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Old 05-23-2018, 08:59 PM   #1
redguy45
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Default Coolant problem

Hi everyone, I've read through a lot of posts and I like the wealth of info and humor that goes into your posts. I do appreciate both of those things.

Now, I am having some issues I haven't been able to resolve on my own though.

I have a 2001 sl2 DOHC that gets the ladies.

In February my car started to over heat and I was in stop and go traffic on I-5. The fan usually kicked on a few millimeters to the right of the halfway mark and when the temp is gauged at 220 degrees Fahrenheit (OBD2 reader). This time though the gauge shot past half and almost hit red before I shut it down. I heard a hiss and pop, saw steam and was finally able to make my way to the side of the freeway.

Checked the reservoir and it was empty, there was a split down the side of the radiator too. In my experience, how fast the gauge climbed and the radiator splitting made me guess that the thermostat had failed and boiled the coolant into steam.

I ordered and replaced the following after flushing the system:

Radiator
Hoses
Engine control temp sensor
Thermostat
Reservoir cap
Water pump

Now where I think I may have fouled up was replacing the coolant with a regular 50/50 glycol and not dexcool fluid. It had lasted in the system for 150,000 miles so I figured I'd keep it going.

Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago and the gauge starts climbing and this time the fan doesn't kick on and I have steam come from the reservoir and the coolant starts boiling over as soon as I get the cap off. It has happened twice since then as well and always in stop and go traffic.

I can't find anything wrong in the system. ECTS checked out good, fan kicks on when I jump it over to the battery and when the temp hits around 220. Flow is good with the pump, except for those three times everything works as it should.

Sorry to bother you guys with this but I'm lost.

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Old 05-23-2018, 09:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Is the coolant cap stock or aftermarket? Can you test it? Test the cooling system? AutoZone may have a cooling system test kit that pressurizes (hand pump) a cold system so you can check for leaks. A cap tester should be included. Stock caps are rated for 15 psi.

Dexcool didn't ruin your cooling system if it lasted 150k miles no matter what anyone tells you that death cool ruined your system.

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Old 05-23-2018, 11:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Is the coolant cap stock or aftermarket? Can you test it? Test the cooling system? AutoZone may have a cooling system test kit that pressurizes (hand pump) a cold system so you can check for leaks. A cap tester should be included. Stock caps are rated for 15 psi.

Dexcool didn't ruin your cooling system if it lasted 150k miles no matter what anyone tells you that death cool ruined your system.
Thanks for replying, I haven't pressure tested yet. I'll have to make time this weekend to do that. The cap is a GATES replacement rated from 14-18 psi.

I might have worded it funny, I don't know the last time it had dexcool. I bought it with what looked to be a regular 50/50 glycol and so I flushed and refilled with the same.

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Old 05-24-2018, 07:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
ECTS checked out good, fan kicks on when I jump it over to the battery and when the temp hits around 220.
Wait, so the fan is running but it still overheats?

Are you getting good flow from the de-aeration line? It's the thin one that runs along the firewall, then empties into the back of the tank on the passenger side. If the car is running, coolant should be returning there in a nice steady stream

Hard to get the ladies if you're on the side of the road with steam coming out

*** edit: this is a minor thing to worry about later. If you bought a premix 50/50, the total mix is a little weak. This will not cause overheating, but reduces your freeze protection a bit, maybe 10F or so?

No concern in warmer climates; might be an issue where you get deep freezes. There's about a quart of water that remains in the heater core during a flush, and adding a premix of 50/50 dilutes the 50/50.

For us folks up north, after flushing/draining, put in 1 gallon of undiluted antifreeze, then top off with distilled.

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Old 05-24-2018, 07:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Did you replace the ECTS? Main reason it could overheat is if the system hasn't been purged properly. When I put the engine back in my '02 a couple of weeks ago, I let it run for close to 20 minutes with the cap off to make sure that all of the air was out of the system. If an air pocket is in there, that will make one overheat in a heartbeat.

