1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues
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RWD 19xx-1984 DeVille and Fleetwood,
1985-1996 Fleetwood and Brougham Forum Discussion, 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; 1984 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham 4.1Liter Hello professional Cadillac owners. I've had my Caddy for about 3 years now, and I've ...
  1. #1
    JamesCaesar is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    1984 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham 4.1Liter

    Hello professional Cadillac owners. I've had my Caddy for about 3 years now, and I've had some problems but nothing I couldn't handle. I'm not sure if these issues are related or not, so I'll separate them by paragraph. Hopefully you guys can help me out.
    These problems only started about two weeks ago. I thought maybe the cold had something to do with it, but the previous two winters, my car was fine.

    Issue 1 - When I start my car, I sometimes hear a belt squealing. I'm pretty sure it's a belt, that's what everyone keeps telling me. It started when the temperature dropped down to 20 degrees or so. The squealing usually happens when I put my foot on the gas pedal, also. I did replace my alternator last year, so maybe I screwed up the belt?

    Issue 2 - My coolant temperature light comes on while I'm driving - never when I'm idle. The coolant reservoir is not empty, but I don't think the level changes anymore. I checked my radiator the first time this happened, and it was empty. So I filled it up with the recommended 50/50 water coolant mixture and it worked fine for a couple days. The coolant temp light comes on again, I check the radiator and it's filled to the brim, but I can no longer see the pumps working. There is no coolant flow coming in, not sure about coming out. If it helps, the two hoses coming from the heater core? Well the top one is cold and the bottom is hot...so this means my heater core is clogged? or can this be related to the squealing belt?

    As a note, my engine temp light has never come on, so my engine is NOT overheating. I have not seen leaking coolant so far. There are no liquids under my car when I check, and I can smell something when my engine is on. It smells like solder....almost like burnt plastic. Some people say that's what coolant smells like, but when I had another car with a bad heater core, the coolant smelled much sweeter. Also, the smoke coming out of my exhaust looks white, and a lot of it comes out normally.

    If you guys need anymore details, please let me know. I'm a first time Cadillac owner, and I'm learning from this website, various mechanic friends and the internet. I'd like to keep this car as long as possible, because the interior is amazing, and I feel so proud of myself when I can fix these things myself.

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  3. #2
    JamesCaesar is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    UPDATE:
    I just drove my car around the block where I work. It was about 29degrees outside. As I was driving, my subwoofer stopped working. Then the coolant light came on and my headlights dimmed. Then the fasten seatbelt lights came on and I heard a tone. Like one of those tones you hear when you leave the keys in the ignition, but my car doesn't do that. The radio kept turning on and off. however, my 'no charge' light NEVER came on, and hasn't since 6 months ago when I replaced my alternator.

    Also I checked the two hoses from the heater core again. The top hose is cold. The bottom hose was...warm...it was hard to tell with the cold outside, but before it would burn my hand, now, I can leave my hand on it comfortably, but still feel heat. What the hell is going on?

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    jayoldschool's Avatar
    jayoldschool is offline GM RWD V8 addict
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    You have two separate issues. Last one first. The top hose is cold because you didn't drive the car long enough for the thermostat to open. You need to start the car, and let it idle until the thermostat opens so coolant will move through the system. Leave the rad cap off to vent the air out. Keep filling with 50/50 as the level drops.

    Your other issue is electrical. The simple cause/effect internet diagnosis would point to a slipping belt, causing the alternator to not work properly. Replace the belt, ensure that it is properly tensioned. I would also disconnect anything aftermarket (like amps for subs) to assist with troubleshooting.

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    j2rossit is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    I second the suspicion of a loose belt. The belt that drives the waterpump from the crankshaft is also looped around the AIR pump. I'd check that it is tight.

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    JamesCaesar is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    Quote Originally Posted by jayoldschool View Post
    You have two separate issues. Last one first. The top hose is cold because you didn't drive the car long enough for the thermostat to open. You need to start the car, and let it idle until the thermostat opens so coolant will move through the system. Leave the rad cap off to vent the air out. Keep filling with 50/50 as the level drops.
    That can't be bit. I've let my car idle for 45 minutes and nothing changes. Do I have to wait hours now? Last year I would wait 10 minutes and my car would work just fine. There has to be something more to it than that. The level of coolant in the radiator doesn't drop when the car is running either. The system is just not working, which led me to believe it was a heater core problem, or related to the squealing belt.

    What can cause a belt to slip? I had changed my alternator in May and have had absolutely no issues until the winter started. Did I put it on wrong? How do you "ensure" that it is properly tensioned? Someone told me it could be the regulator? All the belts seem tight to me, I guess I'll have to show it to a mechanic. The thing is. I had absolutely NO issues with my car, until I was lazy and brought it to a mechanic for an oil change/tire rotation/ tune-up. Maybe I'm paranoid but I think those guys broke my car on purpose.

    UPDATE: Today the car would not start. I turned the key and there was no clicking noise, just a very faint whine coming from the engine somewhere. When I turned the key, my headlights and interior lights would turn off. So I think you guys are right in thinking it's the alternator belt. But at this point, my starter or solenoid might be broken? I'm just trying to find exactly where the problem might be before I go spending hundreds of dollars on parts I don't need.

