1997 Cavalier overheating

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Old 03-21-16, 09:19 AM
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1997 Cavalier overheating

its got almost 190K on it, it normally runs a little warm in mornings then once thermostat opens it cools down. the other day it ran warmer than usual that morning so I went ahead and replaced thermostat but end of last week I was driving home and it almost hit the H so I'm wondering if its most likely the radiator or waterpump. Its not loosing coolant at all. just trying to figure out what needs to be replaced next. doesn't seem to get really hot until I start driving.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 09:47 AM
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How many bug carcasses are embedded in the radiator?
 
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Old 03-21-16, 10:11 AM
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Do exhaust leak test. That's where I'd start. Pressure wash radiator. Flush the cooling system.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:18 AM
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I don't really see any bugs in it. I did drain a good bit of the coolant and replaced with new when I did the thermostat.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:20 AM
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Have you verified that the fan is coming on when it's supposed to?
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:32 AM
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yes I test drove it yesterday and once I got back in my driveway and it was about 3/4 way up the range I popped the hood and the fan was on. I can take my pressure washer to the radiator and see if anything washes out.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:35 AM
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Not sure I'd use a PWer, a garden hose with nozzle should be sufficient. Do most of the spraying from the backside.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:40 AM
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ok and how about that radiator flush stuff that auto parts stores sell? Its got a lot of miles and this is the first time I've had issues with the coolant
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:44 AM
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I use the radiator flush stuff every time I change out the coolant. Can you look down the radiator neck and get a view of the inside?
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:49 AM
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I can only see what's in the reservoir, my radiator doesn't have a cap. I drained a gallon and a half or so out last weekend with thermostat change. I'll see if I can get some radiator cleaner this evening.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 11:53 AM
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I like to run the radiator cleaner in it for a day so it can do a good job of cleaning it - especially if it's a radiator that has been neglected! What did the old coolant look like? How often has the coolant been changed? was the radiator flushed at that time [even just water helps] or was it just drained and filled?
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:08 PM
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it still had a decent orange tint to it. And I only drained what came out of it when I pulled the thermostat out. when I do the flush, should I just fill it with tap water?
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:18 PM
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I would assume the coolants been changed out multiple times in the last 19 yrs but unless you bought it new you might not know the history.

I always use tap water although I know there are some that advise against it. I suppose a lot depends on your water source and minerals and such that might be in it. When I get ready to flush the radiator I like to open up the petcock and leave a water hose running at the top until everything comes out clear.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:29 PM
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really don't see any flush being able to clean out any clogged cores in the radiator it will just flow through the cores that are open and the clogged cores will remain clogged.
before aluminum and plastic radiators a radiator shop could rod out the cores to clean them by removing the tanks and inserting a rod through each core but not done much anymore I would just replace the radiator if you think its the problem and if its clogged enough they will generally cause overheating while driving.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:37 PM
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sad to say I have had the car since 99' but went by the sticker that's under the hood and said it didn't need any attention until 150K miles. I honestly don't know whats causing the issue but it seemed yesterday it did not really heat up until I drove it. so maybe instead of a flush I'm better off replacing the radiator
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:44 PM
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I think some of the modern day coolants say 150k or 5 yrs. So you are saying until recently the cooling system has never been addressed ?? I'd try the super duty flush stuff and let it circulate on/off for a few days. That might be enough to keep it going. IMO it's worth $10 to see if that will work instead of $100 or whatever that radiator might cost.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:52 PM
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i'll pick some up on way home today and try that. I'll follow the instructions on the bottle, may even pick up 2. radiator is about 80-100 so yea i'll try that first.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:56 PM
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there about 55-60 bucks new on ebay with free shipping probably around 100 or a little more at his local parts store not a very expensive radiator either way.
time it takes to drain and add flush then drain again a few days later and refill just not worth it.
 
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Old 03-27-16, 04:55 PM
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update, i got a new radiator(ebay) as others had suggested, got it put in today and let it warm up for 15 mins or so and it was already over the halfway mark, so I took it for a short 2 mile drive and it got all the way to the top of the "range" on the dash but did not go over. so I am still skeptical that the radiator was the fix. wondering if I should go ahead and do water pump too?
 
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Old 03-28-16, 11:35 AM
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would make sure that the system is full of coolant and just at idle see if the fan cycles on and off the fan generally will not come on till about 230 degrees and go off after it cools the engine off at around 215 this might also give you some idea of what your temp gauge is reading when the fan comes on you can also read the coolant temp with a scan tool if you have one, but you want to look for the fan being able to cool the engine off indicating you do have circulation.
while driving and the vehicle is moving it shouldn't run as hot as you will have constant airflow through the radiator.
 
