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My car over-heated.... #573996 12/23/05 12:33 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 529
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rob-the-oil-nut Offline OP
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I got a cooling system flush with new rad cap and thermostat 2-3 days ago. A BG flush which included a stop-leak additive (as a matter of course) and GM Dex-Cool. I was impressed at how it ran hotter than the previous thermostat and hoped that my car would be warmer on the coldest 30 or so days of the year. Then I noticed the temp rose above that which is where it gets only in summer if I am in gridlock traffic with the AC on. I shrugged and felt secure. When it exceeded 90 C (? 200 F?) I cranked up the heat & fan and got ready to open all the windows. But no hot air came from the vents!
It got hotter and dinged at me when it hit the red zone. I stopped and opened the hood to let it cool off. I started it again and the temp went right back up, hitting the red zone. At a few points I lost power, either due to the fact the engine just plain couldn't function or the ECM or something made it go into automatic shutdown. I kinda got panicky, it was Fri Dec 23 just before 5 pm. I called the mechanic and parked by his home. He came out and looked at it. Diagnosis: No coolant. No immediate signs of where it went; after some looking, low-location wet spots suggest I need a new rad. I called the auto association for a tow to where he works, where I have spent over $2000 on this car in past 6 weeks (and I am still not mad!) BTW I noticed no steam coming from the hood or anything. Stereo may have made me not hear any hideous noises. And FWIW it was 4 C or about 38 F

The mechanic, a guy that just went from friend to A+ friend, said "It's not much but here ya go" and HANDED ME THE KEY TO HIS OWN PERSONAL CAR. Where do you get service / friends / mechanics like that?

What should 'the shop' look for on Tuesday the 27th? What should *I* look for in the weeks to follow, to ensure no lasting damage was done to any engine part? The oil is Redline 5W30, 7 months old as of Jan 7, as is the by-pass filter; and has 12,000 KM on it. Spin-on filter is a week old. IMHO nothing handles massive heat like Redline but I admit I am biased. The A+ mechanic friend said an oil change was not in order as a result of this, and he highly doubted that any permanent damage was done.
(Yes I did a search for similar situations, closest was "Castrol 10W30 1992 Camry 385 miles engine overheat" by niteskies [member 5602], Oct 03, 2005. I think this case is different enough to make a new post. I hope 'mechanical problems and tips' is the right place to post)
Any additional thoughts??
THANKS
Rob

Re: My car over-heated.... #573997 12/23/05 03:21 PM
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Gary Allan Offline
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I think that you're okay. It's like any "hit" the engine takes, you cut into the long term vitality of it ..but not enough (probably) to mean anything of consequence. So ..you get only 486km instead of 528km [I dont know]

One of the things that I would look for is slow, but measurable, coolant loss. If it was accompanied with the H20/oil Frape~ in the filler hole/PCV line/etc. ..then I would conclude that I either have a leak in the head gasket ..or a crack in either the head or the block.

I've tried not to state this in a tone (that I hear often - I get annoyed by "doomsday" posts [Mad] ) that mandates that you lose sleep over it.

Re: My car over-heated.... #573998 12/23/05 04:52 PM
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ikeepmychevytoo Offline
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To be frank, losing coolant is the worst case scenario, you oftenly get the hot warning too late. In my case engine just stopped on its own, luckily I was at the driveway already, so engine was very slow. No ECM, old plain vacuum controlled engine. However after five years no lost performance or economy.

Re: My car over-heated.... #573999 12/23/05 09:19 PM
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AcuraTech Offline
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My first thought would be that hopefully you didnt blow the head gaskets when it overheated.

My second thought is that since you did a flush, if the air is not properly bled out of the system a large air pocket can develop and cause it to overheat.

Third, maybe the flush just made a previous leak worse or opened a new leak and all the coolant came out.

Re: My car over-heated.... #574000 12/24/05 12:17 AM
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rpn453 Offline
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Any chance it was just some air in the system?

Re: My car over-heated.... #574001 12/24/05 02:06 AM
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Gary Allan Offline
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It appears tons of it due to the leaking rad... [Big Grin]

Re: My car over-heated.... #574002 12/24/05 02:22 AM
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John K Offline
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I had a 93 Mazda 626 with over 160,000 miles that overheated on me on the way to work, went all the way to the top. I thought I kept on top of things but I had it towed to a tire chain shop and when I picked it up they said they added a qt. of oil and some antifreeze, idled it for over 30 minutes and temp gauge was ok! They didn't charge me anything!! I drove it sorta not believing it, but it was fine. Apparently the combination of low on oil and coolant caused the overheat, and I drove it for about 1 year more! Since then I have purchased several sets of tires at this place, so their policy of not charging, not even for the fluids, paid off.....

Re: My car over-heated.... #574003 12/24/05 04:03 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
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toocrazy2yoo Offline
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You were a quart low on the oil, and the radiator ran dry enough to overheat? Did you know all this, or do you fly blind? Is ok to fly blind, but from a patron here, I'd hardly expect it. [I dont know]

Uhmmm... have you checked the oil and radiator since then? [Duh!]

