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Heater quit working, oh bother.....


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11-18-02, 05:53 AM   #1  
Heater quit working, oh bother.....

Picture this. I am out on a local fishing pier that shoots out 1000 ft into the ocean. The day is windy, cold (low 40's) and slightly raining. I've been out there for several hours, all decked out in foul weather gear, hoping for a big redfish to find my chunk of bait on the bottom (this is why I moderate the fishing page and not the automotive page, lol). After catching one young stingray and seeing another guy catch a 4 foot bonnet-head shark, I head for home.

After 30 minutes of running my heater at full blast on the way home, to warm my nearly-cryogenically preserved body, it quits. Abruptly. Cold air coming through. And no apologies, either. HMPH!

Well, all I can say is it quit out of nowhere and won't, regardless of how I jiggle the heater switches, come back (as if that would fix anything anyway). I've never any problem with the heater in any car before.

1986 Olds Cutlass Supreme 2D, 307, 107K miles.


BTW Joe, once I get this heater thing done, I'm gonna reapply that headliner since it's already sagging (cheap glue) and lay it over with VELOUR and also probably lay the dash and all the plastic in the car with the same stuff. Gonna look pimpy once I'm done with it. I'll try to get a pic up once it's done.


So, why would a heater go out suddenly? Could it be a bad fuse or thermostat or something? Some goof I know (a know it all type) said he thinks the heater coil is ruptured. Well, I don't smell that nasy tang of antifreeze anywhere around the car so I don't think that's the problem.

Mako

 
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11-18-02, 06:48 AM   #2  
Well, here's my two cents. If it were the core, I think you would see coolent on the passenger floor board or a big leak in your driveway. My first guess would be an open thermostat. Sounds like it just locked fully open.

 
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11-18-02, 08:50 AM   #3  
thanks

Is the thermostat an easy replace for a novice? I have a Hiltons guide at home (ie, not handy) or else I'd look it up.

Anyhooo, is there any way to tell without taking it to a shop? If the thermo is cheap enough (<$50) I'll just replace it regardless with crossed fingers.

Thanks!!!

Mako

 
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11-18-02, 09:45 AM   #4  
Joe_F
Warm up the car. Turn the heat on. If the heater hoses feel hot, the problem is with the vent door inside the car.

If the heater hoses don't feel hot, flush the cooling system, replace the coolant and change the thermostat.

It's a little tricky on the Olds V8 because it has a bypass hose and some things connected to the water outlet where the stat is, but it's not impossible to do.

 
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11-18-02, 10:28 AM   #5  
Replacing a thermostat on most cars is fairly easy. With a manual a novice should have no problem. Cost will be under $8. Time should be under 15 min. You'll loose a small amount of coolent so be prepared to replace with some new. Unless it is time to, there is no need to drain and flush the system. Note: Hoses can "feel" very warm even if thermostat is open, but not hot enough to produce much heat.
Make sure you place the new thermostat in the housing correctly. "brass button down". There should be an arrow pointing towards the water flow.

 
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11-18-02, 11:49 AM   #6  
um...

Will do. Will give you a report on it Weds when I get back to class.


As an update on this ongoing rebuild on this car, Joe, I still haven't found the problem with the vibration in the rear. I've noticed a slight wobble even at slow speeds (5-15 MPH) and the problem doesn't seem to be a warped rim (there WAS a warped rim but this wasn't the whole problem, and it's replaced now). Not a bubble on the tire either, as I've moved the tires from front to back to left to right and it comes from the same place- the rear.

Considering that I had a warped rear rim, I'm thinking the previous owner hit something fast and hard and warped the rim AND the axle. In my new city I have found an very reputable and hard working mechanic shop (will post on him in a minute) that is willing to help me with all kinds of stuff I can't do. Once class is out he's gonna investigate the axle and replace if necessary.

 
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11-18-02, 12:35 PM   #7  
Joe_F
Ok, let us know what he finds. You could have a missing driveshaft weight or an out of balance driveshaft. He can probably find that.

 
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11-18-02, 12:44 PM   #8  
Well, I'm sure it's not a driveshaft thing unless the thing is out of balance by about 10 lbs or something, lol. The wobble at low speed is just too much. I'm heading to the parts house for a new thermostat. At <$10 it's worth replacing even if it doesn't fix the problem.

