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Old 03-19-2007, 12:05 PM   #1
e1geo
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Default coolant overflow after turning engine off

I have a 98 Saturn -- I do not know what model as I cannot find that information anywhere on the body. Every once in a while a lot of coolant overflows after I shut the engine off. When this happens does not seem to be related to the length of time I have been driving or to anything else I can figure out. I had the thermostat replaced. Anyone have any thoughts about how to fix this problem? Thanks.

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Old 03-19-2007, 12:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

I presume it overflows from the resevoir. Sounds like either the cap is bad or not on correctly. Does it ever overflow while it is running?

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Old 03-19-2007, 01:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

This is not that unusual because engine temp actually rises for a few minutes after a hot shutdown and given the lax timing of cooling fan the coolant can be close to 230 at shut down and the extra heat pops it off sometimes.

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Old 03-19-2007, 02:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky King View Post
I presume it overflows from the resevoir. Sounds like either the cap is bad or not on correctly. Does it ever overflow while it is running?
Hard to tell if it overflows while running -- I do not think so. I am ordering a new cap as that would be a cheap fix -- thanks for the suggestion.

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Old 03-19-2007, 02:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Do not order a cap...just go to any Pepboys, Kragen, Autozone, etc...and buy it there.

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Old 03-19-2007, 03:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

The question begs to be asked...is this an SL/SC 1, or an SL/SC 2 ?

And is the coolant overflowing out CLEAN or a brown milkshake like goo?

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Old 03-19-2007, 03:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Quote:
Originally Posted by e1geo View Post
I do not know what model as I cannot find that information anywhere on the body.
The model is on the title. You can also find out by typing the VIN into carfax (one step before paying for it).

Does the temp gauge read as expected? Does the cooling fan ever come on when the engine gets hot?

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Old 03-19-2007, 03:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman View Post
The question begs to be asked...is this an SL/SC 1, or an SL/SC 2 ?

And is the coolant overflowing out CLEAN or a brown milkshake like goo?
Coolent is clean -- probably not the head gasket. Oil looks OK too. I will figure out the model with the tips provided -- thanks.

Temp gage reads fine, fan comes on, replaced thermostat -- the shop does not know what the problem is but has gone through the usual diagnostics.

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Old 03-19-2007, 04:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Quote:
Originally Posted by e1geo View Post
Coolent is clean -- probably not the head gasket. Oil looks OK too. I will figure out the model with the tips provided -- thanks.

Temp gage reads fine, fan comes on, replaced thermostat -- the shop does not know what the problem is but has gone through the usual diagnostics.
Like I said this is not unusual. You could increase coolant concentration too as that raise boiling point of mixture and improves heat transfer from engine to coolant too. (Glycol is densor and can absorb more heat per gallon of liquid than water can which many do not realize)

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Old 03-19-2007, 05:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

That being the case, the SL, SL1 and SL2 of ANY GIVEN MODEL YEAR use the SAME resevoir cap. Be sure to only remove and more importantly install the new cap ONLY on a stone COLD engine.

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Old 08-27-2011, 02:34 PM   #11
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

I have a 1995 Saturn SL1 that does the same thing. It sometimes overflows, and sometimes doesn't. It just started a couple of months ago. I've been driving with the air conditioner on at all times to keep the fan going, although I think it is kicking on when it should anyway but I want to be sure that it's running, but it still overflows. The first few times it happened the A/C was not on, so that's not the problem.

It has only done it after I stop except for yesterday. I was on a long road trip and it had done well until I was about an hour from home (after driving about 4 1/2 hours with three stops where it might have overflowed some - I checked the first and last stop, but forgot at the middle one), when the light began flashing that the coolant was low.

The gauge never shows that it's overheating, even when I notice the overflow on the ground and check the temp.

I don't understand how a cap could be the problem, unless it overflows every time you drive the car. Also, do you mean the radiator cap or the overflow cap? Also, it never seems that the top of either, around the cap is wet.

It seems that it has something to do with the car continuing to heat after it's turned off, but the gauge can be around or below a quarter of the way and it still happens

Any ideas? Hopefully, with an explanation of why it might be that. I have to go to a funeral in a couple of days, and I'd really like for this to be fixed by then.

Thanks for any advice you might have!

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Old 08-27-2011, 02:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Oh, and this started about 3 or 4 months after I had the radiator replaced. Those first months were mostly winter months, but it did get pretty hot for a while before the first time it happened, or at least the first time enough was lost to cause the low coolant light to come on.

Thanks again!

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Old 08-27-2011, 02:47 PM   #13
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

My reservoir cap (there is no radiator cap on these cars) is still original and working fine. But, from what I've read here, it is not unusual for the caps to wear out. Since it is a pressurized system, the cap needs to work correctly. Try buying a new one - it is a $7 part from what I hear.

