Intermitent Overheating/Coolant Leak question [Archive] - GrandAmGT.com Forum

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BigBL87
10-30-2011, 07:25 PM
Been a long time since I posted, but I figured this would be the place to go before taking my GA to someone that actually knows what they're doing.

For the last year or so, my GA intermittently overheats. There's no rhyme or reason as to when it happens (hot/cold, dry/rainy doesn't matter). It'll go a month or two without it happening, and then it starts doing it again. Recently it started doing it every time I started the car. What happens is it will gradually heat up, and will get all the way into the red and set the temp light off. I pull over, unscrew the radiator cap VERY slowly, and when I get it far enough you can hear air bleeding out of the system (I assume through the overflow hose or the cap) and if I unscrew it a bit farther it will belch quite a bit of my coolant through the overflow hose. I've also had my SES light coming on intermittently, and the car will start a little rough bat after about 10 seconds it's fine. I've recently had my thermostat replaced (tried to to it myself, couldn't get the last bolt off and ended up having my mechanic do it), so I don't think that is the problem. Also tried a new cap for the overflow tank and that didn't remedy it either.

Side note - A little over a year ago my car was the victim of a cracked upper radiator hose. In the weeks leading up to when I found it, my car was doing the same stuff, but the upper radiator hose is fine and seems to have ok pressure when the car is running.

So, with that back story, today I noticed what looks like a possible culprit. I noticed what seemed to be a puddle of coolant and some dried coolant around the edges in the pic below. It haven't noticed it until now, don't think it was that bad until recently.

I topped off the coolant today, and it heated up to about 230-ish before dropping back down. The heater blows cold air, which I believe is indicative of an air pocket in the system. When the car was heating up was when it blew cold air, but as soon as I'm guessing the coolant started circulating (because the temp started to go down), the heater started blowing hot air again. My oil isn't milky (a la mixing with coolant), so I don't think it's a gasket.

So, is what I found the likely culprit? I'll probably end up taking it to my mechanic anyway, but if it's something I can at least patch with a quick fix for now that would be wonderful. I figured if air in the system is a problem, a leak there (right by the thermostat) might be to blame.

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n302/BigBL87/DSCF0326.jpg

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n302/BigBL87/DSCF0325.jpg

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n302/BigBL87/DSCF0323.jpg

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n302/BigBL87/DSCF0322.jpg

chris_gt_74
10-30-2011, 08:01 PM
You could have a leaking head gasket. Same symptoms mine had last year. Mine was overheating lightly but the cooling system was being charged with exhaust during the compression stroke which was causing coolant loss through the fill tank. It also smelled like exhaust inside the tank. But I was getting a random SES misfire code on #1 but it was not consistent enough to do it all the time. But it ran crappy when it would through the code. Oh and I might ad that I was not mixing oil and water either.

BigBL87
10-30-2011, 08:43 PM
You could have a leaking head gasket. Same symptoms mine had last year. Mine was overheating lightly but the cooling system was being charged with exhaust during the compression stroke which was causing coolant loss through the fill tank. It also smelled like exhaust inside the tank. But I was getting a random SES misfire code on #1 but it was not consistent enough to do it all the time. But it ran crappy when it would through the code. Oh and I might ad that I was not mixing oil and water either.

Ah. Interestingly, mine is the opposite. Once it throws the code (turns the light on), it runs fine.

If it's the head gasket, I'm screwed. Will cost more to fix it than the car is worth, and I'm starting an internship and don't have anywhere near the money for another car. Probably will just have to drive it til it gives up the ghost, and then buy a POS to get me by til I graduate.

chris_gt_74
10-30-2011, 08:54 PM
Ah. Interestingly, mine is the opposite. Once it throws the code (turns the light on), it runs fine.

If it's the head gasket, I'm screwed. Will cost more to fix it than the car is worth, and I'm starting an internship and don't have anywhere near the money for another car. Probably will just have to drive it til it gives up the ghost, and then buy a POS to get me by til I graduate.

Nah I changed my head gaskets in about a day and a half by myself and it was a little over $200 for the gasket set. Having a shop do it.. no clue but probably expensive though.

BigBL87
10-30-2011, 09:02 PM
Nah I changed my head gaskets in about a day and a half by myself and it was a little over $200 for the gasket set. Having a shop do it.. no clue but probably expensive though.

