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Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

 
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Old 20 Aug 2015, 05:10 am
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Default Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

Hello all

Perhaps someone can help
just got a 2003 PT cruiser. Live in the desert, Palm Springs area Calif. The car runs in the mid range on the gauge for quite awhile (ambient 99 to 103F)
All of a sudden it will ramp right up almost to the red line, and boil the overflow bottle.
If we use the AC, it will ramp up almost immediately. After she cools down, and I put coolant back in (radiator is empty as is the overflow tank takes 1 gallon) I can see the thermostat in the neck, and the coolant flows right thru it, showing it's open. My thought was the thermostat would be closed until temperature was reached to open it. At least it would close as I put coolant through it that was colder than thermo temp.
Anyway, any thoughts on what could be happening? no coolant leaks that we can see anywhere, and the fan is running full bore when it's overheating. No visible white silicate residue in the filler neck, nor grey on the oil cap or dipstick.
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Old 20 Aug 2015, 05:39 am
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Default Re: Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

could it be that the fan has lost 1 of its 2 speeds?
mine was overheating a while back gurgling in the overflow bottle
turned out the fan was partially working..

wheres all the coolant going...bottle overflow
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Old 20 Aug 2015, 06:38 am
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Default Re: Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

One speed could be gone. It was really going gangbusteres when I stopped and the bottle was gurgling.
Don't know where the fluid went. The bottle had a "Normal" amount left in it. Next time I'll check. But there wasn't any water under the car by the time i stopped. will check further next time.
Could loss of "Low" speed on fan cause this even though the high speed was working?
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Old 20 Aug 2015, 06:52 am
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Default Re: Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

If the fan isn't the problem, Something very similar happened to me and the recommendation from a friend was to use a higher pressure radiator cap from a turbo model on my NA car.

It's cheap. Worked in my case.
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Old 20 Aug 2015, 07:32 am
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Default Re: Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

I'd change the thermostat and radiator cap if it were mine. Both relatively cheap. You can always rent a pressure tester from your local Autozone or Advance and check the pressure on that cap. If it's OEM, it may be losing its tension on the spring or the rubber gasket could be failing to seal the neck of the radiator.
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Old 20 Aug 2015, 08:36 am
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Default Re: Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

I would suggest doing a coolant pressure test. Make sure your coolant system is not leaking.

Was any work done to the engine before this happened?
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Old 20 Aug 2015, 09:24 am
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Default Re: Intermittent overheating 2003 PT

I agree, a coolant pressure test is due. And perhaps a higher pressure cap as recommended. No repairs have been done recently that we know of on the vehicle. Save replacement of front wheel bearings, which I'm told is an ongoing problem because of bad struts? Does that sound right? That's a problem for another day.
I had also heard that the space between the radiator and the AC/Trans cooler could fill with debris causing overheating, anything on that?
Thanks for all the info, much appreciated. I'm a VW air cooled kinda guy!
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