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Old 04-26-2021, 07:37 PM   #1
saturnmommy
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Default Overheat issue

Ok, so I have a 97 SL1 and it recently overheated on me but the fan never came on. Now we have replaced the fan, engine coolant temp sensor including wires, the overflow reservoir and cap. The fan comes on with the AC on. When you run the car, the two warning lights for the coolant will flash but the fan never comes on and the gage only goes to the 1/4 line (the line after the C). Anyone have ideas on what is happening and what else might need to be replaced or tested, etc?
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Old 04-26-2021, 09:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Use live-data to see what temperature the PCM is reading.

What was the symptom of the "overheat" incident?

Use an immersion thermometer (meat or candy type) to check that the coolant temp is same as what is read in live-data.
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Old 04-26-2021, 09:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Overheat issue

How did you connect the new wires to factory wires?
The only reliable way is to solder and cover with shrink tube.
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Old 04-26-2021, 09:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Overheat issue

A flashing light indicates low coolant. If the coolant is in fact not low, probably an indication of a stuck float.

A steady light indicates differences between the ECTS (engine temp) and TTS (transmission temp) if the car is an automatic. Either sensor being bad can cause the light.

As for temps, I'd second the above and see if the car is actually coming up to temp properly. It could be a trashed thermostat. If the coolant doesn't heat up enough but the tranny does, it can lead to a steady light.
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Old 04-26-2021, 10:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: Overheat issue

I second a worn out t-stat. A reader displaying coolant temps should display the intake air temperature - both compared with a cold engine when ignition is turned on. After engine warm-up, the coolant sensor should display on a reader between 185F-200F. A worn out t-stat, usually melted seals from the original coolant sensor failure, may display a lower temperature than 185F. The faulty t-stat tends to run cooler so the cooling fan never turns on. As confusing as this may be, overheating occurs because the cooling system runs hotter overall even though the temperature display doesn't show an overheating condition. Although no one has posted actual coolant temperatures when this occurs prior to replacing the t-stat, actual reader display of coolant temps may be close but never at the programmed temperature when the pcm commands the cooling fan to run, (220F)?
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Old 04-26-2021, 10:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
Use live-data to see what temperature the PCM is reading.

What was the symptom of the "overheat" incident?

Use an immersion thermometer (meat or candy type) to check that the coolant temp is same as what is read in live-data.
I don't have the live data available to me.
The overheat incident was I was in the drive thru and it started to steam so I pulled over to let it cool down. When I restarted and started to drive the temp gage started going past the halfway point and went down once the outside air was flowing. The low coolant and hot coolant lights started to flash so I got her home and when I checked the coolant levels found the overflow tank empty, coolant all under the hood. Let it dry and just filled the tank with water to see if there was a leak. After letting the car run we found that the water started to stream out from under the cap on the overflow tank and the fan never came on and the temp gage never went past the 1/4 mark. So we figured it must be the sensor which is why that was replaced. The fan was replaced too as it was old anyway. Now the problem still exists so we are not sure what the heck it is.
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Old 04-26-2021, 10:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
How did you connect the new wires to factory wires?
The only reliable way is to solder and cover with shrink tube.
Yes, that is how we did the wires and still something is not working in this system. Now I have had my service engine soon light on for a while and the code was P0440 so we replaced the hoses to the EVAP Canister and still that light is one too but I dont think they are related to this issue at all.
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Old 04-26-2021, 10:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Signmaster View Post
A flashing light indicates low coolant. If the coolant is in fact not low, probably an indication of a stuck float.

A steady light indicates differences between the ECTS (engine temp) and TTS (transmission temp) if the car is an automatic. Either sensor being bad can cause the light.

As for temps, I'd second the above and see if the car is actually coming up to temp properly. It could be a trashed thermostat. If the coolant doesn't heat up enough but the tranny does, it can lead to a steady light.
We did change the ECTS but did not think about the TTS. I do have a leak in my transmission so do you think that could contribute to this whole issue?
The lights were both flashing and still when we were testing the new parts they start flashing.
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Old 04-26-2021, 11:02 PM   #9
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I second a worn out t-stat. A reader displaying coolant temps should display the intake air temperature - both compared with a cold engine when ignition is turned on. After engine warm-up, the coolant sensor should display on a reader between 185F-200F. A worn out t-stat, usually melted seals from the original coolant sensor failure, may display a lower temperature than 185F. The faulty t-stat tends to run cooler so the cooling fan never turns on. As confusing as this may be, overheating occurs because the cooling system runs hotter overall even though the temperature display doesn't show an overheating condition. Although no one has posted actual coolant temperatures when this occurs prior to replacing the t-stat, actual reader display of coolant temps may be close but never at the programmed temperature when the pcm commands the cooling fan to run, (220F)?
We will have to check out the thermostat which sucks since we have to drain it all again. Its been a while since that was changed out in the car so it might have gone bad. Very frustrating trying to figure this out for sure but we will hopefully get her back on the road soon.
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Old 04-26-2021, 11:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Have you pressure-tested the coolant cap and rest of system? Steaming is not necessarily from "overheating".

