95 Chevy Lumina LS Overheating Issue (Tons of details)

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Old 05-28-10, 06:40 AM
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95 Chevy Lumina LS Overheating Issue (Tons of details)

Okay, first off, thanks for creating this forum, I have much love for people who help others and create forums as useful as this.

The Problem: 1995 Chevrolet Lumina LS Overheating issue. Cold air now comes out of the vents when heat is set to on (REALLY cold, not just room temp).

History: The car is 15 years old and had around 70k miles when I bought it. I noticed some issues with it overheating when i first drove it as it had been sitting for a month or two. Before that, the car's record was spotless, no malfuntions, oil changed regularly. We had some minor flooding (up to the brake calipers) and I killed the car it wouldnt start. I replaced the battery, alternator, starter, thermostat, and belt already. Since the starter is at the bottom (where the water was) I figured that had to be what it was from.

The car still overheated and we found several clues to help know what is going on. First, when the air conditioner was on, the car would push coolant through the top radiator hose. When the a/c was off, no coolant in top hose. Same thing with the heat, although I had to turn it to the defroster (front window using the hot air from vents, NOT rear defroster) setting for it to work. During the summer, the A/C setting was set to MAX A/C as it would overheat if set to Face/Feet or straight Face setting (both were the blue colored icons). Also, we know the car temp sensor is working because when you feel the radiator hose and it overheats, there is no water coming through. But when you turn the ac or heat on, you can feel the water rushing through.

We bled the system, flushed, bled, flushed, bled. Just recently, I put 93 (premium gas) octane for a trip where I was doing a lot of driving, I thought it would clean out my engine slightly as its already really clean. Upon putting the gas in, the car died as I was pulling away from the pump. Started her back up and we drove it home (2 hrs) without incident. The car sat for a day, then my girlfriend used it to go to work for a couple days.

Just yesterday, she came home and the temp was already high when I got in. (slightly over half way) I was thinking this was just normal and turned the air all the way up like i normally do to fix it, but to no avail. Then, I went for the heat and it didn't do ANYTHING and i noticed we weren't sweating either (cause its REALLY hot here) which led me to notice it was blowing cold air out of defroster when it was set for high heat. After that, the temp needle soared to the right, and I noticed a new light on my car, a red thermometer right next to the temp gauge. I immediately came back home and parked it.

So, NOW, I am scouring the internet using google to try to find out what's going on and if there are any problems similiar to mine. There are TONS of them. Not just with the lumina either. Also, there was a page which stated something about the Dex Cooling system from 95 - 2001 models and a lawsuit/settlement. BUT GM Has declared chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization) and it is unclear as to how that effects me. Dex Cool Litigation Website. Apparently they would pay $800 dollars because my car is so low mileage to have this fixed. How true this is, and if its still valid is unknown. There is a bunch of legal mambo jambo on that site that makes no sense to me.

So, I'm posting this stuff up here to get some advice. I am fairly competent with cars and mechanics (just dont have specialized tools to check fluid emission levels and such).

From what I've been reading my head gasket could be blown, manifold gaskets, or something might be clogged. I tried to bleed it, but it seems like its doing nothing.

Facts: Engine coolant low light comes on normally, but I used to be able to turn the a/c or heat on to cool it down (or drive it). Nothing works now.

No coolant is passing through the top rad hose.

Fans come on as they should.

Engine oil does not appear to be leaking. Engine oil is clearish brown, not milky.

Coolant reservoir looks semi brown but it also looks like its been sitting in the reservoir as the levels do not change when hot or cold.

This happened after I put 93 octane in it. Happened before with same gas, but it went away rather quickly.

Cold air blows out of heater vents. A/C works perfectly.

Next, I am going to try to elevate the car, and bleed the air out of the system using that method, but I am pretty sure that won't fix it.

Low coolant light stays on, but it almost always pops on after driving for a few minutes anyway.

Car overheats within 2 minutes of starting her up and almost redlines before I shut it down.

ANY advice, even if you took it in to get fixed, would be greatly appreciated.

 
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Old 05-28-10, 07:56 AM
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UPDATE: A random dude who I never saw before came up and just talked with me about the car and looked at it and all. Didn't help much, but I guess he has whats known as the magic touch.

Put it on a jack, elevated it, and FINALLY the coolant was coming out of the bleeder valves. BOTH. Car is back to normal it appears.

