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View Full Version : So my car is overheating.. I've gotten 3 different opinions, what do you think is wrong with it?


TheGizmo
07-25-2007, 02:26 PM
So the car overheats after driving it from a cold start after driving no more than 2 miles. the water pump is indeed leaking -- but my question is, can a car overheat in just 5 minutes / 2 miles of driving based only on a water pump leak?

The 1st guy told me I need a timing belt, water pump, few other random belts and it should be fine.

2nd guy (didn't look at the car, just told him what was going on over the phone): tells me that if the car is overheating after only 2 miles its not the water pump causing the overheating, he says that the car should run much further than that even if there is no coolant in the radiator. he also says its probably a engine problem.

3rd guy: tells me the same deal as the 1st guy except that the radiator is also leaking, and the thermostat needs to be replaced along with the water pump, timing belt, alternator belt, and a few other belts... basically the whole damn thing is broke. UPDATE: this dude called me back and is now telling me its the freeze plug, whatever that means?

When I drive the car after 2 miles it overheats and i can see a good amount of antifreeze 'steaming' out of the coolant overfill compartment. the car engine heat meter goes into the red zone. now its started to make a squealing noise too.

you guys think that the water pump can be causing the overheating on its own? the only reason im changing the timing belt is b/c it seems like a good time to do that since its part of the water pump... but i don't think i need a new thermostat/radiator as well does that make sense? thanks in advance

update #2: yea the coolant is completely full all the time, everytime it over heats i refill it.

the car is a 1996 lexus es300 its got 161k miles on it

i just came back from the mechanic and he says the main problems are the water pump, and the freeze plug.. and for the sake of changing things also to get done the: alt belt, timing belt, thermostat, and there is a small leak in the radiator.. and also the car got so hot one time that the coolant resovoir melted a 3mm diamter hole in itself... *sigh*.. this is gonna cost me an arm and a leg

elbobbo
07-25-2007, 02:41 PM
It actually does sound like the waterpump.

When the waterpump goes bad, you'll notice some belt squealing because it is no longer aligned.

If the water pupm isn't pumping, the system isn't plumbing coolant where it's supposed to, thus the overheating, and even the steaming.

If you replace the waterpump, replace the thermostat on principle. Cheap part (in comparison) but absolutely necessary.

You don't happen to have a 3-series bmw do you? :-)

CrackRabbit
07-25-2007, 02:55 PM
The squealing noise sounds like the water pump bearings are toast.
A leaking or missing freeze plug will cause you to lose massive amounts of coolant, and overheat.
Need more info, year, make model and milage.

Gibson486
07-25-2007, 03:12 PM
Yes, 5 minutes is more than enough for your engine to heat too much w/o a pump. I know since I have run in to that same exact problem before. I think the 2nd guy was saying it would take more than 5 minutes for the car to start smoking (however, on a really cold day, it could take 20 minutes). When you have to replace your water pump, most mechanics (even the "honest" ones) will tell your to replace the belt also. Do you have any coolant in your excess resevior? if no, top it off and see how long you can go before you need to top it off again.

jagec
07-25-2007, 03:33 PM
I had a water pump go out on me. It pretty much locked up, which of course broke the belt, and the car was starting to overheat by the time I pulled it in. DON'T LET A CAR OVERHEAT...the engine may not survive the experience.

I'm guessing the water pump is the problem, and you might as well change the thermostat too. The timing belt isn't part of the water pump at all...I don't know where you got that idea. But if it's due for a change, it's easier to do it now and get it out of the way while they're digging into the front of the engine. Certainly change the belt that drives the water pump (usually the alternator as well). I'd check the radiator myself to see if it's leaking before I would replace that.

Gillbot
07-25-2007, 03:39 PM
Water pump most likely and a change of the belt and thermostat aren't a bad idea either.

Regs
07-25-2007, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by: Gillbot
Water pump most likely and a change of the belt and thermostat aren't a bad idea either.

Yeah. Happen to my old toyota. Coolent started spraying out the pressure cap . Then the hose kept popping off the radiator from the steam build up. That's when you pull over before your engine melts.


When are the fans suppose to click on? What tells them too? The water level / thermostat?

