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Old 03-21-2011, 10:06 AM   #1
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Question 3.4L Cooling System: Help needed.

Hey Everyone! First off I want to say this is a great site and I’m glad to have found it.
Being a newbie the first thing I did was search for a similar post but my results were not a match.

I hope some of you can help me, or point me in the right direction.

I was given a 95’ 3.4L Firebird recently. As a little background info on the car I’ll give you the cliff notes version: It was bought new in 95’ sometime in 2003 the car overheated, and the heads, and head gaskets were replaced and everything ran great until late 04’ a leak in the radiator rendered the car immobile and it was parked until last weekend.

Since last weekend I have replaced the following components in the car.

Fuel Pump (Old one died while sitting)

Radiator & Cap (Fixed the leak. Bought two caps actually suspecting one wasn’t sealing properly.)

Water Pump

New failsafe Thermostat

Heater hose to water pump neck (it was cracked and leaking)

Upper radiator hose.

New Fan Relay (the previous one was rigged by grounding a terminal to turn the fans on with the ignition)

The heater core was replaced in 00’ – 01’ sometime so even that is relatively new considering the car wasn’t driven much of the last few years.

So here it is:
I have no oil in the coolant, and no coolant in the oil.

A pressure test I did yesterday revealed it does hold pressure for quite some time.

The car runs absolutely amazing, smooth as could be.

However, just before the fan kicks on the overflow tank starts to boil over. The temp will drop and it will stop boiling over, but then when it gets to that temp again it continues. Eventually what seems to be happening is after 15mins or so of driving it I’ve lost all my coolant though the overflow tank boiling from the cap.

I know the 3.4 tends to run hotter than most V6 engines, but at the point of boiling over?
I’ve tried my best to burp the cooling system when filling it, but with no bleeder valve it’s nearly impossible to be sure there is no air in the system. Does anyone have a good way to make sure of this?

Here are my theories and I wanted to see if they make sense to any of you:

1.) Air pockets from not being able to properly burp the system causing a lower boiling temp.

2.) The belt and tensioner are quite loose. Maybe it seems the pump is turning at the rate of the belt but it could be slipping at times?

3.) The overflow cap gasket is broken. I’m not sure this would have anything to do with it as the cap is designed to let the system breathe anyway.



If any of you have any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated.
I’m sorry for the long post, hopefully it wasn’t a pain to read.
-David
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:44 AM   #2
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How much pressure did you apply for the pressure test?
It needs to be 18 PSI minimum and should hold 18 PSI forever.

Also, IMHO, failsafe thermostats are worthless.
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:03 AM   #3
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Thank you for the reply. I pumped it up to just about 18 psi.
It was more like 17psi because I was playing on the caution side.

I'm runing a 50/50 coolant mix also. Should I be running a 70/30 in this Florida heat?
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:12 AM   #4
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That failsafe thermostat will get stuck open under normal conditions. I went through several before I figured that out; that isn't your current problem though.
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbrandy View Post
Thank you for the reply. I pumped it up to just about 18 psi.
It was more like 17psi because I was playing on the caution side.

I'm runing a 50/50 coolant mix also. Should I be running a 70/30 in this Florida heat?
50/50 is fine for Florida, it's what I've used in my T/A all along.

Quote:
New Fan Relay (the previous one was rigged by grounding a terminal to turn the fans on with the ignition)



There's a reason the relay was bypassed. Have you figured out why?
Also, do the fans come on at low speed when you turn on the A/C?
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:05 PM   #6
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The relay was jumped because my Dad didn't feel comfortable with the fan not coming on sooner, and sitting in rush hour traffic from Tampa to Orlando the temp stayed high because he wasn't moving.

Not sure about the fan turning on at low speed. The AC Compressor is shot (Fly by night AC Tech Over Pressurized the system and blew the seals.) So I haven't turned it on.

Another quick question...

Is the overflow tank cap supposed to be air tight? In order to run the pressure test I had to disconnect the line to the tank and cap it where it plugs into the radiator. It would just bubble in the overflow tank without doing that.
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbrandy View Post
The relay was jumped because my Dad didn't feel comfortable with the fan not coming on sooner, and sitting in rush hour traffic from Tampa to Orlando the temp stayed high because he wasn't moving.

Ok, that makes sense. It was functioning normally before, correct.

Quote:
Not sure about the fan turning on at low speed. The AC Compressor is shot (Fly by night AC Tech Over Pressurized the system and blew the seals.) So I haven't turned it on.


Ok, we won't worry about that for now
Quote:
Another quick question...
Is the overflow tank cap supposed to be air tight? In order to run the pressure test I had to disconnect the line to the tank and cap it where it plugs into the radiator. It would just bubble in the overflow tank without doing that.
The overflow tank cap has nothing to do with radiator pressure and if the tank was bubbling when you tried to pressurize the radiator something isn't being done correctly.
Rent or borrow the proper pressure tester from Autozone.
It will seal at the radiator like a radiator cap does.

