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99Grand Am Cooling System issues


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FastFreddy
Novice

Jan 12, 2013, 12:15 PM

Post #1 of 14 (1302 views)
99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

My daughter has a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am with a 3.4 liter V6. We have, in the past, had some cooling issues with the car. I thought at first it was the thermostat, so I replaced it. She was still having problems, so I thought maybe it was the water pump. I replaced that. She was still having problems so I rented a cooling system pressure tester and couldn't get the pressure to pump up. I pulled the dipstick and the oil level had risen about 4 qts. passed the full mark and was a milky brown color, I knew right away that it had blown a head gasket. I found that the head gasket at the #2 cylinder was blown, I replaced it. That was 3 months ago. She didn't have any problems until she was coming home from work last night and she said her "low coolant" light came on. I checked the coolant level and it didn't look like there was any loss of coolant. The next morning, I checked the level again and it needed to be "topped off". While I was under the hood I checked the oil just to be sure that we didn't have a repeat of the blown head gasket(water in the oil) and it looked good and the level was right were it was supposed to be. The engine temp, at idle, according to the dash gauge comes up slowly to about 220 degrees and then drops off to just below 200. If I understand an engine cooling system properly, this is the thermostat opening. During this time, there is not much heat coming out of the vents and then after it falls off, the heat is "luke warm" and the temp gauge seems to "park" itself at about 200. With the surge tank cap off and the engine at this 200 degree mark, I noticed that there isn't much movement of the water and this is what is baffling me.
She has a 2hr. commute to and from school and I really don't what her to get stuck somewhere and I'd really like to get this car fixed, but I don't know where to go next. Please, somebody help me! Thanks in advance.


Sidom
Veteran / Moderator
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Jan 12, 2013, 12:24 PM

Post #2 of 14 (1297 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

I'm a little confused on what the problem is right now....

It sounds like the system is working normally.....No coolant loss.....the temps are right....On that system, the cooling fan comes on around 225°.

These have a problem with bad coolant level sensors....If the light is coming on & the level is good, put a new sensor in it...

You really aren't going to see a whole lot of movement in the reservoir tank, so I would worry about that as a problem


FastFreddy
Novice

Jan 12, 2013, 12:34 PM

Post #3 of 14 (1290 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

Ok. I had replaced that level sensor and forgot to mention that in the original post. Those sensors are kinda of a crappy design and while I was checking the level this morning, I noticed that the low coolant light wasn't on. I have had alot of experience working on cars and think of myself as a better than average backyard mechanic. She doesn't, for some reason, trust my diagnostic skills on this car and prefers to "freak out" when the thing hiccups. But again, she drives 2hrs. back and forth to school and I really don't want her to get stuck anywhere. If she does, then I'll really hear it! Thanks for your reply. We'll just have to keep an eye on it for awhile.


Sidom
Veteran / Moderator
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Jan 12, 2013, 1:00 PM

Post #4 of 14 (1273 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

Yea....welcome to my world with 4 daughters and then throw in a wife who thinks she has better diag skills that you...Angelic

One thing I did notice when I reread your post.....you mentioned you had to top off the reservoir.....keep an eye on tht....you shouldn't have to be continually topping it off.

If the heat is problem, feel both heater hose and maker sure they are both hot.......You may have got some junk in the core with the bad gasket and need to flush it out.....


(This post was edited by Sidom on Jan 12, 2013, 1:00 PM)


Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jan 12, 2013, 1:02 PM

Post #5 of 14 (1269 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

When you did the head gaskets, did you send the heads out to the machine shop?





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.


FastFreddy
Novice

Jan 12, 2013, 2:11 PM

Post #6 of 14 (1250 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

No, I didn't and I have read all about the cracks and warping, but I did run a straight edge over the head and didn't see any warping. I also visually inspected the head while cleaning the coolant oil mixture out of it and didn't see any cracks, but I know, the cracks can sometimes be small enough to miss them with the naked eye. I wanted to save the kid some bucks on this whole thing so I had to shortcut alittle. I also know that when you shortcut, sometimes you get burned. I thought if the head was cracked or warped, it would have reared its ugly head long before now. The reply on junk getting into the heater core has me thinking that maybe I should do that. It is very possible that some junk may have gotten into the core because of the blown head gasket. I will have to try that if we get a warm day around here. I live near Chicago and although today isn't bad, the weather is not conducive to working outside on the driveway, which is where I have to work because my 1 car garage isn't much more than a over glorified utility shed. However, keep those ideas coming as I'm willing to try just about anything will point me in the right direction. Thanks Again to all who have replied and I'll keep you guys up to date on my progress.


