My girlfriend has a 2001 Impala. In the last month or so, her heat has stopped working intermittently. The low coolant light comes on. I filled the coolant and it didn't fix the problem. Her car will go all the way up past the half way mark and start making this high pitch whine/whistle noise from the engine and then it stops and the temp gauge shoots back down to about the 1/4 mark. I took the car in and got the coolant system flushed. This did not fix the problem. The low coolant light was still coming on and off. I added coolant to the hot line. Today while driving, the heat was ice cold and the temp gauge went above half way, made that whine/whistle noise and then dropped back down to 1/4 temp. The heat started working a little. I looked under the hood and noticed that the fans in the front wern't on. Today it was about 12 degrees F. Later this evening we were taking the car to get an oil change and the heat wasn't working, and while we were driving the temp gauge started going up and up and it passed the 1/2 way mark, started making the noise and kept going. it was almost all the way into the red. i quickly pulled over and shut off the car. I popped the hood and checked the coolant. still full. I felt the radiator. it was hot. I let the car sit for a few minutes and started it again. I stood outside this time. The temp gauge started going up, passed the 1/2 way mark and made the noise. The noise was coming from the front of the engine. After letting it sit for about 10min i started it up again and the temp stayed down. we drove home and still didnt get good heat. at red lights the temp would climb to 1/2 way. once we started driving it would drop back down. Is this a bad thermostat? Water pump?
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That is good bet but you should see some spotting from coolant under the car. There is a weep hole on the water pump and what happens with age is that the bushing in the pump on the shaft gets worn and coolant starts to drip out.
Did you change the thermostat? It could be stuck in the open positon, or in backwards, or missing all together. I would like for you to check your heater hoses where they connect to the engine, as this is a very good place for corrosion to build up, restricting coolent flow to your heater core. If this don't fix your heat, I would like to know the reason you changed the water pump. Was it overheating? Did you have heat before you changed the water pump?
You should have it checked out right away, before the overheating does any damage to the engine. The whole coolant system should be inspected to find the cause. It may be a simple fix, maybe not. Are you adding coolant constantly? Do your radiator fans come on when it starts to overheat? When it gets too hot, it may be boiling coolant away, and the low coolant level will cause the heater to stop putting out heat.
No smoke good cooling system is sealed, could be a thermostat, sticking or radiator fan not coming on, does it start to over heat at stops or low speeds, if so have your radiator fan check out, if it over heats at any speed, replace thermostat and check coolant level.
Have you checked the coolant level? What you describe is exactly what happens if the coolant level is low. When stopped at idle, hot coolant is not circulating through the heater core, so no heat. As the engine increases in rpm's when you pull away from the light, the water pump is spinning quicker, and some coolant is making it to the heater core. So check the level, and if it is low, keep an eye on it to see if it drops again. That of course indicates a leak somewhere. Get it fixed, as overheating the engine leads to costly repairs and worse case a new engine. Let me know how you make out with this.