Re: My car over-heated.... #574004 12/24/05 09:43 AM
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rob-the-oil-nut Offline OP
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It had been in for a coolant flush with new thermostat and rad cap. The "BG flush" includes a stop-leak as a matter of course.
This flush was done after a tune-up with new plugs and stuff. 2 weeks earlier it was in for $1100 worth of work also. I'm inclined to drive down there with my spare keys and pop the hood and look, but I'm pretty sure the oil level is just fine. In fact it may have been too high, at least at some point, maybe before I bought it. By ME? OK I admit it's possible it may have been low, it eats no oil and I do not check it. It being too HIGH on my watch? Not likely. The 'worst' was right after the oil change in June, I opened the filler hole and added 4 ounces LC and said to the mechanic that 4 ounces over-full never hurt any engine (OK, with more than a 2 litre displacement). I will have them check the oil level and signs of damage (the main question I have is, what should I be on the look for, since I apparantly missed all that coloured steam coming from my car, and only 1/8 cup maximum is in visible wetness under the hood) but I'll also ask this mechanic, who freely loaned me his own car for the long weekend, when he / they last checked the oil level. I have no reason to believe it was off by more than 1 or 2 mm. FWIW I have found a few small red dots on the snow where I park. They are at least 6" apart so it's either multiple spots or reflect where I parked after driving. But no big puddle of coolant anywhere. Maybe if they hoist it they can see more, I have no idea.
Thank you, Gary Allan, I am confident I would not have lost any sleep due to this anyhow.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Rob

Re: My car over-heated.... #574005 12/29/05 08:48 AM
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John K Offline
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toocrazy - if the question was posed to me, I do try to keep check on things and I was surprized that I was low on oil and on coolant. Don't recall the details as to how that happened, but it did not happen again. I have since gotten rid of the car, but like I said, I had the car for another year or so, I think it had around 175k, and was not a problem....

Re: My car over-heated.... #574006 12/28/05 09:33 PM
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Master ACiD Offline
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that stop leak worked real good didnt it.

Re: My car over-heated.... #574007 12/29/05 01:25 AM
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JK Offline
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did you find the problem yet?


my guess is that the flush loosen up some crud and it developed some leaks.

perhaps radiator hoses weren't properly tightened down?

Re: My car over-heated.... #574008 12/29/05 01:33 PM
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rob-the-oil-nut Offline OP
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Yes, my guess is also that the flush loosened up some crud and thus it developed some leaks.
I was NOT low on oil. I was fine on coolant until the problem started.
Three other items:
1) Follow-up inspection slated for 29th didn't happen, for a variety of reasons. Maybe 30th. Mechanic friend offered to take it to a car wash with me (get off any old coolant) and then look for leaks. Before I heard that offer I went to go wash it and used an undercarriage wash but didn't pop the hood on it. We're looking for a slow but notable leak as a precaution.
2) Rad that was in there had a number on it. It meant nothing to parts places, or GM. What rad that thing was from is anybody's guess. I now have a new rad, installed for a scant $500
3) I keep track of things but when it's in for tire work I assume I can go a month without checking the pressure. 4 months in a row the pressure was totally uneventful, so I think maybe it doesn't have to be once a month (I got Nitrogen fills because that way I don't have to fret and spend 2 hours buying gas because that means checking all these things, plus a logbook...)
After this type of cooling system work, I believe minimal checking should be OK for another 2 years, unless of course I have reason to believe there is a problem (temp guage getting too high, level in recovery reservoir is way off, etc). I DO look at the temp guage and reservoir level more than every 2 years [Razz]
The car was seemingly doing well. It was when I took it in for the preventive work such as the rad flush and trans service that the problems showed themselves. I do NOT take this as a lesson of "let sleeping dogs lie" or "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" because if I did I'd be typing this on a 386 (assuming it wasn't broken) and I'd never get an oil change until the engine siezed. This 'logic' makes perfect sense unless you want to bring in the motto about learning from other people's mistakes. And one mistake is to look at every last system far too often and lose sleep over a tire being down 1 PSI, oil level off by 1 mm, I was a week late in adding the LC....It's a car. It's worth under $10,000. It gets me from point A to point C, and sometimes there is an interesting stop-over or diversion I like to call point B.

My getting plenty checked is arguably what started this in the first place. I'm not interested in checking more things or more often. I get it fixed, look at it periodically and trust that parts of good quality, installed by experienced mechanics, will work, and last.
Two other things: No comments about how the oil hit something like 300 F and how it would have handled it (origional post) and the cooling system ran very nicely (just not hot enough for my liking below -20 C) for the past 2 years, right after it got the Optimum Used Car stamp of approval from a 300-point inspection. Then I had it checked out by an independant mechanic place that does NO repairs and NO referrals, and had all lacking areas addressed before actually buying the car. I regard that as prudent and have no regrets. The assumption that the rad could go 2 years from that time may have been a bit of a stretch but it wasn't irresponsible on my part and I've learned from shooting my mouth off, second-guessing mechanics who actually care, before accusing them of anything wrong, at all.

Merry Christmas and all the best in 2006
Rob

Re: My car over-heated.... #574009 12/30/05 07:02 AM
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unDummy Offline
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Some cars tolerate overheating better then others. Which year/make/model/engine?

Once it is fixed, if it runs good, don't worry about a mild overheat. Isn't it pretty cold out up north????

Re: My car over-heated.... #574010 12/30/05 11:36 PM
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rob-the-oil-nut Offline OP
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"2001 or 2002 Buick LeSabre" engine, said the salesman and a guy from the service department. GM 3800, Series 2.
The temp was no colder than 25 F, perhaps +4 C which is about 35 F.
The needle pegged a few mm farther than I thought it would, the car choked (ECM have an automatic shutdown? Or that was just a side-effect of the over-heating?) and sputtered, surged to 3000 rpm and then went under 750 or stalled, I was too busy freaking.
Someone please define "mild overheat" and tell me this falls into the "minor" category. It is running without incident now but it also was just before it exceeded 90 C or about 200 F. 1/2 hour after that in exceeded the boiling point and then pegged at 150 or 160 C, about 300 F.
Where is that temp sensor and doesn't it give a false low reading if there is no liquid in the cooling system?

All the best in 2006
Rob

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