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WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

 
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 12:25 pm
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Exclamation WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

Hey everyone,

I have a 2003 PT Cruiser Dream Series 2.4L Turbo, stock engine, 65,000 miles that Iíve owned for 2 years. For the entire 2 year period my PTís engine has always heated up quickly and the temp gauge always remained rock solid in the middle line regardless of driving style, air conditioning use, stop-and-go traffic or outside air temp (which ranges from below zero to 90 degrees F). I regularly change my oil with Mobil 1 synthetic & Mobil 1 oil filter. 6 months ago as preventative maintenance, I flushed coolant, replaced with Mopar HOAT, OEM thermostat, OEM radiator cap, upper radiator hose, and correctly burped the cooling system.

One week ago I had the Chrysler dealership replace the water pump (it was leaking), timing belt, idle tensioner, pulley, serpentine & alternator belts (all with OEM parts of course). On my drive home from the dealership, my carís temp gauge slowly began to rise to the line above the middle. I immediately put the heater on, and for the next 5 miles in stop-and-go street traffic, I drove the PT home slowly (dealership was closed). The temp gauge never rose to the red line (in fact it remained 1 line below the red line), I never saw an overheat light or any steam, nor did I hear any chimes indicating it had overheated. I caught it well before it overheated. The highest the temp gauge rose was to that one line above the middle (which is still one line below the red overheat line). This is the first time my PT has ever done this in the 2 years Iíve owned it.

Upon my inspection with the engine still hot, the dealer did not top off coolant in the thermostat housing cover (coolant level was below upper radiator hose to where I could almost see the top of the thermostat) nor top off the coolant recovery tank (coolant level was below the add mark with the engine hot). After PT cooled, I topped off coolant in both the thermostat housing cover and recovery tank to proper levels. I correctly burped the system twice over the course of two days just to be sure all the air was out. My heater blows hot air, both engine fans turn on (so thermostat doesnít seem to be stuck in any direction I donít think), coolant level remains steady, PT runs great.

HOWEVER, since timing belt/water pump repair and hotter than normal engine temp one week ago, my PT temp gauge takes longer than usual to get above the bottom cold line, and then PT runs unusually cool for extended durations before it reaches normal operating temp at the middle line in the temp gauge. And once it reaches the normal middle line, it will often drop to the line or two below the middle line depending upon if Iím in stop and go traffic or highway cruising. Yet my heater still blows hot air all the time. Hereís a good example:

When I start the PT in the morning, for the first 15 miles of my commute (3 miles stop and go street, 12 miles highway) the temp gauge rises no higher than the line below the middle line. It rises only to this line regardless of outside air temp and regardless of whether or not I use air conditioning. So the PT appears to be running unusually cool for an extended duration, even though my heater blows hot air.

As soon as I hit stop and go traffic on the highway, my temp rises to the normal middle line and never goes above it. So itís good that it never has any tendency to overheat. BUT, once the stop and go traffic is over and Iím cruising 65MPH, the temp gauge will sometimes drop to the next line below the middle line; and if I turn on my heater the temp gauge goes even a bit lower.

Does this sound like a thermostat issue? OEM Thermostat is only 6 months old, but Iím thinking perhaps running with low coolant which caused the temp to rise 1 line above the middle the day I drove it home from the dealer one week ago, may have resulted in damage to the thermostat.

Or does this sound like a faulty Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) Sensor? I donít think itís a faulty OEM radiator cap because wouldnít that cause the PT to overheat rather than run too cool?

I donít have any error codes when I do the ďkey turn trick.Ē I donít have any scan tools to better diagnose the problem. After having spent so much money to fix my timing belt etc. one week ago, I donít have the money to randomly be replacing things I think it might be. I want to know for sure what the likely problem is before I buy anything else to fix it. And considering the dealerís mistake, I donít trust him and wonít bring it to another dealer unless itís an in-depth problem I canít fix myself.

Many thanks!!
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 01:36 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

Let me first tell you that I can assure you that your gauge did in fact move from the middle location. It may have been unnoticeable to you but it does move.

You testing are not the best and you really should be using a thermal gun to get temperature readings.

The fact that you coolant was slightly low and the recovery tank empty does not necessarily mean you will run hotter than normal. There are always situation that it can happen however.

