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  1. #1

    Default 2.3T keeps overheating, do I need a bigger radiator??

    so i have a 2.3T in a vw sandrail buggy, and it keeps getting very hot and coolant keeps basically exploding out of the coolant overflow tank. unfortunately I do not have a temperature gauge to monitor actual temps, but I do have an automatic fan on/off switch. it turns on at 180, and off at 165, something like that. I just put in a new water pump and lower temp thermostat, and it is still doing the same thing. Here are pictures of how it is setup:







    As you can see, the radiator obviously sits above the top of the engine...is this in itself a problem, can the water pump pump enough to keep the fluid circulating that high? However, when I had the radiaor lower and about even with the engine, it still overheated, so i dont think the pump is the problem.

    I had someone suggest I get a larger radiator, but I figured it may not need much bigger since it sees a whole lot of open airflow??

    So not sure exactly what the problem is, what do you guys think I should do?

    oh one last thing, what is the radiator cap pressure normally on a 1985 thunderbird with the 2.3T? Maybe my radiator cap is insufficient, and its doing fine in actuality?

    P.S. this current radiator is for a 2000 honda civic, and cap is 1.1 bar
    Last edited by yitzac1990; 04-27-2017 at 04:01 PM.

  2. #2

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    The water pump draws in coolant from the bottom of the radiator, but yes, it might be having a harder time "pushing" coolant through the block and further uphill than usual in your high mount radiator. I wouldn't think any amount of that situation should be causing excessive pressures out of the top of the radiator though, where the overflow is connected...

    I would do an engine compression test, looking for the source (head gasket?) of that "exploding" cooling system pressure.
    Last edited by Walking-Tall; 04-27-2017 at 05:02 PM.
    Mike
    1986 Mustang convertible 3.8L ---> BUILD THREAD
    1983 Mercury Cougar 3.8L LS
    1986 Ford Thunderbird 5.0L ELAN
    1966 Ford Fairlane sedan 200-6
    1966 Ford Fairlane GT (390ci 4spd)
    1981 Mercury Marquis Brougham
    1980 Capri RS Turbo
    1971 Mustang Fastback
    1974 Pontiac Luxury LeMans

  3. #3

    Default

    Not claiming to know anything but perhaps an electric water pump would work better? If you run it with the cap off are you seeing flow? Does it seem adequate?

  4. #4

    Default

    yeah like i said, i dont think the high mount setup really has any effect on it, since even when the radiator was mounted lower it did the same thing. I was just throwing that piece of information out there.

    what about the size of the radiator in this kind of "open air" configuration? even being so exposed to airflow, could I just need a bigger radiator still?

    I will try to do a compression test. i was thinking of replacing the head gasket anyways, but when cold, there are no bubbles in the overflow tank or anything

  5. #5

    Default

    You're not likely to see bubbles in the overflow, but you might when cold, or when hot, see bubbles inside the radiator with the cap off. If a bit of cylinder/s pressure is getting into the cooling system, it would take a bit of time for pressure to get to that exploding point through the cap and to the overflow. Here's hoping it's not, but a crack somewhere in a cylinder head or block could cause cylinder pressures and cooling system pressures to intermingle too. A cooling system pressure test would find or rule that out.
    Last edited by Walking-Tall; 04-27-2017 at 06:13 PM.
    Mike
    1986 Mustang convertible 3.8L ---> BUILD THREAD
    1983 Mercury Cougar 3.8L LS
    1986 Ford Thunderbird 5.0L ELAN
    1966 Ford Fairlane sedan 200-6
    1966 Ford Fairlane GT (390ci 4spd)
    1981 Mercury Marquis Brougham
    1980 Capri RS Turbo
    1971 Mustang Fastback
    1974 Pontiac Luxury LeMans

  6. #6
    FEP Member brianj's Avatar
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    Default

    Is that fan set up as a puller?
    1983 Mustang G.T. No-option stripper- I like strippers.
    5.0, GT40P heads, Comp Cams XE270HR-12 on 1.6 rockers, TFI spring kit, Weiand 174 blower, Holley 750 mechanical secondarys, Mishimoto radiator, Edelbrock street performer mechanical pump, BBK shortys, T-5 conversion, 8.8 rear, 3.73 gears, carbon fiber clutches, SS Machine lowers, Maximum Motorsport XL subframes, "B" springs.

