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#621388 - 08/24/10 08:33 PM Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6
kamzoil Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/30/08
Posts: 1274
Loc: the great southwest USA
Overheating 1996 Buick Regal, 3.8L V6 (GM 3800 Series II Engine), 160K miles.

Can someone tell me where the thermostat housing is on this car?

I want to change the thermostat but I can't figure out where the thermostat housing is.

I bought this car used and am starting to track down an intermittent overheating problem. Often, when stopped at an intersection, The temp guage shows the temperature climbing high. It goes back to the normal temperature once the car starts moving again.

One time I pulled over and turned off the car and the coolant reservoir overflowed.
Anyway the problem is intermittent. The coolant seems to be circulating but I'm not completely sure.

I have verified the radiator fan turns on, though it seems to be turning on late

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#621389 - 08/24/10 08:39 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: kamzoil]
Amateur Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 01/26/08
Posts: 386
Loc: Minnesota
I would check to make sure the fan turns on at the right temperature and is able run at full speed. It also could be the cooling system needs to be flushed. Google 1996 Regal Thermostat. That should point you in the right direction.

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#621390 - 08/24/10 08:52 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: kamzoil]
BillJeffy Offline
Don't Know Squat
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/02/06
Posts: 9354
Loc: USA
.
.
Follow the lower radiator hose back to the engine.....
Thermostat housing should be there.


"It goes back to the normal temperature once the car starts moving again. "

Will it go back down by simply holding the engine at a higher rpm?

.
_________________________
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Just Common Sense......
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err....I'm not a Doctor, but I'll take a LOOK ! !

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#621391 - 08/25/10 12:57 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: BillJeffy]
kamzoil Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/30/08
Posts: 1274
Loc: the great southwest USA
Quote:

Follow the lower radiator hose back to the engine.....
Thermostat housing should be there.


That is the first thing I did. The lower radiator hose goes from the lower radiator to a connection on the engine block near the water pump. This spot is on the side by the serpentine belt and below an assembly where all six spark plug wires originate from. I don't see the hose attached to something with an oval bulge with bolts or anything that I recognize as a thermostat housing.


Quote:

"It goes back to the normal temperature once the car starts moving again. "
Will it go back down by simply holding the engine at a higher rpm?


I don't know. I'll keep that in mind next time it overheats. I didn't occur to me to try that. If the a higher rpm causes the temperature to go back down, what would that signify?

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#621392 - 08/25/10 12:57 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: Amateur]
kamzoil Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/30/08
Posts: 1274
Loc: the great southwest USA
Quote:

I would check to make sure the fan turns on at the right temperature and is able run at full speed.


It seems to me that the fan is not turning on early enough. The car overheats before the fan turns on. When the fan is running it seems to be at a normal full speed.

Quote:

Google 1996 Regal Thermostat. That should point you in the right direction.


Doing that.

Quote:

It also could be the cooling system needs to be flushed.


I plan on doing that.

We've put 10 or 15k miles on the car and It was only recently we started to notice the overheating while waiting at intersections. I was told by the guy I bought the car from that the water pump had recently been replaced and the radiator has recently been repaired or replaced. The water hoses seem to be in good condition and I don't think it is leaking at all. All that implies the coolant is not that old and the thermostat may not be that old either.

I was going to change out the thermostat and flush the system anyway for general maintenance. Changing out a thermostat has always been easy in the past and here I can't even find it.

How can I tell that the coolant is circulating?

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#621393 - 08/25/10 06:57 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: kamzoil]
kamzoil Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/30/08
Posts: 1274
Loc: the great southwest USA
Well I was finally able to take another look at the car. The thermostat housing looks connected to the upper radiator hose where it connects to the engine, under a large plastic cover.

The large plastic cover on the engine says "V6 3800 Series II" on it. The cover is fastened to the engine at the oil fill tube in the front of the engine compartment. The thermostat housing is under that cover.

