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cooling system gremlins

Discussion in 'PT Cruiser' started by ajbwalk, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. ajbwalk

    ajbwalk Member

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    I've had issues with my cooling system in my pt cruiser for a little while I keep thinking I've solved the problem and then it over heats a few weeks later. So far I have replaced the radiator cap, thermostat twice, pressure tested the block for a gasket leek, pressure tested each hose, flushed the entire system quite a few times.
    Now this last time it overheated the coolant tank was overflowing and the radiator had no coolant in it. So I filled up the radiator with coolant drove home temperature stayed at the halfway point. Next day I drained the coolant system, refilled it drove round for an hour normal temperature was seen.
    So what is wrong with my cooling system? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Aaron
     
  2. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    If the radiator emptied into the coolant tank and overflowed it, it means that:

    1) The cap may be bad and opened too early, or wasn't tightened fully.
    2) Exhaust gas pressure from a bad head gasket or cracked head may be pushing coolant into the jug.
    3) There is no siphoning back from jug into radiator, which means a cracked jug or loose or split overflow hose.
    4) You trapped a LOT of air in the system, it forced coolant out into the jug, and has finally purged itself.

    But if it's as severe as you imply, #3 is probably not a factor.
     
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  3. dana44

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    PT Cruisers are very good at not overheating unless there is a problem, they tend to burp themselves very well so air doesn't get trapped very easily, and given everything has been checked as far as head gasket leaks and the likes, everything changed, then you are down to the water pump itself. It is recommended the water pump and idler pulley is changed when the timing belt is changed, not sure when this is scheduled to be done or how many miles you have on her.
     
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  4. ImperialCrown

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    A cooling system pressure test or compression test may not catch a head gasket leak. You will want to perform a cylinder leak-down test. With the cap off and air pressure applied to each cylinder through the spark plug hole (valves closed), look for bubbles in the coolant.
     
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  5. ajbwalk

    ajbwalk Member

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    Doing the timing belt and water pump is on my to do list as its with in 10000miles of needing it done. The main reason I replaced the radiator cap in the first place is I had coolant coming out of the side of the cap. So presumably now I have a new cap on and there's no coolant coming out the caps good right?

    As I shut off the car today after driving from work there was a loud sound that sounded like emptying a soda bottle upside down. Is this normal or a symptom of something?

    Thanks for all your advice so far.
    Aaron
     
  6. Gerry G

    Gerry G Well-Known Member

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    What were the driving conditions, example, highway driving over 60mph, stop and go city, idling at stop light? Has it been confirmed the fans are turning on as needed? When it overheated, how high was the needle?

    I am currently fighting a similar issue that included replacing the fans and radiator (twice). I suspect the the first overheating incident may have warped the head and there is now a head gasket leak. I can let you know in 2 weeks after the timing belt, water pump et. al. is replaced and the head is pulled for a check. Not certain what started it all but the initial overheating was on the highway at 70mph. The first seemed to be a leaking radiator and loss of coolant.

    Hope this helps,

    Gerry G.
     
  7. dana44

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    Had a similar sound on mine, turned out to be low fluid and it would heat up, steam pop the radiator cap and go into the overflow. Kind of sounded like someone with a plastic hammer banging under the hood. It turned out I had a bad radiator cap, but my temp still never went above medium. This would be an indication that the fluid in the engine is low to start with, so allowing the engine to cool, (try to find and park in a place where the front end of the car is sitting a little higher than the rear while it is cooling off), pull the cap and fill with 50/50, turn the car on, watch the radiator with the cap OFF. In several minutes you should start seeing the fluid flow and slowly rise. When you do, cap the radiator and add what is necessary to put the level of the overflow between cold and hot, check when you stop. Another thing you can do is smell the radiator fluid. It should smell sweet, see if it smells like exhaust or gas (then you have a leaky head gaske)t.
     
  8. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    Did you buy a cap with the same pressure rating as the original? Some are 13 psi, some are 16. It's important to get the exact same rating.
     
  9. ImperialCrown

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    According to the Stant catalog, PTs used 16# caps until 2005, then switched over to 18# caps.
    There are combustion leak testers than turn a sample of coolant yellow in the presence of CO2 (combustion gas). Our shop has one.
    http://www.uview.com/site/ywd_uview/assets/pdf/99081870_comb-leak.pdf
    Once a leak is confirmed and the head is off, you can usually see the 'path' visibly from the cylinder bore edge to the coolant passage.
    In most cases it is a 'combustion chamber-to-water jacket' MLS (multi-layer steel) head gasket leak. The 2.4L head itself usually holds up well with very rare warping or cracking (unless it is allowed to severely overheat).
    Chrysler does not recommend shaving or planing the head. If it is that bad, replace it, you only want to do this job once. Resurface the head with a 3m Roloc bristle to prepare the sealing surface, do not sand or scrape.
    I have found that the leak usually starts when the aluminum starts to pit between the steel gasket and aluminum surface (dissimilar metals/battery action with coolant as the electrolyte) due to the corrosive action of old or wrong coolant. You generally won't see oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. TheMan

    TheMan What color are the clouds in your world?
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    This is what happens with trapped air in the system that is not properly purged of the entrapped air. As circulation stops, the mass of coolant above the bubble, trapping the air, overcomes the surface tension of the bubble and "gurgled" to a lower level by gravity.
     
  11. ajbwalk

    ajbwalk Member

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    Update
    So I tested for a head gasket leek. Found a leek, took the head off, looks like previous owner used one of those bottles of head gasket "repair". So when I was testing sometimes it would pass, sometimes it wouldn't. Lets hope this solves my cooling system gremlins. Thanks for all the help guys.
     
  12. Gerry G

    Gerry G Well-Known Member

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    As a followup, the head was warped. There was a bit of wash in one of the cylinders but not enough to cause any damage. All is back together and should take care of the problem (very reliable local mechanic that does stand behind his work, 2nd radiator was at no charge). Note the initial overheating was caused by a leaky radiator (low coolant) and first noticed at 70mph on the highway.

    Gerry G.
     
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  13. Keith Mccormick

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    Im having an overheating and coolant disappearing issue. About 2 weeks ago I changed water pump & timing belt ever since then it has overheated... Now I'm thinking that I got my Timing off or to advanced, bad water pump, or head gasket issue. I've put new cap, new thermostat, new fan, new radiator, and I've flushed everything including the heater core. Can someone else chime in for me? Im sick and tired of dealing with this.
     
  14. ImperialCrown

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    Welcome to Allpar. As long as you see no external leaks, diagnose for a possible head gasket leak?
    It is easy to get the timing marks off the first try. Roll the crankshaft over 2 turns and then double-check the timing marks. I use a dental mirror and small straight edge ruler to verify that the cam sprocket marks are directly in-line. You can't get a head-on view of the cam marks without a mirror.
    [​IMG]
     

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