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Old 02-11-2014, 10:37 AM   #1
jacob0008
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Default new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

last week my 2001 sl1 wouldn't start. it had been slowly getting harder and harder to start... likely due to the cold weather (see my first thread), i reset the PCM and it started right up, for a few days.

i got a "scan gauge ii" to help try to keep the saturn alive and had noticed the engine wasn't warming up much above 130. i replaced the thermostat, and the test drive got the engine up to 195-200 (that's reading from the ects, right?), so i was very happy. also, heat, wow, forgot about that feature.

so today i got a p0172 code, and the saturn is currently putting the coolant on the parking garage floor.

my commute is only 4 miles, stop and go, but the MPGs have at some point in the past dropped to around 22, i think i was getting 28 as recently as two years ago. so i replaced the ECTS, replaced the EGR valve (that cleared a code, i think p0404) cleaned the throttle body and replaced the air intake control sensor, replaced the intake manifold gasket (that fixed the bad idle speed), and now the thermostat.

so now with my new problems i start with the coolant, after verifying that i properly connected the thermostat and replaced the drain plug (pretty confident about that) where will my newly hot coolant have found a leak (and don't say water pump).

i'm also reading the "elusive p0172 code" thread and am wondering how to diagnose a "clogged exhaust" which feels like something that could be wrong on this car.

thanks for any help, hints or tips!
Jacob

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Old 02-11-2014, 10:44 AM   #2
SL19302
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob0008 View Post
last week my 2001 sl1 wouldn't start. it had been slowly getting harder and harder to start... likely due to the cold weather (see my first thread), i reset the PCM and it started right up, for a few days.

i got a "scan gauge ii" to help try to keep the saturn alive and had noticed the engine wasn't warming up much above 130. i replaced the thermostat, and the test drive got the engine up to 195-200 (that's reading from the ects, right?), so i was very happy. also, heat, wow, forgot about that feature.

so today i got a p0172 code, and the saturn is currently putting the coolant on the parking garage floor.

my commute is only 4 miles, stop and go, but the MPGs have at some point in the past dropped to around 22, i think i was getting 28 as recently as two years ago. so i replaced the ECTS, replaced the EGR valve (that cleared a code, i think p0404) cleaned the throttle body and replaced the air intake control sensor, replaced the intake manifold gasket (that fixed the bad idle speed), and now the thermostat.

so now with my new problems i start with the coolant, after verifying that i properly connected the thermostat and replaced the drain plug (pretty confident about that) where will my newly hot coolant have found a leak (and don't say water pump).

i'm also reading the "elusive p0172 code" thread and am wondering how to diagnose a "clogged exhaust" which feels like something that could be wrong on this car.

thanks for any help, hints or tips!
Jacob
First of all, Make sure the T-Stat housing isnt leaking from the O-ring you should have got a new one with your new Thermostat when you replaced it, Also if you removed the bottom radiator hose off the thermostat housing make sure the clamp is on tight, If it didnt leak coolant before the Thermostat job it shouldnt be now, Another place to check for a coolant leak is the driverside plastic radiator tank, These usually crack just below the botton of the top radiator hose, To diagnose a clogged Exhaust temporarily remove the O2 sensor out of the exhaust manifold and take the vehical for a ride, It will be rather loud so dont be alarmed, If the Converter is clogged the engine will be able to run correctly right again being you gave the exhaust a place to exit.

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Old 02-11-2014, 10:52 AM   #3
caliber bob
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

Start your car and get underneath it to see if you can visualize where the leak is coming from. You may have to wait for it to get up to operating temp first. It seems weird that this started after you changed the thermostat. Did you overfill your coolant?

BJ

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Old 02-11-2014, 11:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

Your '01 is now an old car and old cars start announcing their age. If you search enough threads you'll see recurring themes of 10yr old radiators giving up, heater cores clogging, coolant fittings deteriorating, etc.. Whether you want to acknowledge or not, cooling systems age and deteriorate so water pumps, t-stats, hoses and caps are wear items. Radiators spring leaks at the top xmission oil fitting or from weakened side tanks. What makes this more a problem is replacing your old t-stat with a new one that now allows coolant to reach ideal operating temperatures that also raised pressures - where any weakened parts give away to reveal wear.

Once parts are replaced, your cooling system will be restored to factory condition and shouldn't give you any more problems. Think of this as long term maintenance requirements for long term reliability.

The scan tool displaying actual coolant temps are directly from the pcm/coolant sensor and one of the features of using a reader.

