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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

This is my first post here, so I will be as brief as possible. My 2003 EL 1.7 with just over 186,000Km has the following problem:

- after about 5 min of driving (after leaving it in somewhat-heated garage in Toronto overnight), the temp gauge goes to normal (just below half)
- after another 5-7 minutes, it starts to go above normal
- after driving for 20-25 minutes the temp gauge is almost at max/red (so I stop driving for a few minutes)
- this happens regardless of whether or not I turn the heat on
- this even happens when it's really cold out (i.e. at -25ºC)
- throughout the 20-25 min drive (city only, no highway) there is no heat in the car, except randomly, for a minute or two--but not during every drive

Here is how it got to this point:

- 5-6 weeks ago I noticed that the heat wasn't working right; this got a bit worse with every drive
- a week or so after that I noticed the temp gauge going above normal
- another week after, the temp gauge went to red for the first time, so I stopped to let it cool down and then took it to a shop where they replaced the thermostat for $200
- this didn't fix the problem so I took it back a couple of days later; they told me there was a lot of air in the cooling system, so they bled it all out
- this didn't fix the problem either, so now it's in the shop for the third time, and they're telling me the water pump is gone, so they want to replace it, together with the timing belt and the coolant sensor, for $800

I *think* (not sure tho) they also said that the pressure inside the cooling system is fine... does that make sense? If true, wouldn't that indicate that the water pump is fine and only the coolant sensor is gone? (Is it not the coolant sensor that provides data to the temp gauge?)

I should also mention that the water pump and timing belt were replaced about 2.5-3 years ago, at around 105,000Km. (I have the bill for this work from the previous owner at home, I just can't recall the date but do recall the mileage.)

If anyone has any opinions here, or advice, I would really appreciate it. I'm thinking of taking it elsewhere, for a second opinion.. if I do, should I mention that I'm coming from another shop or just play dumb, describe the problem and let them figure it out?

Thanks so much in advance!


4 Posts
Check your coolant level. It's probably low from a leaking head gasket. This is what's causing no heat in the cabin and the engine to over heat easily.

You can keep topping it up but it will eventually boil over. And it will continue to leak into the pistons and get burned off, depending on the severity of the leak you won't be able to go very far.

A pressure test of you radiator won't show a leak because the leak is no in the rad.

Get this to a shop that's familiar with engine repair, not just oil changes and stuff. Changing a head gasket is a pretty time consuming.

If you haven't changed your timing belt and water pump, this would be a good time to do it as they have get right in there anyway.

If you over heated your engine too severely, the head might be warped and will need planing and polishing, otherwise it will leak even with a new gasket.

If you don't have the money for this job right now, try tightening down the head bolts and it might compress the gasket and stop the leaking temporarily, but it won't last much longer.

How many kms on the engine? You might also want to consider a valve adjustment while the engine is cold.
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