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1997 Cavalier Loosing Coolant? Need Help!

07-02-2006, 06:35 PM
I have a 1997 Chevy Calalier that keeps loosing coolant and running on the HOT side. I took the car to the shop because I thought it was the head gasket. They pressure tested the head and said it was OKAY. They put the car on their computer and couldn't find anything wrong? I brought the car home and it's still loosing water with no visible leaks??? The only thing that I see is when you drive the car, the temp gauge is on the 3/4 and higher range. The cooling fan comes on when it reaches the 3/4 range, but only stays on for about 30 seconds. The it will not cycle again until it reaches the 3/4 range. When you drive the car witht the A/C on so the cooling fan runs all the time. The temp. gauge stays in the 1/2 range. Could this be a cooling sensor problem? When is the fan suppose to come on and for how long? The car is loosing about 1/2 gallon a week. And when the engine is running you can not touch the plastic overflow tank on the cooling system or it will burn you. Is this normal??? I tought about wiring the fan so it stays on all the time to see it that makes it run cooler? Or can I just unplug the cooling sensor and make it stay on all the time. My thinking was that the fan is not cycling properly and causing the temp to run hot. Causing the coolant to get hot and evaporate? Is this possible. The shop couldn't fix it or find a problem after working on it for 3 days. Can you guys Help? Please!!!!!
Thank you, :banghead:

07-02-2006, 06:53 PM
It's not leaking right?

Young Chuck D
07-02-2006, 06:57 PM
It's not leaking right?

wouldn't that have shown up when he had it pressure tested....?

07-03-2006, 08:46 AM
Without any visible leaks, check you oil to make sure it's not leaking into the block (usually a head gasket problem). If oil is fine (not milky colored), check your exhaust pipe to see if the antifreeze is leaking into the exhaust valves. (also a head gasket problem), you would notice white smoke coming out of the exhaust at all times.
Because you had that checked (head gasket), these probably aren't your problems.
Next, make sure your cooling system is bled properly. Air in the system will cause the engine to run very hot, and can cause a head gasket blow-out.

BTW, with your A/C running, the fan is always on.

07-03-2006, 11:10 AM
There are not visible leaks on the car. I drove it yesterday about 30 miles, parked it in the garage and went over the engine with a fine tooth comb. Could not find a leak anywhere and floor under car was dry. The only thing I found last night was a spark plug was very loose, could turn it with my fingers. They needed to be changed so I changed all of them this morning and made sure they were tight. The car belongs to my 16 year old daughter, and she can't help me diagnose the problem. I have been driving the car the last couple of days and I am having trouble diagnosing the problem. After changing the plugs, I drove the car about 20 miles, it runs fine and the temp never got about the half way point until I pulled it in the drive and let it run for about 20 minutes. The temp went up to the 3/4 mark on the gauge before the fan kicked on. It kicked off when it cot close to the 1/2 mark. Is this the normal operation for the fan? Could the loose plug have been making the car run hot and boil the water out of the plastic coolant tank? It looks like the insulation on the underside of the hood is stained where the coolant tank is? This leads me to believe that it is boiling out? There is no water in the oil and no white smoke of smell of antifreeze coming out of the tail pipe.
I read in another post where someone else had loose spark plugs and it made the car run HOT? Is this possible and how?????
Thanks guys.......:banghead:

07-04-2006, 08:21 AM
Can't comment on the loose plugs causing overheating, but I will say my daughter's Sunfire gauges and fan work as you describe. The fan doesn't activate until the gauge hits the 3/4 point.

You may want to replace the thermostat and the coolant. If you have the red colored coolant,the Dexcool has a tendancy to gum up the radiator if too much air gets into the system.

I saw your other post about bleeding the system, so here's a link on how to do it. Also, this post is pretty similar to your situation;

Good luck.

07-04-2006, 11:23 AM
I would say no on the plugs, theres no logical way I can think of that would make it run hot due to loose plugs. I would still say you are loosing it due to head gasket. How many miles? They tend to shit out around 100k miles and if its got more than 90k miles and it hasnt been done thats my guess. My Talon had a blown headgasket and there wasnt any sign of coolant leaving the exhaust. If you have a jack, a good set of tools, a haynes manual, and a brain I would do the head gasket and see if that fixes your problem. 1/2 gallon a week isnt a very quick leak, I dont think it will be blowing white smoke all over the place.

