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  1. #1
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    Cooling issues - overheating in traffic

    I was cruising through stop and go traffic yesterday for about 15-20 minutes and the red light came on in the coolant gauge. I pulled over and let the car sit for awhile and then turned the heat on full blast until I could get out of traffic and onto the highway. During this period coolant temps were ~240-250, but once I got on the highway they dropped down to 190-200. What's bad is that the temperature yesterday was only in the low 60s. Had it been any hotter it would have been much worse.

    I took the car out today and brought it up to temps and then pulled over to make sure the fan was on which it was. However, while just sitting and idling the coolant temp climbs. I did drain the coolant over the winter and bled the system after refilling. One question I have is are the fans supposed to stay running after turning the car off? My vette was like this, but I can't remember if my Viper ever has.

    Do you guys have any suggestions as to what could be going on? I don't think it's the water pump as there's no visible leaks and the upper radiator hose is firm and hot at idle. This makes me think that the overheating is due to either air in the system that wasn't fully purged or maybe a faulty coolant temp sensor. I really want to get this fixed before summer hits so any help is appreciated.

  2. #2
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    From what you said there's prob some air left in the system, if your car is a gen3, the fans are hydraulic and it's a pretty good system.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by No hemi View Post
    From what you said there's prob some air left in the system, if your car is a gen3, the fans are hydraulic and it's a pretty good system.
    How do I fully bleed the system? I used a method that Dan Lesser mentioned over at the VCA forum, but it must not have worked (open bleeder valve and squeeze upper radiator hose to get all air out). Maybe I need to do that again?

  4. #4
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    Tried bleeding the system again and it didn't seem to help much (I'm going to try it again either today or tomorrow). I also noticed that the coolant is boiling in the reservoir tank. Not a head gasket issue as the oil is fine and the coolant looks fine and smells just like coolant. I also had the car on a dyno last week and there was nothing else that indicated a head gasket leak (power was fine and exhaust looked normal).

    What else could this be? There are no coolant leaks and the amount of coolant in the reservoir (when engine is cold) is the same as when I filled up the system back in February. I've put about 400 miles on the car since then. I'm thinking about replacing the radiator cap next to see if that helps with the boiling issue.

  5. #5
    Enthusiast hawk02's Avatar
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    Maybe something as simple as a bad radiator cap??????????? Just throwing it out there.......
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawk02 View Post
    Maybe something as simple as a bad radiator cap??????????? Just throwing it out there.......
    I think that's what I'm going to do.

    Also, the coolant isn't boiling in the reservoir. It was just the coolant coming out of the overflow hose causing some bubbles (I manually caused this to happen by squeezing the upper radiator hose). I also checked the lower radiator hose and it was much cooler than the upper hose which is good. This seems to be pointing more towards a malfunctioning/broken thermostat...

  7. #7
    Enthusiast St.Char's Avatar
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    As I'm reading this post, I keep thinking, sounds like a bad thermostat, especially if the upper hose is that much hotter than the bottom.

  8. #8
    1. Gen-3 cars have a hydraulic fan. You can absolutely hear when this fan is on. Is it working?

    2. Gen-3 cars are pretty much self bleeding. If you have coolant flow and it is not low coolant, the system will not air lock the thermostat. Burping newer Vipers is pretty much a myth, and even older ones are self bleeding once the thermostat opens the first time. You can help it along faster, but as long as the thermostat opens, it will do the rest as you heat cycle and drive the car. If you need to "burp" the car to solve an issue, EVER, you have bigger issues than you know. Needing to burp the car is not a cause, it is the result of something else not working properly.

    3. We have seen more than one Gen-3/4 car that has an aftermarket coolant reservoir or an OE tank without the upper line hooked up. If its missing, the system will not bleed properly and always have air issues.

    4. If your fan operates normally, system is full, and everything hooked up properly:

    4A: Check heater core flow and overflow coolant flow. No flow = bad water pump.

    4B: Check radiator top. Is it HOT when engine is over 200? Cold/warm = bad thermostat.

    The last two are subjective items. A partially working pump or partially open thermostat can be trickier to locate.
    Last edited by Viper Specialty; 05-18-2014 at 10:09 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper Specialty View Post
    1. Gen-3 cars have a hydraulic fan. You can absolutely hear when this fan is on. Is it working?

