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Old 01-27-2011, 02:02 PM   #1
Wg123
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Angry My SW-2 cooling systems troubles, need advice...?

1998 Saturn Wagon 2

For the last few months my car cooling system seems to be running hotter than normal per the dash gauge. For years and even the the summer the temp gauge would never get over 1/4. I need to add coolant to it now weekly but there is no leak. The engine just gets hot (the dash gauge only goes to 1/2) and losses fluid from Only the overflow tank. I have a new radiator, new hoses and a new thermostat (2). I put a temp gun on the lower hose and it is about 160-173 and the upper is about 180-193. At one time the lower hose was at 173 and the upper at 181 while the temp gauge on the dash was at 1/2 (high for my car). The temp gauge now always gets to 1/2 when for years it never passed 1/4. The coolant does not seem to overflow (do to high temp) unless I use the heater but I am still losing coolant weekly regardless. I water lever light comes on regardless about every other day. I only can add about 16oz of water (not really low). There is no leak in the system at all for sure! I used to be able to turn the AC on (only one fan for all) to get the fan to cool the motor when I did have a leak but now this does nothing to cool even when the fan is running... ? When the car was all good and would only get to 1/4 on the temp gauge it could set for 20 minutes and be back down to nothing (cold) even in the summer heat but now it takes 2 hours or more to sit and cool even in very cold weather. I know from this that the car is in fact hotter than normal. For years the gauge was at 1/4 and stayed put but now it never stays at 1/4 even in 30 degree weather. The thermostat is the second I have put in and there is only one model I can use and both open at the same temp because they are the same.

I want to think that the water pump is working, just very poorly and needs to be replaced but the cost is 300$ and I want to make sure it is this before I replace it.

Can anyone help me please, I never heard of a water pump broke or working poorly without a leak or noise. And my pump seems to be working but only at about 50% to 20% of what it should be, is this possible???

Thanks!!!

Last edited by Wg123; 01-27-2011 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 01-27-2011, 07:57 PM   #2
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Re: My SW-2 cooling systems troubles, need advice...?

The temp should read 1/2 on the gauge and you are probably overfilling the expansion tank resulting in coolant being spilled onto the ground when the engine gets to operating temp. Don't confuse the expansion tank with the pressurized fill tank. They are different things. Notice, there is no filler cap directly on the radiator.
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Old 01-27-2011, 08:12 PM   #3
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Re: My SW-2 cooling systems troubles, need advice...?

On the Saturn SW2 the expansion tank is pressurized with the system and only has a fill cap on the overflow. The over flow tank is pressurized with a pressure release value for excess. I did think the same, that when I added the coolant when it was cold that it could have expanded when hot and just over flowed but the first time it was steaming over and making boiling sounds. This is all at 1/2 on the dash gauge in which I never have seen my gauge that high in the prior 8 years I owned the car, not even in summer heat sitting at an idle for hours...

Ever heard of a water pump just working poorly without a leak or noise?

Thanks greatly for you help!!!
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Old 01-27-2011, 09:28 PM   #4
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Re: My SW-2 cooling systems troubles, need advice...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wg123 View Post
1998 Saturn Wagon 2

For the last few months my car cooling system seems to be running hotter than normal per the dash gauge. For years and even the the summer the temp gauge would never get over 1/4. I need to add coolant to it now weekly but there is no leak. The engine just gets hot (the dash gauge only goes to 1/2) and losses fluid from Only the overflow tank. I have a new radiator, new hoses and a new thermostat (2). I put a temp gun on the lower hose and it is about 160-173 and the upper is about 180-193. At one time the lower hose was at 173 and the upper at 181 while the temp gauge on the dash was at 1/2 (high for my car). The temp gauge now always gets to 1/2 when for years it never passed 1/4. The coolant does not seem to overflow (do to high temp) unless I use the heater but I am still losing coolant weekly regardless. I water lever light comes on regardless about every other day. I only can add about 16oz of water (not really low). There is no leak in the system at all for sure! I used to be able to turn the AC on (only one fan for all) to get the fan to cool the motor when I did have a leak but now this does nothing to cool even when the fan is running... ? When the car was all good and would only get to 1/4 on the temp gauge it could set for 20 minutes and be back down to nothing (cold) even in the summer heat but now it takes 2 hours or more to sit and cool even in very cold weather. I know from this that the car is in fact hotter than normal. For years the gauge was at 1/4 and stayed put but now it never stays at 1/4 even in 30 degree weather. The thermostat is the second I have put in and there is only one model I can use and both open at the same temp because they are the same.

I want to think that the water pump is working, just very poorly and needs to be replaced but the cost is 300$ and I want to make sure it is this before I replace it.

Can anyone help me please, I never heard of a water pump broke or working poorly without a leak or noise. And my pump seems to be working but only at about 50% to 20% of what it should be, is this possible???

Thanks!!!
First, if your temp gauge was only getting to the 1/4 mark, that's too low. Normal temp gauge reading should be between 3/8 and 1/2 mark.

The only thermostats worth using in these cars are Stant p/n 14279, NAPA p/n THM268, or an OEM replacement.

I would replace the coolant lid since it is cheap, and probably worn out & no longer holding pressure.

I would also replace your engine coolant temp sensor (also a cheap item) with a brass-tipped replacement if you haven't done so already. The factory-installed part has a resin/plastic tip and frequently cracks & fails causing a false temp gauge at the very least among other issues such as bad fuel economy, hard starting, rough idle, and erratic shifting w/auto.

Your low coolant light is either caused by a stuck float (part of the coolant level sensor integrated into the coolant reservoir) or by bubbles in the coolant reservoir. The bubbles would be caused by boiling coolant which would be caused by bad lid/cap that is not properly holding pressure.

I'd try replacing the coolant lid/cap first and foremost and go from there.
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:15 PM   #5
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Re: My SW-2 cooling systems troubles, need advice...?

Thanks, I will do both!!!
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:17 PM   #6
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Re: My SW-2 cooling systems troubles, need advice...?

Thanks, I will do both!!!
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