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My Cooling System: I hate it!

 
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 01:55 pm
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Default My Cooling System: I hate it!

My cooling system is annoying the bejeezus out of me. A couple of months ago it got into the habit of losing coolant and overheating when stopped. I took it to the mechanic who found no leaks, flushed the system, and added a ceramic leak stop.

It was fine until a few nights ago. I drove about 45 minutes on the freeway. After I pulled off I stopped for about 90 seconds and the car started overheating. I turned the engine off, and when I did I heard glug-glug-glug and there was a moderate amount of coolant on the ground. I let it cool down and then added enough coolant to limp the car a few blocks home. The next morning I topped off the radiator and dropped it off at the shop.

Shop found nothing, but replaced the radiator cap because it was old. I picked it up this morning and drove it 45 minutes to work, mostly freeway, with no issues... and I was watching the temperature like a hawk. I pulled into the parking garage and waited a little bit to see what would happen, and watched the temperature gauge rise. I turned it off before it overheated, but it was clearly headed that way. I heard glug-glug after the engine stopped, but this time I didn't see coolant on the ground.

I can hear the fan running when it's overheating. I'm pretty sure I can also hear it running when I don't expect it to, like driving at moderate speeds.

Does this ring any bells? Should I just skip the general mechanic and take it to a cooling system specialist?
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 03:00 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

Overheating while stopped is almost always due to a failure of the radiator fan. The PT Cruiser has a two speed electric fan. Have your mechanic check to make sure both speeds are operational.

Do not drive the car in an overheated state as you could do extensive damage to the engine (blown head gasket) that could result in repair bills well over $1000 very quickly.
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 03:04 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoser View Post
Shop found nothing, but replaced the radiator cap
Does this ring any bells? Should I just skip the general mechanic and take it to a cooling system specialist?
well the shop did find something?

The first thing to solve your problem is find a recommend auto shop with at least someone that has some credentials and a couple years (in the last 10) working diagnosis and repair vehicles. Look for the ASE certification hanging on the walls.

I am sorry to say reading dozen and dozens of threads and response on this forum as will many many other that cooling system on vehicles are very simple easy to work on easy to diagnose issues(when you know what you are doing) but do require some basic steps in a order that will eliminate thing not causing the heating problems.

I know you and a few other will take this wrong (I am use to it) but you are not the one to be attempting to resolve your cooling system issues. You have already shown that you needed to take it to a mechanic and that really is the place your PT cruiser should be taken. But as I suggested, shop for a quality recommended shop before you make an appointment.
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 03:09 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

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Originally Posted by robadat View Post
Overheating while stopped is almost always due to a failure of the radiator fan.(actually with regards to a PT air flow over the engine) The PT Cruiser has a two speed electric fan. Have your mechanic check to make sure both speeds are operational.

*Do not drive the car in an overheated state as you could do .... *damage to the engine i.e. (blown head gasket) that could result in repair bills well over $1000 very quickly.
*Good points!
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 03:13 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

I would suggest checking the low speed on the radiator fan. With the engine cold turn on the A/C and see if the radiator fan comes on immediately. If it does not come on you need to manually check the low speed on the radiator fan.

If the radiator fan is okay I would suggest a coolant compression test to make sure your coolant system is sealed.

Post back and let us know what you find out.
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 03:46 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

Thanks folks! Some notes:

- The mechanic did not find any problems and found no leaks with a coolant pressure test.

- I will have him check both fan speeds.

- I don't drive the car when it's overheated. If it starts overheating I stop, let it cool down, and then figure out how to proceed. Sometimes this means just driving it a few blocks home once it's cooled down, but when I do that I keep a very close eye on the temperature gauge. Mostly it means letting it cool down enough to add coolant.

- The shop I take the car to has been in business for more than ten years. It's a mom and pop shop that has generally done very well by me. I'm beginning to suspect that the car has a crush on the mechanic's wife.

- It's going back to the shop tomorrow. I wanted to post here to see if there was some weird PT Cruiser-specific behavior that "everyone" knew about, or if the specific symptoms triggered any thoughts. It sounds like "both fan speeds" might be one of those.