    2. Gen-3 cars are pretty much self bleeding. If you have coolant flow and it is not low coolant, the system will not air lock the thermostat. Burping newer Vipers is pretty much a myth, and even older ones are self bleeding once the thermostat opens the first time. You can help it along faster, but as long as the thermostat opens, it will do the rest as you heat cycle and drive the car. If you need to "burp" the car to solve an issue, EVER, you have bigger issues than you know. Needing to burp the car is not a cause, it is the result of something else not working properly.

    3. We have seen more than one Gen-3/4 car that has an aftermarket coolant reservoir or an OE tank without the upper line hooked up. If its missing, the system will not bleed properly and always have air issues.

    4. If your fan operates normally, system is full, and everything hooked up properly:

    4A: Check heater core flow and overflow coolant flow. No flow = bad water pump.

    4B: Check radiator top. Is it HOT when engine is over 200? Cold/warm = bad thermostat.

    The last two are subjective items. A partially working pump or partially open thermostat can be trickier to locate.
    1. Fan is definitely working - can hear it and I saw it spinning with my own eyes .

    2. Good to know and is probably why trying to bleed the system didn't do much.

    3. Upper line as in the overflow hose (connects to the black piece of the reservoir)? If so, then it's hooked up.

    4A. Heater core flow must be fine because the air is HOT when I turn the heat on. Overflow coolant flow looks fine as well (constant stream of coolant going into the tank via the overflow hose).

    4B. I haven't checked this yet. I'll look into it tomorrow.

    I really think this is an issue with the thermostat or clogged radiator. Note that the entire system sat empty (no coolant) from Nov-Feb. I don't know if this means anything but thought I'd mention it. Also, do you have a part number for the thermostat?

  10. #10
    Sounds like a thermostat to me.

    Also... are you 100% sure there IS a thermostat installed? If there was service work being done, was it forgotten?

    Highly unlikely on the clogged radiator. That would be the first clogged Gen-3 I have ever seen. However, if by chance your car was mixing oddball coolants, nothing is impossible. Mopar Orange or flushed to Mopar Purple ONLY. No Green or multi-spec generic coolants ever in these systems.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper Specialty View Post
    Sounds like a thermostat to me.

    Also... are you 100% sure there IS a thermostat installed? If there was service work being done, was it forgotten?

    Highly unlikely on the clogged radiator. That would be the first clogged Gen-3 I have ever seen. However, if by chance your car was mixing oddball coolants, nothing is impossible. Mopar Orange or flushed to Mopar Purple ONLY. No Green or multi-spec generic coolants ever in these systems.

    5037344AA
    Thanks! I'll pick up a new thermostat and flush out the old coolant with some of the mopar orange. What's the exact coolant capacity? I think it's 11-12 liters, but I'm not sure.

    Edit: I would assume there is a thermostat installed. No service work has been done and the car didn't overheat before my heads/cam install.
    Last edited by dcvickers; 05-19-2014 at 08:57 AM.

  12. #12
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    Also, what's the P/N for the Mopar orange? I want to make sure I'm getting the right stuff.

  13. #13
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    You will need two gallons, mix 50/50.

    Also, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to inspect the pump while it is drained as well... you never know.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper Specialty View Post
    68048953AB

    You will need two gallons, mix 50/50.

    Also, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to inspect the pump while it is drained as well... you never know.
    Thanks! I was thinking the same thing about the water pump. I'll report back in a few days after I get everything rounded up and the coolant flushed and refilled.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by St.Char View Post
    As I'm reading this post, I keep thinking, sounds like a bad thermostat, especially if the upper hose is that much hotter than the bottom.
    I agree!!!!!
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  16. #16
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    I have an update! I drained the coolant (which looked perfectly fine, BTW, so no signs of a head gasket leak) and filled it up with water to try to flush everything out. Turned the car on with heat full blast and let it warm up. After a few minutes steam starts coming out of the coolant reservoir so I check the temp gauge. Gauge read right around 200 (maybe a touch over) and the heat was hot. I looked at the upper radiator hose and it's cool and feels empty. Top of the radiator is cool as well. Up until now level of the coolant in the reservoir has not changed. Let it warm up some more and check everything again once the temp hits 215-220. Upper hose and radiator are still cool and hose is empty. One would assume that the thermostat just isn't opening. Shut the car down, take out the thermostat housing, and place the thermostat in some boiling water. Opens right up .