TheGizmo
07-25-2007, 04:46 PM
Originally posted by: Gibson486
Yes, 5 minutes is more than enough for your engine to heat too much w/o a pump. I know since I have run in to that same exact problem before. I think the 2nd guy was saying it would take more than 5 minutes for the car to start smoking (however, on a really cold day, it could take 20 minutes). When you have to replace your water pump, most mechanics (even the "honest" ones) will tell your to replace the belt also. Do you have any coolant in your excess resevior? if no, top it off and see how long you can go before you need to top it off again.

yea the coolant is completely full all the time, everytime it over heats i refill it.

the car is a 1996 lexus es300 its got 161k miles on it

i just came back from the mechanic and he says the main problems are the water pump, and the freeze plug.. and for the sake of changing things also to get done the: alt belt, timing belt, thermostat, and there is a small leak in the radiator.. and also the car got so hot one time that the coolant resovoir melted a 3mm diamter hole in itself... *sigh*.. this is gonna cost me an arm and a leg

dud
07-25-2007, 05:01 PM
Gizmo,

If the water pump is turning (even if it's making noise) then my MAIN concern is that hot coolant from the engine block is not getting from the block to the radiator to be cooled. Yes, the water pump probably requires replacement but if it hasn't seized up it means that the impeller is still circulating coolant. From the info you have provided it appears that the thermostat (a very simple fix) is faulty. It should open when the coolant heats up ... and it sounds like it may not be happening.

If you are remotely mechanically inclined go buy a new one (cheap) and replace it yourself. Report back with your findings. If the engine cools then that is your problem. Yes, the water pump may need replacement but you might be able to defer that for a few weeks if you can just get the coolant to circulate.

Good luck ...

GuitarDaddy
07-25-2007, 05:47 PM
The root cause was most likely the thermostat freezing up, once that happens things go downhill pretty fast if it's not resolved. The termostat regulates the coolant flowing out of the engine block into the radiator, when that happens the pressure of the overheated coolant inside the block builds up looking for a way to escape (caused the freeze plug to pop out or leak) the increased pressure and resistence put a huge strain on the waterpump causing it to leak/fail.

The thermostat is probably the most overlooked/neglected routine maintenance part on a car. You should make a habit of changing it every 2yrs/25k miles regardless. As you have learned the hard way, that little $10-15 part can reek havoc on an engine when it fails.

Vic
07-25-2007, 06:12 PM
If the water pump is indeed leaking, and its belt is squealing, then it's toast and needs to be replaced. 1st guy sounds right, 2nd and 3rd guys sound like they're pushing for unnecessary business.
The belts should be replaced with the pump though, and FFS quit driving the car while it's overheating! Or you're gonna need everything the 2nd and 3rd guys are saying to do and then some.

nweaver
07-25-2007, 07:01 PM
Tstat is a couple of bucks and 20 minutes to change. Why would you NOT change that if it's overheating? (you can troubleshoot that, but sometimes it's easier to just replace an old one). Test the new tstat by boiling water and putting it in to make sure it opens.

If your water pump is leaking, and the car is overheating, you have issues. Waterpump, Tstat, and belt are a bare minimum. If you have a tiny leak in your rad, black pepper (ground) can stop it. We have an old WW2 era compressor that we put pepper in once a year (we drain fluids over the winter) and don't have any other problems with it.

TheGizmo
07-25-2007, 08:38 PM
Originally posted by: nweaver
Tstat is a couple of bucks and 20 minutes to change. Why would you NOT change that if it's overheating? (you can troubleshoot that, but sometimes it's easier to just replace an old one). Test the new tstat by boiling water and putting it in to make sure it opens.

If your water pump is leaking, and the car is overheating, you have issues. Waterpump, Tstat, and belt are a bare minimum. If you have a tiny leak in your rad, black pepper (ground) can stop it. We have an old WW2 era compressor that we put pepper in once a year (we drain fluids over the winter) and don't have any other problems with it.

whoa now no need to get excited weaver lol.. well the answer to your question is because i am not a mechanic and i do not know things such as to replace the tstat when its overheating nor did i know its a cheap part. i'll look around the web to see if im comfortable replacing it myself. right now i got my dads friend working on the car, so at least he isn't giving me the runaround on buying useless shit, lets see what he has to say tomorrow after he has a look at it.

