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Old 11-26-2005, 11:44 AM   #1
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My 88 SSE doesn't throw very good heat. I put in a new thermostat and it didn't help. The gage on the dash will barely reach the first line unless it'* summer time. How high is the gage supposed to go? Should it go above that first line? I feel the engine is not running hot because the upper radiator hose is not very hot. I can hold my hand on it and it doesnt hurt. I even blocked 3/4'* of the radiator off with cardboard wich barely helped. Do these things run that cool? If I sit in traffic the gage will go just a hair over the first line and even then it takes a long time to get up there. At this point it gives pretty decent heat but going down the road the gage drops well below that first line and the heat gets much cooler. I don't know the actual temperature the engine is reaching but I guess I should find that out first.
Does the air conditioning affect how the heating system should function? My A/C doesn't work. It needs to be charged but this is a winter car for right now so I don't care. I just want good heat. I know it sounds wierd but does the A/c need to be working in order for the heater to function properly?

Anyone have any ides?
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Old 11-26-2005, 03:28 PM   #2
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A cardboard in front of the rad? lol.

Seriously, yes, they are supposed to have toasty warm heat comming out of the vents. The upper rad hose is supposed to be hot to the touch. Guess there is a problem here. You could have a bad waterpump. I could say clogged radiator, or clogged heater core, but if the rad were clogged, you'd still get heat in the heater core. If the heater core were bad, the rad hose should be toasty warm.

You could try the waterpump. They are easy to change, and I bet junkyard units are cheap too.
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Old 11-26-2005, 04:01 PM   #3
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I doubt the WP is the problem since the car isn't getting up to temp, not overheating.

You should see between 1/4 and 1/2 on the gauge. Since the upper rad hose never gets too hot to touch [and it should], that leads me to believe the tstat is stuck open. I know you said you replaced it, but get another one and make sure there is a gasket between the tstat and the housing [not just the oring between the housing and the intake.. but replace that too because that can be a cause of leaks if it doesn't fit right].

Pick up a 195* tstat, not a 180*, since you said this is your winter car. Along with the new tstat gasket [goes between the tstat and the housing], and a new oring [goes between housing and intake {seals the whole assembly from ext. leaks}].
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Old 11-26-2005, 06:54 PM   #4
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The thermostat was the first thing I went for. I even boiled it in a pan of water and watched it open at around 200 degrees, according to my meat thermometer, that was in the same pan of water.

Now about that gasket thingy. I remember questioning that when I replaced the stat. The gasket, the one betwen the stat and manifold, was a paper one and was torn. I think I removed it at the time, not sure, can't remember, because the new stat didn't come with one and I couldnt see any real reason for it. The o ring is enough to seal it and it does'nt leak. But if there is a clearnce problem because of that gasket not being there and letting coolant by, like a by pass so to speak, then maybe that'* the issue. Hmm! I'm going back to the service manual.

The water pump was replaced a little over a year ago because it was leaking. No problem there.

Thanks.
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Old 11-26-2005, 07:43 PM   #5
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your air acuator motor is either stuck or clogged with leaves.
Pull the glove box out, its right in there.
You should see the motor go left to right when you change the temp from hot to cold...
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Old 11-26-2005, 08:24 PM   #6
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betcha any money it'* that gasket. grab a new one.. i remember hearing it was a problem with low heat issues and early 88s not having it. my 89 has one, and it'* rubber. Go to your local advanced auto, i believe jrs3800 got his there [my factory one was still good].

SSEBONNE: I don't believe that is the case, because the engine isn't getting up to temp, not so much a heating issue. It'* just that the coolant isn't hot enough to heat anything up.
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:19 PM   #7
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Opensourceguy.

Thanks for that headsup.

I will check that soon. Sounds like your on to something. Last year when I bought this car I was working at a GM dealership (24 years worth) and I don't remember being able to find a listing on that internal gasket. Maybe it was a bulletin or a later, like 89', design change. I will investigate that some more.

Like you said. The engine should be getting hotter. In the hot summer I only saw the gage go a little beyond the quarter mark and thought that was odd. I would think it should still get hotter. It should eventually get up to the halfway mark in the hot summer months even if the thermostat was stuck open, I would think. I know it has a replacement radiator in it but it doesn't look big. I thought maybe it had too large of a radiator but it does not appear that way. I will see if I can get another reading from a temperature gun just to make sure the gage in the dash is accurate but it still seems like it is running too cool as I can hold my hand on that upper radiator hose with no pain.

Perseverance, I shall prevail.
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Old 11-27-2005, 08:59 AM   #8
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As far as summer temps, that'* normal. You should be seeing about 1/4-1/2 on the gauge. Past 1/2 and you have a cooling system problem and you may be overheating your engine. Even in the winter time you should see between 1/4-1/2 on the gauge, it just may take longer to get there.

As far as the radiator goes, big or small as long as it came from an H-body [Bonneville, LeSebre, 88] it'll work just fine. There are 2 and 3 cores available depending on year and trim model. My memory is failing me on which one got which, but I don't believe any 87-90 got one, but the 91 SSE may have had it. Either way if the one you have fits, it'* appropriate for you. Even if it were 'too big' it probably wouldn't keep the car that cool, considering the thermostat should regulate it.

For the 'grab the upper radiator hose' test goes, when the tstat pops [I can't hear it pop when the engine is running, maybe you can if you listen more closely than I did], the upper rad hose should be hot. Maybe not too hot to touch, but holding it there for 5+ seconds may start to be uncomfortable. I'm young so maybe my hands aren't quite as tough as your'*. It seems the tstat pops on my car right around when the gauge gets to the first line [100*], and the temp keeps climbing quickly from that point on.

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-27-2005, 02:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opensourceguy
As far as summer temps, that'* normal. You should be seeing about 1/4-1/2 on the gauge. Past 1/2 and you have a cooling system problem and you may be overheating your engine. Even in the winter time you should see between 1/4-1/2 on the gauge, it just may take longer to get there.
past 1/2 dosent indicate a problem, its 3/4 u have to worry about, in the summer idling mine will find its way to 3/4 while idling and as soon as i tap the gas it goes back down, you can easily go past 1/2 in just about every car, its a matter of airflow, not a cooling problem.

(and yes i have a new radiator/ 195 thermostat/ water pump/ coolant sensors)
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Old 11-27-2005, 08:07 PM   #10
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I know there is an issue with my car once it goes past 1/2 [summer]. I have the original rad, original WP, everything else original except the tstat, it'* a 180*. That may be why, but even with the car just sitting and idling and not moving it still won't climb up. It may vary from car to car, but I believe the general consensus is 3/4 is too high. If it stops at 1/2 and doesn't keep climbing then you are alright, but if keeps climbing for the love of god save that poor engine and shut her down!
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