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Old 05-24-2018, 01:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Wait, so the fan is running but it still overheats?

Are you getting good flow from the de-aeration line? It's the thin one that runs along the firewall, then empties into the back of the tank on the passenger side. If the car is running, coolant should be returning there in a nice steady stream

Hard to get the ladies if you're on the side of the road with steam coming out

*** edit: this is a minor thing to worry about later. If you bought a premix 50/50, the total mix is a little weak. This will not cause overheating, but reduces your freeze protection a bit, maybe 10F or so?

No concern in warmer climates; might be an issue where you get deep freezes. There's about a quart of water that remains in the heater core during a flush, and adding a premix of 50/50 dilutes the 50/50.

For us folks up north, after flushing/draining, put in 1 gallon of undiluted antifreeze, then top off with distilled.
Thanks for the reply, I do have flow from the aeration line but not in a steady stream, it's more prominent when I give it gas via throttle body.

That's good advice on the coolant, I'll keep that in mind.

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Old 05-24-2018, 01:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyP View Post
Did you replace the ECTS? Main reason it could overheat is if the system hasn't been purged properly. When I put the engine back in my '02 a couple of weeks ago, I let it run for close to 20 minutes with the cap off to make sure that all of the air was out of the system. If an air pocket is in there, that will make one overheat in a heartbeat.
Thank you for the reply.

I did change the ECTS to a brass tip make that seemed more durable. I did let the engine run with the cap off until I didn't see any air bubbling. Also, I thought that the caps are self venting so bleeding those systems are pretty straight forward.

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Old 05-24-2018, 01:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Coolant problem

This is a stumper. Fan works, ECTS works, water pump works.

Checked the fan relay and fuses?

Only other thing I can think of is a coolant flow blockage in one of the internal loops, #3 or #4 as described by OldNuc in this thread
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...15&postcount=3

Radiator is new, as is thermostat. Perhaps you got "lucky" and had the thermostat failed close, and new thermostat is also bad?

After checking relay, wiring, and fuses to make sure you have power to the fan when the PCM switches to on, I'd be tempted to remove the thermostat from the housing, reinstalling the housing and seeing if it still overheats. Maybe someone has a less drastic suggestion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redguy45 View Post
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Wait, so the fan is running but it still overheats?

Are you getting good flow from the de-aeration line? It's the thin one that runs along the firewall, then empties into the back of the tank on the passenger side. If the car is running, coolant should be returning there in a nice steady stream

Hard to get the ladies if you're on the side of the road with steam coming out

*** edit: this is a minor thing to worry about later. If you bought a premix 50/50, the total mix is a little weak. This will not cause overheating, but reduces your freeze protection a bit, maybe 10F or so?

No concern in warmer climates; might be an issue where you get deep freezes. There's about a quart of water that remains in the heater core during a flush, and adding a premix of 50/50 dilutes the 50/50.

For us folks up north, after flushing/draining, put in 1 gallon of undiluted antifreeze, then top off with distilled.
Also, I forgot to address the fan. Except those three times the fan has come on when it gets to 220 degrees.

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Old 05-24-2018, 02:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: Coolant problem

You may be confusing how a coolant cap works from the cooling system self purging itself of air in a system. Purging a cooling system simply means moving any air in the system to the coolant tank. That plastic cap is calibrated to relieve pressure and vacuum. It does not purge air in a system. Purging air from a system relies on filling and topping off right after a system flush or repairs with the engine idling for the first few minutes before replacing the surge tank cap. Any air remaining in the system will lower coolant level with additional topping off to the fill line. After that, coolant level should remain that way.

The combination pressure and vacuum relief cap doesn't help with purging air. Its sole job is to relieve pressure and vacuum. Google for how pressure caps work.

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Old 05-24-2018, 03:46 PM   #11
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Default Re: Coolant problem

That makes more sense. I'll try running it again with the cap completely off. About how tight would you say to put it on?