    So, either the water pump isn't doing anything, there's some kind of blockage somewhere (I don't think this is it), or the coolant temp sensor is crazy. I'm going to take the water pump off tomorrow and see what it looks like. I'm probably going to replace the thermostat with 180 stat from Roe while I have it apart.

    Let me know if you think I'm not on the right track .

  17. #17
    Enthusiast Rukcus's Avatar
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    I dont know what the impeller composition is on the viper but I have seen in the past on certain 1.8L turbo VW that the plastic impeller on the water pump seperates from the metal shaft when hot.

  18. #18
    Its gotta be something going on with the pump at this point- very rare, but not unheard of. Insufficient velocity to circulate or something similar. Also check the top vent hose for obstruction [small hose to coolant bottle]. Its worth a look.

    Were there any other changes made to this car since the last time it worked correctly?
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  19. #19
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    I don't think the hose that goes to the coolant bottle is obstructed as it was flowing fine the other day before I drained the coolant.

    A ton of things have been done since the last time it worked correctly . Heads and cam were the big things. That's why I was worried about a head gasket leak, but there are no other signs that it could be a leaky head gasket (oil and coolant look fine, coolant level hasn't changed).

    Would a faulty pump only cause overheating at idle or low speeds? I would assume that the car would still run a little higher at speed as well.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by dcvickers View Post
    I don't think the hose that goes to the coolant bottle is obstructed as it was flowing fine the other day before I drained the coolant.

    A ton of things have been done since the last time it worked correctly . Heads and cam were the big things. That's why I was worried about a head gasket leak, but there are no other signs that it could be a leaky head gasket (oil and coolant look fine, coolant level hasn't changed).

    Would a faulty pump only cause overheating at idle or low speeds? I would assume that the car would still run a little higher at speed as well.
    Theoretically it could, yes... though its usually the opposite.

    From all you have described, it still sounds like the thermostat honestly, or something is obstructed somehow. The coolant temp sensor is right next to the Thermostat, so if the sensor is actually getting that hot, it certainly should be opening the thermostat... yet your hose is remaining cool indicating no flow. Even with a mostly dead pump, it still should be doing something at a sensor temp of 200+, the OE thermostat is only 185*.

    Is it still the OE thermostat?
    Last edited by Viper Specialty; 05-21-2014 at 06:09 PM.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper Specialty View Post
    Theoretically it could, yes... though its usually the opposite.

    From all you have described, it still sounds like the thermostat honestly, or something is obstructed somehow. The coolant temp sensor is right next to the Thermostat, so if the sensor is actually getting that hot, it certainly should be opening the thermostat... yet your hose is remaining cool indicating no flow. Even with a mostly dead pump, it still should be doing something at a sensor temp of 200+, the OE thermostat is only 185*.

    Is it still the OE thermostat?
    Still the OE thermostat. I took the pump out tonight and everything was fine. Weird thing happened after I put everything back together and tried flushing the system again. The temp would go up to right below 200 and then go down a bit and stay which appears like the thermostat is working correctly. I flushed with water multiple times to get all of the old coolant out and this happened every time. It's almost like the car was telling me to get the old coolant out .

    I picked up some mopar coolant yesterday and I'm going to finish the flush tomorrow. If everything works as it did with the water then it should be just fine. Could there be something wrong with the old coolant that would cause it to not flow or dissipate heat well? Either that or when I refilled the system after the heads/cam install there was a ton of air left, but I don't see how that could have happened as coolant would come out of the bleeder valve when the car was running. Oh well. Hope all goes well tomorrow.

  22. #22
    Hmm... what you are describing now points towards everything engine wise to be operating. It is highly unlikely the coolant actually caused your issue. Under filled? Not impossible, but again unlikely, as the temp sensor would be sitting in an air pocket if it was THAT low and your gauge would be all over the place.

    Doesn't make much sense honestly. Running hot in traffic and not when cruising is Fan. Top hose cold is low coolant and/or bad thermostat. Coolant flow is indicated by heater core working, and pump checks out fine.... yet, so do the other two.

    OK, so, onto the next obvious point.

