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2003 - Smells Like Coolant, Just Started Overheating

 
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Old 05 Dec 2011, 09:42 am
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Default 2003 - Smells Like Coolant, Just Started Overheating

Hi everyone,

I'm new and this is my first post, so I'm hoping I'm putting it in the right forum.

I have a 2003 Limited Edition that I bought new on 2/14/04. It has right about 131,000 miles on it.

About six weeks ago, I had new front brakes put on it and an oil change and then two days later put new four tires on it. Right after I had the brakes put on, I noticed the car smelled bad when I got out of it after driving. About a day or so later, when I turned the heat on, it smelled like coolant (or syrupy waffles as I like to describe it). Just this morning, I was stuck in traffic on the way to work, and the car started overheating. Not into the red zone on the gauge - just up about 3/4 of the way. I got it down to normal levels by turning on the heat (smelling the waffles) and when traffic got moving again. Every now and then, when I turn at slow speeds, like in a parking lot, I hear a clunking or groaning noise.

(I'm obviously not saying the brake work or the tires had anything to do with the stink, it's just a time marker in my head for when this started)

So does anyone have any ideas what's going on? I know I need to take it in, but I'm not a big fan of the dealership I take it to (need to find a good, reliable small shop in the area!) and want to have a general idea of what it might be before I take it somewhere. I've googled some stuff and I've seen everything from a coolant leak to a bad water pump to a bad head gasket. I'm hoping it isn't anything horribly expensive because I'm not in a comfortable position to buy a new car. And besides, the PT Cruiser is perfect for me and my kids. I have no complaints and am trying to get it to 200,000 miles!

For what it's worth - at the end of July I had the radiator and cooling fan assembly replaced.

Thanks for any advice you might have! I'm sorry this is so long.
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Old 05 Dec 2011, 09:58 am
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Default Re: 2003 - Smells Like Coolant, Just Started Overheating

I could be wrong but Id say you have a heater Core leaking and Id also guess you may be a little low on coolent
the coolent is the sweet smell and the reason it is INSIDE the car is thats where the heater core is located behind the passenger side dash
Its a pain to do im not sure of the cost at a dealer btu its going to be a few hundred as the labor is a pain
That is just a guess on my part but its a really good guess
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Old 05 Dec 2011, 10:13 am
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Default Re: 2003 - Smells Like Coolant, Just Started Overheating

Thanks for the quick reply. The heater core was one of the things I came across in my google search, too. I'm prepared to spend a couple of hundred on it - I always take the cost of the repair and divide by what a typical new car payment would be to figure out how many months the repair has to extend the life of my PT Cruiser before it's better to get a new car! (Don't know if I explained that well, but it makes sense in my head) Thanks again - it looks like I'll be researching a good, local shop today. If anyone has any suggestions in Northern Virginia, please let me know.
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Old 05 Dec 2011, 12:07 pm
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Default Re: 2003 - Smells Like Coolant, Just Started Overheating

Oh No I SO TOTALLY agree I always tell my daughters that you car is the only think you will own that actually makes you money it takes you where you want to go so the money you spen on it is more than repaid in the fact you can depend on it and a new car payment is a huge investment--

Good luck hope all works out be sure to come back and let us know
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Old 08 Dec 2011, 10:38 am
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Default Re: 2003 - Smells Like Coolant, Just Started Overheating

My 2002 pt was doing the same thing so I took it to the dealer and they changed my water pump....didn't fix it. I was going down the road again and it overheated and shot water out of the weep hole on the water pump. I took it to another shop and $300 later I had a new fan and havnt had anymore overheating.
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Old 08 Dec 2011, 05:24 pm
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Default Re: 2003 - Smells Like Coolant, Just Started Overheating

I got a recommendation for a great shop from a friend and took it there today. I need to have the t-stat and housing replaced. I'm dumping coolant, but it's not in the heater core. I honestly can't remember what he told me about where it was leaking from because I had gone in there thinking it was going to be a $700+ repair job and was so excited that it was only going to be about $150 all in that I stopped focusing on what he was saying!

I asked about why my gas mileage has dropped SIGNIFICANTLY. He is going to check my air filter and other easy to diagnose stuff while he is doing the work tomorrow. He said he is hoping something didn't happen to the head gasket. Yeah, me too, buddy.

Thanks for your suggestions! Hopefully it's not anything more serious than what he figured out today.
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