Originally posted by: Vic
If the water pump is indeed leaking, and its belt is squealing, then it's toast and needs to be replaced. 1st guy sounds right, 2nd and 3rd guys sound like they're pushing for unnecessary business.
The belts should be replaced with the pump though, and FFS quit driving the car while it's overheating! Or you're gonna need everything the 2nd and 3rd guys are saying to do and then some.

ya i know i only had to drive it 6 miles to the pep boys where my dad knows the head mechanic, i stopped every 2 miles or so to let it cool and refill on antifreeze. but now that its there i should be able to get a proper diagnosis by the morning. i'll keep ya'll updated


Originally posted by: dud
Gizmo,

If the water pump is turning (even if it's making noise) then my MAIN concern is that hot coolant from the engine block is not getting from the block to the radiator to be cooled. Yes, the water pump probably requires replacement but if it hasn't seized up it means that the impeller is still circulating coolant. From the info you have provided it appears that the thermostat (a very simple fix) is faulty. It should open when the coolant heats up ... and it sounds like it may not be happening.

If you are remotely mechanically inclined go buy a new one (cheap) and replace it yourself. Report back with your findings. If the engine cools then that is your problem. Yes, the water pump may need replacement but you might be able to defer that for a few weeks if you can just get the coolant to circulate.

Good luck ...

thanks for the tips dud, now that i know ill definately replace the tstat and see if that resolves my issues. but since its squeeling and i can see the water pump leaking i'll take care of those two parts as well (timing belt/water pump/tstat/freeze plug so far)... hopefully these things will have it running well again.

LTC8K6
07-25-2007, 11:36 PM
How much coolant are you having to put in?

Are there puddles where you park?

Killrose
07-26-2007, 04:24 AM
Had a friend with an overheating car which would blow the coolant out of the resivoir tank within a short time of running the motor. It turned out to be a cracked block. Once the motor warmed up enough to allow the thermostat to open, all that pressure forced the coolant back out of the block into the resivoir tank and would actually pop the resivoir tank lid.

And there were no signs of water in the oil which would indicate a crack in the cooling jacket of the cylinder. Sorry, but from th OP's description, I'm going with a cracked block or if he's lucky a head gaskt. You need to find a mechanic who can run a leak-down test by pressuring the cylinders one by one with compressed air while watching for bubbles in the radiator.

Super heated coolant hot enough to burn a hole in a resivoir tank can only be caused by combustion gasses escaping into the cooling jacket of the cylinder with a crack in it.

programmer
07-26-2007, 07:31 AM
Yeah, if you are having to refill the radiator each time, I think the problem is much worse than the water pump. Sounds like at least a head gasket, but more likely the block itself like Killrose said. If you are lucky, its just a freeze plug like one of the mechanics said.

Check the dipstick for signs of coolant (smell and appearance). If there is coolant in it, the engine is probably toast. If the oil is ok, then its probably something not too bad -- I once had a radiator that cracked internally and prevented coolant flow without any sign of a leak.

ValValline
07-26-2007, 12:00 PM
I have seen the impeller (the propeller that moves the water) on water pumps erode stop working on high mileage cars. It's possible that your pump is no longer moving enough coolant to have any effect.

drakemm
07-13-2013, 02:12 AM
I had the same problem.took it to a mechanic and felt like an absolute idiot when it turned out that all I needed was power steering fluid.My car was fine after that for about four months,driving up and down several hundred miles a weekend in the mountians and now suddenly i've got a problem where the coolant is boiling over when I drive for five minutes , even with full levels of all fluids.The clamp hose part from the power steering hose is leaking where it attatches to the radiator connection so I obviously need to replace that but what else?water pump was replaced not to long ago with the timing belt

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drakemm
07-13-2013, 02:49 AM
special problem on lexus's.if it goes low the car can overheat.felt like an absolute idoit when I took it to a mechanic and that was the problem.My car was fine for about four months,driving up and down high mountian roads at least a few hundred miles every weekend with no problems after making sure all fluids were tip top.Now my car is overheating after driving five to ten minutes with all fluids level.The clamp that goes to the radiator from the power steering hose line is leaking at the radiator connection area so I know that has to be fixed but im wondering what else.water pump was replaced less than 9000miles ago with the timing belt.

LennyZ
07-13-2013, 09:46 AM
IF you overheated it enough to melt the coolant reservoir you probably have a head gasket or head crack problem due to driving around with your bad water pump too far.

Time to junk it.