The age of a thermostat does not denote if it is working or not.

You have a few things that need to be checked along with the unmentioned coolant temperature sensor.

I recommend to go back to the dealership and have them look at the problem before the possibility of it getting worse. After all the problem started after their last repair on the PT.


If you are going to look further yourself than you need to:

Check operating temperatures with a Thermal temperature gun
Pressure check the cooling system
Possibly do a chemical block check with the coolant

Consider replacing the thermostat I recommend STANT
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 04:39 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

Nitro, THANK YOU for the detailed response!! I was thinking my temp gauge went higher than normal after the dealership repair either because there was air trapped in the system since it wasnít burped, or because excessively low coolant in thermostat housing. Is it possible that in either case this caused the thermostat to malfunction, such as being stuck half way open, and that explains my PTís slow warmup and then drop in temp after warmup over the course of this last week since the repair?

Could my radiator cap be faulty causing the car to run too cold? Or a faulty radiator cap means the car runs too hot?

How do I check if the engine coolant temperature sensor is working properly? Wouldnít I receive an error code or check engine light if it was faulty?

Nitro, you always provide great guidance!! I will seriously consider the STANT. Iíve researched some on STANT and have some questions.

1) Whatís the part # I should use for my 2.4L stock turbo? If it makes any difference, I live in OH so winters get below zero at times.

2) Whatís the advantage of the STANT thermostat over the OEM? Is it that STANT better regulates the coolant flow and thus delivers a more consistent temp? Or is it that STANT forces my engine to run colder than OEM thermostat? FYI I had no issues with my OEM thermostat prior to the dealer mistake.

3) Does the STANT come with a notched gasket like the OEM one? If not, how do I ensure correct installation?

4) Does the STANT come pre-drilled with an bleed air hole like the OEM thermostat?

MANY THANKS!!!
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 04:57 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

First You didn't hurt the t stat. If your are not looseing coolant and its running fine. Nothing to worry with. Most gages show just under the middle line. You might have ended up with a lower temp t stat. by mistake. Not a problem just will run a little cooler. Just a guess about that. Like nI said nif you are not loosing coolant and not heating or anything. then I would keep an eye on the coolant level and count it as a blessing.
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Last edited by Busted_PT; 04 Sep 2014 at 05:09 pm.
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 06:16 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Busted_PT View Post
First You didn't hurt the t stat. If your are not looseing coolant and its running fine. Nothing to worry with. Most gages show just under the middle line. You might have ended up with a lower temp t stat. by mistake. Not a problem just will run a little cooler. Just a guess about that. Like nI said nif you are not loosing coolant and not heating or anything. then I would keep an eye on the coolant level and count it as a blessing.
Busted, THANK YOU! My coolant level has remained consistent over the last week. The OEM t-stat I installed 6 months ago consistently had the temp gauge running at the middle line (completely horizontal) once the PT warmed up; regardless of outside air temp and regardless of whether I was cruising on the highway, using heat or AC, or in stop and go traffic. However, after my OEM timing belt/water pump repair and dealer mistake one week ago, the same t-stat now takes a lot longer to get the temp gauge to reach close to or on middle line; to the point I have to cruise 18 or so miles on the highway and be in stop and go traffic before it will get near the middle line. Prior to the repair with this same t-stat, I only had to drive a couple of miles before it would get to normal temp level (middle line level). And now even after it gets to normal temp level (middle line) from 18 miles of driving, it will fall 1 to almost 2 lines below the normal middle line as I cruise on the highway; especially if I use the heater. If I drive in stop and go traffic, the temp level rises back to normal middle line level, until I cruise again on the highway then it drops back down to the line or two below.

I am concerned about it taking so long to warm up to normal temp, and concerned that once it gets to normal temp that the temp varies so much from middle line down to a line or two lines below the middle. And with winter coming it has me more worried. FYI my heater blows hot air and the system has been correctly burped twice.

Do you think this is a t-stat problem? Or is this not a cooling problem at all and instead, with my new OEM water pump, timing belt, pulley, tensioner, serpentine and alternator belt, the new parts make my PT run better, so although my PT takes a lot longer to warm up, once it does warm up it has established a new normal (but lower) operating temperature (which tends to fluctuate a line or two depending upon driving conditions)? If this is normal and safe and ensures best performance for my PT, then Iím a happy camper. But I am concerned because I know the majority of PT owners on the forum have their stock temp gauges running at middle line or just a hair below middle line regardless of outside temp or driving conditions.