  7. #7
    FEP Supporter 4-barrel Mike's Avatar
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    Default

    Timing correct? Codes?

    Mike
    1985 ascMcLaren 5.0 SC Roadster
    My '78 Fairmont build - http://vb.foureyedpride.com/showthre...539-78-Big-Red

  8. #8

    Default

    At my old work the boss had a 2.3 turbo with esslingerhead on a sand rail. It ran hot alot. We ended up mounting a BBC radiator off of a work truck in a dual setup behind the one it came with. It ran pretty cool after that. Was setup with fast efi in a batchfire configuration.

    We also had a rx7 powered one with a carb. That thing never cooled. We had two big block radiators on it. It got hit no matter what we did. We tried two different engines, remote electric water pumps and everything. Ended up putting the vw engine back in.
    2 1986 cougars (both 4 eyed and 5.0)
    1 1987 cougar

  9. #9

    Default

    The fan is setup as a puller, yes, so pulls even more air through the rad. Timing is good, I used a timing light and pulled the spout, did all that. Not sure of any codes because I don't have a CEL hooked up.

    I wonder if I should just do a bigger radiator and a higher pressure cap??

  10. #10

    Default

    When I drove it again yesterday evening I did a 2nd gear wot pull, then it backfired pretty loud and seemed to lose all power, so I quickly shifted into 3rd and drove it normally. Seemed to still drive fine but a couple miles from home the pressure in the overflow tank got so high it literally blew the cap off and smoke was pouring out of it. Headgasket??

  11. #11
    FEP Supporter 4-barrel Mike's Avatar
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    https://www.amazon.com/INNOVA-3145-F...d1+code+reader

    An absolute necessity for a 2.3T IMHO.

    Mike
    1985 ascMcLaren 5.0 SC Roadster
    My '78 Fairmont build - http://vb.foureyedpride.com/showthre...539-78-Big-Red

  12. #12

    Default

    well i think I may be onto something.

    this weekend i took the radiator off, took off the water pump just to double check that it was good, took out the thermostat and put the housing back on. i ran my garden hose into the engine, and ran the motor with the garden hose on full blast. i think a bunch of crap came out of there, so doing that really helped clean it out! before that I took it to Advance (after the overflow tank blew up again), and a friend and I looked in the radiator and i noticed a whole bunch of rusty looking metal. i cleaned out the radiator with water, then high pressure air, then water again, and i shook out a lot of the crud that was in there. put it all back together, and drove the buggy normally, and no problems!! the coolant level in the tank slowly rose when it warmed up like normal, and slowly went down back into the radiator when it cooled, just like normal. However, when I got on the throttle, of course, the tank burst open again. what I am thinking is, maybe this radiator is clogged, or just not able to flow enough coolant for this engine, especially at higher RPMs.

    so i am going to order a new, bigger radiator. I'm going with a 1966 mustang one, because it will still fit between the vertical down tubes of the chassis, but it had a lot more cooling capacity, and more/bigger rows which should really help the flow. will post up when i get all that done...

  13. #13

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    got the new radiator on. will probably go ahead and order a bigger fan as well. will try to drive it after work today to see how it does, if weather gets better.


  14. #14

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    That definitely appears to be a larger radiator! Hope it works out well!
    1993 Convertible 2.3L I4

  15. #15
    FEP Senior Member Matt J's Avatar
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    Default

    Now, THAT'S a radiator! I was wondering how come the cap on the coolant overflow kept popping off, those aren't generally air tight seals, they need to breathe a little when the hot coolant pushes into the reservoir. Does it have the right cap on it? I think the bigger radiator is going to help, when you have something like that set up in a car it's in the front with all kinds of air being directed straight into it, when it's in that setup there really isn't much air getting to it, and it's right above the engine besides. A shroud might help pull more air through it too. Right now, basically only the center of the radiator will be cooling much.

    That thing looks like a blast to drive!

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