Cooling system & temp guage

Cooling system & temp guage

Postby gsdmum [OP] » April 14th 2013, 2:45pm

I purchased my 97 Astro with 152K miles on it. Drove it for more than 100K and temp always stayed around 180 degrees. Suddenly, under load and/or on very warm days the temp would go to 220 or above. If I turned on the heat/defrost, the temp would go back down. Then the guage started bouncing around & I haven't a clue where it's running so I keep the defroster running 24/7. I had the system flushed a couple of months ago and there was lots of rust. A couple of weeks ago it suddenly had coolant pouring out from somewhere we couldn't find. Finally put some AlumaSeal in and no leaking since. Have been running it with the fan shroud off which also seems to keep the temperature down. At this point I have 320K+ miles on it. I would appreciate any suggestions about what might be causing the spike in running temp and how to get the guage working again. Thank you!
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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby Jasen » April 14th 2013, 4:48pm

welcome to a/s

what area of somewhere was it leaking.
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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby redfury » April 14th 2013, 5:37pm

Two things to consider first, running the van with a scanner that reads live data to see where the actual temperatures are at ( if they fluctuate ) by going off the sensor that tells the computer what the coolant temp is. Then, you have a temp sender ( sensor and sender are two different components ) which is mounted on the drivers side head between the first two spark plugs. IF that is damage or not grounding properly, due to contaminants/whatever, you might want to replace that as it is what tells the gauge what to report to the driver.

With the mileage though, you may have the beginnings of a head gasket or a cracked head. Have you lost coolant? Is there any signs of moisture in the engine oil?
A temporary fix usually becomes a permanent solution, therefore it does not exist.
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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby Leeann_93 » April 14th 2013, 6:11pm

I'd be doing another flush to get that alumsseal out. Burping it a lot since it's hard to get all the air out, then checking for where the leak was coming from.

Could be water oump, lower intake manifold gaskets, freeze plug....hard to tell without more details.
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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby Herman Wiegman » April 14th 2013, 6:50pm

GSDMum,

I had some rough engine operation and then ran the van with the doghouse engine cover removed.
I was able to see coolant leaking out from the intake manifold region, onto the transmission bell housing. (see photo)
After a few minutes from turning the engine off, the coolant would evaporate and leave very little evidence, so inspect your van when it is running.

Also shown is a picture of the original 1999 intake manifold gasket, which failed after 115 k miles... so yours is probably similar. Replacing an intake manifold set is not difficult, but it does take some time. If you do this job, also change out the water pump and fan belt at the same time and cover up your van's EGR valve to minimize the amount of carbon crud build up on the injectors and intake... see my photo gallery for more details.

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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby gsdmum [OP] » April 15th 2013, 1:56pm

Thank you all for responding. There was no sign of any leaking anywhere on the top side. Everything we could get to felt dry. Took the dog house off as well and checked from that side. Water was only seen at the bottom of the engine dripping off the cross members. Couldn't see from where. Have been checking the oil regularly but no sign of water in there.
Can a faulty sending unit cause the gauge to bounce around? If so, I will get the unit replaced. I was told the gauge was bad which required replacing the whole panel.
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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby chevymaher » April 15th 2013, 2:12pm

Yes the sender will cause gauge bouncing around.
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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby redfury » April 15th 2013, 4:53pm

Do you have rear heat in the van? You may have a bad fitting or leak from the hoses that run over the transmission causing the wetness.
A temporary fix usually becomes a permanent solution, therefore it does not exist.
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Re: Cooling system & temp guage

Postby gsdmum [OP] » April 16th 2013, 5:02am

No rear heat.

I forgot to mention it does need to have the coolant topped off every month or so and I have also noticed a coolant smell when I first get in the car since all of this has started. Leak in the heater hoses or heater unit?

Would a clogged radiator cause it to run warmer than normal especially under load or in hot weather?

The only time the engine actually overheated (over 240 degrees) was the day the coolant was leaking.

I will try checking some of the ideas. Thank you all.
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