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Newb with another overheating issue

 
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Old 04 Oct 2014, 09:01 pm
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Default Newb with another overheating issue

Hi all, I just signed up for the forum. I don't actually own a PT Cruiser, but I am helping a neighbor figure his out. He has owned it for a month or two. It never ran hot, until one day on his way home from work. About a mile from home, on the freeway, it overheated (I am not 100% sure how hot he got it). anyway, I went over and looked at it, and the cooling fan is running (even though that shouldn't make a difference at freeway speeds). The car was low on coolant, but that could just be because it spit some out when it got hot; I don't know for sure. We refilled it and he took it to a shop. They replaced the thermostat. He said it was good for a couple of days and then started heating up again (he was paying attention to the gauge this time and didn't actually let it overheat). He took it back to the shop, and they told him that they detected hydrocarbons in the coolant, and the car needs a head gasket. He can't afford to pay them to do the head gasket, so he has me look at it. Here is what I did: I made sure the coolant was full, and the system was bled. I drove the car around for about 10 miles, and it warmed up to about the halfway point and stayed there for several miles. Then it started heating up. Again, I did not let it overheat. When I parked it, my infrared thermometer showed about 220 on the upper radiator hose, and 150 on the lower. The car runs fine; no miss or steam out the exhaust, or water in the oil, or any obvious signs of a head gasket. After I shut it off, it pulled coolant back in from the overflow bottle, suggesting that there is not a leak.

I realize the shop said there are hydrocarbons in the coolant, which would suggest a head gasket, but based on the lack of any other symptoms, I am not convinced. I would like to get other opinions or options to look at from the experts before I rip his engine apart.

So, could it be the radiator? There is a 70 degree drop from the top to the bottom. Does that indicate a clogged radiator (my experience with 60s and 70s muscle cars is about a 30 to 40 degree drop for a properly functioning radiator)? What else can I check to confirm or eliminate the radiator?

As for the head gasket, obviously a badly blown gasket would cause water in the oil, steam out the exhaust, and/or a misfire in one or more cylinders. I realize that it could be only "slightly" leaking, but the car doesn't seem to be losing coolant, and it pulls it back from the overflow as it cools. Also, I wouldn't expect a small head gasket leak to cause it to get hot until it loses enough coolant, and it's still full when it gets hot.

Sorry for the long first post....Any opinions and suggestions are greatly appreciated. I am an experienced mechanic, but not specifically familiar with these cars. Most of what I work on is 60s and 70s Pontiacs (GTOs, Firebirds, etc.). I had a 95 Neon for about a year; I bought it with a broken timing belt, so I had to put a head on it, so I have a little experience with these cars (although my Neon was a SOHC not a DOHC).

Thanks,
Importsmasher
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Old 04 Oct 2014, 09:19 pm
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

What year and how many miles. Did your neighbor see the hydrocarbons test being done?
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Old 04 Oct 2014, 09:28 pm
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

Users will tell you that your test of radiator hoses & radiator with the temp gun is useless as it doesn't really work on the PT.

From experience, I blew my head gasket this past June. I never saw a leak, never had oil & water mix...all the fluid lose was from the overflow tank.
I had 2 different shops verify that the head gasket was blown before I had the work done. I paid $1100 for the head gasket, timing belt & water pump.

I would take it to another shop to verify the diagnoses...while that was being done I would call around to get different prices on the fix...unless your going to spend the 10 hours yourself to fix it.
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Old 04 Oct 2014, 09:38 pm
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue


This product can fix a head gasket without fear.
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Old 04 Oct 2014, 09:55 pm
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

I would suggest that if it is confirmed with another repair shop that you have a blown head gasket that you find out if its a good idea to have a block test done.
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Old 04 Oct 2014, 11:00 pm
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

Thanks, all. PTCruiserSteve, Sorry, I neglected to mention that it's a 2004, non turbo PT Cruiser, and it has 73,000 miles on it. The car is clean inside and out. My neighbor did not see them do the hydrocarbon test.

LionPT, can you explain why the temperature measurements don't work on the PT? If it is the head gasket, I do plan on taking the time to do it myself. There is no way this guy could afford to pay a shop to do it. I just want to make sure I am convinced it's the gasket before I spend the time and effort to pull it apart. Although, at 73000 miles, it's probably due for a timing belt and water pump as well, which I would obviously do while it's apart....
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Old 05 Oct 2014, 01:30 am
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

I would suggest that since we don't know the history of the PT Cruiser since it was purchased recently to be on the cautious side and let the owner of the PT Cruiser decide if a block test is necessary or not. When someone sells a vehicle there is usually something wrong with it and they are not going to tell you. When I buy a used vehicle after paying for it I would tell the seller I need to know whats wrong with it so I can fix it before it becomes a major problem and most of the time they will tell me what they couldn't fix on it. I wouldn't want to have your neighbor spend hundreds of dollars in parts only to find out the block is cracked. I wouldn't want you to not be friends with your neighbor anymore.
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Old 05 Oct 2014, 06:23 am
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by importsmasher View Post
LionPT, can you explain why the temperature measurements don't work on the PT?

I can't explain it as good as Nitro can, but I'll try...
Basically, if the radiator is clogged/restricted or water pump/head gasket is blown, your not getting the proper flow...so readings would be wrong.

You can PM NitroPT if you want details.
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Old 05 Oct 2014, 10:32 am
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by importsmasher View Post
). He took it back to the shop, and they told him that they detected hydrocarbons in the coolant, and the car needs a head gasket.
Thanks,
Importsmasher


You have your answer!

The cooling system is sealed and can not get any combustion elements except through a head gasket that is compromised. Regardless of other issues you have a head sealing problem that needs to be taken care of first.
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Last edited by NitroPT; 05 Oct 2014 at 10:49 am.
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Old 05 Oct 2014, 10:51 am
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Default Re: Newb with another overheating issue

I agree with Nitro on this. The hydrocarbon test is a bit easier but to make sure a block test is the next logical test to make sure if its the head gasket {though it could be a cracked head or block and the block test will give you enough information to make a very educated guess}

You would have to remove all the intake plumbing to get the head off anyway so you'd be a few steps ahead of the game when you do the block test anyway.

When my convertible started losing coolant at first I could see no leaks anywhere. It would be fine for days on end then suddenly get hotter than a two dollar red cap pistol shooting up hill.

Finally one day I finally saw coolant leaking about the center of the radiator when I was filling it after it had gotten hot.

I did the hydrocarbon test because it was easy and fairly cheap to rent the unit from Autozone. The test was conclusive enough to convince me I did not need to rip the head off so I continued with other trouble shooting.
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Last edited by KA9VQF; 05 Oct 2014 at 11:30 am.
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