'01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why
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Thread: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

  1. #1
    FRESHMAN ROVER
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    '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    My '01 RR keeps overheating and I cannot figure out why. Here are the details...in easier to read note form:

    - Just had head gasket, valve job and RH exhaust manifold replaced mid-April

    - May 4th Car overheats. Turns out it's a bad water pump. So had it replaced. Drives fine without issue until...

    - May 22nd car overheats again, but can't tell why. Had it towed to the shop. They said it was the thermostat. I just had the thermostat replaced on Feb 2. But did it again anyway. If I took the cap off of the coolant tank and ran the engine after about 30 seconds of idle it would boil over. So after thermostat gets replaced drives fine without issue until...

    - May 31st, car overheats again. Turns out it was, I am told, a bad cap on the coolant tank letting air into the system. New cap put on. Car drives fine until...

    - June 6th, small radiator hose that goes from top of rad to tank springs a small leak. So I buy a new hose and replace it myself. Later that day car overheats again. Have to have it towed to shop. Mechanic says, like with the coolant cap, I got air in the system when I changed the hose. He uses something called an Air Lift tool (?) that fills the tank with coolant and gets any air out of the system. After that car runs fine until...

    - June 15th, car overheats again, when I am in a drive-thru. I pull into the parking lot and let it cool for about 10 minutes, no leaks, and then drive it to girlfriend's place. I stay there for about 7 hours and then head home. Did not overheat on the 10 mile/20 minute drive home.

    - Today, June 17th, I didn't really drive the car that far, only a few miles locally on the 16th and it was fine. But today drove much farther and it overheated again. I would just pull over wait about 15-20 minutes until temp gauge was back in the middle then could drive home. Did it twice today...but limped it home since it was late on a Saturday and didn't have anywhere to tow it to.

    Mechanic did say he checked the head gasket and that it's fine. So new thermostat, new water pump, new coolant tank cap, new temp sensors (done earlier this year), no leaks......what else could it be?? If it's air getting into the system, then how??

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  3. #2
    FRESHMAN ROVER wooly's Avatar
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    is the viscous fan working properly.

  4. #3
    JUNIOR ROVER Daf11e's Avatar
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    The only time you mention a place was a drive through...Where were the other locations.
    How's your radiator! Could be a circulation issue.
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  6. #4
    SOPHOMORE ROVER
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    How's your radiator! Could be a circulation issue.

    I'm with daf11e sounds like possibly a locked radiator, it's a common issue, did you try sticking the heater on full blast to cool it down ?
    I once bought a p38 with rad problems, drove it home at no more than 50mph, with all the windows open and heater going full blast,, for 70 miles in 23-degrees heat...
    you could remove the viscous and feel the rad to see if it's blocked.

  7. #5
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    Quote Originally Posted by wooly View Post
    is the viscous fan working properly.
    I'm not sure? How would I test that. One of the tow truck drivers suggested that. I did mention it to the mechanic the first time it overheated (I believe when we thought it was the thermostat) and he said it's not that. But now, with all these other times of overheating since, I don't know...could be now.



    Quote Originally Posted by Daf11e View Post
    The only time you mention a place was a drive through...Where were the other locations.
    How's your radiator! Could be a circulation issue.
    All the other times were when I was just driving....especially yesterday. Just on the freeway. Not sure how the radiator is. Was replaced about 3-4 years ago. How would I know if it's the radiator not circulating properly?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris no 10 View Post
    How's your radiator! Could be a circulation issue.


    I'm with daf11e sounds like possibly a locked radiator, it's a common issue, did you try sticking the heater on full blast to cool it down ?
    I once bought a p38 with rad problems, drove it home at no more than 50mph, with all the windows open and heater going full blast,, for 70 miles in 23-degrees heat...
    you could remove the viscous and feel the rad to see if it's blocked.
    I have been driving with the heater full blast....which is a joy with it being like 110 degrees outside here. Maybe it helps me just get a bit farther(?)
    OK...I'll leave that to the mechanic this week....will mention that. I have to find a new one...at least for now. Mine is on holiday for 3 weeks now of course.

