03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

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03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby Von » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:37 am

Been trying to figure this thing out for a couple of weeks. It's overheating at high RPM's.

Last week I messed with it and had it idling in my driveway for 4 hours with no overheating. There was some air in the system and I was bleeding it out. I was pretty sure I had all the air out of it. He drove it 2 miles to his house and said it pegged the gauge and was puking water when he got home.

It acts like it's not getting enough coolant flow. We've replaced the thermostat, waterpump, bypassed the heater core and replaced the radiator. Lower hose was replaced a few weeks ago.

I had him do a compression check the other day while I was at work. Came back with 90 to 95 on all of them. I'm not sure what to make of those numbers. All low... but equally crappy. The car is a wore out POS... But unless both head gaskets are leaking on all cylinders I'm thinking the head gaskets are good. Well, there is some oil leakage in spots but as far as the overheating is concerned I don't think head gaskets are the problem.... hoping....

No coolant in the oil. No coolant smoke from the exhaust. I asked him if there was a spring in the lower hose he put on and he said no. I tried revving it up to see if it was collapsing and it didn't. But that was just sitting in the driveway at 3000-4000 RPM for less than a minute, don't know how to check that on the highway.

Through this whole process we've been constantly bleeding air out of the system... and it never ends! I don't think we've ever opened up the bleeder and got a steady stream of coolant.. well, water. I think maybe we aren't purging it correctly or something.
I know the system has to pressurize to cool properly... and it can't pressurize if you're constantly opening it up to bleed air or add water.

That 4 hours in my driveway last week... literally nothing but adding water and bleeding air out. and I'm still not sure there wasn't air in it. And no leaks. One of the small hoses under the throttle body was leaking a few weeks ago but we replaced both of those hoses and the lower radiator hose then. No leaks since then.

Crap. Just remembered an article I read the other day about head gasket leaks that allow exhaust to be pumped into the water jackets.... Wouldn't that still show as a drop on one cylinder in a compression check though? Is the compression just so crappy that a leak in a head gasket goes unnoticed?

I don't think that car is worth the effort of changing the gaskets... but it's the only one he has... hell, it's not worth the money I fronted on parts today. I'd tell him to get a bicycle but I remember how many tubes I replaced when he was a kid.. wouldn't be much cheaper.
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1993 Shortbed, regular cab Z71 (Donated to step-son #2)(deceased, parted out)(Forums for GM and fullsize 4X4s suck... so I'm still hanging out here)
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Re: 03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby Ed Mc. » Mon Mar 21, 2016 3:26 am

Sounds like a head gasket allowing exhaust gasses to blow into the cooling system.

Here's some inexpensive "Test Fluid" from NAPA which can detect hydrocarbons in the coolant:

http://www.napaonline.com/p/BK_7001366

The fluid turns yellow if exhaust gasses are present.

HTH............ed
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Re: 03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby Von » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:07 pm

ugh... Thanks Ed.
2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP
1990 Trooper 2.8 V6 Auto (Wrecked... sent to the crusher)
1993 Shortbed, regular cab Z71 (Donated to step-son #2)(deceased, parted out)(Forums for GM and fullsize 4X4s suck... so I'm still hanging out here)
1965 Ford Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe 289 & 4 speed (some assembly required)
1968 Kaiser M715, Chevy 350/700r4, stock NP200 and 5.87 gears... prepping for Ford 390/T-18/divorced NP205 transplant.. .just because.
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Re: 03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby bradzuzu » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:30 pm

Almost sounds like a cracked head , I've ran into situations like that before ... I was getting over pressurization though and it would over fill the resivoir tank...

How many times has it been heated up ?
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Re: 03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby RocketcarX » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:55 am

Those motors are known for blowing head gaskets, with that being said it sounds like you are bleeding it wrong.
To bleed it you need a special funnel that puts the water level above the engine, or at least you have to be quick.
There are 2 bleeder screws, one on the T-stat housing and one on the passenger side sitting atop a coolant crossover tube. With the car OFF and cold open them both and start adding coolant. The bleeder on the T-stat housing is lower and will purge first, once coolant is streaming from it and you also have coolant at the other bleeder screw, close the t-stat bleeder screw. Once the you have a solid stream from the crossover coolant bleeder AND you can constantly pouring into the radiator at the same time, close the crossover tube bleeder and cap the system.
Over fill the coolant over flow tank, turn the heat on high and go for a drive. It will not over heat at idle no matter how long it sits.
Don't worry about the overflow tank spilling out, it will equalize over the course of your drive cycle.
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Re: 03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby Von » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:55 am

bradzuzu wrote:Almost sounds like a cracked head , I've ran into situations like that before ... I was getting over pressurization though and it would over fill the resivoir tank...

How many times has it been heated up ?

It's been run hot 4 or 5 times that I know of. Probably a lot more than that.


RocketcarX wrote:Those motors are known for blowing head gaskets, with that being said it sounds like you are bleeding it wrong.


Wondered if there was a procedure for that. I knew we didn't seem to be making any progress. Didn't know about the bleeder on the Tstat housing either.
2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP
1990 Trooper 2.8 V6 Auto (Wrecked... sent to the crusher)
1993 Shortbed, regular cab Z71 (Donated to step-son #2)(deceased, parted out)(Forums for GM and fullsize 4X4s suck... so I'm still hanging out here)
1965 Ford Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe 289 & 4 speed (some assembly required)
1968 Kaiser M715, Chevy 350/700r4, stock NP200 and 5.87 gears... prepping for Ford 390/T-18/divorced NP205 transplant.. .just because.
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Re: 03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby RocketcarX » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:07 am

So what did you find?
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Re: 03 Grand Am 3400 overheating

Postby Von » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:21 pm

The mechanic we dropped the Ford Focus with back in October called and said it was running. So the Grand Am is parked for a while till the boy gets around to pulling the heads.
I'll be surprised if the heads aren't cracked. But if they aren't we'll replace the gaskets and he'll park it in his back yard till he kills the Focus again.
2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP
1990 Trooper 2.8 V6 Auto (Wrecked... sent to the crusher)
1993 Shortbed, regular cab Z71 (Donated to step-son #2)(deceased, parted out)(Forums for GM and fullsize 4X4s suck... so I'm still hanging out here)
1965 Ford Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe 289 & 4 speed (some assembly required)
1968 Kaiser M715, Chevy 350/700r4, stock NP200 and 5.87 gears... prepping for Ford 390/T-18/divorced NP205 transplant.. .just because.
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