91 Regal Cooling Dilemma

Home  \  Repairs & Maintenance  \  91 Regal Cooling Dilemma

I have a 91 Buick Regal. I just replaced the radiator in it, but the low coolant light doesn't shut off. In additon the car has been dying when it gets too hot. It has NOT been overheating, but I don't think my cooling fan is coming on as it should. Any suggestions would be awesome!

Thanks!

Karen

posted by  leogal33

How's this for a suggestion. Go directly to the "Introduce Yourself" section and use it. That is the first step to getting help.

posted by  vwhobo

Karen,

When you came into this chat forum, there was a big section called "Introduce Yourself" above the Repairs and Maint forum. You will find that you get much better response and overall "experience" from this forum if you follow the logical protocol of saying 'hello' before posting your problems. It is sort of like walking into a room full of people you do not know and asking for help without a 'hello' first. I checked the intro forum and from what I could see, you had not visited that section yet.

Also, once you've done that, be prepared to post a lot more information regarding your problem than you have done thus far. Suggestions and opinions on what your problem(s) could be will only come from someone like myself when I have the data that I need to correctly and properly analyze the situation. Be on the lookout for bum advise from people that will throw info. and suggestions out there without first knowing what the problem really is and furthermore, from people that do not know what it is they are talking about. That's just a few welcoming tips for you!

posted by  cmeseadoin

Oh there he is, I was trying to BEAT VWHOBO from telling you to go intro yourself first. Damn, four minutes difference! :laughing:

posted by  cmeseadoin

Only because I spend less time tap dancing and more time getting to the point. I don't believe in putting any more effort into helping these people than they put into helping themselves. :thumbs:

posted by  vwhobo

OK, you want more information. on my 91 regal (3.1 liter, custom) my radiator had a bad leak in it. No repair or stop leak worked, so I replaced the radiator (it's the radiator without the motor oil warmer, with just the large radiator hose connecting on the drivers side). Since replacing the radiator, my low coolant light continues to stay on. In addition, my cooling fan isn't working. It should come on as the car gets hot, but it doesn't. The car is not overheating. The radiator and overflow tank are both still full. I can feel the water going through the large radiator hose so it seems that everything is functioning ok there. I had a new water pump put on the car about 6 months ago so I don't think that is the problem either. I don't know if there is any kind of a heat sensor in this car, nor am I sure it needs a replacement thermostat. That is why I am coming to you wonderful, helpful folks. If you need anymore information please let me know.

Thank you.

posted by  leogal33

1. The coolant low level sensor is in the right radiator tank and probably wasn't replaced along with the radiator. The quick and dirty test to see if it is in fact the sensor is to ensure the radiator is full then simply unplug the electrical connector with the engine running. If the light goes out, replace the sensor, about $40 only available at the dealer.

2. If your car isn't overheating why do you think you have a problem with the fan circuit. Your fan won't come on until the coolant reaches 230 +/- 5 degrees F. The cooling system in your car is extremely efficient and the fan may not kick on for a LONG time at idle. There are few things I hate more than waiting for those suckers to come on. At any rate if you're not overheating, why do you perceive a problem?

posted by  vwhobo

Karen,

You mentioned that "no repair or stop leak worked" to repair the damaged radiator. When you replaced it, did you flush out the entire cooling system well (including coolant recov. tank) to get rid of all that nasty mess that the stop leak and old coolant can leave behind? (NOTE: I will never assume anything unless I am told it was or was not done, so don't think "My god, how stupid of a question, OF COURSE ANYone would do that....why bother asking?) You can't assume anything.

The coolant light is going to be taking a reading 9/10 times from the coolant recovery tank, aka expansion tank. Have you checked the sensor on the tank? You said the tank is full. My guess is that you did not flush the tank and all that crap from the stop leak or bars leaks or whatever is possibly gumming up the sensor. Or maybe it went bad. It's possible.