    Thank you for all the suggestions guys! Much appreciated!

  8. #6
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    You mentioned you just did a headgasket job. As a interim fix, did you ever use the coolant additive that's advertised as liquid headgasket sealer? If you have, it probably clogged up your radiator.

    A clogged radiator still flows relatively well, so by flowing water through it, I couldn't tell whether it was restricted or not. Another telltale sign is the level of coolant goes up in the expansion tank. If the level goes up quite a bit, you have a clogged radiator.
    02 P38
    SoCal, USA

  9. #7
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    Quote Originally Posted by TheoR View Post
    You mentioned you just did a headgasket job. As a interim fix, did you ever use the coolant additive that's advertised as liquid headgasket sealer? If you have, it probably clogged up your radiator.

    A clogged radiator still flows relatively well, so by flowing water through it, I couldn't tell whether it was restricted or not. Another telltale sign is the level of coolant goes up in the expansion tank. If the level goes up quite a bit, you have a clogged radiator.

    I did use one of those...a few times too (since it sort of worked and the manufacturer guarantees it works, so since it only sort of worked, they sent me another bottle for free). I used it a. because the only symptom of my head gasket leak was a relatively minor coolant leak and b. I was planning on just selling it. I changed my mind on selling it and the coolant leak became much worse, so did the gasket job. So yeah...great thought Theo!

    And coolant does rise up in the coolant tank almost to the top when it's overheating! So very well could be a clogged rad.

    Is there a solution to this aside from getting a new radiator? Some sort of flush? Or do I need a new rad?

  10. #8
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    how well dose it start , it could be a bad earth from the motor to the frame . dose the temp gauge read hi all the time or dose it just rise up and boil , is it actually boiling (steam , releasing out the cap etc) or is it the alarm warning you.

  11. #9
    JUNIOR ROVER
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    Quote Originally Posted by thesloan View Post
    I did use one of those...a few times too (since it sort of worked and the manufacturer guarantees it works, so since it only sort of worked, they sent me another bottle for free). I used it a. because the only symptom of my head gasket leak was a relatively minor coolant leak and b. I was planning on just selling it. I changed my mind on selling it and the coolant leak became much worse, so did the gasket job. So yeah...great thought Theo!

    And coolant does rise up in the coolant tank almost to the top when it's overheating! So very well could be a clogged rad.

    Is there a solution to this aside from getting a new radiator? Some sort of flush? Or do I need a new rad?
    Well, I did the same thing with mine years ago. So, you're not the first one to think that the liquid sealer can't be all that harmful and end up replacing the radiator.

    I suggest that you buy aftermarket radiator off the internet. I bought Nissins (sic?) radiator off the net for like $200, shipping included. This was years ago, and still functioning all right, so I wouldn't be scared of aftermarket brands.
    02 P38
    SoCal, USA

  12. #10
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    Quote Originally Posted by mad as View Post
    how well dose it start , it could be a bad earth from the motor to the frame . dose the temp gauge read hi all the time or dose it just rise up and boil , is it actually boiling (steam , releasing out the cap etc) or is it the alarm warning you.

    Starts just fine. Temp gauge does not read hot all the time. Yesterday, after sitting all night, it runs fine for about 10 or so miles (guessing) and then when it would start to overheat, I'd pull over and sit for about 15-20 minutes. I'd then start it up again when guage was back in the middle. It would then go for another 5 or so miles before guage jumps into the red again. It was also about 110 yesterday....then about 103 at 730pm when I was driving home and had to pull over twice on the way home to let it cool down. And when I open the hood to take a look at the engine after it starts to overheat, coolant is boiling over and leaking out of the tank/cap.

  13. #11
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    Quote Originally Posted by TheoR View Post
    Well, I did the same thing with mine years ago. So, you're not the first one to think that the liquid sealer can't be all that harmful and end up replacing the radiator.

