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97 camry overheats at idle

12-21-2010, 11:41 PM
My 97 Camry 4 cyl. is running hot at low speeds. I noticed the following: Rev engine puts temp back in middle of gauge. Turn on heat helps run cooler at all speeds. Heater blows cool air at idle and warm air when at higher speeds. I was suspecting poor coolant flow due to water pump but then I thought maybe it is due to poor radiator performance. The cool air at idle is making me lean towards the water pump. I recently flushed coolant system after car started running hot. Seems all clear and fresh 50/50 plus thermostat. But still have same issue at idle. Anyone have any thoughts? I hate to replace water pump again if I do not need it as its a knuckle buster. Also with 212k miles I want to minimize un-needed repair costs. Any advice is appreciated.

Brian R.
12-22-2010, 12:40 AM
Make sure you have all the air out of the cooling system. Open the heater coil (heater on) and idle the engine from cold with the car on a hill - radiator uphill and the radiator cap off. Once the engine has reached operating temperature top off the radiator and cap it, and fill the overflow tank to the hot line with antifreeze. See if that solves the problem.

Does your radiator fan turn on after the engine is hot? If not, that is at least part of your problem.

If the above doesn't solve your problem, you probably need to replace the water pump.

12-22-2010, 09:29 AM
Thanks for the advice. I will try what you said. I am not sure how the air could have gotten in. To clarify I did not flush system until after I started running hot. I actually mildly overheated twice. Both times coolant was low but I could not find leak. Also after last water pump replacement I ran straight water for two years. Bad idea, I know, but I was planning to flush system and did not want to put in the new antifreeze until I did. Anyway I procrastinated for too long. If I have air in the system will I get vapor lock or will the air keep moving through the cooling system?

Thanks again for your feedback.

Brian R.
12-22-2010, 04:53 PM
Air will move around and stick in every spot that will cause trouble. It should pop out the radiator overflow, but for some reason, sometimes it doesn't. All you can do is try... It's a fast/cheap fix if it works.

12-29-2010, 10:49 PM
well, i think of two culprits:
1. loose belt
2. bad water pump, or pump that is "getting there"
your water pump is spun by timing belt, so if your car runs well, timing should be OK. hence, timing belt should be not that loose.
unless you have timing chain, which i doubt, you know that timing belts have to be replaced at regular intervals?

you already had water pump replaced? how long ago mileage wise?

heater core works as additional radiator, that's that simple. fan starts ok? there's not much cooling if you have no air flow...

otherwise, you may have physical obstruction somewhere, reducing coolant flow. poor man fix used to be removing thermostate and running system on open cycle. but it's pain winter time, as it does not really warm up, unless you block part of radiator with cardboard.

third guess is - radiator is clogged, and for good. if it's an old, condensed sediment, flush won't really get it out.

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