I forgot to mention earlier: This car is on its fourth radiator. The first one was leaking a few years ago, so a (different) shop replaced it. They forgot to reinstall all of the bolts, and a couple of months later it sprung a leak because it was banging around... #3 was installed. Less than a year after that the car was in a low-speed rear-end accident and the radiator was damaged, so #4 was installed.
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 04:17 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoser View Post
Thanks folks! Some notes:

I forgot to mention earlier: This car is on its fourth radiator. The first one was leaking a few years ago, so a (different) shop replaced it. They forgot to reinstall all of the bolts, and a couple of months later it sprung a leak because it was banging around... #3 was installed. Less than a year after that the car was in a low-speed rear-end accident and the radiator was damaged, so #4 was installed.
#1. Understandable, things wear out
#2. Incompetent mechanic caused premature failure. Blame the mechanic, not the PT Cruiser or radiator quality
#3. Accident. They happen, but it's not the fault of the cooling system.

So in the time you've had the car, you legitimately needed to replace the radiator once because of being worn out.

The brushes on the fan motor are one of the weak points in the PT Cruiser. They rarely make it to 100k miles and unfortunately tend to last somewhere around half that long which makes it a sore point with this car. A new fan is $100 and can be replaced in an hour and will probably last another 50-80k miles. When replacing the coolant, be sure all the air is bled out of the system or you'll have more overheating problems that may seem bad but are simply the result of not properly bleeding the air out of the cooling system.

Good luck.
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 10:48 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

My old 02 cruiser low speed fan failed and would cause intermittent cooling/ temp issues. Until I replaced the fan, I would just turn on the air conditioning as the fan would kick on and I selected heat. Temps would drop with no issues.

May be a quick work around until it gets diagnosed, but I don't recommend this as a semi permanent fix.
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 11:10 pm
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Default Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cfm56doc View Post
My old 02 cruiser low speed fan failed and would cause intermittent cooling/ temp issues. Until I replaced the fan, I would just turn on the air conditioning as the fan would kick on and I selected heat. Temps would drop with no issues.

May be a quick work around until it gets diagnosed, but I don't recommend this as a semi permanent fix.
Are you sure it wasn't your high speed that failed on your radiator fan.
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Old 21 Dec 2016, 11:46 pm
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Question Re: My Cooling System: I hate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoser View Post
My cooling system is annoying the bejeezus out of me. A couple of months ago it got into the habit of losing coolant and overheating when stopped. I took it to the mechanic who found no leaks, flushed the system, and added a ceramic leak stop.

It was fine until a few nights ago. I drove about 45 minutes on the freeway. After I pulled off I stopped for about 90 seconds and the car started overheating. I turned the engine off, and when I did I heard glug-glug-glug and there was a moderate amount of coolant on the ground. I let it cool down and then added enough coolant to limp the car a few blocks home. The next morning I topped off the radiator and dropped it off at the shop.

Shop found nothing, but replaced the radiator cap because it was old. I picked it up this morning and drove it 45 minutes to work, mostly freeway, with no issues... and I was watching the temperature like a hawk. I pulled into the parking garage and waited a little bit to see what would happen, and watched the temperature gauge rise. I turned it off before it overheated, but it was clearly headed that way. I heard glug-glug after the engine stopped, but this time I didn't see coolant on the ground.

I can hear the fan running when it's overheating. I'm pretty sure I can also hear it running when I don't expect it to, like driving at moderate speeds.

Does this ring any bells? Should I just skip the general mechanic and take it to a cooling system specialist?
My thoughts.

4 radiators. Every time a car engine is worked on, components changed and removed, there is a higher probability for failures in the future due to contamination and non specified work methods.

Mechanic found no leaks. Yet your coolant system leaked when brought up to operation temperature. He didn't drive it hard enough to replicate your symptoms. That's failure number one.

Failure number two. Your mechanic didn't replace the radiator cap the first time when the coolant was flushed. How does the same radiator cap become magically 'old' two months later ? Old means nothing. It is the condition of wear of the components. Mechanic could have used a flushing agent that needed to be neutralized after its use, and this could have been neglected. Possible failure number three.

He also added a leak stop additive when he said there were no leaks. Failure number four.

Possible failure number five: Entrance of contaminants into the coolant system, brought in by the breakdown of rubber hose internally, or corrosion, or contaminants/particles left behind in the manufacturing process of the replacement radiator.

