Q: Car overheating and all levels are fine what is the problem?

asked by on January 21, 2017

My car overheats and smoke...the smoke comes from the coolant tank maybe radiator I don't known which one I have a 2003 Chevy Malibu..

My car has 160000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Thermostat Replacement $141.88 - $639.09 Get a Quote
Radiator Replacement $300.62 - $1239.51 Get a Quote

Overheating can be caused by a number of things such as low coolant levels, a faulty thermostat, a clogged radiator or a failing coolant fan switch. As you may know the coolant fan switch helps to maintain the proper coolant temperature by turning on and off at specific temperature thresholds. When this switch is not working properly, this can cause the fans to come on intermittently, all the time or sometimes not at all. When this happens you will notice a temperature spike and drop occasionally as the fan comes on and off. When your thermostat is not working properly or is stuck closed, this will not allow the coolant to properly circulate through the engine, which may cause the engine temperature to fluctuate erratically or in some cases just remain hot. You may also have a water pump that is beginning to fail. Water pumps often times will begin to produce a bit of a whining sound when they are starting to fail. A common problem also associated with this is the water pump may begin to leak around the water pump shaft due to the seal being damaged. In addition to leaking around the pump, you may have a leak elsewhere in the cooling system coming from one of the hoses going to or from the radiator. Lastly, you may have a failing cylinder head gasket allowing coolant to leak from the water passages into the cylinders resulting in the coolant being burnt in the combustion chamber with the fuel. If this is the case, you may also notice a bit of white smoke coming from your exhaust which is a product of the coolant being turned into a steam like vapor. I would suggest having an expert from Your Mechanic come to your home to diagnose your cooling system.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

My car is cranking but not starting - 2003 Chevrolet Malibu

Hi there. If you've kept the vehicle in storage for five years and it was not started during that time, it's possible that the fuel inside the tank has gone bad. Gasoline, like anything that is refined for use, has...

Why does my '90 Chevy C1500 turn over but not start? I'm getting fuel and a spark.

Assuming the spark is adequate and fuel pressure is within specifications, an extremely worn out set of spark plugs may be the culprit. It could be a restricted exhaust system (i.e. a plugged catalytic converter) if you had a lack...

Engine runs erratically and dies

Typically the "hot cam" engine lope is caused by restrictions in fuel flow at idle. Along with changing and inspecting the sensors and items you described above, most mechanics will clean the throttle body and fuel injectors as this is...

Died while driving.Crank no start got fire got fuel rpm registering air coming out of exhaust when cranking what else can I check

You may have a bad camshaft or crankshaft sensor and not getting injector pulse. Have the computer scanned for codes to one of these sensors and also check fuel pressure with a test gauge to make sure you have proper...

How do I open and close the sunshade?

The sunshade feature allows you to block incoming light from the sun roof. The sunshade can only be operated manually. To open the sunshade, slide it open. To close the sunshade, slide it closed. The sunshade can only be closed...

it makes a loud humming noise when you run the ac

The noise is most likely coming from the A/C blower motor in the dashboard. The blower may have excessive build up of dust collecting on the fins or has sucked something into the blower causing an imbalance to it. I...

2003 Nissan Frontier manual - engaging reverse stalls engine

Hello - this problem sounds as though your shift linkage is engaging BOTH reverse and a forward gear at the same time - effectively locking up the transmission. This would explain why the engine stalls when this occurs, but works...

How to tell if I need a new catalytic converter

Hey thanks for the question, and thats a really good one by the way. As technology has grown so has the demand for more fuel efficient cars that are more friendly on the environment. One way this is achieved is...

Bubbles and pressure in the overflow tank

If the coolant level was low due to a leak, such leaks can be found during a leak diagnostic with simple pressure testing. If the cooling system doesn't maintain pressure, and no external leak is visible, coolant could be leaking...

Related articles

Industry News for Automotive Techs: October 8-14
50 MPG Chevrolet Cruz Diesel, Mazda's G-Vectoring drive system, Uber and Volvo collaborate on autonomous cars, and Hubb's new reusable oil filter.
2012 Chrysler 200 vs. 2012 Chevrolet Malibu: Which One Should I Buy?
When you are looking for a small-range sedan, you need to get somewhere quickly and inexpensively, and may even need to take a few kids with you. Slightly larger than a commuter car, these mid-size options offer decent gas mileage,...
The Best Used Cars to Buy If You Need a Lot of Trunk Space
Many Many people focus more on interior room than cargo carrying capacity. That’s natural if you have a large family or regularly carpool, but what about drivers who need to carry a lot of stuff most of the time and...