Need advice with my 2002 DHS
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Cadillac DeVille 1985 to 2005 including:
1985-1992 Fleetwood, 1993 Sixty Special, All FWD Forum Discussion, Need advice with my 2002 DHS in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; First off let me say - I absolutely love this car. I bought it in March of this year with ...
  1. #1
    Jessi P is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    First off let me say - I absolutely love this car. I bought it in March of this year with 109k miles on it and love the car. That said - I do NOT love this car's "issues." I just graduated college and applying for a job so I do not have a lot of money to throw at this car. I am hoping that I can get some solid advice here from you experienced folks who know what you're doing with these cars.

    Please bear with me while I give some background...

    Bought car in mid March - I only drive a few miles each way to school or work, and no problems until we were coming home from a 300 mile trip to see family on Easter. Halfway home, driving along on cruise at about 70 on the turnpike the car suddenly overheats. We shut it off, let it sit, it cools down, couple hours later we go home with no problems. It did have some overflow thru the purge tank that ended up on the ground under the car but not a lot. We think perhaps the thermostat was stuck shut temporarily, the next day at home we get a new thermostat and change the oil. Everything's fine for a couple months (remember I don't drive farther than 15 minutes or so too frequently), then it overheats on us at the end of a 45 min drive to dinner with the AC on. Shut it off within 2 minutes, go in and eat dinner, come back and it's cool with no issues and we drive home. We change the thermostat again - boyfriend also insists we replace the water pump that week. Fine - it's just money, right? For the past 3 months I drive the other car if I have to go more than 10-15 minutes.

    So I am trying to be a responsible car owner and figure out what's the issue and FIX it so I can depend on this car (if something happens to the minivan w/170k mi). I find this forum and realize this is not just a problem for me, but apparently that series of car. I start looking into what you guys have advised others to do and realize - AHA! We need to check the purge line. My boyfriend has a buddy who works on cars and I can afford his shade tree prices - after being raped on parts by the previous mechanic I have to spend my money wisely (but I am perfectly willing to SPEND if, if you catch the difference). So I print out all this info from the forums here about the known issues, and checking purge line, and he checks the purge line yesterday and determines that it is clear with no obstructions. There was a cracked line (hose?) that he saw and we replaced. We also replaced the purge tank cap (am I saying that correctly?) with a new 18# one - because they (mechanic & boyfriend) said the seal didn't look good. Mechanic suggests changing thermostat AGAIN but suggests getting a good one instead of an auto zone one (fine by me) - so we order the new one from dealership yesterday - picked it up & installed it today.

    Anyway - if you are still with me - thanks for your patience - essentially I was having no problems with the car mostly because I was not driving it far enough to have problems. I decide to get the guy to check the purge line yesterday - he says the purge line is clear, we replaced the purge line hose (cracked), replaced purge cap w/a new one, ordered thermostat, put old one back in. Last night I drove boy child to football practice (3 miles) with no issues, we sat there at practice for 2 hours - then I drove approx 3 miles to pick up the girl child at school (3 miles tops) - have to wait for her a couple minutes, car starts getting warm, so I shut it off and wait about 10 minutes til she's ready. Turn car back on, drive the 1.7 miles home, on the way we hit a red light and had to sit a couple minutes - and the temp gauge (which was steadily climbing) ends up in the red by the time I park in front of my house - it starts dinging just as I slide into the parking spot.

    Right about now I am crapping myself and wishing I had never opened my big mouth and just left well enough alone.

    So, today we picked up new thermostat - on a whim we let car idle 30 mins before installing thermostat - did NOT overheat. Installed thermostat, drove around the block (half mile?) and car gets hot. I'm ripping huge chunks of my hair out now and consuming large amounts of chocolate.

    Boyfriend is suggesting we take it somewhere to have the radiator cleaned/flushed - can someone please give me some advice on the smartest way to spend the remaining $ that I do have - what is the smartest way to diagnose what's wrong and fix the problem? Should we just replace the head gaskets? Should we have the radiator flushed? Should I shoot the boyfriend who said "Yeah - its a great car and you look gorgeous in it - BUY IT and let's go."

    I have a picture of the cracked hose we replaced if it would help to see it.

    Oy... boyfriend just walked through the house with the radiator in his arms... so I guess I can assume we are taking it to the radiator shop tomorrow. Please - I am desperate for some good advice. Boyfriend's mindset is the shotgun approach - keep replacing things and hope for the best. I want to figure out what's wrong and fix THAT. I don't mind spending money - but I want to spend it wisely and not just guess.

    Other things I have replaced since purchase - thermostats (this is the 3rd one), 1 coil pack in March, Idle Air Control Valve (late April), water pump (August). Plus the windshield and the window motors for 3 of the 4 doors.

    Here is a pic of the cracked hose that we replaced yesterday - the crack is to the left of the clamp -


    purge line hose by Pennyroyal Stables, on Flickr

    Thanks for any help and advice - I will do my best to answer any questions or get pics or whatever I can do - please help!