Possible failure number six: incompatible/incorrect fluid used. Do you know what kind of coolant is even in there ? Factory is very specific.
Quote:
COOLANT

DESCRIPTION

CAUTION: Use of Propylene Glycol based coolants is not recommended, as they provide less freeze protection and less corrosion protection.

Do not mix coolant types. If coolant other than Mopar Antifreeze/Coolant, 5 Year/100,000 Mile Formula or equivalent is added, the mixed coolant will have a reduced service schedule.

The use of aluminum cylinder heads, and water pumps requires special corrosion protection. Mopar Antifreeze/Coolant, 5 Year/100,000 Mile Formula or equivalent ethylene glycol based coolant with corrosion inhibitors (called HOAT, for Hybrid Organic Additive Technology) is recommended. This coolant offers the best engine cooling without corrosion when mixed with 50% Ethylene Glycol and 50% distilled water to obtain a freeze point of -37 C (-35 F). If it loses color or becomes contaminated, drain, flush, and replace with fresh properly mixed coolant solution. Mixing of coolants other than specified (non-HOAT), will reduce the 5 year/100,000 mile corrosion protection.
Has the coolant been tested ?

Quote:
DIAGNOSIS AND TESTING - COOLANT

CONCENTRATION TESTING
Coolant concentration should be checked when any additional coolant was added to system or after a coolant drain, flush and refill. The coolant mixture offers optimum engine cooling and protection against corrosion when mixed to a freeze point of -37 C (-34 F) to -46 C (-50 F) . The use of a hydrometer or a refractometer can be used to test coolant concentration.

A hydrometer will test the amount of glycol in a mixture by measuring the specific gravity of the mixture.

The higher the concentration of ethylene glycol, the larger the number of balls that will float, and higher the freeze protection (up to a maximum of 60% by volume glycol).

A refractometer (Special Tool 8286) will test the amount of glycol in a coolant mixture by measuring the amount a beam of light bends as it passes through the fluid.

Some coolant manufactures use other types of glycols into their coolant formulations. Propylene glycol is the most common new coolant. However, propylene glycol based coolants do not provide the same freezing protection and corrosion protection and is not recommended.

CAUTION: Do not mix types of coolant-corrosion protection will be severely reduced.
Possible failure number seven: have you ever added tap water into the system ?

Quote:
When additional coolant is needed, it should be added to the coolant recovery/reserve bottle.

Use only the recommended 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol type antifreeze and distilled water.
Enough or too much coolant, air in the system ?
Quote:
STANDARD PROCEDURE - COOLANT LEVEL SERVICING

NOTE: The cooling system is closed and designed to maintain coolant level to the top of the radiator.

When servicing requires a coolant level check in the radiator, the engine must be off and not under pressure. Drain several ounces of coolant from the radiator drain cock while observing the coolant recovery bottle. Coolant level in the container should drop slightly. Remove the pressure cap. The radiator should be full to the top. If not, and the coolant level in the recovery bottle is at the ADD mark, there is a air leak in the coolant recovery system. Check hose or hose connections to the recovery bottle, outlet connector neck or the pressure cap seal at outlet connector for leaks.

The coolant recovery/reserve system provides a quick visual method for determining the coolant level without removing the pressure cap. Simply observe, with the engine idling and warmed up to normal operating temperature, that the level of the coolant in the recovery/reserve bottle is between the FULL HOT and ADD marks.
The radiator stop leak may have caused some damage to the system.
Quote:
Service Precautions

CAUTION:
Mixing of coolants other than specified (non-HOAT), may result in engine damage that may not be covered under the new vehicle warranty, and decreased corrosion protection. If a non-HOAT coolant is introduced into the cooling system in an emergency, it should be replaced with the specified coolant as soon as possible.

Do not use plain water alone or alcohol base antifreeze products. Do not use additional rust inhibitors or antirust products, as they may not be compatible with the radiator coolant and may plug the radiator.

This vehicle has not been designed for use with Propylene Glycol based coolants. Use of Propylene Glycol based coolants is not recommended.
With this in mind, I suggest to stop visiting your old mechanic and heed the advice of other users in this thread good luck .
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