BTW I hear a door flop when I slide the temp control thing from cool to hot. Is that the door your are talking about? If so, it sounds like it's working. Will let y'all know weds.

 
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11-18-02, 03:45 PM   #9  
Joe_F
Yes, that is the vent door.

The t/stat is the most likely cause of the no heat condition.

 
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11-18-02, 10:12 PM   #10  
My memory ain't what it used ta be, but don't these era GM's have a vacuum operated control valve? I wouldn't think a thermostat would cause it to lose heat abruptly. Not to say it doesn't need a thermostat.....

 
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11-19-02, 03:58 AM   #11  
Joe_F
Yes, I believe they do. A heater control valve problem is a possibility.

I suggest the t/stat replacement and coolant flush. Now's an appropriate time for coolant flush (with winter coming up).

Barring that, time to look at the Heater control valve.

 
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11-19-02, 10:57 AM   #12  
Well, I picked up a new thermostat and tried to replace it this morning, but ran into a slight problem. I got every nut and bolt removed, but ran into one nut that was too far down on the screw for my socket to get to. Gotta go pick up some long-necked sockets. The problem is the right side (alternator side) bolt. There is some sort of stabilizer bar that wraps around a gadget (dunnow what it's called) and is secured here. Nut on top and nut on bottom. Can't get the one on bottom off. I'll get that sucker off somehow.


And I agree I think a coolant flush is overdue on this puppy. I can't do it now (not really allowed to work on vehicles at the apartment) so I'll have a buddy do it for me soon.

I'm also thinking of running some of that Gunk Motor Flush. What do you think of things like that, and the gas-additive fuel system cleaners and the general Wal-Mart type stuff, Joe? I've put Marvel Mystery Oil in the crankcase of some older engines that idled hard and they ran a good bit better afterword- this car being a good example.

 
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11-19-02, 01:37 PM   #13  
Joe_F
No need for Motor Flush. If anything, install a Prestone back fill/flush kit. Better than any motor gunk you can put there.

Go to Sears and get a set of deep sockets/Craftsman sets. With the holidays coming they have some collosal deals that are hard to beat.

I'm in the "trade" and I have a ton of their tools. Can't beat the price or warranty.

The bracket you are talking about is for the cruise control servo.

I told ya the 307 stat is a little tricky .

 
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11-20-02, 05:55 AM   #14  
ah, the cruise servo!! Uh, I knew that! sure!

Anyhow, I'll prolly be on it tomorrow morning. Lol, everytime I get spare time to work on the blame thing, it's still hot from driving it. It's my only wheels right now. Gonna work on it cold tomorrow morning.

BTW I, of course, got a new gasket. Do I need to add any kind of gasket sealer, or would just wetting it do the trick?

 
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12-10-02, 09:49 AM   #15  
UPDATE: PLEASE FORGIVE ANY FOUL LANGUAGE!

*^$%@%!!!!!

Alright, FINALLY I got the tstat replaced on this POC. Yes it was tricky. So tricky that once I put it all together and tightened the bolts, one of them broke off in the engine block. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I got the broken bit out with a pair of needlenose (it left me about 1/16" sticking up to grab fortunately). Got a replacement bolt and put it all together.


NOW. The heater still doesn't work. I've driven the car a good bit (probably 20 minutes worth) on the new tstat, and it doesn't run hot but the heater still doesn't work.

So, what next? You mentioned the heater door not opening. Maybe- when I slide the temp control I hear the usual *flop* so I think it may be fine.

Maybe a heater control valve that was mentioned earlier?

 
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12-10-02, 09:55 AM   #16  
Joe_F
Fill up the cooling system to specification with coolant/water mix.

Warm up the vehicle. Grab the heater hoses going to the firewall.

Are they hot? If they are, the problem is the blend door inside the car. Check the controls for proper operation.

If the hoses aren't hot, you got a defective stat (yes, even new ones are bad) or a bad heater control valve. The HCV is the thing in the right rear of the intake manifold that one of the heater hoses goes to on a 307.

Good luck.

 
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12-10-02, 10:56 AM   #17  
OK- went to the parts shop for some wiper blades (which I promptly forgot to get) and the guy there helped me find the HCV.

