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Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: September 28, 2018 02:38PM
2002 Buick Park Avenue. The heat gauge has always been a little below the big midline, even when the temperature is in the high 90's. I noticed today, with a temperature of 67, that it's creeping over the line, which it has never done. It's too ho to look at the radiator right now. It's always right up to the lip when I check it. However, the overfill reservoir is dry. Can I add some distilled water to the reservoir? It rarely gets in the 20's here and will be awhile before it does. Of course, stuff like this always happens of Friday afternoon.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: JoeH
Date: September 28, 2018 02:58PM
If the reservoir is empty with a hot engine, then you have a leak in the coolant system somewhere. Adding the water is a stopgap at best, better would be a 50/50 antifreeze mix. Depending on where the leak is, you might get by with adding a leak stop compound. The coolant system should be pressure tested if an obvious leak doesn't show up.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Acer
Date: September 28, 2018 03:01PM
Look for leaks on the garage floor of course. But barring that, might just be low from use. Just get some antifreeze and top it off as indicated in the reservoir. Antifreeze cools, too. Distilled water in a pinch, but antifreeze is not expensive. See if the problem returns.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: September 28, 2018 03:01PM
About how long does it need to cool before I can take the radiator cap off?
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Carm
Date: September 28, 2018 03:04PM
Probably a leak, that’s what usually leads to an empty reservoir. Replace thermostat if you never have and drain/replace fluid. Check hoses for leaks before fluid replacement.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Speedy
Date: September 28, 2018 03:06PM
Never use water except in an emergency. Antifreeze is useful both in hot and cold climates.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Carm
Date: September 28, 2018 03:06PM
Quote
Dennis S
About how long does it need to cool before I can take the radiator cap off?
Squeeze one of the hoses, if the pressure is high it won’t have any give. If it cooled down enough you can squeeze without much pressure on the hose.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: September 28, 2018 03:19PM
My mechanic is closed for the day and there are no others I know in this small town. He drained to GM Dexcool and put in green antifreeze. Everything at Walmart seems to be All Purpose. Is that OK? As far as water, it will be many weeks before it gets below freezing. I need to make a 45 mile trip and back tomorrow.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: September 28, 2018 03:23PM
Hi -

That's a 3800 V6 series 2 with a plastic radiator I bet. They fail interally and will sludge up inside causing that. My old Grand Prix(es?) I had two.... both did that after 100,000. Just part of that wonderful (NOT) Dex-Cool they use.

I'd figure on replacing it. Or you can try letting it cool and hosing it out, but in my experience it didn't work smiling smiley Replace and keep on driving, 3800 is a great engine.



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: September 28, 2018 03:26PM
It's at 106,000.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Schpark
Date: September 28, 2018 03:28PM
Check the oil and make sure it is not milky. Would indicate a head gasket issue.



"Without death, life would lose much of its meaning. My goal is to live in such a manner that I alter world in some fundamental way before I'm gone. As I get older and watch my son grow I realize I've already achieved my goal." - Ztirffritz
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: September 28, 2018 03:34PM
I've run a hose over the cap and radiator to cool it down.

When it remains warm or cooler after the rinse, it should be cool enough. Here's where even a cheapie IR heat gun is handy.

In my experience, if you can squeeze a hose without much pressure (especially the supply hose) it's time to get new hoses.

If you haven't found any drips or puddles on the floor, or don't smell anti-freeze, it's probably just time (or past time) to fill the radiator and reservoir to appropriate levels with 50/50.

You might check your owner's manual for the stated flush/fill intervals. The fluids should be checked on regular intervals. Even without fluid in the reservoir, your car shouldn't be getting warmer than normal, unless it's a small radiator and large reservoir.




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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: September 28, 2018 04:02PM
Quote
Speedy
Never use water except in an emergency. Antifreeze is useful required both in hot and cold climates.

FTFY. "Antifreeze" also acts as coolant and is required, not optional.



It is what it is.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: September 28, 2018 04:03PM
Quote
Carm
Quote
Dennis S
About how long does it need to cool before I can take the radiator cap off?

Squeeze one of the hoses, if the pressure is high it won’t have any give. If it cooled down enough you can squeeze without much pressure on the hose.

Plus if you burn yourself grabbing the hose, you'll know it's too soon to remove the cap.



It is what it is.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Racer X
Date: September 28, 2018 04:16PM
Quote
N-OS X-tasy!
Quote
Speedy
Never use water except in an emergency. Antifreeze is useful required both in hot and cold climates.