Ya, I'm mechanically inept. My fiancee's dad is a certified mechanic (doesn't work as a mechanic though, works for Mitsubishi in their plant here in the US), but I wouldn't want to throw something this involved at him. He recently taught me how to change my brake pads and rotors, which was quite informative but wasn't that complicated. I'm sure he could do it but I felt bad enough asking him about the brakes. Most estimates for having a shop do it I've seen are in the $1200-1800 range.

chris_gt_74
10-30-2011, 09:07 PM
Ya, I'm mechanically inept. My fiancee's dad is a certified mechanic (doesn't work as a mechanic though, works for Mitsubishi in their plant here in the US), but I wouldn't want to throw something this involved at him. He recently taught me how to change my brake pads and rotors, which was quite informative but wasn't that complicated. I'm sure he could do it but I felt bad enough asking him about the brakes. Most estimates for having a shop do it I've seen are in the $1200-1800 range.

Yeah that's steep! I had no idea the cost because I do most of my own vehicle repairs. It may not hurt to atleast mention it. At the very least he may can help you diagnose the problem. Who knows maybe it's not head gasket related.

BigBL87
10-30-2011, 09:12 PM
Yeah that's steep! I had no idea the cost because I do most of my own vehicle repairs. It may not hurt to atleast mention it. At the very least he may can help you diagnose the problem. Who knows maybe it's not head gasket related.

Ya, I'm gonna drop it by the shop I go to to see if they can figure it out. The guy that runs the shop knows my family well, and I'll ask him to try to troubleshoot it and figure it out. If it's something beyond what I can spend, he won't even charge me for the diagnosis (at least never has in the past). Last time I took it in (probably three months ago), he said he couldn't find anything and thought it was probably an air pocket. Might not have been as bad then though. What kills on the gaskets is the labor. Parts aren't that bad.

If I could tell the difference between a water pump and an alternator, I'd try it, but ya... (ok, a slight exaggeration :))

chris_gt_74
10-30-2011, 09:18 PM
Ya, I'm gonna drop it by the shop I go to to see if they can figure it out. The guy that runs the shop knows my family well, and I'll ask him to try to troubleshoot it and figure it out. If it's something beyond what I can spend, he won't even charge me for the diagnosis (at least never has in the past). Last time I took it in (probably three months ago), he said he couldn't find anything and thought it was probably an air pocket. Might not have been as bad then though. What kills on the gaskets is the labor. Parts aren't that bad.

If I could tell the difference between a water pump and an alternator, I'd try it, but ya... (ok, a slight exaggeration :))

lol I was waiting for the punch line. Doing it yourself is way cheaper but I do agree it can be a bit much if your not into working on cars. I'm self taught mostly and what I can't do I read a manual or hit the web lol.

They should scan for codes and do compression tests. Other than that I'm not sure what else.

BigBL87
10-30-2011, 09:27 PM
My attempt to change my thermostat was my first try at anything engine-wise, and it made me realize that in time I could learn it, but the key phrase there was "in time."

I'm already looking for CHEAP cars, just as a contingency. Worst case scenario, might talk to my fiancee about buying her car from her and having her buy a new one like she's been wanting to. Might rob what manhood I have left driving a Neon though...

chris_gt_74
10-30-2011, 10:45 PM
My attempt to change my thermostat was my first try at anything engine-wise, and it made me realize that in time I could learn it, but the key phrase there was "in time."

I'm already looking for CHEAP cars, just as a contingency. Worst case scenario, might talk to my fiancee about buying her car from her and having her buy a new one like she's been wanting to. Might rob what manhood I have left driving a Neon though...

My ex wife had a neon. It is small but it was a rather fun little car compared to the boat of a 94 grand prix sedan I had lol.

BigBL87
10-30-2011, 11:14 PM
My ex wife had a neon. It is small but it was a rather fun little car compared to the boat of a 94 grand prix sedan I had lol.

Haha, my 1st car was a 99 Grand Prix that spontaneously caught on fire in the parking lot at work. It was a money pit repair-wise (which is surprising because the GM 3.8 is usually a good engine) but I still loved it. I've driven my fiancee's Neon before, actually fit alot better than I expected (I'm 6'5"), almost better than I do in my GA.