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MPV overheated today...help?

calimom99calimom99 Posts: 1
edited March 2016 in Mazda
I have a 2004 MPV. A while back, I noticed that the heater stopped working. My husband put coolant in (the reserve...I can't argue, man, I don't have the energy), and the heater did work for a few days after that. Then, it stopped again. Fast forward a few weeks to today...my engine heated up as I was sitting in the drive thru. I just looked down and it was all the way to the top! My husband said, "Okay, drive to the store, we will get coolant." I didn't think it was a good idea, but he insisted. Just as we were pulling into the parking lot of the store, my engine light came on and "OD OFF" started flashing. I heard hissing sounds under the hood and turned the car off. When I got out, there was steam coming from under the hood. We opened it up, and the steam was coming from the left side of the car. The coolant reserve was empty. We went inside and walked around a bit to let the engine cool down. We came back out, and he refilled the coolant reserve (please, no tongue lashings, he kept insisting and I don't know enough about cars to argue), and we gave it another 20 minutes to let everything cool down some more. We came back out, and the coolant level in the reserve had gone down, but I didn't see any puddles or anything under the car. I started it up, and the needle went to the middle of the temperature gauge within about a minute or so. All was fine under the hood, it sounded fine, etc. So I began to drive...once I began driving up a hill, the temperature gauge went back to hot. Husband told me to continue on to the gas station, I put my foot down and said NO WAY. Pulled into a parking lot and called a tow truck.

Can anyone give me an idea of what this may be? I'm terrified of a blown head gasket and so incredibly stressed out.

Answers

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well obviously your vehicle had a coolant leak to begin with, which is why you had no heat and why you eventually overheated.

    So the first step would be to fill up the coolant and then do a cooling system pressure test with a pump and a gauge, to apply about 2-3 more lbs of pressure than your radiator cap normally allows. This pressure should reveal the source of the leak.

    If you see no external leaks, then you can check for a bad head gasket in a number of ways: One, you can keep the system under pressure and pull the spark plugs out one by one and see if any have coolant on them; Two, you can buy a simple chemical test kit to test your coolant for the presence of combustion gases; Three, you can check your oil dip stick for a milky residue, which would indicate a mix of oil and coolant (not good); Four, you can run the engine, open the radiator cap, and observe if there are lots of bubbles present. This last one requires some experience in knowing what you're looking for.

    Good luck--hope it's just a simple leak to be fixed.
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