Strange coolant light question [Archive] - GrandAmGT.com Forum

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redhotalero
10-19-2007, 11:09 AM
To preface, I have a 2000 Alero GL3 with 105k miles -- yeah, yeah, not a GT, but a close relative since I have the 3.4L. I would have gotten a GT if the one one the lot wasn't in such poor shape!

To the point -- every morning for the past week on my way to work, I get in, start her up, drive 4 blocks to the stop sign. I pull away, and a block later my "Low Coolant" light comes on and I get the 'beep of doom' -- and then 3 seconds later it shuts off as if nothing ever happened. And it ONLY does this on my way to work in the morning. I took it in and they said the fluid was good, the level was fine, etc. so what gives? What, if anything, would make it come on and go off like that? I'm not jackrabbit starting or anything, driving nice and easy since it's cold here already and she isn't warmed up...

Also, I was told that since I have 105K miles on my transmission, I might not even want to change the filter/refill the tranny -- is that right? I'm not going to do a flush, since I've heard that it could cause problems, but would a filter/refill be that bad? Wouldn't it hurt the tranny to just leave it be?

Any advice would be great!!

atc3434
10-19-2007, 11:18 AM
To preface, I have a 2000 Alero GL3 with 105k miles -- yeah, yeah, not a GT, but a close relative since I have the 3.4L. I would have gotten a GT if the one one the lot wasn't in such poor shape!

To the point -- every morning for the past week on my way to work, I get in, start her up, drive 4 blocks to the stop sight. I pull away, and a block later my "Low Coolant" light comes on and I get the 'beep of doom' -- and then 3 seconds later it shuts off as if nothing ever happened. And it ONLY does this on my way to work in the morning. I took it in and they said the fluid was good, the level was fine, etc. so what gives? What, if anything, would make it come on and go off like that? I'm not jackrabbit starting or anything, driving nice and easy since it's cold here already and she isn't warmed up...

Also, I was told that since I have 105K miles I might not even want to change the filter/refill -- is that right? I'm not going to do a flush, since my luck isn't that good, but would a filter/refill be that bad?

Any advice would be great!!

Sounds like your low on coolant. Check the level, fill as needed. At 105k, I'd consider a coolant flush, dexcool (the factory coolant from GM) is notorious for eating up internal gaskets. There is no filter on the cooling system.

cardude007617
10-19-2007, 11:22 AM
but he had the fluid checked and it was all fine....... thats odd, get the code scanned cuz u must be getting one or some

redhotalero
10-19-2007, 11:28 AM
Would there be a code if it doesn't stay on and seemingly decides that it isn't a big deal?

atc3434
10-19-2007, 11:28 AM
but he had the fluid checked and it was all fine....... thats odd, get the code scanned cuz u must be getting one or some

I see that, but I'm betting its on the extreme low side of ok, which, when its cold out, with a cold motor, and the level is at is lowest, may be low enough to kick the low-coolant light.

Sprucegagt
10-19-2007, 12:01 PM
Sounds like your low on coolant. Check the level, fill as needed. At 105k, I'd consider a coolant flush, dexcool (the factory coolant from GM) is notorious for eating up internal gaskets. There is no filter on the cooling system.

Dexcool does not eat up gaskets. But it will gunk up when in contact with air.

OP: I think your coolant system is a little low. Looking at the fluid level after it's warmed up will give you a false reading. The fill mark on the reservoir should be used only when the engine is cold. Refill it with either Dexcool or distilled water from your local grocery store (if it's not real low).

redhotalero
10-19-2007, 10:46 PM
I'll check it tomorrow morning after it's cooled down a lot -- I've been driving all day, so it could use the break!

Any advice with the tranny? Once more - have 105k miles, unsure if fluid has ever been changed (I purchased it at 77k miles) but wanted to change it -- I'm not going to do a flush, I'm not that lucky! Someone told me that since I have 105k miles it's even too much to drop the pan and change the filter - advice? Wouldn't it be bad to just leave it in there and do nothing? I searched the forums, found a lot of back and forth, but didn't find anything really specific, so no flaming! :)

ryanbgb22
10-19-2007, 11:14 PM
I'll check it tomorrow morning after it's cooled down a lot -- I've been driving all day, so it could use the break!

