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Old 11-27-2009, 07:46 PM   #1
jerrylab
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Default Getting only cold air out of vents

I have a 2001 SL2 with a 1.9L I4 SFI/SPI twin cam 16-valve engine. The engine is operating at normal temperature according to the temp gauge but I was getting very little heat inside the cab. I took the vehicle to a bona fide Saturn mechanic for an unrelated repair who told me that engine flushes fix this problem 90% of the time. I took it to VIOC for a radiator flush to save $20, the difference between a real mechanic doing the work and the kid at VIOC. Now, I get absolutely no heat at all and winter is bearing down on me. Serves me right, I know!
One option is to take it back to the Saturn mechanic. My other option is to ask another Saturn owner who has already lived this experience so see what he had to do to fix their problem. Iím somewhat mechanically inclined and Iím probably capable of replacing the heater core even though I dread the thought. It will take me a month but I hear Iíll save $1000 or so in labor.
Hereís some additional info that may be related to the problem. Since this is my daughterís vehicle, the only time I hear from her is when something is wrong. She recently drove off the side of the road and struck a small utility box which damaged her radiator. The bottom of the radiator was bent back a bit and only a minor leak resulted. It amounted to one drop every minute. I put a bottle of stop-leak in the radiator reservoir and the leak stopped immediately. She doesnít recall if there was a heating problem before this because the weather was warmer. Thanks for any advice you might have.

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Old 11-27-2009, 07:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Getting only cold air out of vents

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrylab View Post
I put a bottle of stop-leak in the radiator reservoir
I found your problem. Stop leak is evil - you should have replaced the damaged radiator. Now you have crap coating everything in your cooling system, and no simple way to get it out. I can't tell you the best way to fix the heating problem. It may be that the heater core is now junk because of the stop leak, but I don't know if replacing it would fix it, or if the junk would just re-coat the new core.

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Old 11-27-2009, 08:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: Getting only cold air out of vents

Do you think the stop leak is responsible for what happened while the engine was being flushed out. The heat output at the vents went from a little bit to zero?

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Old 11-27-2009, 09:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: Getting only cold air out of vents

it's possible, as we don't know what the kid actually did at VIOC. The stop-leak may have gunked up the heater core, and his flush may have finished gunking it up.

You may be able to fix this by back-flushing the whole system. You may need to carefully backflush the heater core. Then replace the radiator if it's leaking.

I believe there is a flap under the dash, too, which controls air-flow that you'll want to be sure is working.

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Old 11-28-2009, 02:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: Getting only cold air out of vents

I, too, have the same problem. I was too stupid, too lazy, too cheap or all the above to replace the radiator and tried a band aid fix with a bottle of $14.99 Stop Leak. That seemed to work for about the next 50 miles down the road. I was in discussion about this with a guy in my Linux Users Group (he does all his repairs on his 4 vehicles). He told me about a new product, actually, its an engine block sealer. I tried that, too. It worked about 25 miles more than the Stop Leak.

I finally had the radiator replaced. Prior to the radiator replacement I still had heat. Winter arrived here in northeast Ohio mid October. With the new radiator and new coolant I have little to no heat. I find that using the recirculator gives some heat but not enough to heat the passenger compartment to a comfortable level. Last night the temperature dipped below freezing and I was chilled to the bone. The mechanic's thermometer I have in the center dash vents showed 90 degrees F, but the comfort level was no where near that temperature. I am hopeful that replacing the thermostat may solve the problem, but I think that I will most probably have to replace the heater core. Its probably clogged by the engine block sealer.

I won't use that crap again.

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