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Old 09-01-2016, 12:24 AM   #1
Terrien
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Dizzy Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

Hi Folks, long time reader but new member here. I have been battling the dreaded coolant reservoir overflowing problem for over a month now and all of the advice in these posts has helped me a long way, but I'm still not there yet.

Lets start with the basics: 1996 Saturn SC1 4cyl Manual Transmission. Needless to say, plenty of miles on it, 180,000+.

I blew out the water pump a while back and since then I have replaced with brand new parts from Rock Auto : Water Pump and gasket, thermostat 195 degree with gasket ring, CTS (yes I have the shiny flat brass one now), ALL new hoses for the cooling system, a brand new coolant reservoir and cap, new *properly gaped* spark plugs, plug wires, and the cooling fan relay.

I had a problem with the cooling fan not turning on when it was supposed to. I solved this by taking the hot lead from the AC compressor and splicing it to the positive connection at the fan motor *now the A/C button is a manual cooling fan button*. This also allows the fan to run like normal when hot even after I shut the car off.

My problem is this. I STILL have coolant boiling over from the reservoir. As far as I can tell it only spills over after I turn off the car, but the cooling fan is still running... I'm kinda at my wits ends here and I really need to get the Saturn running decently so I can fix my dying van. Let me know what you think, or if you need more information *like the fact that the temperature gauge stays between and ideal 3/8's and 1/2, but never gets much more than that*. Thank you.

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Old 09-01-2016, 09:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

1-Does a/c work or is it dead? You may have created additional problems. If a/c doesn't work, the cooling fan will not run, period.

2-Does the heater work when blower is turned on and full heat is selected?

A partial reprint from the service manual;

Under normal operating conditions, the cooling fan motor operates whenever the ECT is greater than 105.5C (222F) or the A/C relay is commanded ON below 113 km/h (70 mph). The cooling fan motor will turn OFF when the temperature drops below 100C (212F). If the engine is turned OFF and the ECT is above 107C (225F), the cooling fan motor can run up to 4 minutes or run until the ECT drops below 107C (225F) with the ignition OFF. If a low/high ECT circuit fault resulting in DTC P0117 or P0118 is set, the PCM will command the cooling fan relay ON to protect the engine and transaxle until the condition is corrected.

The Saturn cooling system has two unique features, a coolant surge tank and an inlet side thermostat. The system is filled through the pressure cap and doesn't require any bleeding. Flow from the tank fills the engine cylinder block, radiator, heater core, and hoses.

During engine operation with the thermostat closed, coolant is pumped through the cylinder block, cylinder head, heater core inlet hose, heater core, heater outlet hose, and back to the thermostat housing. Coolant flows past the thermostat element and back to the water pump inlet. Some coolant is routed back through the engine block to the thermostat cavity. A thermostat by-pass valve controls return coolant flow through the cylinder block and dampens sudden coolant pressure surges by venting coolant back to the water pump suction side.

When the thermostat begins to open the by-pass valve begins to close the cylinder block passage. Coolant flow is then routed from the pump through the cylinder block, head, heater inlet, heater core, heater outlet, and back to the cylinder block. Coolant is also routed through the upper radiator hose, radiator core, lower or outlet radiator hose past the thermostat to the water pump. Coolant flow from the heater return and lower radiator hose wash the thermostat element, thus regulating coolant flow through the lower radiator hose and to the water pump.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg cooling system.jpg (157.6 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg coolant surge tank.jpg (128.7 KB, 4 views)

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Old 09-01-2016, 10:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

I'd suppose that if you've done your searching here in SaturnFans regarding the overflow of antifreeze then you came across this recent thread. Unfortunately for the OP the outcome went badly.

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=222545

There is an item called "Block Tester" which is used to detect engine gases within the cooling system. Other brands are also available. More basic information is within the link.

http://www.blocktester.com/

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Old 09-01-2016, 04:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
1-Does a/c work or is it dead? You may have created additional problems. If a/c doesn't work, the cooling fan will not run, period.

The AC blower worked, but compressor was shot and refrigerant lines would leak out in days. I just took the hot lead off the compressor and spliced it into the fan motor power wire. (I modified an a technique i read about in these forums) Now when i push my AC button in the HVAC console, it manually engages the cooling fan. The fan still operates as it should normally, but living in Arizona I wanted a manual option to prevent it from overheating while idling in traffic on a 118 degree day.