07-04-2006, 05:23 PM
I also couldn't think of any logical way the plugs would make it run hot.
I read on another thread that someone else had loose plugs and after they tightened them it ran cooler?? I had the head pressure tested at a shop. They told me it tested fine and they were 100% sure it was not the head??
I bleed the air out of the cooling system this morning, it did have a little air in it? My daughter also told me this morning that the car never runs hot when she is running the air conditioner. I am thinking the fan is not working properly. Do any of you guys know how to bypass the temp. sensor and wire the fan so it will stay on all the time when the car is running? I looked at it today and I was going to hook it up, but I couldn't figure out how to go about it. On the fan is a Blue wire and a Black wire? Any ideas on a simple way to hook it up to kick on when she is running the car? I read in one post where you can unplug the Temp. Control Sensor? and the fan would run all the time?? I can't seem to find the temp control sensor. I found where the gauge is pluged into the block. I unpluged it and all it did was cause the gauge to not work?
Thanks guys.

07-05-2006, 04:37 PM
check your thermy, could be as easy as your thermy sticking and cause the collant to come out the overflow

07-05-2006, 05:13 PM
Jesus christ, we should get a "Coolant Problems/Overheating" sticky for the top of the main thread page.

07-05-2006, 06:31 PM
New thermostat, just put in last week.
I am leaning towards the cooling fan not working properly or the temp. sensor is not working correctly. I told my daughter to drive the car for the next couple of days with the air conditioner on all the time. If it doesn't overheat or doesn't loose any coolant. I am going to wire the fan, so it comes on as soon as the car is started. This will be the last cavalier I ever own. I own 5 other chevys and have never as much trouble with all 5 combined as I have this chevy. My 68 camaro is the most dependable of all 5. Then my 2000 Z71 is second. Never a problem with the new Imapla, and I have read so many people on the net having blown head gaskets, you would think GM would look at recalling them. Anyway, thanks for all the help.:banghead:

07-05-2006, 06:39 PM
Jesus christ, we should get a "Coolant Problems/Overheating" sticky for the top of the main thread page.

With as many Cavaliers that seem to OverHeat and Blow headgaskets, that probably wouldn't be a bad Idea. It's pretty bad when you call 5 different shops and tell them that you have a Cavalier thats loosing coolant and running hot. Every single one of them say "Cavaliers are the worlds worst car about blowing headgaskets." You have a blown headgasket."
One shop told me to cut my losses and trade it in fast.
Do a search on Google sometime and type in Cavalier running hot and see the 1000's of other people out there with the same problem, and 99% or them say blown HeadGasket. You would think GM would think about a recall??

07-05-2006, 08:01 PM
a bad head gasket isnt a safety issue, so they dont HAVE to recall it, and if they dont have to, they're not gonna

check out, pretty much every cougar made in 1999 and 2000, that came with a sunroof, has had the sunroof break, about a $900 fix, and they wont recall it, why? cuz its not a safety issue, however a bad fuel pump isnt a safety issue, and they recalled that....

07-06-2006, 01:20 AM
I dont know, I'm still calling HG. I had basically the same situation. It wasnt loosing it very fast (no white smoke) and the compressions was "with in spec". Pulled the bastard and I found that the HG was in fact pretty fucked up, now the compression is solid all the way across. I dont know though. Definately find a way to make it run cooler all the time, having it heat up like that and cool is going to start warping the head and then you will be blowing a gasket.

07-06-2006, 06:22 AM
however a bad fuel pump isnt a safety issue, and they recalled that....

A fuel pump is a safety issue, If you're driving in the middle of a 6 lane Highway (like Atlanta) and the sucker stops sucking while traffic around you is driving 70MPH plus.:grinno:

07-06-2006, 06:58 AM
Sounds like a blown headgasket.The new head gasket is marked,"this side up" and take the cylinder head to a machine shop to get checked for warpness and cracks.

07-09-2006, 09:20 AM
:grinyes: Fixed the Car!!
It wound up being the water pump.
You couldn't see the leak, but I took my finger and felt behind
the water pump and it was wet and had sludge coming out
of the weep hole that you can not see. I don't feel to bad
about not finding it sooner. The shop I took it to missed it
also, after having it for 2 days. Thanks for all your help, I
was starting to get pretty pissed by not being able to find
the problem.
Thanks guys!

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