As to the live-data, most trouble-shooting on modern cars will be crippled without it, and you efforts are bound to be unnecessarily frustrating and costly. Live-data does not have to be costly. Good ELM327 links are no more than $25 and you can get basic live-data SW as "freeware" online.

How about the meat/candy thermometer, you don't have one of those? They are even cheaper than the ELM...

Have you checked for flow through the small hose at the top-rear of the reservoir? It should have a steady flow, all the time the engine is running.

I would ignore the t-stat, I have never heard of one failing such that an engine over-heats. It is always the other way around, t-stats fail such that the engine over-cools.
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Old 04-27-2021, 12:00 PM   #11
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
.....I would ignore the t-stat, I have never heard of one failing such that an engine over-heats. It is always the other way around, t-stats fail such that the engine over-cools.
You can try searching past threads with many having this problem of the faulty round nosed factory coolant sensor resulting in overheating in summer hot weather, melting the t-stat seals with the cooling fan never turning on. Ac, if working lets the pcm turn on the fan since fan wiring is the same whether the pcm turns it on for ac use or cooling system overheating.
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
How about the meat/candy thermometer, you don't have one of those? They are even cheaper than the ELM...

Have you checked for flow through the small hose at the top-rear of the reservoir? It should have a steady flow, all the time the engine is running.

I would ignore the t-stat, I have never heard of one failing such that an engine over-heats. It is always the other way around, t-stats fail such that the engine over-cools.
I'd suggest checking the above items first. A meat thermometer can be had for cheap if you don't have one.

As for the flow in the rear of the reservoir, that will cause overheating almost always. Very easy to check. If you don't want to try to see it from the inside, just loosen the clamp and remove the hose. Stick the hose in the (open) reservoir, and watch for flow. Even at idle it should be a steady stream. Obviously do this only with a cooled down vehicle on initial start.


Once you do that, you can check both ECTS operation and thermostat operation without removing either. Put the meat thermometer in the open reservoir, and start the car. As the temp rises, watch for gauge movement.

You can also feel for heat in the upper radiator hose as the temp comes up. You really shouldn't get a warm hose until at least 165-170 at a minimum. Since the thermostat stays closed until up near operating temp, the upper hose should remain cool at the radiator end.

If the car is coming up to temp properly and the gauge still isn't moving above 1/4, the ECTS is in question still. If the radiator hose gets warm early in the temp swing the thermostat is in question.
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:16 AM   #13
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Default Re: Overheat issue

UPDATE and question. OK, we rewired the ECTS and also found that the cooling fan relay was not working so replaced that. Fan comes on just after the halfway mark and turns back off as well when it reaches that halfway mark again on the cool down.
My question for everyone now is my two coolant warning lights start flashing and will not stop flashing even with the fan coming on and off? Anyone have any clues or thoughts on what could be causing this issue?
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:24 AM   #14
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Default Re: Overheat issue

The overheat and underfilled overlays are run by the same bulb.

Flashing means underfilled sensed at the pressure tank, on solid means overtemp sensed.

Often adding just a bit of water fix's it, sometimes you have to pull and clean the tank out and given the age of the car you may have to replace the tank as the fill sensor is molded into the tank rather than threaded.
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:47 AM   #15
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Default Re: Overheat issue

This is how I fixed my coolant flashing light:
https://youtu.be/-ROFZasl9BU

Thanks Richpin. Of course you should make sure the tank level is good first.
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Old 05-01-2021, 11:04 AM   #16
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
The overheat and underfilled overlays are run by the same bulb.

Flashing means underfilled sensed at the pressure tank, on solid means overtemp sensed.

Often adding just a bit of water fix's it, sometimes you have to pull and clean the tank out and given the age of the car you may have to replace the tank as the fill sensor is molded into the tank rather than threaded.
We actually did replace the tank and cap. The tank is filled to where it should be too.
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Old 05-01-2021, 12:12 PM   #17
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnmommy View Post
We will have to check out the thermostat which sucks since we have to drain it all again. Its been a while since that was changed out in the car so it might have gone bad. Very frustrating trying to figure this out.....
I'm glad I was wrong once you updated with additional info about replacing the t-stat (usually with the coolant sensor or later). I was certain of a melted seal of the original t-stat and presumed ects wiring was fine but no one is clairvoyant as you found out wiring had to be repaired to have the ects functioning properly. This in turn sends correct signals for the pcm to cycle the cooling fan again when needed.
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Old 05-01-2021, 04:22 PM   #18
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Get a DVOM and unplug the connector to the coolant level switch in the surge tank. Do a continuity check on the pins of the switch to see if open or closed.
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Old 05-27-2021, 12:25 PM   #19
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Default Re: Overheat issue

Well after all the mess they are telling me at the repair shop that it is my computer going bad that is causing the overheat issues. It is the original computer so I guess that is a good reason. I don't know how to close this thread out but now its finding a computer to replace the old one.
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Old 05-27-2021, 12:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: Overheat issue

That doesn't sound right.
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