First time yesterday on 100k mi, : warning came on of high temp engine coolant ...engine hot ...then engine shut off. We checked and refilled coolant and it leaked right out thru blown plug. Shop wants 700 to replace radiator, etc. Can I replace this myself? Worth it? Still don't know why it blew, more trouble ahead I suspect. What is car worth to unload?
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1. Check the coolant level if you have not already.
2. The most likely cause is a stuck thermostat so that when the engine is getting up to operating temp the thermostat is not opening at all - or enough - for the coolant to flow freely between the radiator and the engine to cool the heated fluid. If you check the radiator after driving and find it is cold it is a sure sign that the heated coolant that is circulating through the engine at operating temp and higher is not getting to the radiator. The first thing I would do is to change the thermostat and re-check. At the same time completely flush the coolant and replace it with new fluid of the correct spec.
The radiator fans are not going to operate when the fluid in the radiator is cold because the hot fluid cannot flow through from the engine. The fans have a temperature sensor switch.
3. If that does not solve the problem I would suspect the water pump has corroded and needs to be replaced. However from the symptoms you have described I believe a new thermo will fix the problem.
4. Don't drive the car when it is overheating. This is a certain way to blow the head gasket and potentially crack or warp the cylinder head. (In a worst case you can crack the engine block.) It will be nice and expensive to repair if you blow a head gasket or damage the cylinder head.
It is possible, how ever, I would check for inop coolant fan, or restricted radiator. If parts of the radiator are cool to the touch when the coolant fan has kicked in, very possibly resricted flow of coolant through the radiator.
After it's hot ,shut it off and see if the bottom of the radiator is colder than the top(on the core fins ) if they are colder at the bottom the radiator is plugged up.May as well replace it.
Also,the car will run a bit hotter without the thermostat because the coolant flows too fast to give the radiator time to cool it.
The thermostat controls the minimum temp not the max.
Did you bleed the air from the cooling system? this must be done or air pockets will cause overheating, here is the generic method to do the bleeding. This was written by me and works on every car.
The generic method of bleeding air from the cooling system is to use a floor jack and raise the front of the car as high as poss, then fill the coolant recovery tank full and run the engine until it just starts to overheat, high end of normal zone on gauge, then shut the engine down and run cold water over the radiator core, this will self bleed the system and the coolant will be pulled from the recovery tank, repeat as necessary, never let the recovery tank run dry or more air will be pulled into the cooling systeml , if it still overheats then you need to have the head gaskets checked with a gas analyzer for hydrocarbons present in the radiator or recovery tank
When in doubt make sure it is at least halfway filled. The tank is only there to allow for expansion, 90% of the coolant is in the engine block and the radiator, so overfilling the tank leaves no space for expanding liquid and you end up with a burst hose. Problems with overheating are because of low coolant, inoperative fans(temp will come down while driving at speed) Faulty pump : it'll overheat quickly and stay hot even while driving. Clogged radiator : same as a faulty pump. Stuck thermostat : engine will be boiling while the radiator is relatively cool. To clean out the tank use a bottle brush.
The heat is made in the engine so if the engine is overheated and nothing else is hot, the water is not moving.
I would have suspected a thermostat also.
I would guess now that you have a dead water pump.
if you replaced the relay because it melted that means there was a short in that circuit. if the water pump is circulating the coolant properly then there is either a faulty temp sending unit on the intake manifold. a faulty sensor on the fan itself, or there is a blockage in the system. if all of these are ok then that means that you have a air bubble in the system. to correct this start the engine with the radiator cap off turn your heater on to high fan high heat and run the system. when the engine reaches temp the upper radiator hose should get real hot ,if it doesn't then the thermostat did not open. replace the thermostat. if it gets hot then let the engine run for a bit top off the coolant shut vehicle down and replace radiator cap this should solve the problem