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  3. #2
    Submariner409's Avatar
    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, chrome it
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    There is/was nothing wrong with any of the thermostats. To check, use a saucepan of water and a candy thermometer. Heat the thermostat(s) from cold - they will begin to open at about 188 degrees and be fully open at 206. Design temperatures.

    You say the purge line is/was OK (clear and flowing) so now you're looking at performing a cylinder block exhaust gas test - head gasket leaks.

    http.www.sjdiscounttools.com/lis75500.html or rent the tester from a local large parts store and follow the instructions exactly.

    Study the 3 sticky posts in Engines, Northstar Performance - the ones on temp gauges, fans, and the cooling system operation.

    Here's your temperature gauge, why it does what it does, and gives you an idea of what overheating really is. (That surge tank should be half full, cold. Never check/adjust coolant level with the engine warm/hot.) You hit the red zone, so there's a problem: Now the problem is to find the real problem.

  4. #3
    basscatt's Avatar
    basscatt is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    double check that PURGE LINE -
    unless YOU actually saw the constant gentle flow of coolant when the engine was running -

    MANY failed head gaskets have been falsely diagnosed
    because of a plugged PURGE LINE -

    the next test is the BLOCK TEST -
    there are several videos on youtube showing how to use it -

  5. #4
    ryannel2003's Avatar
    ryannel2003 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    I gotta tell you one of the first things I did when looking at an '01 STS a few months back is open the coolant reservoir and smell for exhaust. Sure enough it smelled like it but I drove it anyway. 5 minutes down the road the car starts to overheat. Obviously the block test is necessary but since it doesn't cost anything to check out the coolant tank I would do that too.

  6. #5
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS



    boyfriend also insists we replace the water pump that week.
    Why does everyone throw a WP at every overheat problem? If it spins and doesn't leak, it's just fine.
    The radiator is not likely the problem either.


    So, today we picked up new thermostat
    Forget the thermostats already. One was more than enough.


    We also replaced the purge tank cap (am I saying that correctly?)
    No, the purge line goes into the surge tank.
    Do you see coolant flow from the purge line? You should. If not, clear the obstruction, usually at the hollow bolt it is connected to at the other end. If you do, it's time for the block test.

  7. #6
    Jessi P is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    I stopped in for a quick look at the computer and you guys are fabulous! I did take a pic of the temp gauge while stopped at the red light on the way home - before it went all the way red, I will post it in the morning. At that point it was about 2:00 on the above chart. Within the last 3/4 mile to get it parked it started dinging and got to about 263 before I got it slid into my parking spot & shut off. That may have been the result of a bad decision on my part - while sitting at the light I remembered the "mechanic" saying the fans weren't coming on earlier that afternoon. I am sitting at a red light less than a mile and one left turn from home and decided that if I turned the AC on it would force the fans to come on and cool her down - female logic, what was I thinking, lol.

    So you mean to tell me there's no good reason why my radiator is sitting on my back porch??

    You guys are great - will check in in the morning, thanks again!

    ----------

    Here is the temp gauge about 3/4 mile before it hit the red and starting screaming at me, if it helps any. I will carefully look through each of the links tomorrow when my mind is a little sharper - thank you again for pointing me in the right direction.


    Temp gauge by Pennyroyal Stables, on Flickr

  8. #7
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    I am sitting at a red light less than a mile and one left turn from home and decided that if I turned the AC on it would force the fans to come on and cool her down - female logic, what was I thinking, lol.
    Actually, that is the correct logic..............somewhat. That should turn the fans on, but they should have already been on. However, at that point they most likely would not have helped much.

    So you mean to tell me there's no good reason why my radiator is sitting on my back porch??
    Probably true.

    The 2000+ engines do not have the HG failure rate that their predecessors did so check that purge line before you do anything. If you have coolant flow, then you may be one of the unlucky ones, but the block test will tell the tale.

  9. #8
    Jessi P is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    LOL Ranger I am glad I wasn't having a total blonde moment when deciding to flip the AC on hoping to cool her down. It seemed to make sense at the time but later I started thinking and second guessing.

    OK so we are formulating a plan of attack now. Since the radiator is already on the back porch & needs re-installed before we re-check that purge line is there anything we should do with radiator before re-installing it - maintenance wise? Last evening they were talking about "having it boiled" or something and had me find the number for the local radiator shop. Right now Junior the mechanic is busy working on someone else's car - I could have that done now while we're waiting on him if it is a good idea and isn't a total waste of $.

    One other thing I have been pondering - the day we first checked the purge line (Tuesday) and it got hot on me that evening - I am realizing that we did lose some coolant that day and I never checked to make sure there was adequate coolant before setting off for my evening errands (3 mi to football practice, 2 hours later 3 miles to get daughter from school, then 1.7 miles home = hits the red as I am pulling in to park). Could the coolant have been low and caused the overheating that time? Previously it had not overheated on any short trip - just once after 2 hours and once after 45 min w/AC on. Am I grasping at straws?

    I can't thank you all enough - these guys (boyfriend and mechanic) are sweet, well meaning, nice people and all but I what I really need is guidance from someone experienced who knows what the heck they're doing. I am going to familiarize myself with the info Submariner posted so I have a better idea what's going on mechanically. We will get the radiator back in later today (unless someone suggests doing something to it while it's already out) and then triple check the purge line - and I will look with my very own eyes for that constant gentle flow. If there is none then we will make arrangements for the block test.