You do have the proper 18 PSI radiator cap....?
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Old 03-21-2011, 02:36 PM   #8
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try vacuum bleeding it. that will get out a lot more air than conventional bleeding if that is your problem. I can't find any that are made for car radiators, but go to a wine-making supply store, get a vacuum de-gasser and a bung with a hole in it that's about the size to plug the tube under the radiator cap.

as for boiling over, did you over-fill the tank? that happened to my dad where he filled it to the hot mark when it was cold and wound up boiling over. also, is it actually Boiling over, or is it bubbling over. if enough air comes into the bottom of the tank, it will bubble over without boiling.

you might try running a 60/40 mix just for the sake of raising the boiling point a little. I don't think I'd go as high as 70/30 just on general principles, but it should be ok.
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyVet View Post
[/FONT][/COLOR]Ok, that makes sense. It was functioning normally before, correct.

Yes it was, was just running high when sitting for long periods.

[/FONT][/COLOR]
Ok, we won't worry about that for now


The overflow tank cap has nothing to do with radiator pressure and if the tank was bubbling when you tried to pressurize the radiator something isn't being done correctly.
Rent or borrow the proper pressure tester from Autozone.
It will seal at the radiator like a radiator cap does.

You do have the proper 18 PSI radiator cap....?
Could it be a cracked or defected overflow tank then? I rented the tester from Autozone and like I said, I couldn't build any pressure without removing the tube that runs from the radiator to the overflow and capping where the line hooks to on the radiator.


I do have the proper cap. 18 psi.


The last poster might be on to something too, the level in the overflow tank was high when it was cold. Could it be something this simple? Just too much coolant in the overflow?
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbrandy View Post
Could it be a cracked or defected overflow tank then? I rented the tester from Autozone and like I said, I couldn't build any pressure without removing the tube that runs from the radiator to the overflow and capping where the line hooks to on the radiator.
sounds liek the the testor was the wrong one or not attached properly.
Air should not get to the overflow if the tester is on properly, as it seals
at the radiator just like a cap does.

However, the radiator cap seals in two places, at the bottom part of the opening and at the top part.
You'll note there are two rubber seals on the radiator cap.


Quote:
I do have the proper cap. 18 psi.
Is it tightened all of the way?
They can be hard to get fully tight. Don't stop twisting at the first latch.
It must be twisted until it stops.

Quote:
The last poster might be on to something too, the level in the overflow tank was high when it was cold. Could it be something this simple? Just too much coolant in the overflow?
Could be, but the cap should not be venting unless the engine temp is in the overheat range, and really not even then.
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [SIZE=3
I know the 3.4 tends to run hotter than most V6 engines, but at the point of boiling over?[/SIZE]
d

Mine never goes over 170 even in stop and go traffic
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyVet View Post
sounds liek the the testor was the wrong one or not attached properly.
Air should not get to the overflow if the tester is on properly, as it seals
at the radiator just like a cap does.

However, the radiator cap seals in two places, at the bottom part of the opening and at the top part.
You'll note there are two rubber seals on the radiator cap.




Is it tightened all of the way?
They can be hard to get fully tight. Don't stop twisting at the first latch.
It must be twisted until it stops.



Could be, but the cap should not be venting unless the engine temp is in the overheat range, and really not even then.

NavyVet, this quote above triggered my brain to get to work and I think I figured out the problem.

Take a look at the photo in this album: MobileMe Gallery

You will see TWO necks coming off the radiator. One which the cap WOULD have sealed, and the other which was sealed by nothing (where I was hooking up the overflow tank).

My thought is: This is a genaric product that most likely is used for more than one application even though the autoparts store said it was for this car.

The lower exit should have been sealed with a cap of somekind (I just went to the hardware store and got something to cap it off with) and the top one is capped by the radiator until the pressure hits 18psi.

Has anyone ever seen two hookups off the radiator like this on this car?

Anyway, now that the system has pressure it doesn't boil over at all!
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Old 03-22-2011, 10:06 AM   #13
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After looking into this further I'm thinking this was a radiator for an LT1 which some sites say have an extra steam hose outlet that hooks to the back of the head on the V8.

Sure hope that's the case.
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Old 03-22-2011, 10:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexbrandy View Post
NavyVet, this quote above triggered my brain to get to work and I think I figured out the problem.

Take a look at the photo in this album: MobileMe Gallery

You will see TWO necks coming off the radiator. One which the cap WOULD have sealed, and the other which was sealed by nothing (where I was hooking up the overflow tank).

My thought is: This is a genaric product that most likely is used for more than one application even though the autoparts store said it was for this car.

The lower exit should have been sealed with a cap of somekind (I just went to the hardware store and got something to cap it off with) and the top one is capped by the radiator until the pressure hits 18psi.

Has anyone ever seen two hookups off the radiator like this on this car?

Anyway, now that the system has pressure it doesn't boil over at all!
Yep, you got it figured out.
The overflow goes to the one sealed off by the cap, the other that goes into the raditaor itself is the steam pipe connection for the LT1.
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Comp cams Xtreme Energy LT1 266HR-14 street cam and springs..
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermopylae_480 View Post
That failsafe thermostat will get stuck open under normal conditions. I went through several before I figured that out; that isn't your current problem though.

I would hate to dig up this old thread but, you hit the damn nail on the head! Just a few weeks of driving it and I can already tell it's stuck open.

The car takes forever now to get to even close to 180 - 190. I don't work too far from home however traffic is stop and go and I would normaly get to temp within 5 mins. Now it's taking over 15mins in 80 degree heat.

I'm a little pissed about this, and I'm going to see if autozone will replace it with a different brand. Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend.
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