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Car Overheated!

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I was driving for about 45 minutes, 30 mins was on the motorway. Was driving through a busy town stuck in traffic for 15 minutes, Next thing you know I felt bubbling, through the pedals, then steam was coming from drivers side of engine. Engine stalled, I restarted as the temp gauge was just below halfway, Pulled up into a carpark and coolant was leaking from the expansion bottle. I topped it back up with about a litre of water as the expansion tank was full after putting it in. Managed to drive it for 15 minutes to get to a local garage.

My thought were head gasket failure, But no gunk under oil filler cap, cant see no water in the oil when I removed the dipstick. I was told it weak antifreeze, so not sure if the thermostat had rusted up due to the cold weather??

The garage I went to reckon its early stages of head gasket failure??

Any ideas on what to do next as they quoted me £300 to do it and I'm not totally convinced as of yet.

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Things to find out is if your thermostat is stuck CLOSED , as this will casue it to overheat. On your age of car it would be the second thing you should check , overheating can cause damage to the heat gasket. Check all your radiator hose's are getting hot after the car has reached temperature , it can also be a failed expansion tank lid so you might want to check and replace that first.

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any particular reason they suggested 'early sign of head gasket failure'

i.e did they test for it

take it its a petrol engine, if so, easy enough test for it in a garage, they just test for gasses in expansion tank.

could be stat/cooling fan/blockage/leak or indeed, head gasket...let it cool down, top up system.

run the engine up to temp, can check for stat problem if bottom hose is significantly cooler than top hose, if possible check radiator fins for cool spots which will indicate a blockage.

if hose is hot, rad is evenly hot, check to see fan cut in before coolant overheats...plus keep an eye out for signs of leaks,

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The garage looked in the expansion tank, he dipped his finger in it and he reckons there was water/oil in the coolant but I looked myself and I cant see it in the coolant. I've checked the oil filler cap and there's no creamy gunk on it. I'll have to check the thermostat and radiator

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wouldnt rely on their diasgnosis then :)

oil floats to top on expansion bottle, so if oil is in there, you should see it..not necessarily creamy either, may just be black, but either way you will see it.

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Its most likely just the expansion tank cap. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've heard garages fitting new head gaskets only to find the car still over heats. All due to the expansion tank cap.

If its not holding the pressure the coolant will boil at a much lower temperature. It will also not circulate properly causing hot a cold spots in the block. That's why it can overheat while your temp gage still shows normal temperature.

If it turns out to be something else, then its only cost a few quid. It should be changed regularly anyway.

Good luck

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