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What's the cause of my car running poorly and shutting down?

Bypassed heater core now it runs rough dogs out and shuts down. I did notice gold colored fluid in radiator when refilling.

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  • Brad Brown Apr 13, 2015

    Hi Jesse Alter, I want to help you with your question, but I need more information from you. Can you please add details in the comment box? make, model and year

  • Jesse Alter Apr 13, 2015

    89 pontiac formula firebird.



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There are a LOT of things that can cause your car to run poor and shut down but it sounds like you think the coolant system is the problem. If that was the case, your car would overheat.
Usually the first things to suspect are poor gas (like water in your gas), loose fitting spark plug wires, old spark plugs. If spark plugs and spark plug wires are good, you might suspect a fuel filter or even a fuel pump.

Posted on Apr 13, 2015

Testimonial: "It was running beautifully before I had to bypass the heater core. It was top notch 100 percent. Its not overheating either. After I bypassed the heater core I drove it approximately 2 miles and it started running rough the temp was accaully way down. I stopped at a store and when I started it back up it started hard and I noticed I had to feather the clutch to keep it running. Didn't even go 1 more mile and had to pull over because it just would not go. Then it stalled and wouldn't start. I pulled the radiator cap slowly and it spit and blew for a bit air out off it. The fluid is nasty looking not sure why. Dark rusty colored and foamy."

  • Rhonda Webster
    Rhonda Webster Apr 13, 2015

    Here are some more ideas from Evil C: " Sounds like your trouble begins with the coolant. You said your coolant consists of mostly water... bad idea. The coolant is supposed to be a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. The antifreeze raises the boiling point of the coolant under pressure, and also inhibits rust. Some of the passages the coolant flows through are made of cast iron, and as everybody knows, cast iron will corrode when coming into contact with water...or in your case mostly water. Thats why you have rusty coolant. Flush out the entire system and refill it with the proper 50/50 mixture of coolant. Your camaro might require DEX coolant, best to look in your ownwers manual or one of the labels under the hood will tell you.

    Okay, now as for the milky substance on your radiator cap. That occurs when oil is mixing with coolant. The first thing to do in this case is check your PCV valve. It is normally located on top of one of your valve covers with a vacuum line attached to it. Pull the valve out and shake it. If it does not rattle, then the check ball inside the valve is seized and will require you to replace the valve... a very inexpensive part... shouldnt run you more than 5 or 6 bucks. However, if it does rattle, then you might either have an intake manifold gasket leak or a bad head gasket. Those gaskets normally come in kits that are composed of other corresponsing gaskets that have to be replaced when those gaskets are replaced. The kits themselves are not really expensive, however, the labor involved will be because of how much has to come off to get to the gaskets. I would lean towards your PCV being at fault first before I jump to bad head gaskets. If those went bad, your engine would begin to run really rough, and blinding amounts of white smoke would be pouring out of your exhaust constantly. You mentioned the rain... yeah... that might cause the little bit of smoke you saw. Moisture could have been evaporating out of your exhaust. It is totally normal. Just check your PCV... more than likely it could be the problem.




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Hi, If the pump is good then water should be flowing. What about replacing the thermostat. If it is stuck shut it will not circulate. The engine will get pretty hot. Not good for engine. Replace thermostat and you're good to go. Good luck.

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Heater was bypassed at somepoint, connection with engine overheat

The thermostat is at the base of your top rad hose, where it goes in to the engine. There is a housing held to the engine by 2 bolts. The thermostat is under there. If you replace it, make sure it goes in the same way as it came out. The spring part down, toward the engine. If you want to test the rad fan yourself, just run a couple of wires from your battery. One from the pos. and one from neg. Unplug the rad fan at the connection, and stick the wires in there. It should come on if it works.
I'm not sure what he meant with the heater deal. Unless the heater core was leaking and he just ran one heater hose back into the engine. See if you can find the heater hoses. They should both run up to the heater core. If there is one that runs up out of the engine, and then back into the engine instead of to the heater core, that's what he has done, and the heater core probably leaks, or it wouldn't shut off. One or the other.
If you need to know more, don't be afraid to ask.

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Probably still some left in the heater core. Should quit after a while, or try blowing it out. I would even flush it with water first. Better to have water leaking than antifreeze. At least your dog can lick it and not die!

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I think you are onto something. The thermostat in my opinion is too low causing the radiator to not cool enough before it is sent back into the motor. The block and the pistons are heating up causing it to run poorly. When was the last time you had your radiator flushed? ( I would have said that the headers are heating up the starter and this is causing the drain on the battery but you stated that once you get the car started it runs rough so i would have to rule the starter out.)

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