Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?
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Cadillac Catera and Cimarron Forum Discussion, Catera thermostat? Radiator? What? in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Please, please,please help. I am having a problem with my Catera, i know that's not nothing new, but it seems ...
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    bookie0116 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Question Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    Please, please,please help. I am having a problem with my Catera, i know that's not nothing new, but it seems that no mechanic can figure it out, or they either don't know. But anyway it's kinda running a little hot, just a little over the half bar sometimes, but i can smell the fluid sometimes. So sometimes when i stop and turn off the car it won't crank. It stays dead until about 45 min to an hour sometimes longer until the car cools down. The water seems to dissapear gradually so i put more water. When i unscrew the cap while the car is running, the water overflows for a couple of minutes then the tank gets empty so i fill it back up. I have tried putting radiator fluid in it but it's no use because it's just going to dissapear anyway. I've taken it so many places to see what the problem is but all they can suggest since they're clueless about this German car is that i fix the thermostat, and if that ain't the problem, keep fixing various things until it works properly again. I am so tired of unknowledgeable mechanics, so i thought someone here can help me figure out what it sounds like. I don't have the time or money to fix something that isn't broken. Thanks for your help in advance!!!

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    callingmonroe's Avatar
    callingmonroe is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    there is a post related to this but from the symptoms it seems like a blown head gasket. If the car is loosing fluid and you don't see it on the ground or in the car, then i would have to go with head gasket. Where else could it go.

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    wildrage is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    If you take off the cap while it is hot, coolant is going to get everywhere, and your whole car will smell like it. It is completely normal for a pressurized system to spew all of its coolant from the overflow if it is opened while hot. If you are losing coolant with the cap on and system intact, then you have a leak. It could be the crossover, thermostat housing, HCV, oil cooler, radiator or any one of the many hoses. If all of these check out, then it very well could be a bad head gasket or warped head - but you need to narrow it down.

    A couple of things trouble me. 1) How long is gradual? How fast is the coolant leaking? 2) You say that you take off the cap while it is RUNNING...and let the coolant shoot out for a 'couple of minutes.' Do you check the temperature gauge as this is happening? I would think that the gauge would spike after about 10 seconds of rapid depressurization and fluid loss like that...and that can't be good for the engine.

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    bookie0116 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Unhappy Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    Quote Originally Posted by wildrage View Post
    If you take off the cap while it is hot, coolant is going to get everywhere, and your whole car will smell like it. It is completely normal for a pressurized system to spew all of its coolant from the overflow if it is opened while hot. If you are losing coolant with the cap on and system intact, then you have a leak. It could be the crossover, thermostat housing, HCV, oil cooler, radiator or any one of the many hoses. If all of these check out, then it very well could be a bad head gasket or warped head - but you need to narrow it down.

    A couple of things trouble me. 1) How long is gradual? How fast is the coolant leaking? 2) You say that you take off the cap while it is RUNNING...and let the coolant shoot out for a 'couple of minutes.' Do you check the temperature gauge as this is happening? I would think that the gauge would spike after about 10 seconds of rapid depressurization and fluid loss like that...and that can't be good for the engine.
    Wow!!! I never knew that having the cap off could be a bad thing. Well now i know. It seems that lately the fluid has been staying put, but the overheating is still happening. Some think i'm crazy, and say that i must have never owned a Cadillac before. Well that's true, but i know when a car is getting hot. Even though the temperature gauge is a little over halfway, i know it's still not supposed to be there. It shou;d at least be under halfway for the normal car. But would my car still run smooth with a blown head gasket. It drives just fine, and the fan takes a couple of seconds too long to turn on is what the mechanic told me today. Well i won't let the water run out anymore. Thanks

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    wildrage is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    Honestly, I dont' have much experience with blown head gaskets, as I only had it happen to me once. I can tell you that since I have the same problem as you (although my car loses no coolant and starts fine), there is a lot to this coolant system. You also have 2 auxillary water pumps. From what I've read on this board, if either of them go, it could also have the same problems.

    On the cap it should say "DO NOT REMOVE WHEN HOT" The cooling system is pressurized for higher performance and to increase the boiling temp. Have you ever seen in a movie when the radiator explodes and water flies everywhere? It's because they pulled the cap when it was hot.

    You really really really need to determine if you're losing coolant first...and be SURE. Also check your oil for coolant contamination, and your coolant for oil contamination. These would lead to a bad head gasket.

