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Old 05-19-2013, 10:34 PM   #1
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Engine temp sensor problem?

I've been having a problem with my 2000 3.8 firebird recently. The car has NEVER ran over half way on the temp gauge (~210). Friday evening, while on the highway the "check gauges" light caught my eye, my temp was pegged at 260. I immediately put it in neutral and restarted it, went back to normal and didn't think anything else of it. Today however, I noticed my temp was running just over halfway. Occasionally the temp would quickly climb until it sets of the check gauges light. If I ignore it it will all of a sudden go back down to about 220. It seemed like after every hard acceleration or high rpm cruising it would do this. Also sometimes the gauge would climb to 3/4 and then go back down, back and forth. The radiator fans would also run, high and low speed. Even when the gauge read ~230 I noticed the low speed fan running.

Is this just a sensor sending unit problem or could it be a thermostat or waterpump problem? I am not wanting to spend money on this motor as I am swapping my v8 in a few months, but I don't want it to blow out soon lol. Thanks guys
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:40 PM   #2
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Solution: do your swap lol
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:41 PM   #3
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Thermostat.

Or at least start with that. It sounds like its sticking, and not opening when it should.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:45 PM   #4
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Make sure coolant level is full.. In Reservoir and under radiator cap. The quick cool down sounds like the cooling system has an air pocket in it. Caused by low coolant or whatever else.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:51 PM   #5
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Coolant was at the bottom of the dipstick in the reservoir, but I couldn't see any in the rad. I am adding some water. No leaks anywhere. The rapid heating/cooling is what makes me think its just electrical, but a thermostat is my next guess
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ercmann View Post
Make sure coolant level is full.. In Reservoir and under radiator cap. The quick cool down sounds like the cooling system has an air pocket in it. Caused by low coolant or whatever else.
This is what i had an air pocket
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y87bird00 View Post
Coolant was at the bottom of the dipstick in the reservoir, but I couldn't see any in the rad. I am adding some water. No leaks anywhere. The rapid heating/cooling is what makes me think its just electrical, but a thermostat is my next guess
Yeahh, that would be a problem. My earlier post was assuming the coolant was full.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:58 PM   #8
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Ill see what it does tomorrow with full coolant.
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:15 PM   #9
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Must have been an air pocket causing the temp to bounce. It's weird that my overflow reservoir was full but the radiator was empty...
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y87bird00 View Post
Must have been an air pocket causing the temp to bounce. It's weird that my overflow reservoir was full but the radiator was empty...
Check the overflow hose that runs from just under the radiator cap to the recovery tank for leaks.
If it has a hole in it the coolant will not get sucked back into the radiator as the engine cools.

Also, a bad radiator cap will cause the same thing.
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:30 PM   #11
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Will do, thanks
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Old 05-26-2013, 10:36 PM   #12
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Temp was running high again. There was no fluctuation, it was just steady at the 3/4 mark.. Fans were running, temp went down with the heater on. When I turn the car off, you can hear the coolant "chugging" back into the radiator. About 5 mins after turning it off it stops, but if I release the radiator cap pressure it will start again. I've got a great video of the sound but can't upload it right now.

Before the chugging there was no coolant in the overflow. After it was full but there was none in the radiator.

I'm changing the thermostat tomorrow morning and possibly the radiator cap.
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Old 05-27-2013, 12:46 AM   #13
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if u release the rad pressure it will boil because its a closed cooling system (preasurized) to bring the coolant boiling temp up.no preasure means boiling temp drops.
have u done any wrk on the cooling system?possible air in the system.
what color is the coolant?any milky sludge?
check for really high preasure or buldging hose to check for stuck thermostat.top hose will buldge i belive.
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y87bird00 View Post
Temp was running high again. There was no fluctuation, it was just steady at the 3/4 mark.. Fans were running, temp went down with the heater on. When I turn the car off, you can hear the coolant "chugging" back into the radiator. About 5 mins after turning it off it stops, but if I release the radiator cap pressure it will start again. I've got a great video of the sound but can't upload it right now.

Before the chugging there was no coolant in the overflow. After it was full but there was none in the radiator.

I'm changing the thermostat tomorrow morning and possibly the radiator cap.
Does your radiator cap have one of those levers to release the pressure?
If so ttrash can it and get a new cap without the lever, and make sure it's the 18 psi version meant for the car. ( has a one way check valve in the center )
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Old 05-27-2013, 02:46 PM   #15
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It's a newer radiator, coolant is bright orange. No sludge. I got a 18 pound radiator cap and a 180 degree thermostat today.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:26 AM   #16
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Cars still running hot now. Steady at 215 when I'm stopped, and at low speeds. On the highway it bounces from 215 to 260 and back real quick. Fans are on non-stop.

New 180 thermostat and 18# radiator cap. Coolant is disappearing slowly... Just a few drops on the ground. Can't find out where they come from.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:45 AM   #17
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Check the wiring to the temp sensor for bare spots and or shorts.
You might conmsider replacing the sensor.
As for the leak. Engine front, engine rear, under the radiator?
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:47 AM   #18
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The drips are under the right side of the radiator. I couldn't see any wet spots. Ill have to look around today I was really expecting this to be something simpler lol.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:49 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y87bird00 View Post
The drips are under the right side of the radiator. I couldn't see any wet spots. Ill have to look around today I was really expecting this to be something simpler lol.
If you mean the passenger side, check the radiator end cap. They've been known to erode and crack from fumes from the battery.
Also, have you check the hose that goes to the overflow / recovery tank?
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:58 AM   #20
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Yes passenger side. That's why I had to replace the radiator last year. Haven't checked the hose yet I can't get to it easily, ill dig it out tonight.
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