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Cooling System Issues

Old 11-25-2010, 12:27 PM
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Default Cooling System Issues

I am trying to figure out what is wrong with my friend's Sable. It is a 1997 with a 3.0.
It takes what seems to be an excessive amount of time to get to centerpoint or even the normal op range. It blows cold when the heater is turned on. When not idling, there are no real issues other than the lack of heat. When idling, it takes a while, but it eventually begins to creep to overheat. I've let it get as far as the top end of norm op. When even a slight bit of throttle is given, it almost immediately stops and begins to cool again. When I rev it upwards of 2k rpm, the air from the vents gets less cold, though not really warm or hot. As soon as it idles, the air goes back to cold or near the outside temp. It does have a slight leak, I think from the upper rad hose and possibly the tank return hose but it is nowhere near enough to cause this. There is also a severe squeal from the belt, though I am wondering if it might not be one of the pulleys since, when I opened the rad cap and the belt and pulleys got wet, it immediately stopped and only squealed when throttle is applied. Otherwise, it is constant.
My thoughts are water pump, clog or, POSSIBLY but unlikely, a shut thermostat. If there were a clog, I would think it might be near or in the heater core.
Also, it seems to have a electrical or HP draw somehow related to the temp or pump, though I can't verify it, it just seems to be. One of those hunches.
Anyway, if anyone has any ideas on how I can diagnose this without buying each part it MIGHT be until one or two fix the problem, it would be awesome. Like I said, he's told me all he's observed and I sat with it for about 45 minutes with it getting close to overheat 3 times and it was consistent in how to cool it and how the blown air seemed to warm and cool with higher or idle rpms.
Old 11-25-2010, 06:45 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Kansas
Posts: 54
Default There may be many issues here...

First of all, the squeal. With the engine off inspect the drive belt for the following: belt tension (deflection), cracks, crystalization and fraying. When checking for deflection, the belt should not move more than a half inch in either direction from center line. If so, replace it. If any of the above problems exist; replace it. The water spilling onto the belt may have acted like a belt dressing, temporarily stopping the noise. Another possibility is the belt tensioner, but you should always replace the belt first - then, if the problem persists, replace the tensioner.
Secondly, noise from pulleys are common, but so is squeaking noises from a bad water pump. Try to isolate the noise. Examine the water pump from the under-side and look for water leaking from the weep hole or deposits around the weep hole. This would indicate a bad water pump.
Finally, the heater problem. First, I'd like to ask a couple questions: When you said it was overheating did you mean the engine is overheating - pegging the temporature gauge at "Hot"? Is the electric cooling fan working? Is the cooling system full of coolant (including the overflow tank)? For the cooling system to operate properly, the cooling system needs to be sealed - no leaks. Air pockets in your engine's cooling system can cause simular symptoms. What is the climate like where you live (how cold is it)? Very cold outdoor conditions can cause it to take a lot longer to heat your vehicle. From what you have described, the thermostadt must either be missing or stuck open, but that would not explain an overheated engine unless the cooling fan isn't working or the radiator is clogged with debris. I'm guessing the heater hoses are hooked up to the heater core, therefore, the heating problem may be a clogged heater core or a bad mixing valve. Another possibility is the heater plennum door. The door may be stuck between the cold and hot positions giving you both cold and hot air at the vents. This condition may be repairable, but may require a lot of work and some talent on your (or the owner's) part.
Old 11-25-2010, 10:38 PM
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I have seen the o-rings on the timing cover behind the water pump leak alot and it the person working on the car dose not know about this leak he may wrongly say its the water pump leaking. They are both in the same area but the big aluminum timing case takes a bit more work to remove.
Old 11-25-2010, 10:45 PM
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Old 11-26-2010, 09:43 AM
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I'm not sure what Jonus is saying. Anyway.
I am in Missouri, it is running between freezing and 50 degrees F here. I'm sure that is playing a role in the slow op temp increase.
It is the engine that is overheating, there is coolant and the fans do run. There is at least one small leak in the system with a possible second from either the pump or reservoir. I have toyed with the notion of an air bubble. The temp fluctuation during throttle and idle are very similar to what happens when you flush many Fords. Since most do not have a bleed screw in the system, the air is forced to work its way out of the lines into the reservoir. This can take some time and be incredibly obnoxious since it forces the engine to run hot when idle(bubble settling, usually near or on the thermostat) and cool when throttled(pushes bubble, breaks it up or simply forces coolant through system resulting in cooling). However, even if the leaks or trapped air might cause the overheat issue, it does not explain the heater issue. An air bubble in the system would not cause the heater to blow just barely warmer than outside temp nor would it explain the sudden influx of hot air when revved high or if the heater is shut off for a minute or so. In both instances, the heater seems to blow air that is very close to what temp it would normally be.
All of this leads me to suspect that it is a circulation issue. When idling, there is not enough circulation of the coolant letting it sit in one place and not go through the heater core or radiator fast enough to release enough heat. However, when throttle is applied, pressure is then applied to the coolant via the water pump which forces it to move at a more nominal rate. This alone is enough to believe there is a clog in the system, even if it isn't the only issue. Likely a buildup or even corrosion getting trapped somewhere.
However, the squeal that I mentioned sounds a little too mechanical to seem to be the belt alone. I have watched it as it ran, throttled and idling and there was very little play in the belt and even less in the tensioner and pulleys. When listening, the sound is far more prominent near the firewall(the water pump is closer to the firewall) and it definitely has a metallic sound, ALMOST like ball bearings, though I am not sure on that. What this MIGHT indicate is that the pump is working internally, but the bearings that allow the pulley to turn may be wearing and so it does not turn as easily as normal which would then decrease the coolant flow and would explain the better performance of all systems with higher rpms. More drag on the pulley causes it to turn more which results in more flow, so on and so on.
However, because of the nature of the issue, no typical presentation of problems within the cooling systems other than the slow overheat and lack of heated air makes me skeptical even to my own opinion. Essentially, I feel like I am working on an electrical system. I can't see or quantify the causes but I see the symptoms and I hate doing electrical because of the diagnostic time and pain in the @$$ it tends to be, lol.
Old 11-26-2010, 11:05 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Kansas
Posts: 54
Default What about the Plenom Door?

martin.maurice and jonusb4 are obviously advertisers writing bogus posts that don't make any sense; in order to use this thread as free advertising.

I agree with you about the water pump. That's what they sound like when they go, but it seems this one has stopped pumping - except at higher RPM's - which means the impellar must be loose on the shaft.

Did you read what I wrote about the plenom door in my last thread? This has been a problem with Ford products in the past (especially Explorer's), but it also happened to my mother-in-laws Taurus. A plastic lever breaks off the plenom door and it stops moving. They can break in the closed position; all cold air, the open position; all hot air, or somewhere in the middle; both cold and hot air (which may seem cold in a cold climate - especially coupled with other problems).
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