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Is the car running rough or overheating?
Actually it sounds like the is air in the cooling system. This will cause the gauge to fluctuate and give you the heat issue. If you are 100% certain all the air has been properly bled out of the system, then a head gasket is possible, but I would do a combustion test on the coolant to see if there are any exhaust gases getting in there. Also, a pressure test to make sure there aren't any leaks in the system. If there is a small leak some place then what will happen is that coolant will be replaced with air and cause the bubbling and the loss of heat. Sounds to me like you have an air pocket in the heater core.
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What year and model is this? Engine size would be helpful also please
Heres the bleeding procedure for it.
Start the engine and allow it to idle until the normal operating temperature is reached. Hot air should discharge from the A/C vents. The engine coolant temperature gauge should maintain a stabilized reading in the middle of the NORMAL range and the upper radiator hose should feel hot to the touch.
If you have done this, then I would be looking at the combustion test to rule out exhaust getting into the coolant. Head gaskets aren't a common issue on this engine so it's not likely. But still you may have to rule it out.
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Not really, I mean you can check and make sure the bearings are good and that it's not moving up or down or leaking coolant out of the weep hole at the base. The only other option is to remove it and make sure the fins are good.
I do not believe it's the problem however. Bubbling indicates air.
It's a head gasket if you have exhaust gases present in the cooling system. It cannot be the manifold because you don't have exhaust running through the intake manifold or coolant in the exhaust manifolds.
Ballpark for both heads is 7.0 labor. I would have a leak down test done to determine which head gasket is leaking. This cuts the labor to about 5. hours per side.
I think a rough ballpark for both would be about $1200-$1500 including the parts. Please understand it's a ballpark
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