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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

So my low coolant light came on yesterday and I filled it and now my car is overheating. I am currently stuck at work (I limped it here).

I have a set of sockets and pliers and other tools as well. As well as a decently steep hill I can park on. Now that I have ****ed up and introduced air, what is the best way for me to correct this without getting towed to a shop?:(
 

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GXP or NA?

I’d be hesitant to try this on the side of the road. If you had an air compressor and a vacuum bleeder tool like an AirLift, it’s easy to bleed the system. But, you may try the DDM method.

Basically, you disconnect the coolant line that goes into the head. Front of the engine, top drivers side of the head, connection points up and down. It’s a fairly small hose.

With that disconnected, remove the 10mm bolt below the reservoir that holds it to the bracket and disconnect the coolant level sensor that plugs into the reservoir. Fill the reservoir, the lift it up so that the coolant level is higher than the top of the engine. Coolant will (quickly) start leaking or gushing out of the head where you disconnected the hose.

Put the hose back on, lower the reservoir, reattach everything and run it for a bit, keeping an eye or temp and coolant level. When reattaching everything, try to keep the reservoir as high as possible until the hose is reattached. If the reservoir isn't the highest point in the coolant circuit, it'll suck air in. (Hooray, physics.) This is just an overly-wordy way of saying that water runs downhill.

This can be aided by squeezing the radiator hose with your hand a lot, or so it has been said. Obviously, don’t get your hand caught up in the belts or fan.

It helps if you have the heater on full blast while doing these things.

I had limited success with this method, but it’s probably the easiest thing to try without access to a shop.

Note: if you have a GXP, there is a TSB regarding coolant filling. There are a pair of check valves that need to be inserted in the coolant hoses. Available from GM, but I had to order mine as no one had them in stock.

Here’s the video on the DDM method:

https://youtu.be/YF5Ka4oeCxA

Hopefully goes without saying, but never open the reservoir when the engine is hot. It is under pressure and will spew ~5-10 feet in the air and give you severe burns.

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
 

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That should work. Many O'Reilly autoparts stores will also "loan" you a similar tool. Basically, you buy it and get a full refund when you return it.

The DDM Video is for a GXP.

Good job with the string.

I'll reiterate that many people have had good results with this method. It didn't entirely work for me, but apparently you *may* have to do it a few times.

Good luck!
 

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Good luck!

When you button it up, I’d recommend just driving it around the block a few times in case it stays overheating again.


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I have the valves but haven't noticed that noise. Hmmm...

Where is the noise coming from? Did you put all of the clamps back on?

Is the temp stable or still overheating?
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
It was sitting at 205 and didn't seem to go any higher but I let off to keep from puking more coolant as I tried to fill it above both hoses. Clamps are back on and I cannot tell where that noise is fully coming from. It's very rhythmic and pretty predictable. Where are the valves? Do you have a picture?

Also, I want to be fully clear and say that the system was opened while warm/hot (after sitting for 5 min) and, in hindsight, it was obvious that it sucked air in.
 

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One of the valves is in that hose going into the head. The other is in the small hose going into the radiator. They resemble welding jets.




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It was sitting at 205 and didn't seem to go any higher but I let off to keep from puking more coolant as I tried to fill it above both hoses. Clamps are back on and I cannot tell where that noise is fully coming from. It's very rhythmic and pretty predictable. Where are the valves? Do you have a picture?

Also, I want to be fully clear and say that the system was opened while warm/hot (after sitting for 5 min) and, in hindsight, it was obvious that it sucked air in.
The coolant level is WAY too high in that video. The level should be at, or just above, the molding join half way up the container.

The sound seems to be coming from the return hose bubbling steam through the coolant.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Shouldn't the pressure just puke out the excess and then pull a vacuum?

Should there be steam bubbles?

I just ran the car for about 6 minutes at 2500rpm and then idle for 3 minutes and it kinda sat at about 220 degrees in 85-90 degree weather (in the sun). What is the normal?

Does it make a difference that my blower is not currently functional? will that prevent the heater core valve from opening?
 

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Shouldn't the pressure just puke out the excess and then pull a vacuum?

Should there be steam bubbles?

I just ran the car for about 6 minutes at 2500rpm and then idle for 3 minutes and it kinda sat at about 220 degrees in 85-90 degree weather (in the sun). What is the normal?

Does it make a difference that my blower is not currently functional? will that prevent the heater core valve from opening?
220º is a bit high. Mine idles a little under 200º in our wonderful Dallas weather. 220º won't destroy your engine, but it may get hotter when you start driving around and put load on the engine. (But, it might not!)

Even if the blower isn't working - btw, that's a common problem with an easy fix that costs about $30 and takes half an hour - having the HVAC controls set to full heat and fan on should do the trick.

I suspect that the bubbles and gurgling you're seeing are due to more air pockets, but that is just a guess. If it's running well enough to get it home, do so. Get a vacuum tool and bleed the system that way as it's pretty fool-proof. If you don't want to burn $100 on a tool you'll likely use twice, ever, just go borrow one from O'Reilly. Note that I also had to put a vacuum cap on the overflow outlet on the reservoir to pull a vacuum. They're about $5 for a set at the parts store. You could also just jam a bolt into the overflow hose and put a worm clamp on it.

One step that was missing from my earlier explanation: after bleeding the system and starting the car, you must ensure that the coolant reservoir doesn't become empty. When the thermostat opens up - around 195º, the engine will suck a lot more coolant into the circuit.

These problems are typically an indication that you have a water pump that's on its last legs. How many miles are on the car?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
122k, but everything was great and it never went about 195 during my spirited driving before. This is definitely the result of me stupidly opening the cap while hot. I swapped out the blower motor resistor (already had it in hand)

I just drove it around and it hit 250, so I am still having the issue and the heat does not function so there is clearly still an air pocket.
 

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Shouldn't the pressure just puke out the excess and then pull a vacuum?
Not sure what you're asking there.

Should there be steam bubbles?
Probably not, but you DID 'ingest' (actually, create) a lot of bubbles when you released the pressure.

I just ran the car for about 6 minutes at 2500rpm and then idle for 3 minutes and it kinda sat at about 220 degrees in 85-90 degree weather (in the sun). What is the normal?
That's on the high side, but don't forget that the temperature sensor is only at one point in the system, not an average. If you have poor coolant flow due to bubbles, whatever you see is probably off.

Does it make a difference that my blower is not currently functional? will that prevent the heater core valve from opening?
No. There is no heater core valve, it's always in flow. HOWEVER, an empty heater core is often a reason why these cars will not 'burp' properly. DDM have found that manually disconnecting the heater core tubes and refilling the core manually, can help problematic cars.

These problems are typically an indication that you have a water pump that's on its last legs. How many miles are on the car?
Not necessarily - remember he took the coolant pressure cap off while the car was hot.
 

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Like you have it in that pic. Tank just needs to be higher than the top of the engine.

Have you done the "hand job' method? Wrap your fingers around the main coolant hose where it enters the engine (top, front, on driver side) and squeeze like you were milking a cow. If you hear squishing/gurgling, keep squeezing and releasing until you don't hear anything any more. That will get one of the major bubble issues out (though not necessarily ALL the issues). Note: you'll probably have to remove the engine cover trim to get hold on the hose.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yes, but it wasn't parked on the hill at that time, but the reservoir was raised. Could I have done damage that's causing it to overheat now? There's nothing in the oil and nothing leaking on the ground. I see no indication of a bad head gasket or leak.
 
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