Question about 1993 Volvo 960

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Overheating motor gets hot but the temp guage does not move, the radiator fan does not go on and eventually hose blows off

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Is the problem occurring very rapidly before the thermostat has time to open? If it happens so quickly the temperature gauge will not have time to give a reading before the hose blows. i.e is it happening within a couple of minutes?

There is a possibility that the hose is perished/split inside although there are other faults which can cause identical symptoms to what you describe.

If the water pump is not working and pushing the coolant around the engine this can cause 'hot spots' around the cylinders and head. The coolant here will overheat whilst coolant elsewhere in the engine will remain relatively cold because it not been circulated. However, don't jump to conclusions about the water pump. Some cars way back had plastic impellers on the water pump to circulate the coolant. The plastic impellers used to wear away meaning that just a spindle was left spinning in the coolant - doing nothing of any use. Don't jump to water pump conclusions.

First of all identify whether there are any actual leaks. Not just in the hoses, radiator and heater, but also around the water pump. Failed bearings/seal in the water pump can permit coolant to drip out onto the outside of the engine block.

Then identify whether/if the car is losing coolant when the engine is switched off or running. With a cold switched-off engine fill the radiator expansion tank to the max mark with water. Give it a couple of minutes to settle in case you need more water to bring it back to the max level.

Leave the cap off and let the car stand overnight. In the morning check the water level. If it has dropped there may be a leak that you haven't yet found. Leave the expansion tank cap off and start the car and peer down into the expansion tank (though keep your face out of harms way..)

Normally, a few air bubbles will appear as the coolant circulates and 'bleeds' itself of air. This is quite normal but should stop after a couple of minutes. As the coolant warms it will rise in the expansion tank. If the bubbles keep appearing or seem quite violent and frequent this may point to a cylinder head/head gasket problem.

A warped/cracked cylinder head or a cracked/burnt head gasket allows exhaust gases into the water jacket (the cooling system) which then pressurises the coolant, causing bubbling to appear in the expansion tank and hoses to leak. There is also a possibility that the engine may 'pink' and run rough as well as overheat if run.

A workshop should be able to test the coolant in the expansion tank for contaminants from the exhaust system. If those contaminants are present in the coolant, then in all probability there is a head/gasket problem.

Years ago there used to be 'head weld' additives that relied on floating particles to seal cracks. The additive was simply poured into the radiator/expansion tank as a TEMPORARY get you home fix. Now I believe that there's new additives which don't rely on floating particles to cure head/gasket problems. Here in the UK the new coolant additive is marketed as 'steelseal' and at around 45 dollars a bottle it isn't cheap, though if it does what the makers claim -permanently fix head/gasket problems- it's still a lot cheaper than fixing the head. I've never used it.

A cylinder head job takes 2-3 days. The head must be skimmed prior to refitting. Refitting an unskimmed head just means that you are refitting a warped head back onto the block. The problem hasn't been fixed. As a very general rule of thumb, it costs about the same to fit a 2nd hand engine as it does for a workshop to repair a cylinder head fault. It is of course easier and quicker to replace an engine.

Posted on Sep 17, 2008

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If the temperature gauge isn't moving you are either completely out of coolant or your coolant isn't circulating.

It would be worth your time to check your coolant level, then look for leaks. If you are also noticing that your heater doesn't work it would help to confirm this diagnosis.

Could be several things causing a lack of circulation: a blockage in your coolant lines somewhere, your water pump is not functioning, or you have a blown head gasket or warped cylinder head. An engine overheat can also cause the blown head gasket and/or warped cylinder head as well, so you would be best served by driving your car as little as possible until you've diagnosed the problem.

If you are out of coolant, you should check a few places for leaks. Obviously at your main coolant lines, but also along the heater core is a good place to check. If you can't find any obvious leaks, you may want to try flushing your radiator, since it's relatively simple to do and certainly can't hurt. Also change your oil: if it comes out looking opaque and like a milkshake, you're getting coolant into your cylinders, which means you've blown the head gasket or warped the cylinder head.


Posted on Aug 13, 2008


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