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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2006, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Antifreeze boiling

I am a new member with a new 2001 Intrepid ES. I am ignorant when it comes to cars and how they operate. My car's antifreeze is boiling after being driven for 20 minutes or so. Can someone tell me the steps to take to rectify the problem? I have searched but did not find this specific problem. Thanks so much.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2006, 11:47 PM
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there are many reasons for this. ... do u mean its boiling like at the gauge???

The reason why your gauge may get a hot/cold reading in the extreme is from a bad thermostat not opening when it should or a failing temp sensor.

Otherwise the waterpump may be the main culprit in your case. IF any service has been done to the cooling system the pump needs to be purged by pressing on the hose and opening the little nozzles along the line. I did this to an oldsmobile silhouette but its a common procedure.

If the fluid is old its cooling properties also die down with time so a fluid flush may work. But generally its a bigger issue like the pump or thermostat (not too expensive if you do it urself).

Good luck

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-22-2006, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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it is boiling in the container, not spitting out or anything. The car is not registering hot either.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 12:45 AM
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I would check to see if the radiator fan(s) are turning on when cooling system reaches operating temperature, if they don't come on the fan motor could be bad. Try turning on the air conditioning and the fans should turn on, again if they don't turn on it could be a fan motor or a relay.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 11:03 AM
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I'd run down this list.

1) Check the color of your coolant. If it's dark rust colored you should flush it and put new coolant in.
2) Thermostats are pretty cheap so you can just pick a new one up from your local parts store and try replacing that or if you don't want to go to that trouble just temporarily remove your stat and see if the problem goes away.
3) Let the car idle in your driveway with the A/C on. Do the fans eventually turn on?
4) With the car nice and hot I hook up a translucent rubber hose to the bleeder nipple. I run the hose up and around the hood latch and back down to a container. This is an easy way to bleed the top of your engine of any air bubbles. If the fluid coming out looks good I'll just use that to replenish the coolant resevior when the car has cooled back down.
5) If all this fails to fix the problem then it's probably your water pump that has gone bad.

I'm not saying this is the only way to approach this problem, but it's what I would try.

Good luck,
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 11:19 AM
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This might be normal. Consider this.

The cooling system is under pressure, this keeps the coolant from boiling under normal operations.

When the car gets hot, expanded coolant from the engine will flow 'backwards' into the reserve tank. This is by design.

That 'released' coolant gets trapped in the reserve tank. The pressure cap on the reserve tank should keep the tank and the entire engine under the correct pressure so that you don't see any bubbling/boiling.

When you shut off or otherwise cool the motor, the sequence runs in reverse. Coolant from the reserve tank is pulled back into the engine system.

I'd say that as long as the engine isn't overheating and that you don't actually have to add coolant (when everything is cold) to keep the levels in the reserve tank at the correct level, then the system is working as intended.

Do you see the boiling as soon as you stop the car or after it's been stoped for a while. The 'pressure' in the cooling system will bleed down slowly after engine stop. But, as far as I know, the pressure shouldn't bleed down so fast that the reserve tank starts bubbling/boiling.

The quick and easy test/fix might be to to replace the pressure cap on the reserve tank, it's a $5 part. Those things do not last forever, the gasket and spring does wear out with time. Doesn't hurt to replace the cap, it is a key part of the cooling system. I did mine at about 60k miles or so.

Check the 50/50 mix of coolant, use only Mopar or Zerex G-05 coolant, DO NOT USE Ford or GM coolant.

Check for air in the cooling system. A search of the site will find a procedure for burping air put of your motor and cooling system. If you have to burp a lot of air out, chances are that you've got or had a coolant leak somewhwere and that needs to be chased down ASAP. Be sure to change the pressure cap on the coolant tank in this case.

Last edited by '98-ESer; 08-23-2006 at 12:56 PM.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 11:22 AM
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Two things of importance to check in this situation. #1 is the coolant/water mixture, and #2 is whether the cooling system is sealed or not.

Get a coolant gauge that tells what the mixture is. Prestone makes one and they aren't very expensive. See what the mixture is like 50/50 coolant to water and such. You want it at least 50/50 and usually a higher mix of coolant is the norm. Not sure what the book recommends for our cars but the minimun for any vehicle is 50/50. If its lower (meaning more water than antifreeze) the boiling point will be lower.

As far as #2 goes, the cap on the overflow tank serves the purpose that radiator caps do. If that cap is not on tight or is not sealing, the coolant will boil. Not only is the coolant mixture important, but so is a sealed system. The cooling system needs to maintain a consistent pressure in order to keep from boiling over. When there's a leak you end up with overheating because the cooling system can not pressurize.

While Bushman is correct, thermostats might be cheap, depending on what motor you have, some are not easy to replace. The t-stat on a 2.7L is not on top, but actually in the side of the motor behind the alternator. Its a pretty compplicated procedure to change them. As far as the 3.2L/3.5L motors, I'm not sure where the t-stat is located on them.

Another culprit, which Bushman briefly touched upon, has to do with air trapped in the cooling system. Air is not good and needs to be bled. He outlined using tubing attatched to the bleeder screw at the top front of the motor. Good tip. Not sure I would open that up when the engine is hot though, but definately has to be done with the engine running.

Recap. Get a gauge to check the mixture of your coolant and correct as needed, check the tightness and integrity of your radiator (overflow tank) cap and replace if needed, and try bleeding air out of the cooling system. Those are the 3 most likely culprits and the first places I would start looking.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 01:53 PM
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Heat gauge = worries, mon.
trust your instruments.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 02:25 PM
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Sorry its not a gauge, but a tester. Antifreeze/coolant tester.

Very easy to use.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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All great suggestions, and I will try every one of them. Thanks! Now I will see if I can do it myself even if I am a female with no car experience!
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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I forgot, where is this bleeder nipple located?
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 06:41 PM
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Well, if its a 2.7L its at the front of the motor kinda centered. You'll see the upper radiator hose go into a pipe that goes up to it. There's a black plastic housing with a nipple looking thing on it. It kinda looks like a grease fitting, but if you have never seen a grease fitting, then describing it as a nipple is another good way to describe it.

Be careful if you try to open it. The housing its threaded insert is pressed into is only plastic and can strip/break. Its a good idea to spray it with something like PB Blaster or WD 40 and let it soak in for a few minutes.

Sorry no puns intended with the "nipple" and "strip" references! Welcome to the site!
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 06:43 PM
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I vote for Rad. cap
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by swalker
I vote for Rad. cap
That would probably be the very first thing I would look at also, next checking the % of coolant to water, followed by air bleeding.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-23-2006, 07:51 PM
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Okiedriver, make sure that you've let the car sit for hours before you attempt to open up the system. Not only will the cooling system be extra hot, if you open the radiator cap when the fluid inside is still hot, it'll spew out and burn you. You need to let the car sit for quite a few hours before opening up the system.

Years ago I had some cooling issues where my car was overheating and I had thought that 2 hours was sufficient in letting it cool, but when I opened the cap, I experienced a nice burning shower of green fluid all over my clothes and face. Idiot me.
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