    I suggest that you buy aftermarket radiator off the internet. I bought Nissins (sic?) radiator off the net for like $200, shipping included. This was years ago, and still functioning all right, so I wouldn't be scared of aftermarket brands.
    Yeah, figured just buying a new rad would be the sensible choice here. I've seen what that liquid sealer looks like when it seeps out and dries in spots. Can only imagine what that gunk has done to the inside of the rad. I think that stuff was also the reason for the demise of two water pumps. And thanks for the recommend on Nissins....I happen to have a large credit on amazon.com and saw a Nissins rad there....so that gives me more confidence in buying that one, over an OEM, or an Atlantic British one for $300. I'd consider Scotty's alum rad....but honestly not sure how long I'm going to keep this car. Even Scotty is selling his p38s!

  14. #12
    SITE ADMINISTRATOR RRToadHall's Avatar
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    Nissen has been around for ages and has been shown to be a great quality product. Behr is another top quality brand. Locally I've used Performance Radiator for all sorts of makes and models. Always a direct fit with no issues.
    Common sense is not a gift, it is a punishment.
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  15. #13
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    So when this mechanic told me that there was "air in the system" after I changed the small radiator hose and later that day it overheated....was that BS? And when he said air got into the system due to a bad coolant tank cap, BS too? What he would do is drain the coolant and fill it up again with this tool I believe he called an "air lift." He told me it gets all the air out of the system, as it fills with coolant. When it overheated later on in the day from when I changed the hose that sprung a leak, he said to squeeze the upper radiator hose and if bubbles came into the tank then I have air in the system. It did...I mean it was easy to squeeze that hose and as I did it air bubbles would form in the coolant tank.

    Just wondering if all along it was poor circulation in the radiator....and not air in the system....to which he charged me $80 each time to flush out the air and refill the system with coolant using that tool. It seemed to fix the problem, at least for about a week or so....until a new issue would arise.

  16. #14
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    First you need to ensure there is permanent circulation from radiator to the heater expans barrel behind the fuse box. Secondly it is highly possible, that you have air bubble in the system. The smallest leaking can cause this, and you maybe will not see anything, cause it s small and lnly 0.1-0.4 l fluid is missing and the bubble is there. Especially if the leaking is in placds like on the bottom of the throttle valve, or anything close go the dngine where it is immediately waporising and hard to detect.
    One time I had after every start, latest after 2km a stop due a boiling water, pressed few time the upper hose of the radiator with running engine to get out air and then it was ok even for 300km ride. But every day after the start it was ghe same procedure - always did ride with a barrel water in car.
    I am sure, you have a very little leaking somewhere, find it, get out all ghe air, and will be ok. But fidst check the circulation...

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  17. #15
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    Re: '01 P38 keeps overheating and can't figure out why

    Quote Originally Posted by thesloan View Post
    So when this mechanic told me that there was "air in the system" after I changed the small radiator hose and later that day it overheated....was that BS? And when he said air got into the system due to a bad coolant tank cap, BS too? What he would do is drain the coolant and fill it up again with this tool I believe he called an "air lift." He told me it gets all the air out of the system, as it fills with coolant. When it overheated later on in the day from when I changed the hose that sprung a leak, he said to squeeze the upper radiator hose and if bubbles came into the tank then I have air in the system. It did...I mean it was easy to squeeze that hose and as I did it air bubbles would form in the coolant tank.

    Just wondering if all along it was poor circulation in the radiator....and not air in the system....to which he charged me $80 each time to flush out the air and refill the system with coolant using that tool. It seemed to fix the problem, at least for about a week or so....until a new issue would arise.
    Your RR very well may have had air in the system, but probably not related to the overheating issue.

    For one thing, if you had air in the system, you would notice the coolant level dropping in the expansion tank, not rising.

    Overheating due to a clogged radiator is notorious for being random in its timing as to when it decides to overheat the system. The car would run fine for days without any issue, then it just hits out of the blue. The timing that the overheating seemed to be fixed after a flush was probably just a coincidence.
    02 P38
    SoCal, USA

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