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Low engine temperature problem

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 29 Oct 2014, 07:46 am
Young Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: OH, USA.
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Question UPDATE ! ! ! Pg 7, Re: Low engine temperature problem

I have a 2003 PT Cruiser that is giving me fits. A few weeks ago my thermostat stuck closed and caused the over heated alarm to go off, before I could slow down and pull over, it let go and the temperature came down on it's own. It happened 3 times, several days apart, so, I took my car in to have a new thermostat put in.

Now comes the problem. The first time I drove it, no problem. Next day, I get an engine light, checked the code, and it was P0128 - Low Engine Temperature warning. My temperature gauge won't get up to a normal temperature. After I got home, I let it cool down and opened up the radiator cap to see low fluid. Thought they didn't get all the air out of the system, so, I topped it off and added a little to the overflow tank, reset the system by removing the battery cable for a while. Didn't fix the problem.

Took it back to repair shop, they replaced the thermostat again thinking it was defective. Same problem now. I put the car on a ramp on the radiator cap side, to put some angle on the system thinking I could get more air out of the system, didn't help.

No water in the oil, no steam coming off the engine or hoses, resetting the system several times by unhooking the battery cable, once positive side, twice negative, and still, I can only get the engine temp up to normal by letting it sit and idle. Once it gets to normal, the fan will come on in idle.

Several questions I have:

Is it possible an idiot mechanic put the thermostat in upside down?

When I start the car cold with the radiator cap off, should I see fluid flow in the system, or should that only happen when the thermostat opens up?

Researching I found the PT has a Low Temperature Mode in the computer, that keeps the engine from running at normal temperatures, probably by running the fan when you get up to speed, when normally it wouldn't run until the engine reached a normal operating temperature. Does this need to be reset by mechanic with the computer?

Before I take it back to my mechanic, I thought I'd ask here, to see if anyone else has had this issue. It's getting colder here in Ohio, and I need heat!
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Last edited by BumperBob; 10 Nov 2014 at 09:27 am. Reason: updated
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 08:21 am
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

If it were upside down it would overheat.
You can't see coolant flowing if t-stat is closed.
What temp is engine actually running at? The sensor may have failed. Sometimes debris in cooling system will get stuck in t-stat, holding it open.
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 08:27 am
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

Are you losing fluid? Is it blowing coolant into the overflow before the fan kicks on? Does it ever get to the normal mark just idling? I would be good to know what the temp reading the computer is seeing. You need a code reader for that and a infrared heat gun to compare readings. Also what was the heat range value on the new thermostat?
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 08:30 am
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

I would suggest opening the radiator cap and start the engine. Check to see if you are getting coolant flow after it warms up. Before we can go any further we need to know if you do get coolant flow in the radiator.
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 08:48 am
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

I have started the cold engine with the radiator cap off. I see the fluid moving as soon as I start it. It doesn't have to warm up first.

If I start the car and let it idle, the temperature gauge will reach the mid way mark, and in a little while the fan will come on for a while, then go off again.

When driving on the highway however, the temp gauge never gets to the middle, it only reached the first marking on the gauge this morning, 14mi drive to work. I get hardly any heat out of the heater when it's running this way. When I let it idle to normal temp, I have plenty of heat.

I've topped off the fluid, the overflow tank has fluid in it. The level was very slightly below the top of the tube when I took off the cap this morning, so I filled it again, didn't take much, trying to get ALL the air out that I can.

I haven't checked the actual temperature, but, when I drive it and the gauge doesn't get to normal temp reading, I can grab hold of the top radiator hose, and it's warm, but not hot like it should be, you shouldn't be able to hold on to it for long if the temp was anywhere near normal.
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Last edited by BumperBob; 29 Oct 2014 at 09:03 am. Reason: More info
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 09:51 am
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

The over flow should be on the marks for hot and cold. If you talking cap. Then it sounds like your ok. It really sounds like you have a lower rated t stat than is supposed to be in there. See if you have a part number on your bill and call that in a the parts store and see what the spec is on it. Might PM nitro and have him read your thread and give you his thoughts. Be ready for the pulling the battery terminals reset method. He won't be happy with that. Should use or get it done with a code reader. But he is a pro and con tell you his thoughts.
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 10:44 am
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

PM replied.
podo2000 likes this.
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 11:04 am
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Busted_PT View Post
It really sounds like you have a lower rated t stat than is supposed to be in there.
That's my thought, as well. You either have a thermostat that doesn't fully close, or one rated for a lower temperature.
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 12:18 pm
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

A 180F thermostat rated at 178F-181F with most manufactures. A STANT SUPER STANT Thermostat is exactly 179.6F This would not cause a low temperature operation DTC. BTW the DTC shown is a generic DTC for temperature operations and not necessarily for low coolant temperature. Low coolant in 178F-181F range may cause a less than comfortable or clement controlled environment than one may be accustomed to? The thermal measurement at the vents with a 180F thermostat will still be 150F-180F even at or below ambient of 4* Celsius.

Some of you may re-read the thread so far and notice that the low speed fan came on which if the coolant temperature sensor is not faulty would be normal coolant reading from the temperature sensor to the PCM activating the low fan speed. Now if that was in fault than you would need to replace that as pat of the monitoring and output signal, to the PCM. But not a cure for the low coolant temperatures.

To be clear I never ruled out a 180F thermostat was being used.
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Last edited by NitroPT; 29 Oct 2014 at 12:24 pm.
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Old 29 Oct 2014, 01:17 pm
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Default Re: Low engine temperature problem

Since you have flow right away through the rad when you start the engine from a cold condition, that explains why you have no heat when driving, but if you let it idle long enough, then the engine will heat up because there is no air flowing through the rad to cool it.

Either you have:

1) No thermostat
2) A stuck open thermostat
3) A thermostat with holes drilled in it (old school mod)
4) No thermostat gasket
5) possibly the wrong thermostat allowing coolant to bypass it
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