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FIXITMAN
FIXITMAN, Master Technician
Category: Saturn
Satisfied Customers: 17215
Experience:  ASE MASTER CERTIFIED, AA DEGREE AUTO/DIESEL TECH.
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That's funny, my boyfriend's name s H. and he is a mechanic

Customer Question

That's funny, my boyfriend's name s George H. and he is a mechanic also!! However, he has not been able (or is not that interested) to figure out the problem with my son's 2000 SL2. When we got it we were told that the radiator needed to be replaced, so we did that before we even drove the car. We were waiting for my son to get his license so the car sat for about 2 months. Once he started driving it, there was a problem with it and we replaced the Air temperature sensor I believe, and it was fine for a little while because he only drove to school and back. The more he drove it,for farther distances, the more trouble it began to have with overheating and losing coolant/water out of the passenger side of the engine (we thoght). We replaced the water pump, then the tank and cap, then the thermostat, but we are still having problems. Sometimes we can go on the freeway for many miles, even up a large grade, without any problem, that is until we get off the freeway and stop at a signal light, then it starts to have steam coming out of the passenger side of the hood and there will coolant/water dripping out from that side of the car, near the front of the engine. We discovered that there was a lose clamp on the lower radiator hose, so we replaced it and thought maybe that was it, but, we are still overheating once the car gets warmed up and is in stop and go traffic. It normally runs a litle over the 1/4 mark, but when it overheats, it goes up to the 1/2 mark, or more, at which point we put on the heater full blast and eventually it goes down again, but will do it again if we turn off the heater. We noticed that we do not really hear the fans come on and were wondering if we should rig up a toggle switch to have the fans run all of the time or can you tell me what exactly triggers the fans to come on? Maybe its just a relay or other sensor that we have not replaced yet. And why do we lose water/coolant whenever it heats up? Is there a leak somewhere or does it do that to release pressure or what?
Please give me your opinion, this is my son's first car and he is very frustrated with it! Thank you so much!
Michelle, Oak View, CA
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Saturn
Expert:  FIXITMAN replied 1 year ago.

Hello Michelle, my name is Bobby. Thank you for the question. There are a number of reasons as to why this will occur. Since the engine is getting hot we need to determine why. I would like for you to see if the fans are coming on as the engine starts to get hot. That would give us a good starting point. If they are and it is overheating then it is possible that there is a restriction someplace or that it may have a small leak in the head gasket. If the fans are not coming on then we can test the circuit with a voltage meter. As for the leak, the system needs to be pressurized to see where the leak is. It may be as you mentioned the pressure cap on the reservoir releasing pressure as it gets hot. Please let me know if you guys can check the fan operation and we can proceed from there. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Bobby! Thanks so much for getting back to me on this. As far as the fan goes, we did realize that the fan was not coming on when the engine was hot and overheating. We have not tested it with a voltage meter but we did test the fan out a little before I got your reply and the fan does come on when you turn on the air conditioning, so I will have to check it with the voltage meter and get back to you, although, I'm not really sure what I am looking for when doing that. Also, in the past, we had been driving with the air conditioner on (we are experiencing a heat wave in our area, yesterday was 103 degrees) and the car started to overheat so we ended up turning the heater on full blast (I was told this also brings the engine temp. down, although making it very uncomfortable for us. Whenever it overheats though, there is water/antifreeze leaking out of the passenger side of the car but I can't tell exactly where its coming from. It actually looks like there are 2 spots possibly where the fluid is coming from, one is more up front like by the radiator drain plug. Is that normal or do we have a leak somewhere? Because seems to me even if we get the fan working right, if its not normal for fluid to come out from an overflow or something then we have a leak that needs to be addressed. It does not leak out except when it gets hot and overheats. What do you think?
Expert:  FIXITMAN replied 1 year ago.

Sorry for taking so long to get back with you. The only place it should leak is from the coolant tank when it gets really hot. If it is coming from anywhere else then that definitely needs to be found and repaired first.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay, that's what I thought. I will try to pinpoint exactly where it is coming from and will get back to you ASAP. This is really becoming a huge problem that is just driving a wedge between my son and I. I know its leaking from somewhere right by the radiator so I will take a look and let you know what I find. Thanks for your reply!
Expert:  FIXITMAN replied 1 year ago.

Please let me know so we can continue from there and get this taken care of.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Bobby! Well, we thought we had figured it out- it seemed the reservoir tank (the new one we had just put on about a week ago) was leaking, we thought because the cap had gotten so hot that it was permanently rounded on top from pressure and it seemed like it was stripped from being put on incorrectly. So, we took it back and replaced it with another new one, filled it up with antifreeze and water and proceeded to drive it around for about 20 minutes to get it warmed up. The temperature stayed at just over the 1/4 mark, which is normal. However, my son then got in it to drive to College (about 20 minutes on the freeway and maybe 5 minutes through town) and he called when he got there and said that it had gotten hot and was POURING water/coolant from the same place again when he stopped the car.We are so frustrated!! Again let me remind you that we have replaced the Engine Temperature Sensor, the radiator, the water pump, thermostat and reservoir tank (twice), and it is still overheating and losing water from the front passenger side after running it at high speed (usually the freeway) for a length of time and then when you get off freeway and into stop and go traffic, that is when it happens, although it happened to me twice when I was just on the freeway for an extended period and had to turn on the heater full blast to get the temperature to drop. My boyfriend wanted to try some kind of "block sealer" first because a new head gasket set costs $260.00 according to the auto parts store we go to. Do you have any other ideas of what could be the problem??
Expert:  FIXITMAN replied 1 year ago.

If the engine is staying cool when you are on the highway then it is more than likely a fan issue. If it is getting hot even then you may have a leaking head gasket. You can test to this with a block test kit. Most auto part stores sell them or loan them out. If it comes back with a positive result then you can try the block sealer. The only one that works good is the Bars Leak with Carbon Fiber.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay great, we will ask for one of those test kits and see what happens. I will let you know the results as soon as possible. Thanks for the recommendation on the block sealer too, we really had no idea which one to get. I think it is a fan issue also, and we are going to hook up a toggle switch so the fans are on all the time- my son is just tired of dealing with it. THANKS AGAIN and I will let you know what happens with the test!