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Overheating ?


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Hi, I started having problems a few days ago. I only noticed when the car went into engine management mode and I had to crawl home, luckily I wan't too far away.

When the warning light came on I noticed that the temprature gage was into (and slightly beyond) the red. I came here and checked if anyone else was having this problem and found answers pointing towards the thermostat. I tried driving with the blowers on full and the heating on full but they stayed cold.

The temprature reaches the red within 5 mins of driving.

What ever the answer I need to take the car in but I'm just hoping someone can tell me what the problem actually is and give me a rough idea of how hard this is going to hit my pocket.


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Sounds like you have a leak somewhere if the heating blows cold and the engine getting over temp in short order. Have you checked the expansion tank?

Sent from my iPad using Ford OC

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Hi Dave, thank for the reply.

Please treat me as a complete noob regarding motors because essentially I am dullard when it comes to cars.

I had spotted a damp patch under my car before so you could be right. Could you explain something to me though. Lets say I have had a leak and my car is over heating because of it, why would the blowers not get hot ?

I'm going to check the tank now.

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I'm not sure of the technical ins and outs but as the engine coolant warms up its used to heat the hot air that gets blown through the vents in the car, hence the heating is non existent until the engine has warmed up. A mate with a different car had low coolant and had exactly the same problem. Just stop the leak and top up. While you're at it you might as well drain all the old fluid and replace with new, just make sure you use the correct coolant and the same colour as the existing stuff. Some cars take blue, some red. My 2002 fiesta 1.25 takes blue, my 2012 focus 1.6 ecoboost takes red.

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Have you checked the coolant level under the bonnet?

If its full and the heaters aren't getting hot that's not good!

Could be an airlock (but these are self bleeding systems I think) or maybe the waterpump is jammed. Definitely check levels first though.

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Hi Jimmy, I'd avoid driving the car untill you get it sorted as a cooling system fault can cause a lot of damage to an engine.

However you can do some checks yourself as it could be something simple

1.remove the oil filler cap and see if there's any mayonnaise like gunk on there, if there is then you could have a blown head gasket, and will need a major wallet hit to fix it. If its clear, then you can put it back on and do a couple of checks and maybe pinpoint the problem.

2 check the coolant level in the header tank, it will probably be empty. fill it to the level marked on the bottle,Just use water for this as it will be a waste of coolant if you have a leak, then start the engine with the cap off and run it for just a couple of minutes.

3 Check the level again and top up if needed. replace the cap and start up again.

let the car tick over and come up to temperature, meanwhile have a good look around the engine to see if there are any signs of leaks around all the hoses and below the radiator.

Listen at the pulleys for any grinding or squeel noises and look for wetness as the water pump is located in there behind one of the pulleys

4 As the temp rises above the middle of the gauge watch for the fan kicking in if it dosen't and the temp is still rising then turn off the car.

There are a few reasons why the fan won't kick in

a) the coolant isn't ciculating

b) the coolant temp sensor is gubbed

c) the fan itself is gubbed

On the matter of circulating a faulty thermostat could be a cause

it could also be a faulty waterpump

you don't mention what engine is in your car but I'm aware that some can suffer from cooling problems due to a faulty tensioner that acts on the belt that drives the waterpump. I've also seen waterpumps fail and sieze

feel the two big hoses that go into the radiator, the one at the pulley
side should be warm and the one near the battery should feel cooler if the coolant is circulating.

There's not much you can do to check the fan and coolant sensor if you have no mechanical knowledge.

Your garage will check the car before doing any repairs and should be able to tell you the costs before going ahead

Hope this helps

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Head gaskets are rare on the focus and unlikely in you're case the hose at the battery should be hot that's straight from the engine and the one by the pulley will be cooler...the system is pressurised so a simple leaky coolant cap can cause these issues as well as wiring check that all the wiring is fine and not being melted just fixed a fiesta with the same issue and it was the wiring connector that had fallen against the manifold...

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Hi Colin,

Thanks for the comprehensive explanation. My motor is a 1.8. I have checked and there is no coolant in the tank Pointing towards a leak. I will take your advice and follow the steps you stated. I think this may be a small leak as over the last month I've seen wet patches under the car but it was colourless and odourless so assumed it was either there when I parked or just condensation dripping (I know it's nieve but I'm a glass half full kind of chap)

Lets assume that I've followed your instructions and I find a small leak but the car runs normally now. Would it be ok to drive with water in the system instead of coolant ? The reason I ask is because I cant afford to put my car in until end of month and I really need to use it before then. I've watched some youtube clips on how to flush the system but dont have any ramps to get the car up (i've put the word out in work to see if anyone has any I can borrow). If not I might bite the bullet and put coolant in until I can get it in to a mechanic.

Ps When I first bought the car (private) after a few weeks I had the engine management light come on, after spending money on plugs and still having the light come on I was told the was no compression in one of the cylinders so got them all done (£1100 quid, only paid 1500 for the motor) I was angry and was going to go to the seller and have a 'friendly' chat but when I bought it the guy told me the only thing on mot was engine light and they replaced the coil pack. Then with ford telling me it was the spark plugs, I came to the understanding that the seller was not aware so didn't bother approaching him. Long story longer I've only done 10k miles since having gaskets done so shouldn't be that.

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like artscot said, when you open the coolant cap does the tank de-pressurise? do you hear a hiss? if not, the first thing i would do is fill up with water, and get a new cap for the expansion tank.

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I filled the tank and noticed the leak straight away, hopefully you can see it in the pic above, Everything was back to normal, ran the motor for 15 mins, heater were ok fans came on, the leak seemed to slow right down once I put the cap back on.

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