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Question for Gearheads

on Sun 27 May - 4:55
Hello Everyone! One of our vehicles is continuously overheating. We put new coolant in and it still shot straight up into the red. We actually had to abandon it a few blocks from home, leave it to cool off, and then come back and get it, with my sister following in another car for safety. In the short drive home, it went from a cold engine to overheated by the time I pulled in the driveway.
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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Sun 27 May - 10:19
It sounds like you were lucky you didn't melt the engine block on the way back. You might need to call a repair shop to tow it in for inspection and a repair. Are you trusting? I wouldn't trust any temporary fixes like 'gasket gu' that might temporarily block up a leaking gasket, but just delay major repairs. If you get a quote on repair costs, you can then decide what are the best options for your situation. Hope this helps.
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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Sun 27 May - 10:29
As car problems go, overheating problems are usually pretty simple to diagnose and fix. I’d suspect fan belt, water pump belt, fan motor, thermostat, or water pump. A good article with diagnostics: Engine overheating (link). Google is your friend.

First, locate a car parts store that is open on Sunday and that you can get to on foot or with another vehicle. Do not drive the overheating vehicle, of course. You’ll need to get whatever replacement part(s) are indicated by your diagnosis.

And don’t start repairs without a reasonable set of tools. Finding out that you need a 13mm socket or a digital multimeter on the Sunday night before a major holiday is not fun! Your toolbox should definitely include a 65mm spear shaft. Smile

Next, get a preliminary diagnosis. Easy stuff first.

Pop the hood and check that the fan is turning, If so, that eliminates fan problems. While you’re at it, check that the water pump pulls is turning. This eliminates water pump belt problems, though not the pump itself.

The thermostat’s job is to cut off water flow to the radiator when the vehicle is cold, allowing the engine to come up to temperature quickly. It might be sticking and ALWAYS cutting off the water, meaning that it never gets a chance to cool down in the radiator. The symptom, as the article says, is a cold coolant hose downstream of the thermostat when the engine is hot. (A busted water pump has the same symptom, but usually makes some kind of awful noise as well.)  If it’s the thermostat, you can safely take it out for a while if you can’t get a replacement right away, but you’ll need a thermostat gasket or some gasket material that you can cut to shape.

If it’s a loose belt, you can tighten it yourself.

If the water pump pulley is turning, this does NOT eliminate the water pump. The dang things can break internally and not pump coolant through the engine. Usually they make clanking or squealing noises when they break. Replacing the water pump might be simple or a nightmare, depending on the vehicle.

If you have to replace the thermostat or water pump, you’ll lose coolant which will need to be replaced. This will put bubbles in the coolant system. No big deal, just run the engine until warm, add coolant as needed, and repeat. You can get fancier with this process, but I’ve always found that this has worked.

Oh, and start as early as you can. Your parts store won’t help you if they’ve closed for the night!

Best,
UN


Last edited by Unowen17 on Sun 27 May - 11:40; edited 7 times in total (Reason for editing : Further bloviating)

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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Sun 27 May - 11:14
This, BTW, is one of the odder off-topics I’ve discussed on KS. Others include shrimp creole recipes and Winnie the Pooh. Smile

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UN

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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Sun 27 May - 12:02
It's a 2008 Ford Ranger.

We do still have my sister's car. I can also probably use my grandmother's car since she doesn't drive it anymore. If I can't figure it out on my own, I'm going to have it towed for repairs come Tuesday.
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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Sun 27 May - 12:41
Good luck! Please let us know how you make out.

Best,
UN

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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Tue 29 May - 21:40
Not all vehicles have easily replaceable thermostats. Most now use sensors to control coolant flow. That dates back to the 90s so that might be the problem. You can rent or borrow OBC readers from most parts stores and see what diagnostic codes come up. Replacing most sensors is fairly easy as they are on the side of the radiator. I speak from experience on this.
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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Wed 30 May - 0:26
Sensors can’t control coolant flow. They just, uh, sense things. There has to be some kind of valve involved, whether it’s motor-driven or thermostatic. Or maybe a controllable coolant pump motor or clutch. The number of parts that have to work together multiplies the number of possible points of failure.

Disclaimer: It’s been thirty years since I had to do this stuff. Thankfully.

Best,
UN

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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Fri 1 Jun - 23:07
Hey, guys it was a cracked O ring on the pressure line. It was only letting coolant leak when the truck was running so that's why there was no coolant spill where I park the truck at. Simple enough to fix. I'm just glad it wasn't a cracked radiator or something like that.
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Re: Question for Gearheads

on Sat 2 Jun - 2:06
Cool, in every sense of the word! Smile

Best,
UN

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