Process used: Elevated car on the front to make the rad cap the highest point of the car. Then, started the car with rad cap off. Opened the bleeder valves and poured in regular old water (about 1 - 1.5 gallons). saw it shooting out of bleeder valves with air bubbles so I kept adding water and it works now. Temp stable when air or heat is on. Air Conditioner must be set to MAX and on number 2 strength setting for it to cool like it should. Or Heater should be set to window defrost and on 1 or 2 for it to cool.

I am going to test it, but I've seen other people who had this professionally done and the problem comes back a couple days later.

EDIT: UPDATE: Okay, pulled the car down and now a new set of issues arose. When i opened the engine up, some brown fluid was on the hood and flung out when i opened it. Losing power at stopped speeds, and VOLTS light comes on now. Power steering is gone. Belts squeal, and now there is smoke coming from the passenger side wheel and its leaking fluid out of it. Brownish fluid.
 
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Old 05-28-10, 02:34 PM
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Yikes, you seem to have a nightmare.

First things first; it sounds like you had an air bubble in the cooling system. This would account for lack of heater function and overheating. Additionally you may be having a problem with the controls for the ac/heat, possibly a vacuum leak to one of the vacuum-controlled actuators.

Brown fluid under the hood sounds like gunk from radiator or from bottom of coolant recovery tank (sometimes crap settles to the bottom over time). When you bled it and topped it off you may have gotten some coolant out the overflow hose when you put the cap back on the system pressurized.

Belt squeeling/loss of power/no PS/battery light on I think you may have a seized up accessory either alternator, ac compressor, PS pump, or water pump (have to check and see if that's an external pump or timing belt-driven).

I think you have your work cut out for you.
 
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Old 05-28-10, 02:36 PM
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Okay, your water pump is timing belt driven rather than external and driven by the serpentine. Think I would take the serpentine off and see if all the accessories free-wheel.
 
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Old 05-28-10, 04:26 PM
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Keep careful tabs on your temp gauge. It is possible to get out the air at hand, but have more air infiltration if head gasket going. Symptoms can include unexplained oscillations with the temp gauge, and also bubbles showing up in the coolant reservoir right after first idling the car, and also the reservoir not rising then falling after hot then cold cycles the way it normally should, and also the disappearance of coolant, that can't be explained by an external leak. In latter stages, spark plug affected can be steam cleaned + plug failure.
 
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Old 05-29-10, 10:02 AM
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Here is what I've found out so far. It is the water pump, mainly the seal. The squealing was caused by the fluid leaking on to the belt and yes, it was probably rust from the water pump.

Here is the deal, the water pump has about 4 bolts, kinda small, and when i turn it, there is no way to keep it from spinning. Is there a method used to keep the wheel still while i unscrew the casing? Its right behind the wheel, the water pump, and it only costs $17.99 to replace. I do believe the head gasket is fine, as i drove it back immediately after it was running hot.

How i know its the water pump, i filled it (almost 2 gallons) with coolant, and it came out of the water pump when i squeezed the bottom hose. It spilled out everywhere.
traced the leak back and found that to be the problem. Only thing now, to get that wheel to stop spinning.
 
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Old 05-29-10, 11:37 AM
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Good luck, the last time I did a water pump myself I broke off 2 bolts while taking the bad pump off. Used extra sealant and car was fine.
 
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Old 05-29-10, 03:23 PM
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Are you sure the primary fan comes on when up to temp? When you turn on AC it turns on both fans thats why temp goes down when AC is on. On water pump leave belt on to take off bolts first then take off belt.
 
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Old 05-29-10, 05:32 PM
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Okay, when leaving the belt on to take off pump, wheel still spins. its a flat wheel so thats to be expected, nothing to grab onto. So what i did was just use two wrenches to break them free, then when it came to the fourth, it was easy enough to just hold the wheel in place. Simple fix. Four bolts on wheel, 5 on water pump, take off belt, thats it...easy as pie. no core charge at autozone, told me to use it as a paperweight heh.

Gonna let the sealent cure for the full 24 hours. Hopefully this will fix my car. I think my problem came from using straight water with a minimal amount of coolant on these alluminum water pumps.

Thanks for your help, will let you know how it turns out.
 
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Old 05-30-10, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by stephen730 View Post
I do believe the head gasket is fine, as i drove it back immediately after it was running hot.
???

Let's hope so. **************************
 
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Old 05-30-10, 12:02 PM
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got a new problem, let it cure for 24 hours, and then the lower hose broke too. So I'm off to grab a new one. will post updates. And as for the head gasket not being fine, I don't notice any seeping oil, or any leaks, oil looks good in dipstick, and the engine runs very smoothly. I'm not sure, i will remove some spark plugs to check it for deposits or changes but here's to hoping.
 