FTFY. "Antifreeze" also acts as coolant and is required, not optional.

Bzzzzt! Wrong answer. Antifreeze raises the boiling point of the liquid over straight water, but so does running the system pressurized. If you run the vehicle with a pressurized sealed system, and use the appropriate water pump lubricant/anti corrosion additives, you don't need glycol.

Adding glycol to the water actually retards the flow of heat from the metal to the liquid because it has higher viscosity and poorer heat transfer. Seriously. There are actually water additives that are water pump lubricants, anti corrosion chemical mixes and something magical that lower viscosity and improves heat transfer that will actually lower engine coolant temp @10 degrees, and significantly cooler heads around the exhaust valves and ports because of the more efficient thermal transfer. My big Buick gets by just fine with a 500 HP motor, and the standard 3 row radiator because I have it filled with double dose of Redline Watter wetter. Runs close to 20 degrees cooler than with 50/50, and far less detonation because the exhaust valves run cooler. Kept in an enclosed garage that doesn't freeze. You can add Water wetter to 50/50, but its effects aren't as drastic, but will still help with a heavy truck, boat or RV under heavy loads.

Now, for practical every day use, glycol/water mix is the best compromise for the vast majority of the population.

Know your basic thermodynamics and fluidics!
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: September 28, 2018 05:05PM
Excellent advice above. I will simply add the usual cbelt3 disaster story to indicate why you should NEVER OPEN THE RADIATOR CAP until it's cool.

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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: September 28, 2018 05:23PM
Quote
Racer X
Quote
N-OS X-tasy!
Quote
Speedy
Never use water except in an emergency. Antifreeze is useful required both in hot and cold climates.

FTFY. "Antifreeze" also acts as coolant and is required, not optional.

Bzzzzt! Wrong answer. Antifreeze raises the boiling point of the liquid over straight water, but so does running the system pressurized. If you run the vehicle with a pressurized sealed system, and use the appropriate water pump lubricant/anti corrosion additives, you don't need glycol.

Adding glycol to the water actually retards the flow of heat from the metal to the liquid because it has higher viscosity and poorer heat transfer. Seriously. There are actually water additives that are water pump lubricants, anti corrosion chemical mixes and something magical that lower viscosity and improves heat transfer that will actually lower engine coolant temp @10 degrees, and significantly cooler heads around the exhaust valves and ports because of the more efficient thermal transfer. My big Buick gets by just fine with a 500 HP motor, and the standard 3 row radiator because I have it filled with double dose of Redline Watter wetter. Runs close to 20 degrees cooler than with 50/50, and far less detonation because the exhaust valves run cooler. Kept in an enclosed garage that doesn't freeze. You can add Water wetter to 50/50, but its effects aren't as drastic, but will still help with a heavy truck, boat or RV under heavy loads.

Now, for practical every day use, glycol/water mix is the best compromise for the vast majority of the population.

Know your basic thermodynamics and fluidics!





It is what it is.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Racer X
Date: September 28, 2018 05:26PM
My brother took off a rad cap when he shouldn't, got 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his chest, neck and right armpit.

Any any vehicle with a cap on the radiator, I immediately replace them with a lever lock pressure release cap. Can't remove the cap without lifting the lever, which vents the pressure/liquid to the overflow tank.

Also, in a pinch, if you have a small pressure leak, you can run with the cap on, but lever lifted, so the fluid stays in, but won't build pressure. You can still get home most of the time.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Gareth
Date: September 28, 2018 05:27PM
Quote
N-OS X-tasy!

Which, as I recently discovered, is like $20/gallon at an auto parts store, but $9/gallon at Walmart.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: September 28, 2018 05:44PM
Quote
Gareth
Quote
N-OS X-tasy!

Which, as I recently discovered, is like $20/gallon at an auto parts store, but $9/gallon at Walmart.

NEVER buy fluids at an auto parts store except in an emergency.

Walmart is substantially cheaper on many auto maintenance items, for sure. My local Walmart sells the 5-quart bottle of Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 synthetic oil I use in my car for approximate $23, WAY cheaper than I can find it anywhere else.



It is what it is.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Racer X
Date: September 28, 2018 05:44PM
Oh yeah. I get many of my auto consumables at Fred Meyer (west coast Kroger big box store). Our favorite Rain X washer fluid frequently on sale for $2.50 a gallon. Their everyday is less than an auto parts store's sale price.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: DP
Date: September 28, 2018 06:15PM
My old Grand Prix(es?)

