Question about 1997 Jaguar XK8

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Car suddenly overheats, then cools down and drives normally

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You need to install a new thermostat. The stat is located at the lower end of the top radiator hose within the water outlet. After the stat is installed, run the car with the radiator cap off for about 20 minutes checking and adding coolant as the air is pushed out of the system. Keep a eye on the coolant level over the next few weeks to insure the system does not have a leak which could be why you had this problem in the first place. The
thermostat is more than likely stuck shut from the overheat. Have to be changed.
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There are a few possibilities as to the cause, bad thermostat, low coolant level, inefficient water pump, restricted / clogged radiator, and so on... The reason it cools down, is the heater unit in the passenger compartment is actually a small radiator, and when you warm up the interior, you are cooling the coolant, so to speak. Also, a lot of the newer vehicles will run the electric cooling fans when the heater / defroster is on, and this will cool the car down if it is overheating due to the cooling fans not being turned "on" by the coolant temp switch. To check if it the fan circuit, let it idle in your driveway, and when the temp starts climbing, the electric fan(s) should turn on when the coolant temp is about 225 deg. farenheit. If they don't turn on then, put the heater control to defrost, and then, if the fan(s) come on, you know where to start looking...
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Posted on Sep 28, 2009

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At idling speed an engine does build up a lot of heat and the cooling fan will kick in. In slow moving traffic or traffic jams the temperature gauge can touch the red - particularly on hot days. The reason it cools down when you start moving is because of the air flow through the radiator.

Presumably there are no leaks from the cooling system otherwise you would have mentioned it. In normal circumstances the fan will not be running as you are driving at speed, as the air-flow through the radiator is sufficient to cool things. The fan only kicks in to get rid of excess heat - and this usually occurs at idling speed or after you have parked the car.

If the fan is running all the time as you drive, this points to either a fault in the fan switch, or the car is running too hot. presumably in normal driving the fan isn't running and the temperature gauge reads normal?

It is common - in stationary traffic many cars overheat (particularly big engined models) try to stall and 'cut out'. Restarting can be difficult until the engine cools down.

Is your car overheating in normal driving conditions or just at idle speed? Overheating in normal driving conditions can be caused by things like a failing water pump, blocked radiator, collapsed hose, faulty thermostat or, in the worst case scenario, cylinder head problems.

Overheating at idling speed is 'common'. Check your coolant level. If your car isn't using/losing coolant then there probably is no major problem. You can flush out the cooling system and refill with new coolant - and also check your radiator. Are the cooling fins crumbling with age? Or maybe they're partly clogged with insects and debris from the road? A blast with a hosepipe wil sort that out ..

The question is how much does your car overheat in normal driving? If it doesn't .. it appears as though you have nothing to worry about as such. Most cars have 2 speed fans... the 2nd faster stage kicks in at some point dependant on engine temperature. Perfectly normal.

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I have written a tip on this.
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