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Old 05-30-10, 12:39 PM
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Good luck with it Stephen 730!!
 
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Old 06-01-10, 06:45 AM
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Alright, here is the end result. After replacing the water pump and broken hose, the engine started running hot again. It would idle up to the correct temp (a little under half way), Air/Heater works great, and then I would drive it. All seems good but when I pulled up at dunkin to get some coffee, the engine ran hot when sitting in line. I drove it back and it starts to go down in temp when I drive it. Turning on the A/C did not make the temp normalize anymore. The heater doesnt appear to turn down the temp like it used to either, now i have to put the heat to the face setting to cool the engine, instead of the defroster setting.

Someone reccomended that I remove the thermostat completely just to see what happens. Is this a good idea? Why would I need a thermostat and what would be the possible downfalls if I remove it completely, or jam it open? I've replaced it already with a new one, but I've been told those things are cheap, made in china, and go bad even after replacing them.
 
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Old 06-01-10, 08:14 AM
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are U sure U got 'all' the air out of the cooling system?
find-& disconnect a coolant hose,that is on the eng side of the T stat /heater hose probably. fill w/coolant mix untill coolant starts to flow from hose& connection.
(some eng have a dedicated place to bleed air)

IF-practical-remove T stat.place in small pan of boiling water on stove-should 'see' it open.

possible -head gaskets leaking?
 
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Old 06-01-10, 08:42 AM
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Are you sure the primary fan is coming on? when you sit at idle and not moving car will over heat if fan does not work. When driving air moves tru radiator cooling eng.
 
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Old 06-01-10, 04:02 PM
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When the engine starts to get warmer than it should (do not wait for engine to get hot as you can damage it!...if it hasn't been damaged already), quickly pull over, and raise the hood, and make sure both the fan is running, and the upper radiator hose is hot. The fan may not run if the upper hose is not hot, if the reason for it is NOT from a stuck-closed thermostat, but rather from air trapped behind the thermostat, as this will also affect the sending unit that tells the fan to come on.

You could remove the thermostat for temporary running purposes. But is not a good idea to leave it out, because computer determined gas mixture is dependent on having your car run at the thermostat-determined (195f?)temperature. Also is not good for the engine from the sense that the proper expansion of internal parts, and weight of oil, was engineered for the proper running temperature.

Unless you actually test the thermostat in a pot of water per newtofta's suggestion, you really will not know the cause of overheating, if you simply replace the stat. As I mentioned earlier, a perfectly good stat may not open when it should, if there is air trapped behind the stat. I know all about this stuff, unfortunately.
 
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Old 06-01-10, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
When the engine starts to get warmer than it should (do not wait for engine to get hot as you can damage it!...if it hasn't been damaged already), quickly pull over, and raise the hood, and make sure both the fan is running, and the upper radiator hose is hot. The fan may not run if the upper hose is not hot, if the reason for it is NOT from a stuck-closed thermostat, but rather from air trapped behind the thermostat, as this will also affect the sending unit that tells the fan to come on.

You could remove the thermostat for temporary running purposes. But is not a good idea to leave it out, because computer determined gas mixture is dependent on having your car run at the thermostat-determined (195f?)temperature. Also is not good for the engine from the sense that the proper expansion of internal parts, and weight of oil, was engineered for the proper running temperature.

Unless you actually test the thermostat in a pot of water per newtofta's suggestion, you really will not know the cause of overheating, if you simply replace the stat. As I mentioned earlier, a perfectly good stat may not open when it should, if there is air trapped behind the stat. I know all about this stuff, unfortunately.
(thanks, for stating-that 'I' might have a possible source of the promlem)
 
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Old 06-04-10, 05:05 PM
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VERY COOL! I never knew that about the thermostat, also, never knew that about the gas mixture. Now remember, all this started from me adding premium gas in when i usually use midgrade. ALSO, this happened before when i added premium but it went away rather quickly. But once again, thank you so much for your input. If I wasnt out of town at this point, i would drop it in the boiling water RIGHT NOW. But unfortunately, I cant do this. So thank you thank you thank you, I will definately check this out.

I drove it for about 2 hours and when we got to the destination, it was just barely overheating. I turned on the heater but it didnt do squat. So i shut her off, and now it seems to be fine even when I'm idling in line at a fast food joint. Looks like I got a clearer picture of what to do now.

THANKS!!!
 
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