That's "Grands Prix", Jamie. Just being didactic...





Disclaimer: This post is checked for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Any attempts at humor are solely the responsibility of the author and bear no claim that any and all readers will approve or appreciate said attempt at humor.
My name is DP, and I approve this message.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Acer
Date: September 28, 2018 06:48PM
Quote
DP
My old Grand Prix(es?)

That's "Grands Prix", Jamie. Just being didactic...

You must mean "being pedantic."

Which I, of course, am never.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: September 28, 2018 06:52PM
Well, I checked the radiator and it's full to the top. Should I find some green antifreeze like my mechanic put in it, or use the All Purpose stuff to top off the reservoir? Walmart didn't have the green stuff the last time I looked.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Cary
Date: September 28, 2018 07:15PM
Quote
Acer
Quote
DP
My old Grand Prix(es?)

That's "Grands Prix", Jamie. Just being didactic...

You must mean "being pedantic."

Which I, of course, am never.

You must mean, "Which I, of course, never am."
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: September 28, 2018 08:26PM
Actually, that's unfortunately probably meaning that the radiator is blocked and not flowing / circulating properly...... sorry to say. The other thing none of have mentioned is it could be a worn out thermostat. That would be the easiest and cheapest fix for sure. But what you describe I dealt with twice. smiling smiley I tried power flushing one radiator and it didn't make much of a difference, the other was so plugged (a 1997) that it would not even get water flowing through it, it just pooled over the radiator cap and didn't come out the drain spigot at all. Dex-Cool is terrible stuff. Your mechanic was smart to flush it out and go to green coolant.

Just my opinion, I'm curious what your mechanic finds.

Good luck!

Quote
Dennis S
Well, I checked the radiator and it's full to the top. Should I find some green antifreeze like my mechanic put in it, or use the All Purpose stuff to top off the reservoir? Walmart didn't have the green stuff the last time I looked.



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Speedy
Date: September 28, 2018 09:02PM
Open your windows. Turn your heater up to high. Run the heater fan on high.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Carm
Date: September 29, 2018 01:46AM
Quote
OWC Jamie
Actually, that's unfortunately probably meaning that the radiator is blocked and not flowing / circulating properly...... sorry to say. The other thing none of have mentioned is it could be a worn out thermostat That would be the easiest and cheapest fix for sure. But what you describe I dealt with twice. smiling smiley I tried power flushing one radiator and it didn't make much of a difference, the other was so plugged (a 1997) that it would not even get water flowing through it, it just pooled over the radiator cap and didn't come out the drain spigot at all. Dex-Cool is terrible stuff. Your mechanic was smart to flush it out and go to green coolant.

Just my opinion, I'm curious what your mechanic finds.

Good luck!

Quote
Dennis S
Well, I checked the radiator and it's full to the top. Should I find some green antifreeze like my mechanic put in it, or use the All Purpose stuff to top off the reservoir? Walmart didn't have the green stuff the last time I looked.

Me. Me. Me. smiling smiley
I mentioned replacing the thermostat.
As for a hose being “too worn” if you can squeeze it. It depends on if you can squeeze a new hose. An old floppy hose needs replacing and will look and feel worn.
I have been lucky to never been burned by hot radiator fluid even though I have had two cars over heat.

One recommendation is to turn your heater on to check if the fluid is going through interior heater core used to heat the air in the car. That can be an indication of a stuck or blocked thermostat. No heat = replace thermostat for sure. I would still replace it though if you haven’t.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: September 29, 2018 02:26AM
I'm leaning toward Jamie's blocked radiator theory.
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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: Rolando
Date: September 29, 2018 10:36AM
Agree on the trying the heater. Its a good indicator.



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Re: Car heat gauge going over midline where it's never gone
Posted by: AllGold
Date: September 30, 2018 04:29PM
Just to add something that is not quite, but almost off topic.

A long time ago I had a car that developed a problem. After first starting the car, once it warmed up, the temp gauge would peg on the hot end for a time, maybe 10-20 seconds, then quickly drop back to normal range. Very disconcerting to see that gauge peg.

It was so long ago I don't even remember whether it was only a cracked head or a cracked engine block or both. But it was definitely not good and something was cracked and not a minor repair.



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