(This post was edited by FastFreddy on Jan 12, 2013, 2:23 PM)


MarineGrunt
Enthusiast
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Jan 12, 2013, 7:11 PM

Post #7 of 14 (1217 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

If you checked the level, and it wasn't low at the time, I would say get another new sensor. It still may be under warranty and you can just exchange it. I've had sensor and parts that were toast right out of the box.

Then again, if you had to top it off maybe something else is going on. How long ago did you do the head? If it wasn't too long ago maybe it still had a little air in the system and it finally burped it out which made more room for coolant. Just a thought.

I have the same in engine in a minivan of ours and had to replace the head gasket a few weeks ago. Mine was leaking from the back right, which if I remember right, is the #1 cylinder. I've heard it's somewhat of a common problem with them. Not quite as common as the intake though.


FastFreddy
Novice

Jan 13, 2013, 7:24 AM

Post #8 of 14 (1200 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

The issue with the sensor is an intermittent one. Sometimes it works correctly, and sometimes it throws the light on. I think it may be a bad wire or connection near the sensor. I did, however, get some more info that leads me to believe that there is something strange going on in the heater core. I asked my daughter if she had noticed anything else that she might consider strange and she told me that shortly after I did the head gasket work, and after one of trips to school (engine at temperature for longer than 10 minutes) she could hear a "gurgling" sound coming from the passenger side of the interior. I know thats where the heater core is located, but the floor is dry. The gurgling sound is a symptom that I have never heard of. Could this be the source of this problem?


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jan 13, 2013, 8:13 AM

Post #9 of 14 (1193 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

That could simply be the A/C pressures equalizing after shut off.



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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jan 13, 2013, 9:01 AM

Post #10 of 14 (1188 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

If there is air in the heater core or the core is gunked up with dex-sludge, you'll hear the distinct fish tank gurgling noise when you rev up the engine.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.


FastFreddy
Novice

Jan 14, 2013, 9:21 AM

Post #11 of 14 (1170 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

Today I grabbed the keys to this POS and decided to drive it to work (17 miles) to see if I could get some more intelligent info. It was very cold here last night so the thing was as cold as a stone. I started it, and let it sit in the driveway for about 7 minutes to let it warm up alittle. While driving, the temp gauge came up to about 220, then dropped off(thermostat opening) and felt nice warm air coming out of the vents. During the drive, the temp never went above about 195 and the heat inside was good. Then I decided to try and turn the heat completely off (turned interior fan to off and temp selector to cold) and the sat with the car at idle while I smoked a cigarette and monitored the temp gauge. It went to about 210 but didn't move passed there. I figured that everything was working as it should. Later in the morning I walked outside to see if any coolant was leaking out of the system and it didn't take me long to spot the "green river" coming from under the car. Could I have over filled the cooling system the other day when the "low coolant" came on and this is just coming from the expansion of the coolant from my drive to work? I need to check the coolant level in the surge tank, but it was fine before I left this morning.Pirate


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Jan 14, 2013, 10:05 AM

Post #12 of 14 (1159 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

You have to follow the trail and find out where it originated from.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jan 14, 2013, 10:23 AM

Post #13 of 14 (1155 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

If elusive to find source look for the highest and most forward area of evidence. It can even dry out but leaves an evidence trail. While cool, run finger under items or look with a mirror as needed. Wash hands of that just right away!

T


Sidom
Veteran / Moderator
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Jan 14, 2013, 7:34 PM

Post #14 of 14 (1133 views)
Re: 99Grand Am Cooling System issues Sign In

The only way coolant would of come out of the coolant reservoir was if you filled it all the way to the top.....Then there would be no room for expansion as the engine got warm and you would get coolant forced out of the reservoir.....You said you checked the reservoir in the am, if the level was at the "full" mark then you wouldn't of forced any coolant out (overheating is a different story but you said the temps were good)

That being the case......Like the others said,,,,,,you got a leak you need to track down....


(This post was edited by Sidom on Jan 14, 2013, 7:35 PM)






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