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Old 05-24-2018, 04:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Your system is most likely purged of all air since repairs were made and car driven. At the least, one or two days checking coolant level is enough to tell if a coolant level dropped. When you check oil level (periodically), a simple glance at the coolant surge tank should show zero level changes. The cap doesn't need gorilla tightening, just snug. Maximum pressures will never loosen it or blow it off the container.

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Old 05-24-2018, 08:31 PM   #13
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Your system is most likely purged of all air since repairs were made and car driven. At the least, one or two days checking coolant level is enough to tell if a coolant level dropped. When you check oil level (periodically), a simple glance at the coolant surge tank should show zero level changes. The cap doesn't need gorilla tightening, just snug. Maximum pressures will never loosen it or blow it off the container.

I haven't lost any coolant except for when it came out of the reservoir those three times. I check my oil and coolant every time I get gas which is about 1-2 times a week depending on work, I've got the timing down to when I put 9 gallons in I'm also closing the hood after checking everything. Costco gas getters are pushy.

I'll have to pressure test this weekend and go from there.

In other news I just bought my gf a new to her 2000 sl2 and replaced the flywheel and starter. Unfortunately I did find a busted mount on the back of the engine so it vibrates more than I would like but other than a few aesthetics she is pretty happy with my find. 300 bucks for it plus a starter and a flywheel I had laying around.

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Old 05-24-2018, 10:26 PM   #14
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Default Re: Coolant problem

In addition to suggestions to pressure test the cooling system and cap, test the cooling fan. Since it's 17 yrs old, it may be worn out or dead. An inoperative cooling fan won't cool of a hot radiator.

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Old 05-24-2018, 11:42 PM   #15
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
In addition to suggestions to pressure test the cooling system and cap, test the cooling fan. Since it's 17 yrs old, it may be worn out or dead. An inoperative cooling fan won't cool of a hot radiator.
Sorry for the ignorance, How do I test the cooling fan? It blows pretty strongly and kicks on at 220 degrees and brings the temp to around 190 pretty quickly.

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Old 05-25-2018, 01:34 AM   #16
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Default Re: Coolant problem

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Sorry for the ignorance, How do I test the cooling fan? It blows pretty strongly and kicks on at 220 degrees and brings the temp to around 190 pretty quickly.
From your descriptions, the cooling fan seems to run right. Specifically noting temperatures and how quickly temps drop always helps everyone not sitting in your car to observe. You can ignore testing.

One member stated his cooling problems were completely addressed, even the question about his cooling fan. After chasing his tail around he finally found his fan wasn't working at all. Initially it was fine but the suggestion to monitor it didn't sink in until he discovered it wasn't working after assuming it was fine. Mentioning how old the car was didn't faze him - the original fan gave out intermittently and continued engine overheating occurred after replacing everything but the fan............ He didn't use a reader to monitor coolant temps or stepped out of his car to check on fan cooling when the engine overheated. Assumptions gets the best of us sometimes.

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Old 05-25-2018, 09:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
From your descriptions, the cooling fan seems to run right.
Yeah, that makes this a real stumper. Ignore my suggestions to check relay/fuses and remove t-stat above.

Cooling system /water pump, ECTS, fan are known working. System works fine (fan comes on at ~220F, brings temp back down to ~190F, instrument panel shows correctly) most of the time but on 3 occasions overheated. New:
  • Radiator
  • Hoses
  • Engine control temp sensor
  • Thermostat
  • Reservoir cap
  • Water pump
At this point, I would put the old reservoir cap back on - only thing I got left is that the new cap is not sealing and building pressure. This would lower your


Hold on, you said
Quote:
Except those three times the fan has come on when it gets to 220 degrees
You mean those 3 times it overheated, the fan did not come on?

Or did it come on but fail to cool it down?


BTW - does your AC work? Turning on the AC should also turn the fan on, when you are below a certain mph (40, I think)

Has any kind of stop-leak product been used in this system?

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Old 05-25-2018, 10:32 AM   #18
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Yeah, that makes this a real stumper. Ignore my suggestions to check relay/fuses and remove t-stat above.