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    bookie0116 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    Quote Originally Posted by wildrage View Post
    Honestly, I dont' have much experience with blown head gaskets, as I only had it happen to me once. I can tell you that since I have the same problem as you (although my car loses no coolant and starts fine), there is a lot to this coolant system. You also have 2 auxillary water pumps. From what I've read on this board, if either of them go, it could also have the same problems.

    On the cap it should say "DO NOT REMOVE WHEN HOT" The cooling system is pressurized for higher performance and to increase the boiling temp. Have you ever seen in a movie when the radiator explodes and water flies everywhere? It's because they pulled the cap when it was hot.

    You really really really need to determine if you're losing coolant first...and be SURE. Also check your oil for coolant contamination, and your coolant for oil contamination. These would lead to a bad head gasket.
    I want to thank you for your very good advice. Somebody told me to check the oil for signs of water. Nope, it was good. Then they said check the cap for milky sludge type fluid in or around the cap. Nope just rusty water. So it couldnt be contaminated. So i guess it's not a bad head gasket. Also do you know about how much a tune up should cost on these cars. I am a lady and very ignorant about cars, and every where i go they take advantage of that. $300 or $400 dollars do not sound right to me.

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    wildrage is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    It depends on what they define a tune up as. But here is what or the actual parts cost for it:'

    Spark Plugs (6): $20
    Air Filter (1): $8
    Fuel Filter (1): $8

    I've never had someone else do it for me, but I've seen prices anywhere from $60 to $150. There's nothing especially hard about changing the spark plugs on this car, the air filter is very easy..not sure about fuel filter.

    You should also think about the status of your timing belt. It isn't a cheap fix - I was quoted $450...but my girlfriends timing belt just snapped and she was quoted $3500 to get her car fixed....so it's good preventative maint. (should be done every 40k miles).

  9. #8
    callingmonroe's Avatar
    callingmonroe is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    One thing you can do to check the thermostat! Just take it out! Leave the gasket in but take it out and see what the temp does. If it still climbs on the gauge then it is the thermostat. On a blown head gasket it is true that the oil will get milky. I believe this is when it get really bad. So don't trust the oil just yet. I had two blown head gaskets on a Neon. This was not the case with it, it just would overheat and not start. On the olds I had, the thermostat was defective, it would show overheat when actually there was no overheating the sensor would cause the car to fire differently to prevent engine damage. I would imagine the caddy will do the same when the sensor see overheat condition. I also believe if you are truly loosing fluid and you can't find it, it could be a leak on a hose or pump slow enough to evaporate the water but not anti freeze, so don't use water, get under the car somehow to look for any evidence of leaks, feel all nooks with fingers to feel for water, head gasket repairs are costly and if this is the start of one you wanna know now before the head gets warped.

  10. #9
    Army_MP_From_MO's Avatar
    Army_MP_From_MO is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    If you've taken the oil cap off and checked it and it has rusty water on it, that's not a good sign. Rusty water inside the oil could be a leaking head gasket. Definately, rust in the oil damages an engine cutting grooves everywhere the oil goes to lubricate moving metal parts. Think of that rust as little construction workers demolishing your vital engine parts!

    However, if you were checking the radiator overflow cap that's not a good sign either. Rusty fluid means your cooling system is wearing away faster than a '72 Pinto in MN winter with road salt down half the year. If it's not rusty, corroded metal, and a red color, that's ok. the Dex-cool coolant is red in color. If you do have rusty water in your coolant, have it flushed ASAP!

    The gradual loss of coolant and the coolant smell are exactly what I was having when I first bought my Cat. I read through the posts here and took a chance and replaced the heater control valve (HCV), also known as the heater bypass valve, a very common problem with the Cat. I had no signs of coolant on the ground, but it may have gotten that bad if I hadn't replaced the HCV. I've been keeping coolant since, and the coolant smell is gone. Search around the forum for descriptions and diagrams and check yours.

  11. #10
    blanny431 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    why cant i find my radiator cap on my 99 catera..is it somewhere other than normal like it is supposed to be top right but its not please help kev

  12. #11
    AHazzardToAll's Avatar
    AHazzardToAll is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera thermostat? Radiator? What?

    Your "radiator" cap is on you coolant tank. It's a yellowish (white if it's been replaced) tank on the passengers side of the engine bay and sits right behind your air filter box.

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