Any advice with the tranny? Once more - have 105k miles, unsure if fluid has ever been changed (I purchased it at 77k miles) but wanted to change it -- I'm not going to do a flush, I'm not that lucky! Someone told me that since I have 105k miles it's even too much to drop the pan and change the filter - advice? Wouldn't it be bad to just leave it in there and do nothing? I searched the forums, found a lot of back and forth, but didn't find anything really specific, so no flaming! :)

i dont understand the problem with doing a flush?

angrysk8r
10-19-2007, 11:24 PM
could also be a coolant level sensor malfunction, mines gone bad before

Malaclypse
10-20-2007, 12:01 AM
As far as the coolant sensor, I'd go with the "On the extreme low side of 'Okay'" theory.

The transmission is more of a crap shoot. A pan drop/filter change could help it on its way to lasting 200k miles with regular maintainence.... or it could spell doom and bring your transmission to an end. Noone can really say for sure.

Since you live in Utah, we can assume dry, sometimes hot and often dusty conditions, no? That's a few of the things to take into consideration. A bigger consideration would be the previous owner.... if you have any knowledge of them to share that would help.

Assuming you don't, just make sure you have enough in savings to pay for a rebuild before you do a pan drop. Its always a good idea to have money in savings anyways just in case something happens that either downs your car or keeps you from making money.

That actually sounds pessimistic.... you'll probably be fine with a pan drop and filter change.

redhotalero
10-20-2007, 12:56 AM
The car was actually and Idaho car -- I'm in Utah going to school. The conditions remain the same though, dryer, sometimes hot -- dusty not really, it was a city car, not a farm truck! I do know that it was a city car, and in the 5 years she had it she put on 75k miles, or 15k miles per year... Don't know her habits or if there was much 'scheduled' maintenance... Is there a way to find that? Would GM have that in a system?

So even a pan drop/filter is bad? From what I read it is the flushes that can be bad by stirring up everything... Wouldn't a pan drop/filter just allow a new filter to do it's job, and replace some - not all - of the fluid? Would a few changes over time be nearly as effective as a flush?

How much does a rebuild go for? I have savings - thinking you can live life without is ridiculous.... Heck, that was the first lesson that my mom taught me when she gave me a savings/checking account when I was 10!! I could put in on my credit card too - i need the miles! :)

AaronGTR
10-20-2007, 07:03 AM
Doing a trans flush may or may not cause problems. Just changing the fluid and filter is a regular procedure though and should NOT cause any problems at all. No matter how many miles are on it. A clean filter and fresh fluid will always prolong the life of components.


For the coolant, I agree with checking the level when it's cold. That will give you the most accurate reading. And yes, dexcool is known to build up gunk inside the system if it gets low or has any air in the system. If the coolant hasn't been changed in a long time (should be every 5 years/50k miles) it might be a good idea to do a coolant flush. Then just fill it with fresh 50/50 mix of dexcool and distilled water, bleed the air out the system, and top it off.

redhotalero
10-21-2007, 05:03 PM
I'm going to have it flushed tomorrow I think, probably the GM dealership or my friend that I trust at an independent shop. Speaking of -- are the Jiffy Lube's in your area any good?

This probably should be in another post -- and yes, I searched, no flaming -- all this is for my big tune-up, what is everyone running for spark plugs? Is my best bet just to go with the same Delco Platinums? What about wires? Advice getting to be back 3?

Ajaxus
10-21-2007, 05:19 PM
We've got alot of people with highly modified engines running 13's that still run on the stock spark plugs..really you shouldn't need to upgrade those to anything fancy.

atc3434
10-22-2007, 06:56 AM
If you do a tranny flush and have problems after, you had problems before that were just being masked by dirty, heavy tranny fluid. Having good, clean tranny fluid never caused a transmission to malfunction. It has revealed failing parts in ones already broken.

redhotalero
10-22-2007, 10:35 PM
Well, like I said, it has 105k miles and has no troubles -- shifts smooth, goes into gear from park well, and through the gears... Only hesitation is if I'm really on it up around 5000rpm on a freeway onramp or something, then it just kinda 'slips' into gear...

So you think that a flush wouldn't hurt? I'm a little leery with all the things that I've read. Would getting two drain/filter/refills a few months apart replace most (if not close to all) of the fluid and help in that regard -- I know that the refill misses the torque converter...