Why do think that the radiator fan should be coming on? It is an electrical fan that comes on and it only runs should the engine get hot enough for it to trigger the sensor that controls it to close the circuit. If the car is not overheating as you said it is not, then what is the problem? Have you jumped the radiator fan to make sure that the motor is good? Are you getting heat inside the vehicle that is commensorate with the loacation of the climate control mechanism? IE) all the way to hot it the hottest air, and in the middle would be a blend, etc. etc.? If you are getting heat, the engine is cooling properly and not overheating, it sounds like you just have a bad or crud covered coolant level sensor causing the light to come on. You have not stated anything that would make me think that the radiator fan is in/op because you said the engine is not getting overheated.

From what you have supplied, this is what I come up with. Please let us know if anything is different and we'll try again.

posted by  cmeseadoin

Ahem. Read one post above yours.

posted by  vwhobo

We did it again VW.......you and I must be on here at the same time answering questions, LOL. Let have a :smoke: on that one....oh wait, I don't smoke! :laughing:

posted by  cmeseadoin

Yeah I see that after I typed my response. I can't know that you are typing one at the same time until I refresh or hit the submit. I happen to have a problem too with refreshing and NO postings that are new being there, then all of a sudden BOOM, one is there. I think there is latency in the server response times depending upon where you hit the network pathway from. That would be my technical guess, aka WAG(wild-assed guess)! ;-) Oh well......double the pleasure, double the fun......at least that is what they say! Karen can't say we did not help her. :hi:

posted by  cmeseadoin

In my original post, I stated that the biggest problem is that the car dies after running for about 15 minutes. I had thought that the coolant fan not coming on to cool the engine down might be the cause, but it doesn't sound like it. The fan IS operational by jumping it.

The car dies and then once I let the engine cool down a bit it starts right back up again. WIth warmer weather coming up, I need to be sure it doesn't have anything to do with the cars temperature. The coolant system was flushed when the radiator was replaced, but the sensor was NOT replaced. It is the sensor from the old car. Could this sensor not working right have ANYTHING to do with the car dying? I will try to find this thing and do that test to see if the light goes off.

posted by  leogal33

Latency in the server response times? Isn't that what they make Viagra for? I'll take your word on everything you just said. :orglaugh:

posted by  vwhobo

Ok, I am going off of the car not doing this "stalling out" before the cooling system was flushed. I do not know of anything with that vehicle that could be cooling system related causing the engine cutting out. VWHOBO? (possible overheat ignition kill or low coolant kill???....I don't think so but I have not been dealing with cars for 30 years like he has.)

We need to first get an understand here before I go any further. What does "In additon the car has been dying when it gets too hot. It has NOT been overheating, but I don't think my cooling fan is coming on as it should." mean? You have said that the car is getting hot and you think the cooling (radiator fan) should be coming on in some of your posts, yet you are saying that the engine is not "overheating." You just said "...the car has been dying when it gets too hot. It has NOT been overheating. That does not make any sense what-so-ever, Karen. If the car is "too hot," it's overheating, period! If it is not overheating or running hot, then it is most likely running at its DESIGNED operating temperature or close to it. Now it could be running hot but not enough to be overheating. This is what I need to know. I want to know if there are any bubbles in the coolant in the recovery tank when it is running or after it cuts off....could there be air in the lines? I am just trying to understand what you are talking about and why you are contradicting the circumstance.

What is the gauge on the instrument cluster saying or is it just a light. If it is just a light, it may be overheating or close to it and you don't know it because the light is ONLY going to come on once it reached "X" degrees and it has not yet. If it is a gauge, I would like to know about what temp the engine is cutting off and at what temp the engine is running at when you are driving it or letting it idle before it dyes. Is the engine basically IMMEDIATLY dying just like the key was turned off, or does it chuggle and run rough and act like it is trying to stay running but then die? Is it dying by the clock at 15 minutes? The engine will be dying for mainly one of two reasons. You're either losing ignition or fuel. You know all other factors, IE) engine integrity are fine.

I am going to wait to hear back before I post anymore information because I can think of about 10K things to type right now, but situationally, I need to know a little more about this dying out and this overheating thing.

posted by  cmeseadoin

OK, there is some bubbling, so yes it does get hot, but no spillage. And the car dies after running for about 15 minutes or so and will restart after letting it cool. There is no temp gauge, just a temperature light. It comes on and then the car dies completely almost instantaneously (no chugging or glugging, it just dies like the key turned off). The "low coolant" light is on constantly, but the temp light just comes on right before the car dies. I know this may sound odd but it's almost like the computer in the car gets an incorrect temperature reading from somewhere (sensor, thermostat, etc.) and shuts itself down. I know nothing about sensors and the like (I'm sure that is pretty obvious) so I'm not sure how they work.

