle (1500?) dropped immediately to around 1k rpm before I drove. As coolant temps warmed up, idle continued to drop until it reached 650 rpm, normal idle. My electric throttle doesn't have the iacv so the ecm commands throttle opening automatically. Nevertheless, whether having an iacv or drive by wire throttle, the EFI system controls idle speed.

If you sit and observe high idle changing to a lower rpm the longer you sit with a cold engine, you should see this rpm change without touching the pedal. If you see idle speed changes, you're observing the iacv modulating engine rpm as the pcm deems necessary. The corollary is with a faulty iacv with idle not changing or remaining at one rpm level outside where its expected to be.
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Old 12-21-2019, 04:33 PM   #17
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

A fabulous explanation, my friend! I began to understand this as I was reading up on the P0507 trouble code and following the diagnostic trouble tree. It's really fascinating how all of this works. Looking further into the FSM regarding the throttle body and where to find the throttle stop screw I also discovered the possibility of having a worn seal at the IACV. As one might expect, it stated that if such was found that the valve has to be replaced. At that point I really wanted to be able to remove the valve for inspection and that's when I discovered that I'd need to remove the throttle body in order to do so. BTW, the FSM states that the throttle body base gasket is reusable provided that it hasn't been damaged and that's just fine with me. The problem there is that the condition of the base gasket is unknowable until it can be seen. On a positive note, the gasket is actually a rubber/silicone seal so it can have more longevity to it and I replaced it once several years ago so it's not the factory original.
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Last edited by pierrot; 12-21-2019 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 12-21-2019, 05:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

I too found several gaskets of silicone or similar synthetic material where I didn't have to order them. They're reusable because of their synthetic nature to outlast paper gaskets. This occurred for my timing cover, all three intake manifolds pieces, an intermediate manifold and other parts when replacing the t-stat. Much less delays in finding out a gasket is torn, ordering and waiting for it to finish repairs.

Although my L300 doesn't have a iacv, reading other forums where it is used tends to make me conclude they're reliable with few problems and are mostly maintenance free. Similar to egr valves. At 108k miles, I have not seen an error code for my egr valve and the engine is running as smooth as it was when it left the factory. One key factor may be using M1 oil for most of its life, even using extended oil change intervals. One issue that may affect iacvs depends on the amount of pcv blowby gases that are recycled back into the intake air system. Crankcase ventilation requires all combustion blowby gases recycled back to the intake system. This is where anyone removing their throttle bodies discovers it caked in dark goo and find their entire intake manifold covered in it. Technically, it does no harm since the engine doesn't care and has been running this way since the vehicle left the factory. Some spend the time removing and cleaning it but forget or ignore the fact that as soon the the engine is started up the crankcase gases continues to coat the interior of intake manifolds and throttle body interior with blowby products. The engine doesn't care and runs fine.

Last edited by fdryer; 12-21-2019 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 12-27-2019, 01:26 AM   #19
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Today, for the first time ever, the SES telltale warning lamp appeared while driving. The same P0507 DTC was read by the scanner with no other codes present. I think the PCM is "angry" at me for not working on the problem. For the first time in my life my car is beginning to scare me!! At least I've got what I need to do the work - the IAC valve and a can of throttle body spray cleaner. Our true winter weather is making it difficult to get the work done. I saw snow on the foothills close by. It seems that last night our snow level dropped to something near 2K feet in elevation. I've not seen snow so near to our home since we moved to this city in 2003! I have to keep the house heater on quite a bit lately.
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Old 12-30-2019, 08:54 PM   #20
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Default Re: High engine fan speed in cold weather...a brief story...

Regardless of our colder weather this Winter, some work on the car has been done. I took off the throttle body late Saturday afternoon to clean it and then replace the IAC valve. The upper end of the throttle body was a bit on the oily side (dirtier than I'd anticipated) and, clearly, the throttle body intake is drawing in some "blow-by" from the PCV system. First up - before the cleaning - I removed the IAC valve. The pintle had a significant amount of oily soot built up on it and it lead me to think that perhaps the part isn't bad at all. I set it aside and cleaned the throttle body throat and IAC valve air passage. (The throat is nice and shiny!) Considering the possibility the the intermittent code appearance was resulting from the soot build up on the IAC valve pintle (perhaps causing improper pintle movement, whether retracting or extending out from the valve housing), I cleaned it and the o-ring seal, and reinstalled the unit. From Sunday until now, late Monday afternoon, there is no P0507 code present. I will keep a watch on this, of course, and if the code returns I will install the replacement valve which I'd purchased.

(If all goes well, I'll be able to return the new valve to AutoZone.)
...
340,000 miles - Holy canolli!
Joe Biden for POTUS and Kamala Harris for VEEP. What follows if they get their way? A bad economy, weak military, increased terrorism and a greater RED CHINA.

Last edited by pierrot; 12-30-2019 at 09:09 PM.
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