Engine Cooling problem
1996 Geo Tracker 4 cyl Four Wheel Drive Automatic 160000 miles
My 1996 Tracker overheated resulting in having to have a head gasket, bearings replacement. The mechanic also replaced all belts, water pump, and thermostat(2 times). He also did a compression test on engine and radiator before and after the head gasket repair and had the radiator serviced to ensure no leaks. I drove it approximately 500 miles and noticed the heat guage edging toward HOT. The mechanic adjusted the lifters, oil change, replaced the thermostat for the third time and replaced the fan clutch. He test drove it on highway and mountain roads and the heat guage stayed in the middle. I drove approximatly 75 miles and the heat guage started fluctuating between middle and 3/4. I had to replace about 16-24 ounces of coolant and the reserve was dry. There is no evidence on hoses, beneath the car or anywhere visual of coolant leaking.
Any ideas what else it could be or what my mechanic could troubleshoot?
Just a couple of things. One I would replace my radiator/coolant cap. Next, I am sure when he replaced the head gasket he had the heads resurfaced. Many times the head will slightly warp due to the heat and need to be resurfaced to ensure they are completely flat so they will have a proper flush mating surface with the engine. If not, another head gasket could blow.
It is possible that you still have some air in the system. I don't have a good picture of the housing your thermostat is in. Some vehicles have a bleed valve on top to open when filling, running, bleeding the air out of the system. ANY air in the system will cause you problems and it isn't always easy to get it out. This may be why you had to add more antifreeze.
The vehicle isn't blowing any white smoke out the exhaust is it?
Does the heater blow hot air?
My suggestion - replace the radiator/coolant cap. This helps stabilize system pressure.
Next, ensure the proper level of coolant is in by turning on the heater, running the vehicle and adding coolant. Do this several times keeping an eye on the temp gage.
Next time you talk to your mechanic you may ask if the head was resurfaced.
Also, I know you have a centrifugal clutch for cooling; you also have a condenser, electric cooling fan. When you turn the AC on does this fan come on?
Also, you might go to Auto Zone or O'Reilly's and for free they can pull the codes to the car. Most important. Once they check your codes, if they find something and you don't get it fixed and need to get back with us, please make sure you tell us exactly what the code was, number and all. Example, if the code was E0568 O2 Sensor bad. Then make sure you give us all of that. While there for free also they can bring their tester out and check your battery, alternator and starter.
Try the above and please get back with us if the problem continues. Again, air in the system is really hard to get out at times. Just keep an eye on that temp gauge and if you get back with us, please provide the above so we can troubleshoot from there.
November, 12, 2008 AT 9:00 AM
Yes, the head was resurfaced, no white smoke, no water in the oil and there is no bleed valve on the thermostat housing. Also, the heater does work and yes the fan does turn on when A/C is on. I will try the new radiator cap and have the car tested at AutoZone. Maybe it will cost me less than taking it back to the mechanic and solve a simple problem. Oh, if there is still air in the system will it eventually resolve itself by adding coolant every so often or is it not that simple and will have to continue to take it back to the mechanic for more complex interventions?
Thank you soooooo much for your input!
November, 12, 2008 AT 11:20 PM
Thanks for the update and info. That was all really specific replies back. Thank you. I don't always get that so that makes it harder to help. As for Auto Zone - as I said that is free for them to check which is pretty cool. As I suggested, have them pull the codes to the car. Most important: Once they check your codes, if they find something and you don't get it fixed and need to get back with us, please make sure you tell us exactly what the code was, number and all. Example, if the code was E0568 O2 Sensor bad. Then make sure you give us all of that. While there for free also they can bring their tester out and check your battery, alternator and starter. Hey, it's starting to get into cold weather so might as well have that checked too especially since it is free.
Yes on the air, but it will be frustrating. It is a good sign you have hot heater air though. At a certain point you won't have to add anymore coolant.
I am interested to see how the cap does. Once we do these couple of things I am hoping you won't have to go back to the mechanic for at least this.
Oh, you can pick that cap up at Auto Zone while you are there having them check the codes, battery etc.