2-Does the heater work when blower is turned on and full heat is selected?
Yes, The heater does work.
. [/I]
I can see coolant circulating into the reservoir tank shortly after the engine starts (about one to three minutes) after about 15 minutes of idling I can see little whisps of white smoke/vapor from around the reservoir tank, but I assume that is the spilled coolant cooking off.

I initially thought my problem was that the cooling fan was not running properly, but even with the manual override and keeping the fan on the whole time, a 5 minute drive still causes the coolant to boil over from the reservoir. I do not know if it is boiling over while driving, but i usually see it as soon as I stop the car and open the hood. You suspect that it could be combustion gasses entering the cooling system?

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Old 09-01-2016, 04:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pierrot View Post
I'd suppose that if you've done your searching here in SaturnFans regarding the overflow of antifreeze then you came across this recent thread. Unfortunately for the OP the outcome went badly.


I read that post and got a little discouraged, but we bought our Saturn outright for cash $1,400. So far I've put another $800 into it, everything from shift linkage to power window motors and lately the *damn near* entire cooling system. I'm stubborn and cheep, this car owes me at least 50K miles before i'm done with it, because Lord knows I'll never get the money I have put into it back out any other way. I am all ears for any help finding a solution to this.

I am not a mechanic by choice. I really dislike working on cars. I especially dislike troubleshooting things I though I had already fixed 4 times. My G/F has repeatedly accused me of "throwing parts at the problem" and wasting money. I appreciate your expertise.

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Old 09-01-2016, 07:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrien View Post
......1996 Saturn SC1 4cyl Manual Transmission. Needless to say, plenty of miles on it, 180,000+.

I blew out the water pump a while back...... Water Pump and gasket, thermostat 195 degree with gasket ring, CTS (yes I have the shiny flat brass one now), ALL new hoses for the cooling system, a brand new coolant reservoir and cap, new *properly gaped* spark plugs, plug wires, and the cooling fan relay. .......
I'll ask again, does a/c work or not? Please read and answer this question posted previously as it has a direct effect on circuits that may be damaged from custom wiring and/or give a false sense of confidence in a temporary solution that doesn't work. Since no one here is standing next to you or the car, you are the only one to describe in detail symptoms and replies to questions put forth on public message boards. No replies to questions = further delays in assistance to anyone trying to help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrien View Post
........ we bought our Saturn outright for cash $1,400. So far I've put another $800 into it, everything from shift linkage to power window motors and lately the *damn near* entire cooling system. I'm stubborn and cheep, this car owes me at least 50K miles before i'm done with it, because Lord knows I'll never get the money I have put into it back out any other way. I am all ears for any help finding a solution to this.

I am not a mechanic by choice. I really dislike working on cars. I especially dislike troubleshooting things ........My G/F has repeatedly accused me of "throwing parts at the problem" and wasting money......
You're not alone feeling out of your element and being cheap has its advantages. One is getting hands dirty to save on labor costs if one doesn't have a trusted repair shop or friend that knows a few things more than you to bounce ideas off of. Self reliance is great as long as an open mind is used and basic mechanical skills allow some coordination with help from Saturnfans members willing to share methods to further diy skills.

There is a litmus test to determine whether or not a cylinder head gasket is blown and sending fuel and oil into the cooling system. Google cooling system litmus test and see what turns up. A serious head gasket leak will allow oil to mix with coolant and turn it into chocolate milk shake - this isn't occurring to you, yet. A litmus test or smelling coolant may help eliminate any suspicions of a head gasket leak.

Normal cooling systems pressurize up to 20 psi (whatever the coolant cap specifies) as the system is effectively sealed with the cap. At 180k miles and virtually a new cooling system doesn't rule out possible head gasket or sealer used by the previous owner. Sealer may clog the radiator, heater core and any hoses. Flushing the entire cooling system using plain water sometimes doesn't work. Additional flushing is needed by disconnecting heater hoses and forcing garden hose pressure into one of the heater hoses to flush out the hoses and heater core. Some find a blob of debris clogging heater operation and only find out by manually flushing the heater separately from the rest of the cooling system. The coolant container allows hot coolant from the engine to continually circulate thru the heater core (no shut off valve) and is seen in the coolant container. This topic has been covered several times in past threads about cooling system issues.

