Coolant Spuing
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Coolant Spuing in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; I have a problem with my 98 STS. I was driving for about an hour today and when I got ...
  1. #1
    akaz87 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Coolant Spuing

    I have a problem with my 98 STS. I was driving for about an hour today and when I got home and parked it coolent was all over the road. Its comming from the coolant overflow tank. Its comming from out around the cap with also a lot of steam. I slowly opened it up and there was plenty of coolant in it. In the car it didnt show that it was overheating which I am thinking it was??? It was a light steam but a lot of coolant. I dont think that the cap is just broken which could be the case? Please any help would be great.

    Thanks

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  3. #2
    mcowden is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Lightbulb Re: Coolant loss from pressure tank

    While it's hot, it probably will appear that there is plenty of coolant, especially if there was enough pressure to open up the cap valve. Check it again when it's completely cooled and I'll bet it's pretty low then. If it was overheating, it wasn't too bad or it would have switched into "limp home" mode and you would have noticed it had very little power. Limp home alternates switching off the fuel to cylinders so they get some degree of air cooling, so basically you're running that 2.5 ton hunk of steel on a 4-cylinder. If not the lack of power, then a dashboard message would have told you it was in limp home mode.

    How many miles on the car? Has it ever been flushed or at least drained and refilled? What color is the coolant? Have you noticed anything like sweet-smelling exhaust? Does the oil look OK (not milky)? Have there been coolant leaks at any other time? Were you driving uphill at 90 MPH while towing a trailer in Death Valley for an hour? (kidding)

    You'll need to figure out if it's losing coolant over time. Fill it up all the way (about 1-2 inches below the cap on the pressure tank) with the recommended 50/50 mix of DexCool (the orange stuff) and distilled water and drive it normally for a few days. Check it again when completely cool. If it's losing coolant somehow, it could be a number of things. Water pump seal leak, water pump cover leak, hose leak (pinhole leaks are common in these hoses), radiator leak, bad cap on the tank, or (dare I say it) a head gasket problem. Whatever the issue, overheating Northstars has been a common topic here and there will be plenty of information about what to check and how to fix it. I'm sure about 20 different people have lots of good information for you.

    Let us know... We'll help as much as we can. Good luck!

    Michael Cowden
    Mike

  4. #3
    akaz87 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Coolant loss from pressure tank

    Quote Originally Posted by mcowden
    While it's hot, it probably will appear that there is plenty of coolant, especially if there was enough pressure to open up the cap valve. Check it again when it's completely cooled and I'll bet it's pretty low then. If it was overheating, it wasn't too bad or it would have switched into "limp home" mode and you would have noticed it had very little power. Limp home alternates switching off the fuel to cylinders so they get some degree of air cooling, so basically you're running that 2.5 ton hunk of steel on a 4-cylinder. If not the lack of power, then a dashboard message would have told you it was in limp home mode.

    How many miles on the car? Has it ever been flushed or at least drained and refilled? What color is the coolant? Have you noticed anything like sweet-smelling exhaust? Does the oil look OK (not milky)? Have there been coolant leaks at any other time? Were you driving uphill at 90 MPH while towing a trailer in Death Valley for an hour? (kidding)

    You'll need to figure out if it's losing coolant over time. Fill it up all the way (about 1-2 inches below the cap on the pressure tank) with the recommended 50/50 mix of DexCool (the orange stuff) and distilled water and drive it normally for a few days. Check it again when completely cool. If it's losing coolant somehow, it could be a number of things. Water pump seal leak, water pump cover leak, hose leak (pinhole leaks are common in these hoses), radiator leak, bad cap on the tank, or (dare I say it) a head gasket problem. Whatever the issue, overheating Northstars has been a common topic here and there will be plenty of information about what to check and how to fix it. I'm sure about 20 different people have lots of good information for you.

    Let us know... We'll help as much as we can. Good luck!

    Michael Cowden
    Hey Thanks for all the information. The coolant was flushed when the water pump cracked the seal about a year ago. Since then I havent had any problems at all until today. Is there anything that I can check to see if its the head gasket. I dont want to think it is but in the back of my mind that is a key problem that I am thinking. Its got 116k Miles on it. How can I check this problem and get it off my mind if it isnt the problem? I WANT TO MAKE SURE ITS NOT THE HEAD GASKET!!!!! That would really blow. Please let me know

    Thanks

  5. #4
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Coolant loss from pressure tank

    A quick check is to open the surge tank cap when the engine is cold. Start the engine and look for air bubbles. That is a pretty good indication. A positive check is to pressurize each cylinder individualy to 120 psi with that cylinders valves closed. I think it should hold pressure for :15-:20 min. If it doesn't it will probably put air into the cooling system and again you will see bubbles in the tank.

  6. #5
    akaz87 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Coolant loss from pressure tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    A quick check is to open the surge tank cap when the engine is cold. Start the engine and look for air bubbles. That is a pretty good indication. A positive check is to pressurize each cylinder individualy to 120 psi with that cylinders valves closed. I think it should hold pressure for :15-:20 min. If it doesn't it will probably put air into the cooling system and again you will see bubbles in the tank.
    I am not understanding. Is bubbles good or bad???

  7. #6
    caddyshack24's Avatar
    caddyshack24 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Coolant Spuing

    bubbles arn't good.. that would imply air in the cooling system. Ranger is saying to apply pressure to each cylinder.. if they leak, it will force air into the cooling system and loose pressure. That would indicate a manfunctioned head gasket.

    Atleast that's how i understood it.

  8. #7
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Coolant Spuing

    Sorry if I wasn't clear. Bubbles are a bad sign. It would indicate exhaust gases in the cooliing system. Exhaust gases can only enter the cooling system through a bad head gasket. Pressurizing the cooling system with exhaust gases would cause an overheat situation as well as an overflow situation.

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