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  #1  
Old 4th March 2016
mpg1970 mpg1970 is offline
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Default Coolant in expansion tank stays cold!

Hello,

About 3 weeks ago, I was driving along and suddenly had white steam from the passenger side of my 9-3 convertible (99-02). There was coolant gushing out but temp gauge hadn't moved or suggested overheating, and I got no indication that coolant needed topping up. The coolant had all evaporated though. It took nearly 13/14 ltr to fill it up. Got roadside assistance, did sniffer test which was positive (no fumes). Had had water pump changed a few weeks before that and a new thermostat as a result. Still no fumes, no "Mayo" in oil tank, no white dense smoke from exhaust, no suggestion of head gasket problem.

Last night it did the same, smoke and boiling coolant, had to cool down and refill. Roadside assistance chap also chucked in some Kseal for good measure. Today the car seems fine BUT I noticed after driving about 3 miles to work that the coolant had not heated up at all. I'm now thinking that there might be a rad blockage stopping coolant getting to all radiator and this might be causing the massive overheating? The heater is blowing hot air fine but temp gauge dead as a dodo so I'm now in the ridiculous situation of driving round with the heater on full and the windows down!

Any ideas what might be causing the coolant not to heat up?? I ferry my two kids around in the car so I can't really afford to keep breaking down like that and I'm worried that the garage will fuddle me with techie speak because I'm a girl!
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  #2  
Old 4th March 2016
mdopole1 mdopole1 is offline
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Your thermostat could be seized up. I would replace that. Its cheap.
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Old 4th March 2016
mpg1970 mpg1970 is offline
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Your thermostat could be seized up. I would replace that. Its cheap.
Thanks for that. I changed it a couple of weeks ago and then I had the same steam problem last night. Really not sure what else to try...

Am now told that might not have been the correct thing to do and maybe I should've had steel seal instead, can I add that in now?
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Old 4th March 2016
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What year specifically is the car, difference with the temp sensors on 1999 vs. later cars (model years in the US).
I'd check two things:
1. The expansion tank cap, if it isn't sealing properly, you will get coolant boiling out even at normal temps.
2. The temp sensor for the gauge (its on the side of the head, on a 2000 or later car its also used by the ECU so you would likely get a CEL, but 1999 you wont since its just used by the fans and gauge). Since this controls the fans, if the DICE isn't getting a reliable signal then the fans wont kick on when they should and the gauge wont show the car has over heating.

When the car is meant to be up to temperature feel the upper radiator hose, it should be hot and firm, if it is the thermostat is working. Normally a bad thermostat is shown by overheating on the gauge, but if you have both a thermostat and sensor problem it could be doubly hard to diagnose.

I'd never use any of that sealing crap, its designed to plug small holes, just like it will in the passageways in the heater core, radiator and turbo
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  #5  
Old 4th March 2016
EdT EdT is online now
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Just a note, under normal circumstances the coolant in the reservoir won't heat up. A little bit of coolant will be pushed up into it as the car warms up and the coolant in the engine/rad expands, but it should not be circulating through the reservoir.

As Jake said, feel the upper rad hose. If it's hot, then the thermostat is opening. If stays cold when the car is warmed up, the thermostat is stuck closed. It should also get firm. If it does not, then there's a leak somewhere.
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Old 5th March 2016
mpg1970 mpg1970 is offline
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Thanks everyone. I've just changed the tap on expansion tank in case it wasn't sealing properly.

My model is a 2000. I can't remember getting a CEL at all prior to the steam pouring out so maybe the sensor has been damaged although on my display panel (in techie talk, the bit with the date, time etc. where I also get all the messages such as "fill coolant" or "screen wash") didn't show up anything about filling up the coolant, which I normally get when it gets slightly below the line.

Is the DICE the diagnostic system?

I drove around bit yesterday and then checked the hoses, the top one was warm (I wouldn't say proper hot but maybe I didn't go far enough, just a few rounds round our village) but I'm
Less sure about firm, it wasn't limp or very squishy, but it had some give in it. For all I know I've been conned on the thermostat issue and he's not changed it at all...

Last edited by mpg1970; 5th March 2016 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 5th March 2016
mpg1970 mpg1970 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdT View Post
Just a note, under normal circumstances the coolant in the reservoir won't heat up. A little bit of coolant will be pushed up into it as the car warms up and the coolant in the engine/rad expands, but it should not be circulating through the reservoir.

As Jake said, feel the upper rad hose. If it's hot, then the thermostat is opening. If stays cold when the car is warmed up, the thermostat is stuck closed. It should also get firm. If it does not, then there's a leak somewhere.
When you say reservoir do you mean the expansion tank? Thanks for all this, I will check it all out. Really worried about driving it without sensor working, wondering whether it might also be air locked? Thinking of flushing it out and refilling to try and make airtight?
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Old 5th March 2016
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The top hose will never be rock hard, but it should be firm like it is full of water under a decent amount of pressure when fully hot.
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Old 5th March 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpg1970 View Post
When you say reservoir do you mean the expansion tank? Thanks for all this, I will check it all out. Really worried about driving it without sensor working, wondering whether it might also be air locked? Thinking of flushing it out and refilling to try and make airtight?
Yes, exactly. Expansion tank = reservoir.

I think you can top up with distilled water or 50/50 mix to find the leak. Once it's found and fixed, draining and refilling with fresh coolant would be a good move. I would not put in new coolant until the leak is fixed.
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Old 7th March 2016
mpg1970 mpg1970 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdT View Post
Yes, exactly. Expansion tank = reservoir.

I think you can top up with distilled water or 50/50 mix to find the leak. Once it's found and fixed, draining and refilling with fresh coolant would be a good move. I would not put in new coolant until the leak is fixed.
Hi thanks for that. I've now had the cooling system "bled" as it was airlocked. Seems better now and no leak. Yes, I will be flushing the whole system out at the weekend and refilling with correct level, especially as we're predicted some snow!
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Old 7th March 2016
mpg1970 mpg1970 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakejm79 View Post
The top hose will never be rock hard, but it should be firm like it is full of water under a decent amount of pressure when fully hot.
Thanks Jake, really appreciate your advice.

I had an airlock but I've now fixed it, coolant circulating normally now. Also, thanks for the tip on the temp sensor, I've now identified a faulty temp sensor, which causes both the failure of the dashboard gauge and also for the radiator fan to not kick in. I think the sensor failure has been intermittent which why it's not been overheating the whole time. Have now manually changed setting on fan to start each time I turn the engine on, I'm told that it will not do engine any harm. So hopefully nothing will overheat while that is in place. But even though my car is a 2000 model, I still didn't get an CEL...

But I think that, because the engine is not fully heating, it's not blowing really hot air through the heater. So having that repaired this week and hoping for the best.

There's a chance I have a small leak from coolant to exhaust, not really noticed levels change much so must be a small leak in gasket - if any, we've had cold weather here and so might have a lot of condensation... At least I'm hoping that. You said you don't hold much by the sealants, but if this is a small leak and I can't afford to have gasket repaired, would steel seal do the trick for a while?

Thanks again!
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Old 7th March 2016
mpg1970 mpg1970 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakejm79 View Post
The top hose will never be rock hard, but it should be firm like it is full of water under a decent amount of pressure when fully hot.
I'm also thinking I might have a faulty ECU because I occasionally get a random Air Bag signal which then disappears, my revs got stuck once or twice, and my engine kind of misfired (now sure how else to describe it) when I started it, sounded like battery was flat but then was fine (and battery was replaced in January anyway)...

Are these symptoms?? Anything else I should be looking out for? Thank you!
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