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Old 05-02-2017, 10:12 PM   #1
kamenges
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Default '01 L200 Overheating

I have a '01 L200 with about 102000 miles. We recently bought it from a private party. Shortly after we bought it we noticed coolant leaking from the water pump. I replaced the water pump last weekend along with the thermostat.

I filled the reservoir with coolant until it wouldn't take any more while at idle and took it for a test drive. On that drive the temperature got up into the red area on the temp gauge. I pulled over for about a half hour to let it cool off and headed back home. The temperature gauge got above half way on the way home but not into the red. After letting it cool down for a while I checked the reservoir and it was still a little over half full. I am getting hot air blowing from the heater in the car so it seems that coolant is circulating through the heater core. Also, the upper radiator hose gets hot and the lower radiator hose stays cool.

After doing some reading I thought maybe I got a bad thermostat. So I removed the thermostat and put it in a pot of warming water on the stove. According to a candy thermometer it opened at between 190 and 200 degrees F and closed again when I removed it from the water. After I re-installed the thermostat I refilled it by adding coolant to the reservoir with the reservoir return hose removed from the stub above the point where the upper radiator hose connects to the head. I Kept adding unto the coolant coming from the stub had no bubbles. I put the hose back on, made sure the reservoir was properly filled, and went for a ride. At first it seemed like things were in order. The temp needle hung around slightly below half and wavered back and forth a little. But after a while the temperature jumped over the half way point. It never got as far as the 3/4 point, though. Also, occasionally the temp needle would drop down the just below 1/2 again and hang out there for a while before moving up again.

There was one point on that last drive where it felt like the lower radiator hose (it goes to the top of the thermostat housing) was at least slightly warm and at least a reasonable portion of the radiator was warm so I thought I had it. But most of the time the upper radiator hose is hot, the lower hose is cool to cold and the radiator is cool to the touch. The fan is kicking on when the temp needles gets over 1/2 or so but since the radiator is cold it isn't doing much good. The outside temperature during these drives was probably about 45 degrees (NE Wisconsin).

Based on the reading I have done on the forum it seems like the water pump is at least doing something or I wouldn't be getting heat in the cabin. I feel pretty good about the thermostat working since I watched it cycle myself. I don't think you can install the thermostat wrong since the housing with the radiator hose connected to it won't fit if the spring side is up.

I have the car parked on ramps for the night and will try to see if I can get some air out of the reservoir return stub tomorrow morning. But if not, any ideas?

Thanks,
Keith

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Old 05-03-2017, 02:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: '01 L200 Overheating

Welcome to SaturnFans, kamenges!

At 100K miles various service items are to be taken care of including,
1) replace spark plugs,
2) replace fuel filter (if it hasn't been done already),
3) flush the cooling system,
4) replace all cooling system hoses,
5) refill cooling system with Dexcool antifreeze and distilled water.

It seems that, relative to the over heating problem, the cooling system was not fully purged of air initially. The fact that the temperature of the lower radiator hose tends to remain much cooler than the upper radiator hose is puzzling to me especially since the thermostat appears to be functioning correctly. Perhaps this is resulting from some blockage in the system.

Since the engine temperature gauge's needle reached into the "red," unsafe area, I think one should test for exhaust gases present in the cooling system. Hopefully, the engine sustained no sigificant damage due to overheating. .

...
273,000 miles-it keeps on rolling!
The blessings of liberty erode in my country.
Gov't's grown bigger, but a chance exists that it will be reduced. I'm cautiously hopeful.

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Old 05-03-2017, 03:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: '01 L200 Overheating

My money is on a blocked radiator. I'm pretty sure that bottom hose should border on hot if not uncomfortable to hold. I would disconnect both hoses and pour water into the radiator to check for flow.

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Old 05-03-2017, 08:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: '01 L200 Overheating

Try removing both the top and bottom hoses at the radiator, then flush it through with a hose pipe. Better still, if you can remove the radiator, then turn it upside down and flush it the reverses way as sediment tends to follow gravity and settle at the bottom. Also have a close look at the radiator fins for any damage.

As we are now in much warmer weather (well here in FL at any rate) I wouldn't keep putting in antifreeze until you have sussed out the problem, just use water. When it's fixed, then put in the correct mix of antifreeze. Wasting money otherwise.

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Old 05-03-2017, 10:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: '01 L200 Overheating

kamenges, while too late to prevent you from doing so, once a cooling system is opened for repairs like replacing a water pump, it's always a good idea to flush a system with plain water first, after repairs. This allows running the engine to operating temperatures whether driving or idling in the driveway and observe for any other cooling system problems. Antifreeze can wait until the car runs right as water circulates to flush a system before draining and refilling with 50/50 antifreeze. If, as you found out, the cooling system isn't running right then more work is needed and any coolant lost/drained is just water. Water will not make the engine run hotter. The coolant cap operates the same as the older metal radiator caps, retaining pressure to raise coolant boiling point. Once problems are solved, draining flush water prepares the system for fresh antifreeze.

Was the old coolant opaque, dirty? All coolant, blue, green, yellow or red are translucent. If sealer was used, it may be clogging the radiator and causing temperatures to stay higher than it should. The suggestion to test the radiator by observing how quickly or slowly coolant drains from disconnecting the bottom hose can tell you if the radiator is partially blocked. Feeding garden hose water into the top inlet should result is a fast drain of water.

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Old 05-07-2017, 05:14 PM   #6
kamenges
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Default Re: '01 L200 Overheating

I finally had a chance to get back to the cooling system issue. Thanks for all the suggestions.

I decided to simply flush the radiator with it still mounted in the car. I flushed it from top to bottom. It didn't look like anything other than water came out of the bottom radiator port and water always flowed quickly out of the radiator. That doesn't mean there wasn't something in the radiator but it doesn't look like the radiator was seriously plugged.

I pulled the thermostat out again and ran water back through the motor toward the thermostat housing. I'm not sure if this is to be expected but but when I started running the water, coolant was pushed out of the housing for a couple seconds then it sputtered and gurgled for a few seconds and then water started flowing out. Does this indicate there may have been air trapped in the system somewhere or was I just chasing a void area with water?

Then I put everything back together I was much more careful about filling the radiator to try and guarantee there wasn't any air hiding in there. I also ran the car with the reservoir cap removed for much longer this time. And I left the fan assembly out of the car so I could feel the radiator. At about the temperature I would have expected I started to feel heat spread across the radiator from passenger side to drivers side. After a while I felt the lower radiator hose get warmer. I also noticed that with the reservoir cap removed that occasionally the coolant would rise in the reservoir and overflow then drop down below the cold fill point. where I would add more water. After a while it stopped doing this so I shut off the car and put the fan assembly back in and went for a ride.

For about 5 miles at highway speed the temp sat just below half way on the temp gauge. I slowed down to go through a small village (25 MPH for about 2 miles). During that slowdown the temp gauge dropped to the 3/8 point and never left there for the next half hour no matter how hard I drove the car.

I guess it is most reasonable to assume I had air trapped somewhere that was causing me heartache. For the short term I will run with just water but I will need to be way more careful with system bleeding than I was the first time when I refill the system with coolant.

Thanks again for all the help.
Keith

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Old 05-07-2017, 06:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: '01 L200 Overheating

It seems you found and learned some new techniques about cooling systems. Leaving the coolant cap off while allowing the engine to idle and observe the system purging itself of air as coolant level dropped in the container is the only way to ensure all air is purged. Hopefully you won't have to run with plain water too long before draining it to refill with 50/50 antifreeze and purge one more time with new coolant without repeating another overheat condition.

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