: Overheating: Am I screwed?



rithban
12-01-03, 07:36 PM
[I don't know much about cars, but have found a lot of valuable information here. Thanks, folks!]

Forgive the length of this post. I'm trying to be complete.

I bought a 1996 Seville SLS with 100k miles a couple of weeks ago. Beautiful! I'm spoiled! Zero problems.

Last Tuesday we drove from Utah to Denver, Colorado. We flew across Wyoming's mountains like a dream until we hit the mountains past Laramie when the engine overheated. After turning around the engine ran fine. Being 11:30pm, we hit a hotel for the night.

The next day the computer said to check coolant levels. It was very low, so we went to the local dealer and had it filled. Headed south to Ft. Collins, CO. After about 20 miles or so the engine started to overheat. (Smokescreen behind us from coolant from the radiator tube on the mufflers.) Fortunately there was a set of buildings there, and we were able to fill the (basically empty) radiator with water and got back to Laramie. Went to dealdership.

After a few hours there we were told "Loose radiator cap. We filled everything back up. DON'T TOUCH THAT. $110."

Headed south again. About the same place as before, the temperature almost redlined, but dropped back down to half way and we made it to Denver.

Being concerned about the temperature spike, last Friday I took the car to a dealer in Denver. A few hours later I got "Very small water pump leak and faulty radiator cap. $460."

Driving back to Utah on Saturday morning I hit the mountains between Ft. Collins and Laramie. We got about 15 miles before the engine overheated again. After three separate attempts, getting 10-15 miles each time, I got a motel until this morning.

The paper from the dealer says: TEST DRIVE TO TRY AND DUPLICATE ENGINE OVERHEATING CONDITION AS DESCRIBED. FIRST HILL DRIVEN OVER, ENGINE STARTED TO HEAT UP. CHECK RADIATOR COOLING FANS FOR OPERATION. BOTH OPERATING PROPERLY. ONLY OVERHEATS WITH ENGINE LOAD. SUSPECT ENGINE CYLINDER HEAD GASKETS. NO REPAIRS AT THIS TIME.

I was told that I'm pretty much screwed. They won't do any head gasket work because most of the time the repairs fail due to thread damage (my interpretation of the explanation), and I'd be wasting my money. Either don't go over mountains or new engine.

I have no warranty or possibility of recourse for the car.

I can try going to a dealer in another city for another opinion -- probably go back down to Denver -- but after reading up on cooling systems, aluminum engines, and stuff on this (and other) forums, I'm feeling kind of spooked now.

So I'm stuck in Ft. Collins with no way to get the car back to Utah. Am I screwed?

Thank you for your input!

ShadowLvr400
12-01-03, 10:49 PM
Well.... If it's burning up the coolant, with this motor, you're better off just dropping a new one in. Sad to say. Thinks to check are coolant in the oil, and oil in the coolant tanks. How's she idle? (Though mine idles ok, and is 2 bad cylinders.) Get a compression test done, or you can do it yourself with some time and determination. (I did this myself in my garage. Was a bit of work, but not overly bad.) You should be able to get this done at a shop, many offer a $75 flat rate on compression tests. Where did you buy this car from, and how much?...

SLS97
12-01-03, 11:21 PM
Buy some premixed coolant and fill as needed. You can make it back home if you take it easy. No need to drive like it's a race. Have the car checked at a dealership or other and get it fixed.

zonie77
12-01-03, 11:40 PM
There are a lot of threads with info on the head gaskets/thread problem.
On the small chance only the front head is bad you could repair that one in the car but the rear one needs the engine dropped out to do the thread repair.

It is a pretty large job. It goes in the $2500-3500 range and the threads in the block really need to be repaired.

If you are somewhat skilled mechanically you could do it yourself but it will take a few special tools and you'll need another car to use for awhile.

Let us know if it's something you think you could handle. Otherwise start looking for a good mechanic.

zonie77
12-01-03, 11:56 PM
Caddy did a pretty good job designing the engine to minimize overheating damage. You don't see a lot of people with cracked or warped heads or block problems (except for pulled threads).
I'm not sure the distance or terrain but most of the time you can cruise at 55-65 on level roads for a long time. It's mountains or even hills that load the engine a little and quickly cause the overheating. If you have to you could drive it back if you have plenty of time to let the car cool regularly. Make sure you have plenty of water/antifreeze.

N* don't get water in the oil easily, the coolant passages encircle the cylinders totally. The heads have to be really loose for water to get in the oil. Check the oil regularly as antifreeze in the oil can tear up bearings fast!!

Good Luck and let us know what happens.

rithban
12-02-03, 01:17 PM
I really appeciate the replies.

We tried to make it out with pre-mixed coolant and water, but no-go. The Rocky Mountains don't make for short, easy grades, even through an easy part like I-80 across Wyoming. :D

After going through a bunch of threads on this site (a jewel of information), I've decided to try figuring out how to get the car moved from Denver to Utah right now, and consider what to do with it after I get it home.

This was a private sale. We rented a car for 24 hours and got wife and kids home. She's looking into what we can do there.

cadillac6
12-02-03, 10:06 PM
I really appeciate the replies.

We tried to make it out with pre-mixed coolant and water, but no-go. The Rocky Mountains don't make for short, easy grades, even through an easy part like I-80 across Wyoming. :D

After going through a bunch of threads on this site (a jewel of information), I've decided to try figuring out how to get the car moved from Denver to Utah right now, and consider what to do with it after I get it home.

This was a private sale. We rented a car for 24 hours and got wife and kids home. She's looking into what we can do there.

:welcome: welcome to the posts. You will find like you said a "jewel" of info here. This is the cadillac enthusiasts BIBLE if I must say so. Plenty of people willing to offer time and help. My condolences with your car. I will say a prayer and hopefully you will get a blessing my friend.

eehoepp
12-04-03, 09:56 PM
I know what it's like. My 94 overheated 3-1/2 hours from home. The terrain was pretty flat but it overheated too bad to drive it anywhere. I rented a U-Haul with a car-carrier trailer & pulled it home myself. It wasn't cheap, but it was less coin than having a commercial tow truck take it. Besides, I wasn't in any mood for 3-1/2 hours of small talk with someone who was going to thin out my wallet. Drove alone in my misery.

I got a bit of a break on the truck rental because they had one that had to be returned to an outlet about 10 miles from my house. The downside was it was gas, not diesel and I paid the savings back in fuel costs.

That's life. Good luck.

Night Wolf
12-04-03, 11:25 PM
Why didn't the N* go into Limp Home mode?

zonie77
12-18-03, 12:07 AM
What's happened on the car ?