Thanks again!
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 08:32 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dream2PT View Post
Busted, THANK YOU! My coolant level has remained consistent over the last week. The OEM t-stat I installed 6 months ago consistently had the temp gauge running at the middle line (completely horizontal) once the PT warmed up; regardless of outside air temp and regardless of whether I was cruising on the highway, using heat or AC, or in stop and go traffic. However, after my OEM timing belt/water pump repair and dealer mistake one week ago, the same t-stat now takes a lot longer to get the temp gauge to reach close to or on middle line; to the point I have to cruise 18 or so miles on the highway and be in stop and go traffic before it will get near the middle line. Prior to the repair with this same t-stat, I only had to drive a couple of miles before it would get to normal temp level (middle line level). And now even after it gets to normal temp level (middle line) from 18 miles of driving, it will fall 1 to almost 2 lines below the normal middle line as I cruise on the highway; especially if I use the heater. If I drive in stop and go traffic, the temp level rises back to normal middle line level, until I cruise again on the highway then it drops back down to the line or two below.

I am concerned about it taking so long to warm up to normal temp, and concerned that once it gets to normal temp that the temp varies so much from middle line down to a line or two lines below the middle. And with winter coming it has me more worried. FYI my heater blows hot air and the system has been correctly burped twice.

Do you think this is a t-stat problem? Or is this not a cooling problem at all and instead, with my new OEM water pump, timing belt, pulley, tensioner, serpentine and alternator belt, the new parts make my PT run better, so although my PT takes a lot longer to warm up, once it does warm up it has established a new normal (but lower) operating temperature (which tends to fluctuate a line or two depending upon driving conditions)? If this is normal and safe and ensures best performance for my PT, then Iím a happy camper. But I am concerned because I know the majority of PT owners on the forum have their stock temp gauges running at middle line or just a hair below middle line regardless of outside temp or driving conditions.

Thanks again!
What is the possiblity that the t stat got changed during this last work with out your knowladge?
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 08:38 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

Good question. But no, it wasn't changed out.I remained all day at the dealer watching every step. The thermostat housing wasn't removed and thermostat wasn't changed out.
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 08:58 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

I agree with Nitro - get a temperature gun and an accurate readout of the temperature.
If you are really running cool, you should be getting poorer mileage - are you?
I think you are right to be concerned. The strange part is that the gauge does go to half-way in stop-n-go, so it isn't as "normal" was moved down, since on mine, It goes to hals-way and stays there - no matter what - highway, stop-n-go, A/C on or off, etc.
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 10:13 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

I wonder what would happen if the thermostat was removed and then observe what happens? This way we would know if there is something else making the temperature change if it did keep changing.
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Old 04 Sep 2014, 11:52 pm
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Default Re: WHACKY Temp Gauge Readings Ė HELP PLEASE!! :)

A thermostat can be damaged by just a single over heating occurrence.Once the thermal regulating spring changes tension it will not regulate properly.

You do not have the incorrect thermostat.

A Stant Super Stant 195 oem replacement is what I recommending getting.
Stant thermostats do np come with a seal or gasket.

The Stant has a more current update to the old style bubble or hole in flange for system bleeding.

Even if the dealership did not correctly bleed your cooling system it is designed to self bleed after a couple of complete cycles. Its physics not forums

Do Not remove the thermostat in this type of cooling system for any test or running condition. This is a high pressure cooling system that needs to be regulated via the thermostat.

The radiator cap regulates the boiling point of the coolant. Technically speaking if the coolant was large enough in volume and air constantly flowing over the radiator core you could run without one.
In other words the problem you are have could be in part a bad radiator cap but not by itself.

I see nothing yet that has not ruled out a faulty coolant sensor, or bad thermostat yet?

You problem is not one uncommon to at least one or more each month of PTs brought to me this summer. Most were cured with a Thermostat, reducing the coolant mix to 80/20, a new radiator cap and properly filling the cooling system.

If you continue to drive with your condition describe you run the risk of damaging a head gasket.
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