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Old 10-04-2015, 07:38 AM   #1
fhallest
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Default Unable to refill cooling system

My Saturn L200 2002 started to overheat after recently changing the radiator on this vehicle. I assumed it was air in the system and tried to bleed the air out but I could not get any air out of the system. It will not take antifreeze from the surge tank even when engine is at normal operating temps. I know the system is not full to capacity and cannot fill the cooling system completely. I have been looking at the temp gauge in the vehicle but with air in the system can I trust this gauge? In addition I replaced the thermostat as the old one was working but not as well as the new one I installed. I have tried pumping radiator hoses with no success. I was hoping someone could offer a suggestion on how to solve this issue of air in my system. I have tried everything I can think of so I am asking for some extra help.

Thanks

Randy

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Old 10-04-2015, 07:46 AM   #2
Russet
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

Quote:
Originally Posted by fhallest View Post
My Saturn L200 2002 started to overheat after recently changing the radiator on this vehicle. I assumed it was air in the system and tried to bleed the air out but I could not get any air out of the system. It will not take antifreeze from the surge tank even when engine is at normal operating temps. I know the system is not full to capacity and cannot fill the cooling system completely. I have been looking at the temp gauge in the vehicle but with air in the system can I trust this gauge? In addition I replaced the thermostat as the old one was working but not as well as the new one I installed. I have tried pumping radiator hoses with no success. I was hoping someone could offer a suggestion on how to solve this issue of air in my system. I have tried everything I can think of so I am asking for some extra help.

Thanks

Randy
What do you mean pumping the radiator how? You should post a picture of the repair so others can see how it looks to diagnosis it as well. Are we talking a new or used radiator? That makes a difference if used then you got a bad radiator - I for one would advise people "NEVER" get a used radiator your asking for trouble here "NEW" is the smartest way to go "DON'T" go cheap with you are replacing a radiator your life and car depends on it. I replace my Thermostat on my V6 and hoses and had no problem refilling my system or radiator taking radiator fluid. So something is off here???

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Old 10-04-2015, 08:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

Pull the Tstat out and fill the system, if able, then reinstall it.

Maybe if it's in bassackwards you have the symptom described???

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Old 10-04-2015, 10:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

1-If sealer was used, sealer can block passages not meant to be sealed. A thorough flush with water can help remove old coolant and sealer but if problems persists, removing hoses to force garden hose water thru may help unclog passages in the heater core. All Saturns have open heater cores - coolant flows continuously so heater hoses should feel hot after a few minutes of engine running. A blocked hose or heater core will have cold and warm hoses.

2-The change from radiator caps to the same cap but made of plastic and used on the coolant container operates the same way to allow pressurizing, over pressure relief and vacuum relief just as the old radiator cap did. Nothing changed except for moving the radiator cap and incorporating the coolant container as part of the pressurized cooling system. The advantage here is the entire cooling system is less prone to having air in the system, automatic purging of air whenever coolant is drained and refilled, and longer coolant life when using long life antifreeze.

A cooling system drain and flush with plain water is always recommended whether or not cooling system parts are replaced to ensure fresh coolant if periodically replaced. A radiator replacement, if old coolant is reused and not dirty, should be the best time for a system flush with plain water, filling it with water after a repair to run the engine in the driveway or a drive around the block to flush the cooling system. If the engine didn't overheat before repairs, it shouldn't overheat after. Draining water prepares a clean system for new/old antifreeze. All Saturns purge air from their systems automatically by careful monitoring when refilling thru the coolant container. If a gallon or measured container is used, filling a cooling system should result in almost 2 gallons of coolant. About a gallon and a half should fill the system then starting should result in the engine/water pump purging any air remaining in the system as you see the coolant level drop in the coolant reservoir/surge tank. Observing how much coolant was poured in and topping off later should result in a little less than 2 gallons of replacement coolant. Normally and after a water flush, a gallon of antifreeze is poured in first, leaving room for about 3/4 gallon of plain or distilled water to top off a system.

3-Any overheating should have been resolved before using new antifreeze. An old coolant cap may be the cause of overheating besides sealer use.

4-If you can't trust the temperature gauge then you have no way to know coolant temps unless you're willing to visit auto stores to have them connect a reader or buy your own reader to display coolant temperatures.

