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Old 19 Apr 2011, 01:46 am
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Default Overheating/Screeching/Odor

So I took my 2008 Cruiser - base model, non turbo, no mods - in for the 30,000 maintaince at 34,000 and at just over 4 years. No problems except a minor fluid top off at the last oil change. No check engine or fluid lights on.

Saturday at the shop they advised me that the radiator was nearly empty, and so I had it refilled. It could have been like that for some time. I drove it home with no problems. There was no fluid on the ground in the morning. Sunday, I drove it about 3 miles before the temperature spiked. I pulled over ASAP, but when I did it was steaming. Let the car cool off and drove it to the shop about a mile away.

At the shop, they poured a bunch of hot water into the engine and told me that the problem was airpockets. They said it will go away overnight and to put antifreeze in it in the morning. They said the airpockets problem could last for some time and to just keep refilling.

Checked it this Monday morning and the reserve tank was again empty and again there's no water or other discharge around it. The radiator was mostly full this time but the reservoir was again empty. Drove it to work (~5 miles) and it took about 3 cups to top off over lunch. Another few cups tonight.

Drove it home and noted a relatively loud squeaking sound and again some loss of fluid but no fluid stains under the parked car. Started investigating and noted some issues:

1. A small mount of coolant in the base of the air intake compartment. Didn't appear to be any oil in the intake.
2. Oil is nearly clear/no milkshake type colors in either the dipstick or oil cap. I'm not sure if this is because I just had an oil change or if because the oil is diluted. Unlikely they would use synthetic though, since its a discount oil change place.
3. Squeaking scales with RPMs but not with turning wheels.
4. Minor antifreeze odor and burnt rubber smell inside the car.
5. Temperature staying below half consistently regardless of whether driving, idling, or revving engine to 3-4k.
6. No moisture in passenger floor or windshield fogging

Two questions
a) driveable in the short term? eg until the weekend
b) what do I do about it assuming I'd like to drive the car for the next 4-5 years?

My initial reaction is: cracked headgasket, failed water pump, airpockets, heater core in that order.


Last edited by Haha_No; 19 Apr 2011 at 01:59 am.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 19 Apr 2011, 08:06 am
WolfmanG's Avatar
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: San Antonio
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Default Re: Overheating/Screeching/Odor

sorry i'm to tried to read your novel right now but i just wanted to say welcome to the forum. I'm danny and my PT is Eve and we say hello from San Antonio.
When you get a chance be sure and stop by this forum Welcome New PT Cruiser Members - PT Cruiser Forum and introduce your self.
-Danny Wolfman G
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Old 19 Apr 2011, 08:12 am
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Location: Mooresville, NC
Posts: 5,324
Default Re: Overheating/Screeching/Odor

That's a tough one. Without seeing evidence of a raw leak, and with the screaching sound, I'm leaning towards the pump but it's hard to say that with so few miles on it.

One thing to say here, please read this warning from the service manual regarding antifreeze:

Originally Posted by OEM Svc Manual
CAUTION: MoparT Antifreeze/Coolant, 5 Year/100,000 Mile Formula (MS-9769) may not be mixed with any
other type of antifreeze. Doing so will reduce the corrosion protection and may result in premature water
pump seal failure. If non-HOAT coolant is introduced into the cooling system in an emergency, it should be
replaced with the specified coolant as soon as possible.
I'm interested in this problem so am going diving into the service manuals and doing a bit of research.... be back hopefully soon....

Oh, and by the way, that is one excellent trouble report! You hit all the necessary points for someone to try and assist you. One of the very best I've seen. And welcome to the forums, NOW POST PHOTOS!!!

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Old 19 Apr 2011, 08:24 am
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Location: Mooresville, NC
Posts: 5,324
Default Re: Overheating/Screeching/Odor

First, if you do have aeration to your cooling system, you can have some real problems - from the svc manual:
Originally Posted by OEM Svc Manual
If coolant level drops below a certain point, aeration will occur drawing air into the water pump resulting in the
  • High reading shown on the temperature gauge.
  • Loss of coolant flow through the heater core.
  • Corrosion in the cooling system.
  • Transmission oil will become hotter (automatic transmission equipped vehicles).
  • Water pump seal may run dry, increasing the risk of premature seal failure.
  • Combustion gas leaks into the coolant can also cause the above problems.

Here's what I would do, in this order, if this were my problem:

1. Do a cooling system pressure test. The OEM service manual has a section dedicated to this and it's an excellent resource on how to complete this test properly. Contact me via PM if you don't have the service manual.

2. Depending on what you find from step 1, if nothing then I would suggest buying a water pump seal and pull that pump. If the pump is bad when inspected, then there's your culprit and replace.

For now those are my very weak suggestions. I'm keeping an eye out for anything else related.
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Old 19 Apr 2011, 09:14 pm
mdfrodolives's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1,313
Default Re: Overheating/Screeching/Odor

The "air pockets" would go away in the morning? That's an odd thing for a mechanic to say. We have bleed screws on our thermostat housings that get rid of the "air pockets" immediately. You don't have to keep filling the system again and again until the air just ... disappears. And why would anyone refill your cooling system with plain, hot water--and then tell you to add antifreeze in the morning. If they put "a bunch" of hot water in your cooling system, where did they assume the "hot water" was going to go in order for there to be room for antifreeze? They should have refilled your system with a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and antifreeze--not just plain old water.

I have no idea where your coolant is going. The other posters have given you advice on finding the answer. In the mean time, you need to go to a competent mechanic that knows how a PT works.

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Old 21 Apr 2011, 12:39 am
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Posts: 2
Default Re: Overheating/Screeching/Odor


It was air pockets. After it would sit for a few hours the level would fall by a small amount. The first time it took a gallon to get back to the top of the radiator. The second time it took about a fourth gallon. Third time not much. I parked on a hill last night and took the radiator cap off and there was just about a cup's worth to fill to max this morning. No bleed or anything under the car last night or today. Looks like I may have dodged a bullet.

The squeeking isn't going away, but according to a friend it is belt and that its not a concern in the short term.

Additionally, I'm pretty sure HOAT is a hoax, and that Dex Cool is a better coolant for half the price. I'm going to flush the system this weekend and refill entirely with Dex Cool since the guys at the shop used hot tap water.

I'll monitor for any further fluid loss or temperature concerns and check the water pump if it becomes a potential issue.

Thanks for any input

Last edited by Haha_No; 21 Apr 2011 at 12:49 am.
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