Cooling system /water pump, ECTS, fan are known working. System works fine (fan comes on at ~220F, brings temp back down to ~190F, instrument panel shows correctly) most of the time but on 3 occasions overheated. New:
  • Radiator
  • Hoses
  • Engine control temp sensor
  • Thermostat
  • Reservoir cap
  • Water pump
At this point, I would put the old reservoir cap back on - only thing I got left is that the new cap is not sealing and building pressure. This would lower your


Hold on, you said You mean those 3 times it overheated, the fan did not come on?

Or did it come on but fail to cool it down?


BTW - does your AC work? Turning on the AC should also turn the fan on, when you are below a certain mph (40, I think)

Has any kind of stop-leak product been used in this system?
The three times it started steaming the fan wasn't on but kicked on after I had the hood popped and checked things out. When I get home today I'm going to run it with the cap off at operating temp and check out the wiring to the ECTS.

I haven't used a dye test on the coolant only because I haven't lost coolant except when it overheats.

Sorry for this drawing out. I do appreciate the input.

I haven't used the ac or tested it since buying it a couple years ago. I'll check that too.

Last edited by redguy45; 05-25-2018 at 10:39 AM..

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Old 05-25-2018, 11:13 AM   #19
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Default Re: Coolant problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
From your descriptions, the cooling fan seems to run right. Specifically noting temperatures and how quickly temps drop always helps everyone not sitting in your car to observe. You can ignore testing.

One member stated his cooling problems were completely addressed, even the question about his cooling fan. After chasing his tail around he finally found his fan wasn't working at all. Initially it was fine but the suggestion to monitor it didn't sink in until he discovered it wasn't working after assuming it was fine. Mentioning how old the car was didn't faze him - the original fan gave out intermittently and continued engine overheating occurred after replacing everything but the fan............ He didn't use a reader to monitor coolant temps or stepped out of his car to check on fan cooling when the engine overheated. Assumptions gets the best of us sometimes.
I'm open to anything that keeps this engine from overheating into oblivion. I bought a spare engine for 75$ to rebuild and have ready but I haven't gotten parts or time yet.

My fan definitely kicks on, I have a reader hooked up that says its at 219-222 when it does. It cools the engine pretty quick but these don't mean its 100% correct?
I feel like i didn't bleed all of the air out after reading a post above. I've never had this problem with coolant systems before after replacing components.

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Old 05-25-2018, 12:04 PM   #20
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Default Re: Coolant problem

If the coolant is boiling out of the system, then you something wrong with flow.

Right now I would dispense with antifreeze in the mix and just use plain water until you find the problem fix it, and then refill the system with the correct coolant mix.

You have said you that you installed water pump and Tstat and know they are working. How do you? I have seen Old Nuc make the comment that some water pumps can be bad right out of the box.

My understanding of Tstats is that they default fail safe by staying open. That would mean the car would run cooler than hotter BUT if it closed then flow around the engine is restricted.

Here is what I would consider doing...

1) Check ALL hoses in the whole system to ensure none have collapsed internally and therefore creating a block in flow. I have that happen to me ONCE.

2) If all the hoses check out, then use a cooling system flush additive to clean out the crap from the whole system and give it a good flush after with clean water. That should ensure that your passageways are clean.

2) Remove the Tstat, so you are not restricting flow from the engine and with the system full of water remove the top hose connection from the rad then start the engine. If the water pump is working your should have flow. If you don't, then the water pump is not pumping and that is the culprit. If you get pump flow and thus the pump is working, reconnect the hose and run the engine to normal temp to see if it boils again. If it is flowing around the whole system and doesn't boil, then the culprit maybe the Tstat.

The heater matrix under the dash is essentially another radiator and operates just like one. One way of checking to see if you air in the system is to turn on the heater. If you don't get hot air, then there is air. I can't comment specifically on the Satty system but I always was advised that when refilling and burping a system, to turn the heater to full to allow coolant to flow through that part. The Satty may be different, but for the sake of just turning it to heat, it's worth doing.

hope this helps

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