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Old 10-04-2015, 10:53 AM   #5
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

To get air out of a cooling system you need to 'burp it'. It's a simple job.
1) Turn the heater to full heat and full blow.
2) Unscrew the radiator cap or in the saturns case the pressurized over flow
cap.
3) Turn the engine on and let it idle and allow it to warm up.
4) As the engine warms up and the T stat starts to open it will allow coolant to flow from the engine in to the radiator where it cools and then flows back through the system. The heater core is essentially another small radiator. If you don't have this open, then you can air trapped in the heater. A tell tale sign is switching on the heater and not getting hot air.
5) As the engine warms up any excess air will burp out though the open top of the reservoir. Keep an eye on this and as soon as you see coolant starting to rise near to the top of the reservoir, pop the cap back on and screw tight.
That's how to burp the car BUT it won't stop overheating as air in the system won't cause overheating.
Coolant not flowing round the system is a cause of overheating.
This can be caused by several things, including;
- a blockage in the system (a flush will flush out crud)
- A worn out water pump
- Collapsed hoses. (A collapsed hose will look OK, but to the touch will fell squishy and very soft. That's because it has collapsed internally blocking coolant flow. I have only ever had this happen to me once.
- A sticking T-Stat. (that said I believe most failsafe to open rather than closed, so a stuck Tstat would more likely cause an engine to run cool rather than hot.
Hope this helps

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Old 10-04-2015, 11:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

I think the fact that heater cores are always open for full coolant flow and the water pump always running with the engine running ensures coolant purging automatically regardless of t-stat position. Full coolant flow to the heater core allows any air in a system to move with coolant until it returns to the surge tank. Pumping coolant 100% of the time thru heater cores allows purging 99% of any air. A drive around the block or letting an engine fully warm up to observe the temperature gauge move into normal position should be where the t-stat cycles to allow more coolant flow. The blower doesn't need to be turned on except to ensure hot air flows out as a sign of an unblocked heater core or hoses.

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Old 10-04-2015, 05:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I think the fact that heater cores are always open for full coolant flow and the water pump always running with the engine running ensures coolant purging automatically regardless of t-stat position. Full coolant flow to the heater core allows any air in a system to move with coolant until it returns to the surge tank. Pumping coolant 100% of the time thru heater cores allows purging 99% of any air. A drive around the block or letting an engine fully warm up to observe the temperature gauge move into normal position should be where the t-stat cycles to allow more coolant flow. The blower doesn't need to be turned on except to ensure hot air flows out as a sign of an unblocked heater core or hoses.
I've been doing it the way I described for over 40 years. Several other forums I am on also subscribe to the same method. I give posters information and let them decide rather than critique other posters contributions. I have a hard time working out this forum at times.

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Old 10-04-2015, 05:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

Well, there's a world of difference between radiators 40 years ago using steel radiator caps with overflow tanks and improved cooling systems using the surge tank as part of the pressurized system. Some older systems had shut off valves for the heater core that contributed to holding old coolant and air if not opened during a flush. Since Saturn and most likely all GM cooling systems threw away the heater shutoff valve and incorporated surge tanks as part of the pressurized system with the old radiator cap replaced with a plastic one on the coolant container, self purging of air is almost a no brainer. Older cooling systems needed manual purging. Closed systems like Saturns are less likely to have issues. I can relate to this because I had my doubts when I replaced antifreeze in my L300 but was impressed at how simple a drain, flush and new coolant resulted in less concern about air. As I recall, as soon As I topped off make up water while idling, there wasn't any need to top off the next day. The difference between old cooling systems and Saturns is the continuous circulation of coolant thru the heater core. Its rare to have complaints about air in Saturn cooling systems. A testament to how easy it is to replace coolant without concern about air in a system. It will be interesting to hear from the OP why his system is retaining air.

Last edited by fdryer; 10-04-2015 at 05:56 PM..

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Old 10-04-2015, 06:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

^^ 100% agreement with your advice on this. Burping is really only an issue on the much older cars. Much older than the Saturn brand anyway.

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Old 10-04-2015, 07:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

the wife's 2002 l200 blew the upper hose i think over the summer...had to buy the 3 hose set lol...once put back together i filled and had no issue at all...no "burping" needed...i do recall older cars needing to do that and some even had a air nipple or whatever it was just for doing this...

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Old 10-04-2015, 10:46 PM   #11
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Default Re: Unable to refill cooling system

Quote:
Originally Posted by fhallest View Post
My Saturn L200 2002 started to overheat after recently changing the radiator on this vehicle. I assumed it was air in the system and tried to bleed the air out but I could not get any air out of the system. It will not take antifreeze from the surge tank even when engine is at normal operating temps. I know the system is not full to capacity and cannot fill the cooling system completely. I have been looking at the temp gauge in the vehicle but with air in the system can I trust this gauge?
If you trusted the temperature gauge prior to the radiator replacement then it's likely that it can still be trusted now. If you're truly in doubt you could always replace the coolant temp sensor. I would expect, however, that you won't see any significant difference in the reading at the gauge.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fhallest View Post
In addition I replaced the thermostat as the old one was working but not as well as the new one I installed.
That was a good thing to do. Could the thermostat be, as billysvue asked, installed backwards?
Quote:
Originally Posted by fhallest View Post
I have tried pumping radiator hoses with no success.
I found this to be useful when performing cooling system drains and replacing the radiator as well. The hose which should be pumped is the upper radiator hose. Did you see no movement of coolant inside of the surge tank while squeezing and releasing that hose? What brand of radiator did you purchase?

As mentioned previously by fdryer, the heater core has coolant constantly flowing through it so that running the heater while attempting purge air from the cooling system is unnecessary.

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