Question about Suzuki XL7

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I'm a woman who knows nothing about cars, and needs a question answered urgently. I'm driving my parents suzuki xl, and it's begun overheating. I see where to put coolant but that hasn't done the trick. I think i did it right, but should i also unscrew the (radiator ?) cap, and put water ? how to tell if there is any water ? I'm confused ! Please help.

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Most important: PLEASE do not under any circumstance open the radiator cap while or immediately following running the engine. Radiators become somewhat pressurized while cooling coolant/water and opening the cap while pressurized can result in severe burns, possibly death. VERY SERIOUS! Only open the cap when you are absolutely certain the engine is cold.

Because of this danger, almost all manufactures create a clear, plastic 'reserve' tank whence you can check coolant level. This can be identified by either visually seeing this tank and finding an orange or green liquid inside and/or by following its main hose to your radiator.

For your particular car, you will probably have to add half coolant/half water mixed separately by yourself and then poured into the reserve tank to the 'max' level. I do not have the specifications on your particular model, but most cars with small engines require a 50/50 mix of coolant and regular tap water. Certain coolants only work with certain cars, so I suggest visiting a local auto parts store to purchase your coolant and while doing so, you can ask the person at which ratio your particular car requires. You could also probably google the info, if you are in a pinch.

Now having said that, if you've properly done all the above and still have overheating, you might have some serious issues. The smaller of which is that you've developed a leak somewher in your cooling lines. You can visually inspect this by looking for fluid under your car. Next is that your thermostat is 'stuck'/malfunctioning which would require you to purchase a new one and install it into your intake manifold housing. If you aren't hands on, you can have this done at a shop for relatively cheap (50-150+ US). The worst that can have occurred is that your head gasket has lost it's form and your engine is now mixing oil and coolant. A simple check for this is to pull out your oil dipstick and see if the liquid on it is beige/tan and very thick and sludgy. Sometimes you can remove your oil cap and see tan/beige crud around the cap and this would indicate a head gasket failure. This is a very labor intensive and time intensive job and, depending on your mechanic, can easily run into the thousands.

Either way, if it turns out that adding more coolant is not cooling the engine, I recommend you stop driving the vehicle immediately before you cause severe damage. If it turns out your head gasket has failed and you continue to drive the car, steam can build up in your block until it cracks and the only way to fix that is a whole new engine.

Good Luck.

Posted on Mar 21, 2011

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Coolant is added to the overflow container normally. If you feel the coolant level is very low you can (IF THE ENGINE IS COLD) remove the radiator cap and add directly to the radiator. After doing this start the engine and allow it to reach normal operating temperature. The coolant in the radiator should begin moving as the thermostat opens. When this happens the coolant level may drop so that you can add more coolant. One the level has stabilized replace the cap securely to the full closed position. Make sure you have coolant in the overflow container reaching the "cold" level. Always add coolant not water. Also if the coolant in the radiator doesn't start to move after the engine reaches operating temperature OR if the coolant moves from the time you start the engine the thermostat is not operating properly. Other considerations for this problem are; 1) faulty water pump, and 2) a clogged radiator. If #2 have the radiator checked to see if it can be boiled out by radiator repair shop.

Posted on Mar 21, 2011

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