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Old 01-08-2010, 12:14 AM   #1
sclieu
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Default water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Hi,

Both the water temperature and the water level dashboard lights are blinking constantly when engine is on. The analog water temperature gauge seems to be working and I'm not overheating. I assume this means my thermostat is working, and that some electronic sensor is broken?

Anyone know what common components these 2 lights share? As far as I'm aware, there's the coolant temperature sensor, and I replaced mine about a year ago (used), but does this sensor detect both water temp as well as the water level??

I plan on replacing my slow leaking radiator this weekend, and have also ordered the coolant temp sensor, but is there something else I need to look at?

1999 SC1

Thanks.

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Old 01-08-2010, 12:20 AM   #2
adventureoflink
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1997 SL2
Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

BINGO. you hit the nail on the head with LEAKING RADIATOR. Get it fixed by REPLACING the radiator. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, use any kind of a stop-leak product.

With that being said, those two lights flashing indicate low coolant. If you still leak coolant, even after fixing the radiator, pressure test the system. Be sure to check these areas:

1) water pump (it's near the right passenger side tire, and also goes out with the radiator after 10-12 years)
2) heater core (on the bottom rear of the console, feel around the passenger side, or see if you get a sweet smell like coolant in the cab or a fogged windshield)
3) hoses (Self-explanatory, one comes from the block into the lower radiator (thermostat is in this hose), and the other goes from the block to the upper radiator)
4) head gasket (Can be assumed if you don't have any visible leaks)

If you're full of coolant and the light still flashes, consider cleaning the reservior, Richpin has a video on it.

The ECTS only measures water/coolant temperature. It also is a key part in various other parts of the car's operation.

Oh yeah, when you do your ECTS, be sure that:

1) you have the brass tipped one
and 2) check the connector for green corrosion. if any is there, clean it or replace it.

...
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Date Obtained: 5/30/07
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Last edited by adventureoflink; 01-08-2010 at 12:30 AM..

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Old 01-08-2010, 12:47 AM   #3
sclieu
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Holy fast response! This forum is AWESOME!!

The lights blink even though the coolant reservoir is full.

I will definitely replace the radiator...the part already came to my door. No way I'm using any of that stop-leak crap.

Can you tell me what senses the water level? Is there a sensor in the reservoir? I will definitely check out the video and clean out the reservoir.

I already ordered the temp sensor... it's specifically for our cars, so I hope it's the brass-tipped one you mentioned.

The odd thing about my radiator leak is that I can only detect the leak when the car is off. For example, if I park overnight, the next day, there's a small puddle. However, after driving for awhile, I do not see any hot steam shooting out from anywhere. I would expect that if there's a leak in the radiator core, that once the water gets really hot and the pressure builds, that I should see water vapors shooting out from somewhere....but I have not been able to detect it.

Thanks for the tip and I'll give an update after I replace the radiato and temp sensor, and clean the reservoir.

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Old 01-08-2010, 01:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

No problem.

Also there's a float in your reservior that detects the coolant level. It tends to stick every so often. FWIW, its best to clean it every time you flush your coolant.

Also, its best to change out the reservior cap when you change the radiator.

...
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DOB: 3/19/97
Date Obtained: 5/30/07
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Quote:
Originally Posted by adventureoflink View Post

also there's a float in your reservior that detects the coolant level. It tends to stick every so often. Fwiw, its best to clean it every time you flush your coolant.

+1^^^^

...
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:56 AM   #6
alordofchaos
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Quote:
Originally Posted by sclieu View Post
Holy fast response! This forum is AWESOME!!
Yes, yes it is
Quote:
The odd thing about my radiator leak is that I can only detect the leak when the car is off. For example, if I park overnight, the next day, there's a small puddle. However, after driving for awhile, I do not see any hot steam shooting out from anywhere. I would expect that if there's a leak in the radiator core, that once the water gets really hot and the pressure builds, that I should see water vapors shooting out from somewhere....but I have not been able to detect it.
Two theories

1) crack is in the plastic art of radiator. Once warmed up, the parts expand and seal the crack. Once cooled, the plastic around the crack contracts back and the pressurized coolant seeps out.

2) When in operation, your coolant temp should average around 210-220F or so as it's circulating (don't recall the exact temp offhand). The thermostat will close and open and the fans turn on and off to get to this temp quickly, and keep it around there. It pressurizes to about 15 psi in normal operation. Once the engine is turned off, the coolant stops circulating and your engine experiences heat soak - the hot areas around the combustion chambers heat the surrounding coolant to higher than normal temps as it is no longer circulating. This raises the pressure in the system and it seeps out at the area of least resistance, a hairline crack.

Maybe some combination of the two?

...
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Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p
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And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 01-08-2010, 11:45 AM   #7
dcp
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Yes,sometimes leaks can be hard to find

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Old 01-08-2010, 11:47 AM   #8
ohthathurts
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Quote:
Originally Posted by sclieu View Post
Holy fast response! This forum is AWESOME!!

The lights blink even though the coolant reservoir is full.

I will definitely replace the radiator...the part already came to my door. No way I'm using any of that stop-leak crap.

Can you tell me what senses the water level? Is there a sensor in the reservoir? I will definitely check out the video and clean out the reservoir.

I already ordered the temp sensor... it's specifically for our cars, so I hope it's the brass-tipped one you mentioned.

The odd thing about my radiator leak is that I can only detect the leak when the car is off. For example, if I park overnight, the next day, there's a small puddle. However, after driving for awhile, I do not see any hot steam shooting out from anywhere. I would expect that if there's a leak in the radiator core, that once the water gets really hot and the pressure builds, that I should see water vapors shooting out from somewhere....but I have not been able to detect it.

Thanks for the tip and I'll give an update after I replace the radiato and temp sensor, and clean the reservoir.
funny my sl2 did that right before catastrophic failure of the radiator got it fixed then after driving it home lo and behold this one was faulty side of it burst they fixed it free of charge and now im fine btw that float is a nuisance i had to clean mine every 300 miles the first 3 weeks after getting the new radiator could justve been mine idk >.>

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Old 01-08-2010, 01:42 PM   #9
DonP
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

See My Photos for an image of a typical radiator driver side end tank crack.

Coolant does not have to be very low for the lights to flash.

Not unheard of for the sensor connection (under the reservoir) to be disconnected or leads cut on cars that have been worked on recently.

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Old 01-10-2010, 07:37 PM   #10
sclieu
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Ok...problem fixed.

I replaced the radiator and temperature sensor. I also took out the coolant reservoir and used an ohm meter to conclude that the floaty thinging was stuck. I banged it against pavement a few times and it got 'unstuck'.

Put everything back in and no more blinking lights, and gauge works better than before.

BTW, the leak I had was from the plastic part of the radiator. Total cost of parts was about $95.

Thanks for everyone's help.

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Old 01-11-2010, 08:15 AM   #11
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

Good the hear it is working. While you had the reservoir off, I trust you cleaned it out to reduce the chance of sticking again in the near future.

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Old 01-11-2010, 12:55 PM   #12
sclieu
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

All I did was took a strong hose to it, and a lot of build up dirt did come out (water was brown for awhile ). Since it's all sealed up, I'm not sure what else I could have done. put in some degreaser or something???

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Old 01-12-2010, 08:18 AM   #13
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Default Re: water temp light and water level lights are blinking

What you did may be sufficient. If it recurs try cleaning by adding some of dishwasher detergent, shake for a while, then rinse thoroughly.

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