Karen

posted by  leogal33

I just had a three paragraph response typed out and F**cking lost it....I am going to kick this computer.......I don't have time to re-type so here it goes....

Ok, now is there anything else that I might want to know that you have not told us? It would have been nice to know about the bubbling and the dash light first off.

Is the heat working (HVAC)? You did not answer that? Sounds like you are overheating to me...boiling in the recov tank then the dash light comes on?
Dash lights come on at a certain temp, just because it is not on does not mean the engine is not on it's way to overheating. Are you sure that whoever drained the system down to replace the radiator properly refilled it and got all the air out? Thermostat, heater core and all lines ok, not restricted for sure?

Failing a secondary problem, sounds like your shut down problem may be correlated to temp. Vw, do you know of a shutdown for overheat on this car within the engine management system? I do not. Personaly, I would think that would not be practical due to engine superheating for about 10-20 minutes when shut off prior to actual cooling beginning. Would think turning on heat and trying to get max air through radiator would be better, followed by shut off.

posted by  cmeseadoin

The heat is working just fine. As for if there are air bubbles... I'm not sure. The guy who replaced it for me was careful on the refilling process, filled waited for it to go down, filled a little more... made sure everything was circulating ok... all seemed to go well with that.

I actually didn't know about the bubbling until this morning. I had always stopped to note whether or not there was still fluid in the overflow tank but just hadn't thought to look for bubbles (and no I'm not a blonde, lol). This morning I looked... and yes, bubbles as if the fluid was heating too much.

Karen

posted by  leogal33

Karen,

At this point I am sort of lost in this conundrum because without the car here to further assess it, it seems that we are at the end of the road with what I can do online.

It sounds like she's overheating if not majorly, then minor. It also sounds like you either have a shutdown in place for overheat or you have another problem in addition to something going on with the coolant recov tank sensor, which is easy to diagnose/repair.

Perhaps if VWHOBO reads this, he'll either tell you what I have or know more about THAT specific vehicle and it's engine management system. I would suggest a code scan of the computer system to see if there are any real time or history DTC's in there to do with 'engine overheat.' That is about all I can tell you at this point. What happens if you re-crank the engine IMMEDIATLY once she dies? Does it crank and crank with no firing?

posted by  cmeseadoin

Yes, it just cranks and acts like it wants to be the little engine that could... but can't. After about 5-10 minutes I try again and it fires right up. I thank you very much for your assitance. You have at least given me a couple of things to try. I'm going looking for that sensor today or tomorrow and I'll let you know what I find out about that. The sensor is on the passenger side attached to the radiator... is that right?

Thanks again!

posted by  leogal33

No, the sensor in question that we have been discussing is the one that controls the level light on the dash. It is located on/in the coolant recov tank somewhere. I cannot picture where it is, but the tank will have COOLANT or something like that on the cap and be under the hood either along the front firewall or either side of the inside of the front fenders more than likely. Good luck and let us know what you find out.

posted by  cmeseadoin

Read people, read. The low level sensor is located right where I said in the 7th post of this thread, not in the expansion tank.

As for the perceived overheat condition there is nothing that will perform an auto shutdown if it overheats. Furthermore you can expect to see some bubbles in the expansion tank. The thing is there are bubbles and there are BUBBLES. If the car is overheating you will be spewing coolant out of the tank, you'll hear the coolant boiling inside the block and ten minutes isn't sufficient cool down time for it to restart. A hot engine (normal or overheated) will continue to go up in temperature for 15-30 minutes after shutdown, in hot weather even longer.

What we really need is to find out what the computer has to say. On this particular engine there are a few common problems that will cause it to die and start up a short while later. Just because the MIL isn't illuminated doesn't mean you don't have codes. Being able to see what the datastream is with my own eyes would sure be nice as well.

posted by  vwhobo

Your Message