Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Ovoverheating

asked by on

Replaced upper and lower radiator hoses with new clamps. Replaced thermostat. Drained radiator. When the old upper hose was removed it was dry around thermostat housing. Car still building pressure and overheating. .any suggestions
My car has an automatic transmission.

I am going to have to make a few assumptions here. Number one, I assume your vehicle was overheating before you replaced the hoses and clamps. Number two, the statement you made about the thermostat housing being dry means there wasn’t a leak. If the cooling system was low and the inside of the housing was dry, there is a large leak somewhere that may not have been addressed yet. Unfortunately I am not quite sure what is going on here.

With that being said, I will do the best I can to help you. If there is a leak still, that needs to be fixed before I can be of any help.

A full cooling system that is working properly will build pressure. It is a normal part of the operation of a cooling system. In fact, the building of pressure in a cooling system is by design. The higher pressure allows the coolant to reach temperatures above the boiling point. The boiling point of any liquid changes with pressure. A higher pressure means a higher boiling point. A lower pressure means a lower boiling point.

Assuming the cooling system is full, and the radiator cap is on, the first question I have is how do you know it is overheating?

Is the gauge showing hot? If so, is it working correctly? The best way to see if a motor is really overheating is to use an infrared temperature gun. Temperatures as high as 225 degrees Fahrenheit are normal. Something lower is expected depending upon the circumstances it is being tested. You will need to test several spots to get an idea of the actual operating temperature of the motor. Infrared guns are affected by the color and the material that is being tested.

Under what conditions does the car overheat? When driving? Idling? Up hills or? These are important details to determine what is going on.

As for what could be the problem, if the vehicle was run without coolant for a time, it could have a blown head gasket. As stated before, the building of pressure is normal and is not necessarily an indicator of a blown head gasket. Is there white smoke or steam coming out the exhaust pipe and does it smell kind of sweet? This won’t necessarily happen immediately on start up. When the vehicle is cold with the radiator cap off, put your hand over the radiator hole, attempt to seal it with the palm of your hand while the vehicle is running. If it builds pressure quickly, you likely have a head gasket problem. If not, it still could have head gasket problems. This is just an easy test for badly failing head gaskets. Head gaskets can fail under load only conditions, when fully warmed up or randomly. It isn’t always a clear diagnosis and experience is often what makes the difference.

The next is the water pump. It’s common for water pump impellers to fall off or rust away. Is the cooling system rusty? If so, suspect a rusted off water pump impeller. Either way, testing for coolant flow involves removing a coolant hose to see if coolant will flow out of it. Coolant won’t necessarily shoot out like a water hose, but it might. You are simply looking for evidence of water flow. Ideally, you want to remove one end of the water pump bypass hose. If this is too difficult, remove a heater hose. Remember to do this when the coolant is cool enough to avoid burning you. This process is another one that experience is often the what makes the difference. Remember to rev the motor while doing this test.

Lastly, is the thermostat installed correctly? The pointy end should be installed toward the radiator. Usually there is an arrow on them that points you in the right direction.

Cooling systems can be confusing to diagnose at times. If you find yourself going in circles, consider getting some help from a certified technician who can help you diagnose your overheating issue and get your car running normally again.

Good luck, I hope I have helped you.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Ovoverheating

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

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Vibration and noise from front of vehicle

Vibration felt through the steering wheel is often due to tire/wheel imbalance although irregular tire wear and/or tire belt defects could be implicated. Sometimes vibration has multiple causes, so for example vehicle suspension components could be loose or worn and...

Q: My truck will not start, it is getting fire all cylinders but no luck starting it! What can you tell me to look for?

Hi there. On mid-90's V-6 engines, the problems with starting are typically caused by fuel flow restrictions. In many cases, its the fuel pump or fuel pump relay that is faulty or broken. Another possibility is that the fuel filter...

Q: I recently replaced the radiator and thermostat and bled the lines now my car is overheating and I'm trying to find out if it's th

You should be able see the fluid circulating with the cap off. Begin with a cool engine, take the cap off and allow the engine to warm up to normal temperature. When the thermostat opens, you should be able to...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...