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I recently moved from an at sea level town in Massachusetts, to about a 7,000ft elevation in California. My 1999 Camry made it across the country and around SoCal for a few days until it overheated on my second drive up the mountain. The check engine light came on and the temperature gauge spike up to the red zone, and the antifreeze had started to boil and steam out from underneath the hood. I had the car towed to the Toyota dealership a few days later, and by then the check engine light had gone off. The dealership ran a diagnostic, and both the radiator and reservoir were empty of coolant, and 2 trouble codes were stored in the memory (engine coolant temp circuit malfunction and evap. Emissions control system vent control half) The cooling system temp was as high as 280 degrees F, and it passes a cooling system pressure test w/ no visible leaks and pressure holds. It also passes a block test. They verified that the fans are working properly. They also replaced the thermostat and gasket.

I went and picked the car up today, and drove it for about 50 miles around Southern California, before heading up into the mountains. It made it another 30 miles before the same thing happened – overheating with the antifreeze boiling in the reservoir and steaming out. There is currently no coolant in the vehicle. I am completely perplexed as to why this is happening. Additionally, the a/c in the vehicle only works on the highest setting. When I picked it up I drove about 5 miles with the a/c on, and it was blowing cold air. I made a stop (turning the engine off) and when I turned the car back on, it a/c would only blow warm air. Could there be a possible relation between this and the fact that my car is overheating? Could it have anything to do with the altitude?

Any help before I bring it back would be appreciated!
 

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yes, ac on, the mountains, ambient temps..this will add a load to the car....did it do good in the valley...was the temp on the move up....do you have coolant in the oil or vice versa???
 

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The car did fine in the valley, but I was driving on the freeway at about 70mph. After the a/c started to only blow warm air, I turned it off and didn't drive with it on. So most of my drive around the valley, and my entire drive up the mountain was done with the a/c powered off. the temperature gauge stayed level the entire time I was driving (around mid-point) and it wasn't until I slowed down to turn into my driveway that I noticed the antifreeze steaming out from under my hood. At this point, the temp gauge had moved, but not by much, and it had not entered the red zone. The dealership had completely restocked the car with coolant, and by the end of this drive there isn't any left. No oil in the coolant and visa versa as far as I can tell.
 

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have you checked the cylinders for proper pressures? You can get a gauge pretty cheaply and do a test...remove spark plug, crank motor about 5 times...not start it...crank it (so undo ignition system....and check that you have proper pressure in each cylinder...you are showing (to me) possible signs of a blown headgasket....while not a HARD repair...definitely time consuming...and costly if done at a shop.
 

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blown head gasket, really? the dealership did both a block and a cooling system pressure test and it passed both of those.
 

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block usually does the water passages...and a pressure check is for hoses and places you cant see easily...but from what your saying its showing signs of it....it may not be....I am not there to diagnose personally. But a compressions check will show if you are losing pressure in any cylinder...and it could be just seeping....if you are losing coolant and cant find it. Although...my Mazda truck lost MASS coolant....but passed pressure test also...everybody thought headgasket....turned out it was a damn hose UNDER the intake mani...spraying directly on the block and evaporating before it could make it to the ground........a lil mirror could be your best friend some times...although my GF at the time was REAL unhappy when she found out! :lol:
 

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Wheres the coolant going?

Yeah, test results can lie if dealer tech is incompetent.

If the gasket isn't blown, then you have a big leak. Find it.

An analysis of the oil will tell you if it is loaded with antifreeze. Has the oil been looked at?

Time for more competent dealer or independent shop for a better troubleshoot.

Replace the radiator cap.
 

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Wheres the coolant going?

Yeah, test results can lie if dealer tech is incompetent.

If the gasket isn't blown, then you have a big leak. Find it.

An analysis of the oil will tell you if it is loaded with antifreeze. Has the oil been looked at?

Time for more competent dealer or independent shop for a better troubleshoot.

Replace the radiator cap.
I agree with parts of what he said. I think part of your boiling coolant could be caused by the wrong radiator cap. If you are using an aftermarket radiator, you may want to try purchasing a slightly larger rad cap, one that is rated at 1.0 (as opposed to 0.9) and try one that is deeper. This should help seal the system more and not cause boiling coolant. However there is another problem on hand.

From what I understood based on what was written, it seems to me that one or more of your coolant sensors, specifically your rad fan temp sensor could be bad. As well, based on what you said and how lousy the service was from the dealer, I would double and triple check that your rad fan is kicking in. I suspect based on what was said that it seems the car is overheating when you are at lower or even a dead stop. The fans should be kicking in at this point to compensate for lack of wind speed (lower vehicle speed).

Anyhow, seems this is an odd issue, but I wouldn't worry much. I had a similar problem which i recently fixed with help from this forum!!!

If anything, replace your rad cap with a more "pressurized" one, check your fan and fan function, check all relays and fuses in relation to the fan (you will probably need a wiring diagram to see which is which) and check all your temperature sensors. My guess is the problems lie within those few things.

Hope this helps :)
 

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That is weird...no coolant in vehicle? This is just a guess, but have you thought about the thermostat at all?

In any event, all those test at the dealership sound costly! Personally, for a '99...I would go to a shop that specializes in Japanese cars. They would have gotten you out the door already...
 
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