Edmunds Answers

Answers

  • zaken1 09/16/12 12:51 pm PST

    Take the car to a radiator shop, or a shop that has equipment to test for blown head gaskets; and have them pressure test your cooling system while the motor is stopped; and again while the motor is running. If more than 5 psi pressure builds up in the cooling system within the first 3 minutes after starting the engine when it is at room temperature; there is a head gasket leak. There are also chemical tests they can do to confirm a bad head gasket. When the head gasket leaks; it usually is caused by a warped cylinder head; so the heads must be removed from the engine and checked for warpage and also tested for cracks by a competent, honest machine shop.

    The initial overheating while sitting in traffic should not have happened from just a leaking water pump (unless it was pouring coolant out and the radiator level became excessively low). The usual reason such a car overheats in traffic is that the electric radiator fan is not working. This fan assembly, shown in this link: http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinf
    o...
    should be running whenever the engine becomes hot. But it is dependent on the radiator fan relay to turn it on; and those relays are known to be unreliable. If the fans do not run; replace the radiator fan relay,

    If you have additional questions about this issue; please do not open a new question to ask them. Just click the "answer this question" button below this response, type your message in the box that appears; and click the "submit answer" button. Thank you.

  • zaken1 09/16/12 4:58 pm PST

    I should also mention that the coolant level in the radiator can drop from an internal leak or an air pocket; while the level in the reservoir bottle remains full. This is why it is vitally important to check and refill the coolant level directly in the radiator, by removing the radiator cap (only while the motor is cool) instead of trusting the level in the reservoir to indicate whether the radiator is full. If the radiator level drops sufficiently; it can cause the actual coolant temperature to become much hotter than the gauge indicates. When a vehicle has a head gasket problem; it may be necessary to refill the radiator DAILY. This kind of action screams "head gasket leak".

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