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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I also posted this on the Sky forum:

Okay here we go...another overheating thread. Before you ask, yes, I have read as many of the threads here and on the Sky forum as I can get through about overheating--please forgive me if I should have found the answer already. ;-) Most of those threads include warranty repairs which don't apply to my new-to-me 12 year old car and my brain has turned to mush.

I purchased a 2008 Sky Redline with just North of 21,000 miles 6 weeks ago. My wife and I have put over 1600 miles on it since--perfect car that is working very, very well. However, we have had two overheating incidents that seem unrelated but both concern me:

#1. Near the end of a 1500 road trip home after purchasing the car, we had a late check out from a hotel. The car was sitting in the sun in about 75 degree ambient air. I started the car with AC to cool the interior off and let it idle for about 5 minutes while we loaded our bags. Just as I pulled away, the overheat lamp/ding popped on and (if I recall correctly) the DIC read 229. Drove to a safe spot to pull over in the shade, left it running, revved a bit and the temp gradually came down. Wrote this one off to the combo of factors and asked here about normal operating temps.

#2. This is the one that concerns me. Day before yesterday, I had the car pulled out of the garage to install the new wind restrictor so naturally we went for a quick spin before putting the car away for the night. Top down, but just over 50 degrees ambient temp, so I cranked the heat so we wouldn't freeze. While we are out my wife asks to get ice cream from a drive through, cause why not. I'm 8-10 minutes away from home sitting in the drive through and the overheat lamp/ding pops. I sigh and flip to the DIC temp which reads 250 (!). I am freaked out. Rev the motor some thinking it might help, having not read here yet about the heater making it worse not better. Now I know. After less than a minute we pull away and the temp fell rapidly back to normal operating temps.

Summary and questions:
  • Overheated, (hot!) not under load and still getting heat--and only for a minute and then back to normal.
  • Less than 10 minutes from startup with heat on.
  • There is no evidence of radiator fluid having discharged from the overflow tank. Ever.
  • Fan seems to work just fine--including running for a bit after shutdown.
So...
  • If I understand what I've read I could need a new radiator cap?
  • Or is this most likely trapped air? When I squeeze the top radiator hose I hear sloshing.
  • How can I tell if my car has had the check valves installed?
Thanks in advance for the advice and help--I've already learned so much from y'all.
 

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How is the operation of the cooling fan?
 

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@Greatgab--sorry I forgot to say this: the fan seems to work just fine including running for a bit after shutdown.
If you can hear sloshing in the radiator hose when you squeeze it, you've got air trapped in the system.

When you turn on the heat in the car, the gauge temp. will go up some. That is the nature of the way the plumbing is designed around the temp sensor and is normal. The cooling systems in these cars can be a PITA to bleed the excess air out. Sounds like everything is operating as it should except for the trapped air. Like shabby says, you may have to squeeze the air out several times.
 

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Check out this video from DDM -
 
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A few things for you that I need to ask. Having replaced my thermostat 2 springs ago and my waterpump about 6 years ago....there are certain things to look for with an air bubble.

When the temp goes up/cools down after a rev....does it do it rapidly on the DIC? In other words, does it climb/fall 20 degrees in a matter of a few seconds? Or does it take it a minute or more. If the tempurature on the DIC rises/falls more then 3 degrees/2 seconds, you definitely have an air bubble. Second...once you get to know your vehicle, you'll be able to tell when your motor is getting hot. The tune of the engine changes just a tad as the engine gets above 210 degrees....or at least mine does. To really get the airbubble out, you should have a suction tool that sucks pressure on the system and replaces it with coolant. The gravity feed that's shown in the video didn't work for me. After trying the 10th time with the gravity feed, I bought a suction tool. It still took me 4 times with the suction tool, then 1 gravity feed to make sure it was good.

If none of the above apply, how is the coolant level? Is it full? (Up to the molding ridge on the reservoir when cold) If not, you need to start looking for leaks. The first and biggest place to look is by the waterpump. It sits on the passenger side, just northwest of the turbo, almost level. Get a good, bright flashlight. Look for any orange liquid or deep orange, gel like substances. If you see any below the wp, your wp has failed. Highly unlikely with only 21k on it...however you said you drove it home 1500 miles, this could have been enough to push a 12 year old common failure point over the edge.

