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Discussion Starter #1
HI Everyone:
My 1988 Spider is never good on cold starts, and especially as it's been sitting two weeks while I have been traveling, I started it up this evening and allowed it to warm-up.
Here's the weird part: When I looked again, it had pumped half of the car's coolant onto the garage floor through an overflowing overflow tank; squirting out through the top of the tank. Inside, the car was approaching major overheating, so I quickly shut down the car.
Question is, WHAT would make the coolant overflow tank overflow rather than to cirulate through the engine? My thermostat is just about a year old and has been working fine until today. Any ideas?
Thanks
Andy
 

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Gulp,... I sure hope I'm wrong, but it sounds like you may have an air pocket, which would have been caused by a blown head gasket... All the symptoms point to that... The head gasket blew while you were driving and when the car cooled down, the air pocket formed... Then what you describe will happen when you go to start her up...

Best regards,
 

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Sorry, but Enrique is probably right.
Do not start the engine until you have checked the oil stick and filling cap. If any trace of oil there, you ruin the chank bearings by starting and running the engine.
Erik
 

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I concur - a failed head gasket would be at the top of my list. And if there is any evidence of coolant in the oil (it might show up as 'chocolate milkshake' looking stuff on the dipstick) the DO NOT run the engine. Coolant is a lousy lubricant and will destroy the bearings quickly.

I would suggest a leak down test. You can D-I-Y or have the car towed to a mechanic. A leak down test pressurizes the cylinders and will reveal any faults - leaky valves, bad rings or a failed head gasket. You (or your mechanic) can also pressurize the cooling system to search for faults but that uses much lower pressure and may not reveal a failed head gasket.

If it is not the head gasket I'm scratching my head trying to figure out what else to consider. I suppose a failed closed thermostat would cause overheating but I doubt it'd cause the coolant to get expelled the way you describe.

Maybe, if you are lucky it is a fault in a hose? But I doubt it...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
hi you guys and thanks nevertheless!
Could you tell me how an "air pocket" would behave, or where it would be so that I can picture it better? Thanks. I have noticed that when I turn off the car after a long drive, I will hear a "glug-glug" noise and (upon further inspection) that it is coolant going back into the overflow tank. I had thought it was normal until now. Also, sometimes when I drive with the heater on, i hear a "gurgling" noise coming from the heater. I did suspect air in the system and have just been bleeding it with the bleeder at the top, and with the heater on, engine running, waiting for the thermostat to open, squeezing hoses etc.
Thus far I have never detected coolant in the oil but I will now check when I get home this evening and report back to the list. There have been some "interesting" cooling issues with this car that in spite of my SCRUPULOUS management of the cooling system (e.g. new radiator, thermostat and heater core, fresh clean coolant, correct mixtures, distilled water, proper bleeding of system), I have still had ongoing issues with overheating. The car has always run hot. On the positive side, if a blown head gasket actually HAS been the problem all along, and if fixing it resolves the ongoing cooling system anomalies, that would actually be (in a weird way) a GOOD thing as i could put this issue to bed. I will keep you posted
 

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Sounds like a stuck t/stat to me. Not to mention air in the cooling system (possibly the result of said stuck stat).
 

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Could be the head gasket leaking compression / combustion into the cooling system - that explains the reoccurring air bobbling your hear despite of repeated bleedings.
Sniff to the cooling fluid, if it smells of exhaust gasses, that the cause.
Good luck
Erik
 

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... I have noticed that when I turn off the car after a long drive, I will hear a "glug-glug" noise ...
If the car seemed to be driving fine (no overheating) when you parked it and then you heard this "glug-glug", then I'll bet it is a blown head gasket... By any chance, when you were driving, did notice if it seemed just a tad sluggish when pressing the accelerator at highway speeds or under load? If so, that would further confirm the head gasket problem.

I hope that papajam is right and it's just a stuck thermostat, but the "glug-glug" as soon as it is parked after driving, then the coolant shooting out when the car is not even warmed up, plus the car then overheating like crazy with the coolant still shooting out, are all exactly what happens with a blown head gasket... (At least, that's what happens in a series 3 Spider.)

Best regards,
 

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...then the coolant shooting out when the car is not even warmed up,...
I read it as the coolant overflows after the engine was warmed up. Makes a big difference in the possible causes.
The gulg-glug sound is actually quite normal for a cooling system that has a bit of air in it.
If the head gasket is bad, it may be the result of the stat sticking closed to begin with.
 

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I read it as the coolant overflows after the engine was warmed up. Makes a big difference in the possible causes.
...
Yes, it could be that the coolant overflowed after the engine warmed up, and it would make a difference... I did interpret it as this happening while the car was warming up... Of course, I don't know, and I'm not sure Andy knows, 'cause he wasn't watching it while it was warming up... (He said "it's been sitting two weeks while I have been traveling, I started it up this evening and allowed it to warm-up. ... When I looked again") That's typical with anyone who is letting the engine warm-up, and also, unfortunately, the whole scene that Andy described is typical of how one finds out about the "problem"... Nevertheless, papajam, I do know that you have a lot more experience than me, so I'm still hoping you're right...

Best regards,
Enrique

P.S. You still need to get access to a '87 Spider?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hi you guys:
I had gone upstairs for about 4-5 (temp registering just above cold, NO coolant leak at that stage), and then came back to find the scenario I described. When I get home tonight I will report on both coolant "sniff test" (for exhaust smell) and check for any traces of watery stuff on the oil dipstick. Crossing fingers and if I have not said it before THANKS so much everyone for your help! I began the day with a complete anomaly and we'e narrowed-down the possible causes at this stage!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
upon further examination...

Hi you guys:
Last night I checked the oil dipstick and saw just clean oil without bubbles, residue or foam. However, I looked closely at the coolant in the overflow reservoir, and it has a brownish tint and I do detect exhaust smell (along with coolant smell too, of course).
I have to travel again next week, so I will mull over my options while the car rests in the garage, but my next step will be to take it (towing better than driving) to my mechanic for his opinion.
AND (of course) I will report back to the list.
THANKS so much for all of your help
Cheers
Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #14
This must be it!

Well, I pulled my thermostat and boiled the daylights outta it, and NO open! Installed new thermostat, works great and no more overheating or pumping of coolant onto garage floor. Drove car about 100 miles today, some stops in heavy traffic and all works great.
THANKS for keeping the faith with me and
Cheers
Andy

P.S. single downside: in checking/bleeding coolant at water pump screw, overtightened (apparently) the screw! Now will have to remove water pump to tap-out screw! Dumb me!
 

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Oh, this is good to hear Andy! (In spite of the screw problem...)

Best regards,
 

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In spite of the screw problem...
Hur hur hur hur!

I mean, yeah, good deal Andy. Wouldn't want you to have to go back to Alfettas :)
 

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Well, I pulled my thermostat and boiled the daylights outta it, and NO open! Installed new thermostat, works great and no more overheating or pumping of coolant onto garage floor. Drove car about 100 miles today, some stops in heavy traffic and all works great.
THANKS for keeping the faith with me and
Cheers
Andy

P.S. single downside: in checking/bleeding coolant at water pump screw, overtightened (apparently) the screw! Now will have to remove water pump to tap-out screw! Dumb me!
Whew! Talk about a cliff hanger.....glad you have no blown gasket!
 
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