    The fan is "spinning"... but is it actually operating correctly? The fan is hydraulic and will always idle at a couple hundred RPM. However, when the fan actually receives some level of a duty call, it is a HUGE increase in flow. Can you confirm that the fan is pushing some serious air when the 200+ mark is reached? That thing should be SCREAMING at 210, and by 225 attempting to suck the front fascia through the radiator. If the fan has an actuator, valve, or control system issue, it may not be spinning above idle speed.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper Specialty View Post
    Hmm... what you are describing now points towards everything engine wise to be operating. It is highly unlikely the coolant actually caused your issue. Under filled? Not impossible, but again unlikely, as the temp sensor would be sitting in an air pocket if it was THAT low and your gauge would be all over the place.

    Doesn't make much sense honestly. Running hot in traffic and not when cruising is Fan. Top hose cold is low coolant and/or bad thermostat. Coolant flow is indicated by heater core working, and pump checks out fine.... yet, so do the other two.

    OK, so, onto the next obvious point.

    The fan is "spinning"... but is it actually operating correctly? The fan is hydraulic and will always idle at a couple hundred RPM. However, when the fan actually receives some level of a duty call, it is a HUGE increase in flow. Can you confirm that the fan is pushing some serious air when the 200+ mark is reached? That thing should be SCREAMING at 210, and by 225 attempting to suck the front fascia through the radiator. If the fan has an actuator, valve, or control system issue, it may not be spinning above idle speed.
    Maybe it is the fan. I know it's spinning, but I didn't check to see how hard/fast. Is there a PID that I can monitor for the fan?

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by dcvickers View Post
    Maybe it is the fan. I know it's spinning, but I didn't check to see how hard/fast. Is there a PID that I can monitor for the fan?
    I do not believe that there is a PID for Hydraulic Fan that is available without using a DRB-III scan tool.

    Assuming you have the ability to clear codes, the easiest test would be to start the car, wait until it is "warm" [not hot- like 150 degrees-ish] and then remove the coolant temp sensor connector. The fan will go into safety and ramp to maximum. If it does or doesn't, there will be no mistaking it. Make sure that the A/C is off. Check engine light will be turned on for the coolant temp sensor.

    Now... this brings up some other possibilities as well.

    1. Check the most obvious- is the fan connector plugged in? This is a VERY simple system with regard to wiring, testing is easy if needed.
    Three wires; Ground, +12V from ASD relay, and then Control wire to PCM.

    2. Has your PCM been replaced as part of the work done to your car?

    3. Has the PCM been reflashed as part of the work done to your car?

    4. Is Power Steering system full, and has it been filled with ATF+4?
    Last edited by Viper Specialty; 05-22-2014 at 11:56 AM.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viper Specialty View Post
    I do not believe that there is a PID for Hydraulic Fan that is available without using a DRB-III scan tool.

    Assuming you have the ability to clear codes, the easiest test would be to start the car, wait until it is "warm" [not hot- like 150 degrees-ish] and then remove the coolant temp sensor connector. The fan will go into safety and ramp to maximum. If it does or doesn't, there will be no mistaking it. Make sure that the A/C is off. Check engine light will be turned on for the coolant temp sensor.

    Now... this brings up some other possibilities as well.

    1. Check the most obvious- is the fan connector plugged in? This is a VERY simple system with regard to wiring, testing is easy if needed.
    Three wires; Ground, +12V from ASD relay, and then Control wire to PCM.

    2. Has your PCM been replaced as part of the work done to your car?

    3. Has the PCM been reflashed as part of the work done to your car?

    4. Is Power Steering system full, and has it been filled with ATF+4?
    I have a tuner that can clear codes so I'll do that test tonight.

    1. Will check tonight and report back.

    2 and 3. Original PCM, but it has been reflashed with a tune from Todd.

    4. Will check this as well.

    Thanks for all of your help with this! I feel like I'm close to figuring out what the heck is going on.

    Also, do you think the elevated temperature could be causing the car to not want to crank after it's hot? Sometimes after I try to start the car after it's up to operating temps it seems to not want to crank (slowly turns over once, hesitates for about .5-1 second, and then fires up). I have noticed that during the coolant flush I haven't run into this issue so I'm thinking it may be due to heat soak in the starter...


 
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