    Thanks for the replies fellas I do appreciate it.

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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    You never told us that it idled for 45 min. If your upper rad hose NEVER gets hot, you either have a stuck thermostat or a serious air bubble in the coolant system.

    You have a dead battery, because the alternator belt is slipping, and not charging the battery. Charge the battery, buy a new alternator belt, and get it installed properly.

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    JamesCaesar is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    I did say my coolant temp light comes on only when driving not when I'm idle. I guess I assumed you guys would assume I let the car warm up for more than 5 minutes...especially since I was learned enough to check my reservoir, radiator and hoses.
    So I searched air bubbles in coolant system and stuck thermostats online. I will try *burping* the system. As far as the thermostat, I can't find anything online related to where the thermostat would be in my car. I did read that to check if my thermostat is working, I should put it in boiling water to see if it opens.

    Also I would rather learn how to install the belt -properly- myself. I don't want to rely on the mechanic scammers in my town. Yes there are google videos that I have watched, but they are for new cars and I don't know if there are any neat tricks for classic cars like mine, hence me using these forums.

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    j2rossit is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    The thermostat sits in a housing where the upper radiator hose connects to the the engine. It's very easy to replace and only a few bucks. One of the first things I'd do if I was having odd cooling issues. When you take the upper radiator hose off (after draining a bit of coolant out), you can then take off the bolts that hold that little housing that the rad hose was connected to. Make sure you put the new thermostat in the right way, not upside-down.
    The battery itself might be going bad after the first alternator died on you. If the voltage had dropped too low, then some of the cells could have broken down. Then the new alternator might be trying to work extra hard to keep the dying battery charged which would cause more load on the belts.

    The alternator belt is fairly straight forward to do, it's the water pump belt that also goes over the AIR pump that is tough to tighten. And since it drives the waterpump, it is also responsible for driving the alternator. You need to loosen and tighten the adjuster on the air pump which is only really accessible from underneath the car and even then, a hoist and the right socket with a long extension is the only way that it is an easy job. The common symptoms when this belt gets loose is the "warning, coolant temp" light combined with charging issues.

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    JamesCaesar is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    I took out the old thermostat. It seemed that it was stuck. Bought a new one, like you said only a few bucks. I'll be putting it in soon. I did notice my lights getting significantly getting dimmer every day. (I'm not driving the car right now btw). I think it might just be the alternator belt, but I'll find out when I replace that along with the thermostat. Hopefully that will fix everything, but if not I'll check out adjusting the air pump, with my uncle's help.

    Thanks for the info guys, I really appreciate the help.
    talismandave likes this.

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    j2rossit is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    I'm not sure what you were basing your conclusion on, but you can test the stuck thermostat by hanging it from some string in a pot of water. Slowly bring the water to a boil and if the thermostat isn't open by the time the water is boiling, it's stuck. But even if it does open, it doesn't mean it wasn't stuck when it was in the car and the act of removing and testing it could have freed it.

    When you put a voltmeter across the battery, what are the readings when:
    1. car is not off and sitting a while (several hours or overnight).
    2. car has just been started.
    3. car is running and been running a while (10 min or so).
    4. car was just turned off.

    This will give you an idea of the battery is holding a charge, or if the charging system isn't quite strong enough.

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    JamesCaesar is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    The thermostat looked corroded and rusty. Even if it works I might as well replace it since a new one was literally 8 dollars.

    I'll get the battery readings when I have a chance. My car has a shut off switch for the battery, so if it's completely dead when I flip it back on, then I'll know the battery is messed up. I'm still going to fix the belt first though.

  13. #12
    The Ape Man's Avatar
    The Ape Man is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    If the alternator belt has been slipping the battery will need a charge soon. letting it sit discharged isn't good for longevity.

    If you can spin the alternator by hand with the engine off a belt is loose.

  14. #13
    j2rossit is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    OOps, for step one of the bettery measurements, it should be "when the car is off and has been sitting for a while"

    Yeah, don't bother putting the old thermostat back in, I just like testing them when they come out to see what there were doing.

  15. #14
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    talismandave is online now Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ape Man View Post

    If you can spin the alternator by hand with the engine off a belt is loose.
    ...and if you can spin it by hand with the engine on, your amazing!
    bigm57ict likes this.

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    carnut is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 1984 Fleetwood Brougham heat/coolant/belt issues

    OK, this is why the belt is squealing..... The smog pump belt is loose or worn out. On this car if the smog pump belt is loose, it will cause the alternator belt to slip at any RPM above idle. It must be tightened from under the car. On the coolant issue, pull the oil filler cap off and tell us if it has normal black residue on it or if the residue is light chocolate brown. If its brown, the engine is leaking coolant internally! which means certain death to at least the camshaft and/ or lifters very soon if not already. Lack of yearly coolant changes eventually eats away at the intake gaskets and then coolant sprays into the lifter valley wiping out the cam first then damaging the crankshaft bearings.

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