    Thanks again!

  10. #9
    Jessi P is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    Okay - we have the radiator back in, and checking purge line - flow is initially spotty with lots of air pockets then seems to even out into a pretty good flow. I am uploading a set of short videos of the purge line flowing. The two geniuses are not really sure if the purge line was flowing properly before but they are patting themselves on the back - "Aha! There was AIR in there! Big pockets of it! It was like it was vapor locking..."

    So it's looking like I need to have the block test done for a head gasket leak but I am planning on driving it a couple days to see how it travels. I am open for any suggestions or advice. I will post a link with the video clips once they are published and ready to view. Thanks again y'all - I really appreciate your help.

    ----------

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennyro...es/9954741805/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennyro...es/9954882003/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennyro...es/9954787844/

    ----------

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennyro...es/9954807144/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennyro...es/9954824454/

    ----------

    To see the progression you can check the time stamp for each video in the description -

    For example VID_20130926_143751_685 was today (9-26-'13) at 2:37 (1437). I guess they are circulating water thru the system now to remove all the air pockets then they will somehow replace that (mostly all water by now) with the 50-50 mix of Dex & water.

  11. #10
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessi P View Post
    Okay - we have the radiator back in, and checking purge line - flow is initially spotty with lots of air pockets then seems to even out into a pretty good flow.
    There certainly was air in the cooling system about like I would expect to see after having the hoses disconnected to remove and replace the radiator.

    The next step (if I was doing the job) would be to check the fitting on the side of the surge tank to be sure the coolant flow from the purge line can actually return to the tank. If that fitting was plugged for some reason, there would be no place for the purged air to escape.

    ALSO. When the cooling system is closed up for normal engine operation, it is imperative the COLD coolant level in the surge tank be at (or above) the COLD mark on the side of the tank. Operating the engine with the level of coolant too low allows the water pump inlet to be exposed to air (instead of coolant) and the vicious/rapid overheating cycle repeats time after time.




    ]

  12. #11
    Jessi P is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    UPDATE: Now we have ZERO flow thru the purge line - now it's just air coming through there. What the heck did the boys do - it was working just fine (flowing thru purge line) - I have video proof dammit, and now nothing?? HELP! I am going to be BALD soon from ripping my hair out LOL!

    ----------

    Thanks Jim - I didn't see your post before hitting "send." I told the guys to check the fitting on the side of the surge tank to make sure the coolant can get back to the tank. And I told them to absolutely not allow that water level to get below that mark and let more air into the system.

    It's a work in progress.... I dont understand why now there is no flow thru the purge line - I have to be missing something...

  13. #12
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessi P View Post
    UPDATE: Now we have ZERO flow thru the purge line - now it's just air coming through there.
    Write this on the board 100 times:

    COLD coolant level in the surge tank.
    COLD coolant level in the surge tank.
    COLD coolant level in the surge tank.
    COLD coolant level in the surge tank.

  14. #13
    Jessi P is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    OK that makes sense Jim - the boys adamantly insist that they did not let the level get too low but I think they don't have a clue. I told them to shut the son of a gun off before they really mess it up (or should I let them keep tinkering?). They're still waiting for it to suck the coolant back from the surge tank. The hell with the bar - I am going to the liquor store and buying myself a bottle, LOL.

  15. #14
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    The fact that you had flow from the purge line indicates that the line is not clogged so you can rule that out. Like Jim said, level is important. As the system refills coolant will be drawn from the surge tank and will need to be topped off. After it stops drawing down and you cap it, you will still need to check the level after the next 2-3 drives as air in the system gets purged and it may need to be topped off once or twice.

    P.S.
    None of your links worked for me.

  16. #15
    Jessi P is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Need advice with my 2002 DHS

    Thanks Ranger. I apologize for the links not working... all I did was copy and paste the URL.. unfortunately I am unable to embed the video in my post for easy viewing on this bulletin board. You can also reach them from here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennyro...th/9954882003/ (that is my Flickr homepage - they are the first 5 very short videos).

    We will work on the coolant level today - we were interrupted by the local sheriff dragging Junior the mechanic off to pay an old unpaid fine. Sigh. At least the sheriff brought him back an hour later - delivery service? Poor guy was minding his own business, working on my car in front of the house in our very quiet neighborhood - sheriff was down the street talking to a kid who threatened to beat someone up on the elementary school bus and knew Junior from high school - ran his history, saw unpaid fine, very apologetic and nice about the whole thing. Thank goodness I had the $ in my pocket to keep him outa jail so he can try to finish the car LOL.

    It was actually a good thing though - I suddenly realized that my car troubles were minor issues in the bigger picture of life, AND got to scare the crapola out of my wide eyed kids - "And THAT - children o' mine - is why you ALWAYS PAY YOUR BILLS on time - if not the cops will come PICK YOU UP and MAKE you pay them or go to jail!!"


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