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· Registered
51 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I took my car to the guy who sold me a radiator and I had him install the thermostat.

When I went to pick up the car, I had asked for the old one back. He showed me that the clip on it was broken, so I had indeed needed a new thermostat.

The thing is, he insists that the reason it is broken is because "the car must have overheated at some point because you have a bad head gasket."

Now, trust me, the car did not overheat. It headed for the red zone--3/4s the way up but not IN the red zone, on that trip last week in my other thread. I think if it had ever overheated, I would have KNOWN!!

I mean, the thermostat is 17 years old, couldn't the clip just go because it's old?

Next, he insisted that it is a head gasket because he said he saw bubbles coming from the radiator with the cap off.

Keep in mind, this guy is not a mechanic... he has a dual business--he makes signs. and he installs radiators.

So, for those of you who followed my other two threads, should I believe him about the head gasket? or should I drive around and see how this new thermostat behaves.

Already there are differences. Before, the gauge would stay cold for most of a local trip, the whole time, or go 1/16th up. Today, when I left the guy's shop and drove around, it went up to the half mark within a couple of miles, if that.

But.... I noticed steam coming from under the hood. Could that indicate the head gasket going (I mean, would getting the new thermostat installed make the head gasket go bad faster?)? Or is it just because when he added coolant, some dripped out and it is burning off the engine?

Also, he overfilled the reservoir so that it was about 1/2 inch or more over the FULL line.

Please help. I am afraid I have information overflow by now, from so many sources. Some are saying this is a crisis, the head gasket is going to go any second... others are saying the thermastat may solve the problem... and the head gasket could take years to go bad.

· Registered
517 Posts
Glad you got it fixed. That is the way the temperature is suppose to come up.

If you saw steam, I'd check his work just to be sure. Start your car with the hood open and let it warm up. Make sure you don't see any steam comming from the area of the engine. More specifically on the right side of the engine from under the distributor cap. That is where the thermostat is.

If it was the head gasket, you'd notice the engine running like crap. You would also have coolant mixed with your oil and vise versa. So, you can check that too if you want.

· Premium Member
6,419 Posts
Did you have a new radiator installed, if so by the mechanic? Would not be concerned the thermostat issue, the gasket is either leaking or not.

Steam could also come from many areas such as a loose hose clamp, split hose, etc. Check for leaks.

A bad head gasket can result in one or more of the following symptoms: overheating, steam out the exhaust pipe, coolant in the overflow tank disappears when no leaks can be found, bubbles in coolant, coolant spews forth from radiator overflow tank when engine hot.

Check for and fix any leaks in the cooling system. The coolant can be tested for exhaust gases with a kit that attaches to the coolant fill port. .

· Registered
51 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, this is the same guy who installed the radiator last summer.

My initial problem was that coolant in the reservoir would get lower and lower throughout the month, and I would have to add more. Back then, I didn't know to look in the radiator itself.

After the new radiator was installed, the reservoir would stay full all the time. But then I started to look inside the radiator--taking off the cap. The problem was the radiator would be low (or at least, when I look in I didn't see green coolant), but the reservoir would remain full.

That problem seemed to disappear over the winter.

It was two weeks ago when I drove across state and came close to overheating--and then the reservoir went to below LOW and the radiator was empty/low, too, that I started to investigate.

A number of people suggested the thermastat was the problem. So I took it back to this radiator guy, yesterday, and he installed the thermastat and (I assume) pressure tested it.

He is the one that thinks it is the head gasket, but he is not a mechanic, actually.

I have to assume that he would have discovered if it was a hose leaking when he checked it yesterday. You see, something like that he can install and sell to me and make money off of it. He doesn't do a head gasket, so if that is the problem, no money for him to make.

I will drive it around this morning, and see if whatever he may have dripped burns off the engine.

What about the cap? Someone suggested I should buy a new cap. I tried to do that, but could not get the new cap to go on. I have always had trouble with these caps, but the one that came with the radiator I have been able to manage.... that said, he might not be new, it might be from my original radiator or one that he had lying around.

My question is, will I make it through state inspection (dynameter, lots of idling) without overheating.

And the car sort of does run like crap, but that's because the plugs get gunked with oil from my seals leaking. Trust me, there are lots of things this car needs, but money is an issue (if it wasn't, I wouldn't be in a 91 tercel!)... so it's essentially a matter of only taking care of whatever will keep the car moving legally on the roads in NJ.
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