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I have a 1992 Plymouth Acclaim with only 34,050 miles, has the 2.5 4-cylinder with a 3-speed automatic. I have had the car for almost a year and aside from routine maintence, new belts, and a new exhaust, has been running trouble-free as a point A to point B car....until last night. During a 30 minute commute on suburb roads, I noticed that the temperature guage was steadily creeping higher and higher to Hot during the first 15 minutes of the trip. The needle hovered just past the normal range for a 20-30 seconds before it quickly returned normal cooling levels, where it stayed until the end of the commute. The car ran strong throughout and wasn't smoking at all, but when the gauge flirted with H, the heater started to blow cool air. The heat came back on when the gauge returned to normal.

Upon arriving home, I checked under the hood with the car idiling. The oil, which was changed last Saturday, looked and smelled good and no coolant was leaking. And since the upper hose was hot after a 30 minute drive, I ruled-out the thermostat as being the culpret. I did notice at that time the cooling fans were never on while the car idiled in park - unsure if that's normal.

Before I started the car earlier today, I checked the radiator and found there was hardly any coolant in the radiator, while the overflow tank was above the maximum level. After work I had the local lube and wash place flush the radiator, but that hasn't made much of a difference. As of now, the gauge strays outside of normal 15 minutes after warm-up, then goes back to normal without displaying any signs of overheating. Hope this helps, as I am stumped as to what could be going wrong with my Acclaim.
 

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DynastyTradesman said:
I have a 1992 Plymouth Acclaim with only 34,050 miles, has the 2.5 4-cylinder with a 3-speed automatic. I have had the car for almost a year and aside from routine maintence, new belts, and a new exhaust, has been running trouble-free as a point A to point B car....until last night. During a 30 minute commute on suburb roads, I noticed that the temperature guage was steadily creeping higher and higher to Hot during the first 15 minutes of the trip. The needle hovered just past the normal range for a 20-30 seconds before it quickly returned normal cooling levels, where it stayed until the end of the commute. The car ran strong throughout and wasn't smoking at all, but when the gauge flirted with H, the heater started to blow cool air. The heat came back on when the gauge returned to normal.

Upon arriving home, I checked under the hood with the car idiling. The oil, which was changed last Saturday, looked and smelled good and no coolant was leaking. And since the upper hose was hot after a 30 minute drive, I ruled-out the thermostat as being the culpret. I did notice at that time the cooling fans were never on while the car idiled in park - unsure if that's normal.

Before I started the car earlier today, I checked the radiator and found there was hardly any coolant in the radiator, while the overflow tank was above the maximum level. After work I had the local lube and wash place flush the radiator, but that hasn't made much of a difference. As of now, the gauge strays outside of normal 15 minutes after warm-up, then goes back to normal without displaying any signs of overheating. Hope this helps, as I am stumped as to what could be going wrong with my Acclaim.
This is usually a headgasket problem. I have had a couple of cases where I found the headbolts to be loose and got away with re torquing them. This is not normally recomended but something to consider, especially if you are the curious type.

Thanks
Randy
 

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You are probably getting air into the system from somewhere. Could be the headgasket or could be a bad hose clamp or anything in between. The air keeps the thermostat from working properly.
 

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+1 on Mark's post. Air is getting into the system somewhere - either from headgasket starting to go or from a weak clamp.

I had a '92 Acclaim with the 2.5L long ago - served us well logging over 300K miles. A leaky heater core was its demise. Replaced it with a '90 Acclaim that had 240K when I sold it. Anyway, I'd thoroughly check and possibly replace all hose clamps including the heater hose clamps. Even though your Acclaim has low miles, it's still a 20 year old car and the OEM clamps do lose their strength over time. May want to replace the hoses as well. Rubber components don't hold up well over time.

Be careful replacing the heater hoses - you don't want to tug on the hoses to remove them from the heater core connections. Instead, cut slits and peel them off. The heater hose running from the core to the water pump is a tapered hose - 5/8" at the core and 3/4" at the pump (if my memory serves) and might need to be special ordered.

Another trick you can do is to remove the thermostat, drill a hole in the flange (flat area) with a 1/16 drill bit and reinstall with the hole at the 12 O'clock position. On theses engines the thermostat housing is the highest point in the cooling system and any air can get trapped at that point and not allow the thermostat to open. The hole will allow any air to escape to the radiator and eventually burp out via the cap. I'd replace the cap as well. Stant makes good caps and relatively cheap - about $5-$10.

Now if you do all this and still have overheating issues, it may be the early signs of a failing headgasket. Unfortunately, Chrysler went cheap on the OEM headgasket and they often fail between the cylinder #1 & #2 right near a coolant passage. Usually it was due to the HG getting crushed improperly during assembly. They usually fail in such a way that coolant doesn't get into the combustion chamber but exhaust gases do get pushed into the coolant passage which begins to displace the coolant - hence the full coolant reservoir and nearly empty radiator.

At only 34K miles I'd really be surprised the HG is failing - they usually didn't fail so early. If it is indeed the head gasket, be sure to use a Mopar Performance head gasket. They are known to be good. Felpro's at one time were known not to last more than 50K miles, but I've heard they have sinced improved them(?). Not sure on that. You'll need new head bolts too. The bolts are stretch-to-yield and should not be reused.

If you're a good do-it-yourselfer, a head gasket replacement is doable, but can be a challenge. A competent shop will probably charge $600+.

With such a low mileage vehicle, I would not hesitate to replace the headgasket even if I had to have a shop do the work. These are very dependable vehicles, cheap to maintain, inexpensive to insure, sufficiently roomy, and with the 4 cylinder get decent fuel mileage. I usually averaged 24-25 mpg with mine and could get 27-29 mpg on the highway. They are fairly easy to work on. Tune up (plugs/wires/dist cap/rotor) is easy and I got to the point I could almost do the front brakes in my sleep - usually in about an hour in my driveway.

Wish I could find another one in decent shape, but they are hard to find in my area. And the ones I do find are truly worn out.
 

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I had a similar problem with the 94 Spirit I had and finally tracked it down to a loose radiator hose clamp. It took me a couple of weeks to find it. Check all of your hose clamps, including the heater hoses.
 

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I agree with the above - either ingesting air from a loose hose clamp, or head gasket is failing. Tighten clamps, and then to check the head gasket: do a compression test; take the radiator cap off when engine is cold and idle the engine, watching for bubbles from exhaust blowing back from a cylinder; look for white smoke in the exhaust. A car this old, even with low mileage, could have a bad gasket. And air in the system is why the heater ran cool. This happened to me when my head gasket failed. It was two days after the thermostat stuck, that the overheating and smoke appeared, and furious bubbling in the coolant with the cap off.
 
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