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Old 02-11-2014, 11:03 AM   #5
jacob0008
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

thanks for the tips sl19302. i did look at the thermostat housing this morning and didn't see any signs of leaking there, but i did reuse the old gasket and loosen and tighten the hose clamp to get at the housing bolts so i'll double check later. the puddle forming right now it closer to the middle of the car almost directly below the exhaust manifold.

bob, i don't think i overfilled the coolant, but the expansion tank is empty now so i guess i'll have another shot at getting the level right.

i forgot to ask, is it likely that the code i got and the leaking coolant are actually unrelated?

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Old 02-11-2014, 11:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

thank you fdryer, i appreciate the response. i decided to try to keep this saturn maintained and running myself in part because of this forum, and because up to now it's been kind of fun.

so i appreciate the help, in particular here the reminder that increased temperature also means increased pressure. that gives me a stronger sense of what i am looking for and less despair that i broke the car by replacing the t-stat.

all the newbies like me want is a little confidence that the fixes we try get us back on the road towards long term reliability.

cheers.

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Old 02-11-2014, 11:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

Get the car running. Stand to the left of the engine. Is there water spraying up at you? Water pump leak.

Wrap some kitchen paper around the thermostat housing. Does it get wet?

Check the bottom of each hose. Feel damp? Either split hose or clamp loose.

Check the return hose (back of the engine going back into the coolant resevoir). If its cold then you have a blockage.

Check the stop cock on bottom of the radiator (left). Is it dripping? New stop cock required.

Check the radiator on the right. See any cracks? New radiator needed.

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Old 02-11-2014, 11:51 AM   #8
Jim97sl2
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

Check the thermostat housing flange, the hose clamps (Both ends) and the drain valve if you used that as well. Mine leaked a little at first and it was the thermostat housing hose on the other radiator end (which oddly enough I didn't loosen) and the drain valve. I didn't want to use too much force on the drain valve to prevent breakage so I snugged it then tightened it again after a day or so.

It would be prudent to check all hoses as there will more pressure in the cooling system with it operating at normal operating temp as apposed to the 130-ish degrees you had before. This is why my hose didn't leak before I changed my thermostat. Also with the higher pressure you may notice a leak in the radiator end caps that may not have been there before. This is a common failure due to the plastic drying out. Not to scare you, just thought it was worth a mention especially if the hoses and flange are not the source of the leak. You can reuse the gasket if it was in good condition but at 13 years old I personally would have changed it.

On another note unrelated to the leak, I would inspect your plugs.If your operating temp was that low (as mine was) you have a good chance of carbon build up on the plugs from both running rich and cool from the old thermostat not closing.

Hope this helps,

Jim

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Old 02-11-2014, 12:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

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Originally Posted by jacob0008 View Post
....all the newbies like me want is a little confidence that the fixes we try get us back on the road towards long term reliability.....
By and large, Saturnfans isn't just a following (cult?) but a membership of car owners willing to maintain their own vehicles at reasonable cost. If this translates to cheap/thrifty, so be it. On the Astra forum, members there are crying (understandable too) about replacing their failed ignition coil packs with dealer prices well over $400. ebay; $67. The few trying this were rewarded with an instant repair with far lower cost against ridiculously over priced parts. Even beating out competitive pricing at most online distributors.

You're not alone sharing successful repairs as this is the main reason Saturnfans (may) outdistance other forums - willingness to share info/experiences to gain some advantage on personal repairs to keep costs down.

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Old 02-11-2014, 12:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

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Originally Posted by Jim97sl2 View Post
Check the thermostat housing flange, the hose clamps (Both ends) and the drain valve if you used that as well.
I can't call myself a newbie anymore, but I can still make newbie mistakes.

My leak happened several months after I replaced my thermostat. I thought I was victim of "replace X in the cooling system, part Y breaks" Based on where the coolant was puddling, was positive it was the water pump, so I bought a new water pump. Pulled off the pulley... was bone dry.

Felt around, realized my leak was at the hose from the radiator to the thermostat housing. Felt tight, but you have to push the hose all the way to the triangle marking on the thermostat housing. Did that, retightened, no leak. And on the plus side, when my water pump really did start leaking 6 months or so later, had a new one waiting on the shelf

Clear the P0172 and see if it comes back.

Sometime in the morning, with a cold engine, check the air temp, and coolant temp, as reported by your scangauge. Should be within 5F degrees of each other, and close to the real temp. Also make sure the air pressure reading is correct for your area/elevation

May also want to invest in a Klean Screen type filter to protect the new EGR

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Last edited by alordofchaos; 02-11-2014 at 12:53 PM..

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Old 02-12-2014, 09:41 AM   #11
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Default Re: new thermostat, now leaking coolant, getting p0172

Also check the drain bolt under thermostat as well.

Jim

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