Does anyone know how to remove the cover? It looks like I would have to remove the oil fill tube to remove it and I am concerned I will break it.

Edit: Did some googling and found this here. I hope it works.
Quote:

Remove the engine cover by turning the oil cap to loosen, then without pulling it off, continue to twist it counterclockwise, when it stops completely, pull the oil cap AND oil cap tube away from the engine. You can then lift the engine cover off of the engine



Edit: I tried it and the oil cap tube with oil cap came off easily without problems. The plastic engine cover lifted right off after that.

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#621394 - 08/25/10 08:30 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: kamzoil]
BillJeffy Offline
Don't Know Squat
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/02/06
Posts: 9354
Loc: USA
.
.
Oooops, sorry, though it was lower.....

Let me rephrase.....follow radiator hose - on drivers side -
back to water outlet......stat's in there.....

But it looks like you've got it.............

." If the a higher rpm causes the temperature to go back down, what would that signify? "

T'stat....maybe
low coolant....maybe
Water pump bad....more than maybe.........

Check 'em all

.
_________________________
.
.
Just Common Sense......
.
.
err....I'm not a Doctor, but I'll take a LOOK ! !

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#621395 - 08/26/10 04:30 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: BillJeffy]
kamzoil Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/30/08
Posts: 1274
Loc: the great southwest USA
Thanks. I see.

I have questions about coolant. The car is a 1996 with a V6 3800 Series II engine. It says "add only silicate free orange coolant meeting GM specification 6277M."

There is a lot of stuff on the internet about all sorts of issues with the orange colored DEX-COOL stuff and I'm confused to say the least. I'm inclined to stay away from DEX-COOL and go with Universal Antifreeze. I have some Peak Long Life coolant which says it is "for all makes and models" and "Mix with any color antifreeze." Any advice or comments here?

I removed the radiator cap and found it to be covered with this orange brown gunk coating that is full of sandy grit. Similar to this pic I found on the internet.


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#621396 - 08/26/10 08:29 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: kamzoil]
BillJeffy Offline
Don't Know Squat
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/02/06
Posts: 9354
Loc: USA
.
.
Eeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww............

DexCool, and it's never been flushed/cleaned/replaced...serviced.

You can try one of the typical flush solutions, and you're probably gonna havta
do it three or more times.....IF you manage to get all the slime out.

If you can't get it 'clean' where you can see,
you can imagine what's left in the block, heater core, etc.

Time for a professional opinion / inspection / leak test
to see if there's been any damage to the manifold gaskets
and any leaking in that area....

.
_________________________
.
.
Just Common Sense......
.
.
err....I'm not a Doctor, but I'll take a LOOK ! !

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#621397 - 08/27/10 04:27 PM Re: Overheating 1996 Buick 3.8L V6 [Re: BillJeffy]
kamzoil Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/30/08
Posts: 1274
Loc: the great southwest USA
I've been spending some time reading about DEX-COOL issues. It seems that GM marketed it as a 5 year / 150,000 mile maintenance free coolant.

To summarize and simplify what I am reading: It seems that air in the cooling system will interact with the dex-cool coolant. This will cause it to crystallize and turn into gooey sticky muddy sludge. GM claims that the end consumer is responsible to make sure that their sealed "maintenance free" cooling system is kept topped-off with coolant and without any air pockets in the system. They claim if you do not remove the radiator cap and directly check the coolant level you are guilty of coolant neglect. This is unreasonable. The old green coolant didn't turn into sludge whenever the coolant level was low. This is not coolant neglect. This looks much more like coolant FAILURE!

If you look in the car maintenance repair manual it says to check the coolant level by looking at the level in the overflow recovery bottle. It also cautions to NOT remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot. I think it is unreasonable to expect the average consumer to have to remove the radiator cap weekly or even monthly.

My mistake was to trust the recovery bottle level. I believed that meant the radiator was full. I was pretty surprised to find it not fully full.

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