The hoses are only sorta warm. Certianly not hot- pretty sure the valve is the problem. I went ahead and got a new HCV ($16). Problem is, the transmission fluid stick is in the stinking way. The HCV has to screw into place (and getting a wrench to it is a PITA) and that tranny stick prevents me from doing it.

So, how on earth am I s'posed to remove the old one and replace the new one?

 
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12-10-02, 11:00 AM   #18  
Joe_F
Get a crowsfoot wrench and use a long socket extension to get an angle on it.

Alternatively, cut it with a sawall and fit a deep socket over the flange and use a 1/2 drive rachet to whip it out.

Reinstall the new one with an adjustable wrench.

Done .

 
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12-10-02, 11:07 AM   #19  
Well, that *could* work, however, the problem isn't getting just the bolt to turn.

On the valve, the bolt doesn't spin freely, seperate from the actual valve. It's solidly connected. When you turn the bolt, the valve will turn with it. The tranny stick is dead-on beside the valve, and you can't turn the valve to unscrew it.

Even if I was able to cut the old valve off, I wouldn't be able to screw the other valve on.



Sorry for the problems.... I really appreciate your help here. You have no idea how much you've helped me with this car and my dearly departed 1500. This Cutlass has turned out to me much more of a headache than I anticipated......shoulda bought another 1500 instead, lol.

 
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12-10-02, 07:35 PM   #20  
roland1978
You havn't said how long it has been since last flush. Could have a clog in heater hoses going to core. Had it happen once. Pull both heater hose from engine and force water though or pull just one and force water though whole engine. On my problem i had to do it three times. Kept plugging core inlet.

 
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12-11-02, 03:37 AM   #21  
Joe_F
Mako:

This is nothing compared to most cars. Everything is cheap and fairly easy to do on this car. Most people spend far more than you have on their vehicles with more trouble .

I believe you paid slightly too much. I'm a deal mongerer, I go there with cash and cut the guy down well below what he's asking. Usually they bite. Most folks don't refuse cash in hand for a few hundred bucks .

I don't recall the tube being in the way on any 307 I did, but the 307 in the Cutlass is a bit of a tight fit over a Delta 88 or an Olds 98.

Did you look at autolibrary.org????

 
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12-14-02, 01:23 PM   #22  
Well, I tried to check Autolibrary.org but the server I'm on says it's forbidden. I'm not on my usual computer so I'll try again another day- shouldn't have that problem there.


Anyhow, if it helps, I did notice something- this isn't the original engine in this car. The VIN code Y certianly indicates a 307, but the engine valve cover has a red sticker on it that says "GM Remanufactured 307", so this is not the first engine. This car only has 108K miles (verified by Carfax and NC emissions inspections, I have about the last 10 years worth of mileage statements). So I'm guessing that the previous/original owner must have cracked the block or something (running hot, etc...) and had it replaced. The engines incredibly smooth other than when it's cold (carb related more than likely).

So, since this isn't the first engine in this car, there's no telling.

I finallly gave up on it- I am having a local shop do the HCV swap, radiator flush, as well as a choke check and tranny flush.

Once it's done I'll post here what he found.

Matt

 
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12-14-02, 10:07 PM   #23  
1fireman
Up there a few replies you mentioned some of those wal-mart additives. One additive I have found to be extremely effective is called "sea foam" It smothes a rough Idle right out when added to fuel, and loosens up sticky lifters when added to the crankcase, among many other things. It is also a fuel stabilizer. Check it out, it has a million and one uses.

 
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12-15-02, 06:38 AM   #24  
Joe_F
Personally, I keep all those additives on the shelf and spend my money on maintenance products that will keep the car running longer, better, and more efficiently.

I don't use a single additive in any of my six vehicles, just good and regular maintenance. You are better off in the long run

 
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12-21-02, 07:04 AM   #25  
Problem turned out to be the Heater control valve. Once Butch replaced it (I haven't a clue how he got it off unless he removed the tranny dipstick), it was nice and toasty. Lol, now though, here in Charleston, we had a high of nearly 60. I was driving with the windows down. It only got cold when the heater quit. Oh well! That's life!

Thanks again all for the help.

 
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