Rewiring the cooling fan to operate the way you did is altogether wrong for several reasons and already proves not to work. Either accept this and return wiring back to original configuration or you're likely to have more than one problem to solve. The cooling fan may be worn out (180k miles) and isn't blowing with force, giving you a false sense of confidence with your custom wiring.

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Old 09-01-2016, 08:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
You're not alone feeling out of your element and being cheap has its advantages. One is getting hands dirty to save on labor costs if one doesn't have a trusted repair shop or friend that knows a few things more than you to bounce ideas off of. Self reliance is great as long as an open mind is used and basic mechanical skills allow some coordination with help from Saturnfans members willing to share methods to further diy skills.
I'm with you, Terrien! There are many occasions where, frankly, I'd just like to take my car to a shop and let them take car of my maintenance and repair needs. Since I have the time available to do the things I need to do it behooves me to be my own mechanic and make use of my knowledge, know-how, and significant number of tools purchased over the years to the greatest extent possible...oh well... So there we have it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrien View Post
the fact that the temperature gauge stays between and ideal 3/8's and 1/2, but never gets much more than that
You're fortunate that this is the situation at present, but it may not always be. The situation you're in may result in your needing to spend some more money on diagnosis which you can perform yourself. The point: don't preclude this possibility even if the result of such diagnostic information turns up negative. Consider that physicians run tests also to confirm a hypothesis or deny it, but it's done all the same to guide them to a correct course of treatment. Sometimes this type of consideration is necessary in our work as well and I saw it happen with difficult repairs at an independent auto repair company where I was formerly employed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Rewiring the cooling fan to operate the way you did is altogether wrong for several reasons and already proves not to work. Either accept this and return wiring back to original configuration or you're likely to have more than one problem to solve. The cooling fan may be worn out (180k miles) and isn't blowing with force, giving you a false sense of confidence with your custom wiring.
If a cooling fan isn't operating when it should, as it should, then we should all expect a problem. Please confirm its correct operation.

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Old 09-02-2016, 09:46 AM   #8
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrien View Post
after about 15 minutes of idling I can see little whisps of white smoke/vapor from around the reservoir tank, but I assume that is the spilled coolant cooking off.
. . . a 5 minute drive still causes the coolant to boil over from the reservoir. I do not know if it is boiling over while driving, but i usually see it as soon as I stop the car and open the hood.
Wait, are you actually seeing vapors from the cap/boil over, or are you seeing vapors and assuming it is boiling over from the reservoir?

You just replaced the water pump, tstat, surge tank, cap, and a bunch of hoses. It sounds like this "boil over" started after these replacements, is that correct?

Wrap or tape some dry paper towel under the cap, and around the hoses that connect to the tank. Idle the car until you would normally see the vapor, then check and see which paper towels have become damp from vapors. you might have a loose hose clamp or something.

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Old 09-02-2016, 05:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

The AC system was workings. That being said take into account that there is no refrigerant (r-12 or r134, whatever is supposed to be in there) it all leaked out shortly after we purchase the car. The blower and the rest of the system were fine, I just never got around to fixing the leak. That is the most accurate way to describe the A/C condition.

Currently there is no hot lead attached to the a/c compressor, but i can always replace it should need be.

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Old 09-02-2016, 06:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

I will get a block tester and post the results as soon as feasible. I'll also try the the paper towels and idling to see if there are more places that it is leaking / boiling over. I'll undo the rigged fan so it wont throw a monkey wrench into the troubleshooting process. Thank you all for the feedback, i have exhausted my Chilton Maual and really do appreciate your experience.

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Old 09-02-2016, 08:01 PM   #11
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Default Re: Another (but different) Coolant reservoir spewing problem.

After some retrospection, I do recall quite a bit of white smoke coming from the exhaust the first time I fired it up. I did not pay too much attention to it at the time since the car had been sitting broken for over 9 month. I figured it was just clearing the pipes. I just went out and started it up and after about 30 seconds I noticed a small amount of white smoke puffing out with the exhaust. Not clouds, but noticeable even in 111 degree heat. Oh and I went ahead and put the A/C wiring back to normal while I was at it. I'll post more after I get the combustion gas test kid.

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