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Tim West
Tim West, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 4638
Experience:  ASE Certified Service Manager for Bridgstone/ Firestone
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97 Pontiac Firebird 3.8L V6. Shortly after start up a strong

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97 Pontiac Firebird 3.8L V6. Shortly after start up a strong smell of antifreeze comes from the engine and the tempature goes starts going up to about 225 degrees. Tempature gauge then begins to float back and forth slowly. If vehicle idles for a short period of time the tempature gauges goes almost into the red zone. Mechanic says it's normal but fans don't kick on until almost 230 degrees. I have never experienced this in a vehicle before. Is this normal?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Tim West replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for visiting Just Answer,
It sounds like the fan is working normal to me, but if the engine is running hot there are a few things you should do.
First, replace the thermostat if you haven't yet.
Next pick up a clear hose from the auto parts store and bypass the heater core.
Inspect the coolant for a lack of flow indicating a water pump could be bad.
Also inspect the fluid for bubbles. If there are bubbles in the cooling system perhaps you have air in the system or a head gasket problem.
I would try this before anything else.
1. The cooling fans should come on, low speed, with Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) sensor above 221 degrees F.

2. The cooling fans should come on, low speed, with A/C pressure over 190 PSI.

3. NOTE: The cooling fans should always come on together and run either the same low speed together or the same high speed together.

4. Fan relay #1 is activated for low speed cooling fan operation.

5. Fan relays #1, #2 and #3 are all activated for high speed cooling fan operation.
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