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Old 03-28-16, 11:56 AM
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i have one of the obd II readers but I don't think it will read that. I did notice after I got back from the drive that if I reveved the car some the temp did go down. It is full of coolant and the fan was on when I got back.
I am also going to try to "bleed" the system this evening by leaving reservoir cap off while car heats up. since I have replaced radiator and thermostat I guess there could be some air in there.
 
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Old 03-29-16, 02:07 AM
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sounds like there still is air in the system might look for a bleeder screw usually located on a coolant pipe or housing that will allow you to loosen it and continue to fill till you see coolant come out.
 
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Old 03-29-16, 05:04 AM
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I did start it with the cap off and it warmed up to a little over half way, did not drive it but left cap off the whole time. did not see the level of fluid drop but then I noticed the bleeder screw on that line. I'll loosen that screw this evening to see if coolant comes out. Do I need to loosen it with the car running?
 
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Old 03-29-16, 05:12 AM
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When I replaced my radiator, I let the car run UNTIL the fluid level dropped (that's basically when the thermostat opens and starts circulating coolant through the system). I pretty much hovered over the radiator until that happened, bottle of coolant in hand, and as soon as it started dropping, I poured coolant into the reservoir until it was full again and tried to make sure NOT to let the reservoir go dry.

It took at least a good 15-20 minutes before the engine reached temp and coolant started circulating.
 
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Old 03-30-16, 04:12 AM
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checked the bleeder screw, as soon as I opened it a bit fluid started coming out. I drove it to work this morning(~30 min) and it never overheated but did get almost to the top of the range. when I turned the heat on I could hear what I think was coolant going into the heater core
 
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Old 03-30-16, 04:55 AM
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would just monitor the coolant level for the next couple of weeks if you find that you do have coolant loss and no apparent leaks would probably suspect a head gasket was a common failure on the 2.2 liter.
 
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Old 03-30-16, 09:41 AM
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I had read about that. But if I'm not getting white smoke out exhaust and oil does not look milky would that still be possible?
 
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Old 03-30-16, 09:52 AM
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Normally if there is a bad head gasket you'll either get water in the oil or the exhaust. If it's bad enough in the exhaust you'll see white in the exhaust but small amounts may go unnoticed.
 
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Old 03-30-16, 10:13 AM
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but if I'm not losing fluid, then it should be good?
 
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Old 03-30-16, 12:45 PM
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Ya, like mentioned above - drive it and keep an eye on the coolant level.

when I turned the heat on I could hear what I think was coolant going into the heater core
That should have been done to start with as the heater core is basically an extension of the cooling system. If you heard coolant entering the heater core it may have had an air pocket. When it cools [after having run the heater] double check the coolant level.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 05:58 PM
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update- so i have replaced the thermostat(on 2nd one now bc i thought 1st was defective), water pump and radiator. I tested 2nd thermostat in boiling water and it opened and i installed in car yesterday but its still running hot. brought home an Infrared thermometer today and determined the thermostat is not opening even thou i got a reading of 210 on the engine side of it and only around 100 on the radiator side. The spring side is inside that aluminum housing which I assume is the correct way, correct me if I'm wrong here. there is no bubbling in coolant tank, not losing fluid or any of that. just wondering why the thermostat is not opening attached is a photo of its locationName:  Thermostat.jpg
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Old 04-28-16, 02:55 AM
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suspect the thermostat hasn't opened up yet should probably run it longer and see if it does open most thermostats are a little slow to open initially so seeing a higher temp than what the thermostat is rated is normal as long as it opens well before the engine starts to overheat 200-230 degrees is a normal engine temp range.
 
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Old 05-08-16, 06:03 PM
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I got a different ect and switched those out today and let the car run 30 mins or so and the temperature gauge was almost at the end of the range and my fan kicked on but I could not tell where my thermostat opened up. the lower radiator house on outside of thermostat still felt almost cold to the touch but the fan was on. I am just trying to figure out if I'm missing something here? I put a 180 t-stat in it from advanced auto. also wondered if it made a difference which one you went with? oem or local auto parts store.
 
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Old 05-08-16, 06:51 PM
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shouldn't matter the ones you buy from your local parts store should be fine, the radiator hoses should be hot by the time the fan comes on I really think you don't have the system full at this point or you have a large air pocket in the engine are you using the bleeder screw when you fill it up? if you remove the upper hose do you see coolant? what about the upper hose close to the radiator is it hot?
 
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Old 05-09-16, 04:26 AM
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Yes I am using the bleeder screw when I put fluid back in. I have the temperature on warm in the car and I have that bleeder screw open when I put fluid back in. once I see coolant coming out of bleeder screw I close that. I am also wondering if I need a new cap for my coolant reservoir, could that be an issue?
 
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Old 05-21-16, 11:13 AM
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Update.....Got an oem thermostat(acdelco) and put that in(tested before installed) and that works just fine. went thru 2 of the carquest ones that did not perform as stated.
 
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