Question about 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser

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Radiator cap allows overheated fluid to backpressure reservoir

2001 PT has 54k miles and is overheating.
No smell at exhaust, oil is clean, antifreeze looks clean.
Air temperature around 95' hiway driving with ac on gauge will flicker up then down, then into the red quickly.
I stop imediately and observe that no fluid is escaping except thru the reservoir cap. Heater works and upper hose is too hot to touch.

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Sounds like a sticking thermostat (temp up/down).
In an emergency, you can remove it, but replace it soon.

I otherwise suspect the radiator fan, but it shouldn't overheat if you are on a highway going faster than 50mph (enough air blows through the engine compartment).

Everything else you describe does not indicate any other solution.

I suppose it could be the radiator fan RELAY SWITCH or loose wire to it.

Hope this helps....

Posted on Sep 10, 2009


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*blockage: Something is stopping or slowing the flow. Main suspect is the thermostat. It is designed to open and close at the proper temperature so as to keep the engine at the optimum temperature range. They have a tendency to lock closed and cause overheating. Sometimes it's random. The blockage may be something like sludge or rust in the radiator or gunk that someone put in that does not agree with it.

*coolant/water loss. A leak somewhere. Blown head gasket, cracked head/block, hose, etc.
*pressure loss. This happens when the water gets to boiling temperature but is kept under control by pressure (pressure resists heat) and then something such as the radiator cap releases the pressure and the temperature rises. The coolant will also leak out and then the overheating will be due coolant loss as well. This is especially true with the Cadillac Northstar. The head bolts allow the head to lift off the block, ever so slightly, and pressurize the coolant system with exhaust gases beyond radiator cap pressure limits. It's usually when you accelerate or put the engine under load such as going up hill.

^check for exhaust gases in the coolant. smell it or buy a kit to test.
^get a new thermostat, or, test the old one by boiling it in water on the stove; see if it opens. I always get the "failsafe" kind: fails in the open position.
^check for oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil: grey sludge.
^check for leaks on the ground.
^test the radiator cap. some part stores have a way to test them.
^check to see if it's made by Cadillac. look for the word Northstar. If so, hold on to your wallet. There's a whole new world of overheating adventures.

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