Now onto the last item.... The thermostat. Let's face it...our cars are 12+ years old. Thermostats are "wear" items and some wear sooner then others. And most vehicles need new thermostats around the 100k/6 year mark. Someone tried to tell me that you will get a CEL with our cars if it fails....not true. You will get a code if it sticks open in some cases...but not closed, which is what your's would be doing. It's not an easy job to do yourself!!! But can be done if you have some mechanical skills. Just make sure you have a 3 foot pry bar, a 5lbs sledge and some WD40. You have to spin the clamp on the radiator hose almost 100 degrees to get at a bolt on the housing. Took me almost 8 hours before I realized that I needed the WD40 to make the clamp slip.

Anyway...If I had to guess...it's either the air bubble or the thermostat.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@Ghost—thanks for the insights! I really appreciate the complete thoughts. The 250 spike that happened earlier this week definitely happened really quickly, both up and down. I’m pretty mechanically minded—meaning I understand things pretty well, but have to admit to not doing a lot of my own wrenching since I sold my 1970 LeMans Sport years ago. 😎
 

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... yet nobody has asked -> when was the coolant replaced ? recently ? ( causing potential air bubbles )
never ? ( maybe the level in the holding tank is low ? )

oops - I missed that Ghost asked about the level...
 

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I bought an Air Lift pressure fill tool because of the issues with trapped air.
Since the car is new to you have a competent shop change both the coolant with dexcool, and the brake fluid. Every Kappa I have worked on recently needs both. Also take a look at the radiator hoses and the two belts. Most belts are at the end of lifr
 

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One other thing you can do to alleviate the trapped air is to drill a small hole in the thermostat, 1/8" or less. Some thermostats, unfortunately not ours, can be bought with the hole built in. The thermostat is completely shut when when the system is cold and that small hole allows air to pass through the system. It in no way impedes the operation of the cooling system.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
... yet nobody has asked -> when was the coolant replaced ? recently ? ( causing potential air bubbles )
never ? ( maybe the level in the holding tank is low ? )

oops - I missed that Ghost asked about the level...
This is a "new to me" car. I know it has not been replaced recently, I don't know if it's ever been done. Sounds like I know what's up next for maintenance.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I bought an Air Lift pressure fill tool because of the issues with trapped air.
Since the car is new to you have a competent shop change both the coolant with dexcool, and the brake fluid. Every Kappa I have worked on recently needs both. Also take a look at the radiator hoses and the two belts. Most belts are at the end of lifr
Thanks Rob--this is good advice. Before our roadtrip home I put on new tires and changed the oil. The car is super clean and in great shape having obviously been taken care of, but unfortunately I didn't get any maintenance records. Sounds like I know what's up next for maintenance. ;-)
 

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Cars do not "overheat" at 212*F, if that makes you feel better.

Even an old school GM muscle car with a 15psi system does not overheat until 247* F. Your car has a 15psi system.
 

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Cars do not "overheat" at 212*F, if that makes you feel better.

Even an old school GM muscle car with a 15psi system does not overheat until 247* F. Your car has a 15psi system.
Did I miss something? I thought his concern was seeing 250 and having the over-temp warning light turn on.
 

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Do yourself a favor and do NOT drill holes in your cooling system or follow the convoluted directions for bleeding it without the correct tool.

Get a vacuum evac/fill kit. Cost is about $90 and it makes refilling the system as close to idiot-proof as it can be.

I bought and used this one twice last year for two turbo upgrades. Both cars drove away from the project without any sort of cooling/overheat issue. Refilling the system took all of five minutes.

This is the tool I used. There are many like it.

 

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Check out the threads on (Check Valves). there are multiple ones that are excellent. The one that (Shadofax) has is detailed with photos. Also I agree with (Rob the Elder) that the airlift tool is the way to go. Have a happy 4th of July everyone.
 

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Did I miss something? I thought his concern was seeing 250 and having the over-temp warning light turn on.
John, enough is enough. Check your PMs
 

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One other thing you can do to alleviate the trapped air is to drill a small hole in the thermostat, 1/8" or less. Some thermostats, unfortunately not ours, can be bought with the hole built in. The thermostat is completely shut when when the system is cold and that small hole allows air to pass through the system. It in no way impedes the operation of the cooling system.
Old Subaru trick!
 
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