Others will chime in if I'm wrong.

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Old 08-28-2011, 02:39 AM   #14
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelly View Post
I don't understand how a cap could be the problem, unless it overflows every time you drive the car. Also, do you mean the radiator cap or the overflow cap?
The reservoir cap is part of the problem. Low coolant concentration may be your other issue.

The cap creates an airtight seal to the coolant system. I am sure you have heard of water boiling at a lower temp in places of high elevation? Well, the cap works using the same concept.

The cap allows pressure to build in the coolant system which raises the boiling temperature of the coolant. So if the cap does not seal properly, allowing the outside air pressure to equalize with the coolant system, you are more susceptible to coolant boil over and your system is not working as designed. If you ever hear your reservoir cap buzzing, replace it.

The second factor to thwart off boil over is making sure the level of antifreeze is at least 50% when your coolant type is ethylene glycol and 60% if the type is propylene glycol. The antifreeze also raises the boiling temp of the coolant fluid.

So when you combine the two effects of a pressurized system with that of minimum antifreeze concentration your car will do fine avoiding any coolant boil overs.

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Old 08-30-2011, 01:07 AM   #15
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

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Originally Posted by 97coupe View Post
Like I said this is not unusual. You could increase coolant concentration too as that raise boiling point of mixture and improves heat transfer from engine to coolant too. (Glycol is densor and can absorb more heat per gallon of liquid than water can which many do not realize)
This is not correct. Glycol at +95C has less then 70% the specific heat capacity of water, and it is less able to transfer that heat, so even though glycol will boil over at a higher temperature, you will still overheat your car.

DO NOT use a 100% glycol solution in an automobile engine.

http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/et...col-d_146.html

P.

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Old 02-12-2013, 01:36 PM   #16
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

I know this is an old thread but I'm having a similar issue.

I have a 2001 Saturn sl2, I have replaced the leaky water pump and overflow (radiator cap) I can drive for about 3 weeks and out of the blue I get steam rising out of the passenger side. Last time it happened, I replaced the cap only.

Today it happened again and I heard a gurgling sound but was unable to pinpoint the location. I want to say on the driver side but not 100% sure. I havent' checked the coolant levels yet but will before I leave work.

I had coolant all over the coolant tank.

Other than taking it in to have someone find the leak, any ideas? Should I just replace the tank?

I'm not finding any leaks on the ground or anywhere else. I followed a guide in a different thread but still can't find any leaks.
I have not replaced the ECTS and it looks like it hasn't been replaced previously. I know I should do that as well and will eventually.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Last edited by rdfsc; 02-12-2013 at 01:48 PM..

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Old 02-12-2013, 08:02 PM   #17
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Some more info would be helpful. What is your temp gauge showing when the overflow takes place? Is it way above the halfway mark? Where is the steam coming out? What are your driving patterns immediately before the overheating?

Does your fan come on at all? Flip your AC on while the engine is running and the fan should turn on and run continuously. You can also test the fan motor by pulling out the wire connector and jumping it directly from the battery. If you are only getting occasional overheating in the winter, there is a possibility the fan motor is shot and sitting still or going very slow in traffic for extended periods could be causing overheating.

You could have intermittent thermostat problems although they usually lock open versus closed. Still might be worth checking if the fan is okay.

There are other suggestions earlier in this thread concerning the cap.

By all means, replace that ECTS. And do it sooner rather than later as it can mess up a lot of things including the readings on your temp gauge.

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Old 02-12-2013, 10:45 PM   #18
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Default Re: coolant overflow after turning engine off

Lets see, it gets up between the 1/4 to half way mark before the steam starts to come out. The fan does come one as well so I do know that works. The steam is coming out the right passenger side. This has been an on going battle. I bought it back in December unaware of the problem. I'll triple check the fan when I get up in the morning. I am 99% sure it's ok since it has come on in the past before.

Tonight when sitting in the taco bell drive through the temp gage was rising and the coolant steam was coming out close to the halfway mark. I did notice the fan did come one as well. I am in California so I don't have too may problems with winter weather. I have previously filled it up with coolant before driving from work.

My driving pattern is basically to and from work between 70-80 mpg. Driving distance is only 17 miles and 20 minutes away from my place.

I have replaced the cap and it lasted for approx. 3 weeks then this happens again.

I did buy the ECTS from Autozone and have a Reservoir coming from Amazon by thursday. Autozone didn't have one instock so I took the part number and found one there. I'll be replacing both of them over the weekend so hopefully this will fix it.

I'll re-read the thread about the cap but since I replaced it, I would think that would cover most of those issues.

Thanks again for your help.

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