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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK - THE IS JUST A REMINDER TO NEVER TRUST THE FLUID LEVEL YOU SEE IN THE COOLANT "OVERFLOW" TANK.

Find the "REAL" Radiator cap, under the plastic beauty cover over the top of the radiator. With the system cool, remove the cap and make sure the radiator is actually FULL of coolant. The radiator will not draw in coolant from the overflow bottle if you have an air-bubble in the radiator.

My situation: 08 Acadia with 47K miles - 2 years on the road. Today in the 90 degree texas heat as she sits in the drive-thru, the AC swithches off - and won't go back on. She rolls down the windows, rolls out and stops at a traffic light. All hell then breaks loose - DIC flashes stability off, yellow check engine light on , engine protection mode on - she rolls away from the light and calls onstar - the code is P1298 - engine overheat protection. She doesn't glance at the gages but it seems to be running better now that she's rolling at 40MPH. Since she's now 1 mile from home - she rolls in and shuts if off. I go out 20 minutes later - start it up and the temp climbs quickly from 210 to 2 ticks away from the max. I shut it off and check the overflow bottle - seems about an inch below full cold so I dump about 2 cups of distilled water in it. Then proceed to drive it around the hood at about 30 MPH with the AC on full blast. Holds 210 while I'm moving but will creep up if I stop or let engine idle for more than 2-3 minutes. Bring it back to the house and let it idle - temps again creeps up toward max and the AC shuts off. I shut it down and start calling the parts stores for a t-stat and/or water pump. Both are dealer-only parts. I go see my neighborhood wrench and he says "sounds like a classic low coolant" I say "can't be - I just checked the bottle" He says - BS - lets go open the radiator cap and check the level - it is way down - it needs about 1/2 gal to be full again. Now it holds 210 with the ac blasting and 90-95 degrees outside. So... BS on checking the bottle - go check the ACTUAL FLUID LEVEL IN THE RADIATOR !!! I've got no visible leaks - but I will watch it now...
 

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Interesting story and thank you for posting here so that others can learn from your experience.

I would love to hear some theory on how an air bubble got into the cooling system and caused the radiator to be ~ 1/2 gallon low
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Why was the radiator low?

Good question - I've never opened the system until today - and I'm sure the quickie lube places have not either.

Just changed the oil about 2 weeks ago - and it isn't a milkshake (no coolant in it) so it isn't going into the oil. That leaves external water leaks (haven't seen any) or burning it (haven't smelled it) or... maybe it was a low factory fill and I just now hit the critical point where it doesn't cool at idle...

Better question is - WHY THE HECK DIDN'T MY LOW COOLANT LIGHT COME ON? Don't Acadia's have a low coolant light? Will check my manual tomorrow...
 

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Here is a link to a PDF version of an 08 owner's manual
http://www.acadiaforum.net/forum/index.php?topic=535.msg7160#msg7160

Pg 3-49 talks about the low coolant warning light, but it doesn't mention at what point that light will illuminate. On Pg 5-25; there are procedures to add coolant to the overflow as well as adding coolant directly to the radiator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the Links. Here's what concerns me - and I've seen more than a few posts that say people check ONLY the recovery tank and then think the coolant level is OK...

Turning the radiator pressure cap when the
engine and radiator are hot can allow steam
and scalding liquids to blow out and burn you
badly. With the coolant recovery tank, you will
almost never have to add coolant at the
radiator.
Never turn the radiator pressure
cap — even a little — when the engine and
radiator are hot.

There was a post about a guy who had his water pump replaced - his symtoms were identical to mine - and he never checked for proper level in the radiator...
 

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A good LOF establishment or DIYer will ALWAYS check the coolant level at the recovery tank (expansion reservior) and top off as needed during the regular service interval - many neglect to do this because they think the system is closed and won't lose any fluid. Truly, the system is open at the expansion reservior. Some folks don't understand that coolant is glycol (a form of alcohol) and water mixed together and that both are prone to evaporation at the temperatures the mixture reaches during normal operation. Even if your cooling system is 'tight' and shows no leaks, the fluid loss will occur over time in the form of vapor escaping at the cap on the expansion tank.
 

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Air in system does not bode well for Dexcool which has a history of coagulating. You may want to consider a complete flush and refill after this experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A complete flush and fill is in my future anyway - I had to add some "universal" Advanced Auto coolant yesterday - it was all I had. I'm going to monitor it a week or so and see if any leaks are detected and see if the level will stabilize. After that. I'll do a flush and fresh fill with Prestone Dexcool and distilled water.

Oil life went to zero too - and I just did a change about a month ago with Mobil 1. I'm thinking that I'm not going to do an oil change since Mobil 1 is good for high temps - and in theory it only overheated while at idle - and cooled down once she was moving...

Jim
 

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67_Pacer said:
Oil life went to zero too - and I just did a change about a month ago with Mobil 1. I'm thinking that I'm not going to do an oil change since Mobil 1 is good for high temps - and in theory it only overheated while at idle - and cooled down once she was moving...
Your OLM went to zero because your engine went in to protection mode; basically the engine oil was helping to keep the engine from overheating and destroying itself. If this happened to me; I would change the engine oil regardless of what was in there
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Low Coolant light - after a search of the Warning light/instrument cluster & DIC portions of the owner's manual, I've determined that THERE IS NO LOW COOLANT LIGHT. Can someone with the Factory service manual tell us if there is a low coolant sensor on the engine block or the radiator? If there's no sensor, then there's no warning system...

I understand the OLM went to zero because the engine went into overtemp protection - I believe it was in this mode for about 30 seconds while my wife was in a drive thru - and it was only about 2 qts low on coolant - it never knocked, blew steam, etc. I'm guess the water level finally got low enough to uncover the temp sensor in the radiator and that made the gage peg. Oil does not smell cooked and it's not a milkshake as it would be with an internal coolant leak. Mobil1 is good for oil temps up to about 320F - no way the oil temp got that high.

MY Warning again: Don't rely on the level of your overflow bottle ! Check the actual level in your radiator ! Without a coolant level sensor, you won't know that you are too low until your temp sensor pegs. This may or may not cook your engine - my advice is turn off the ac, speed the engine up to 2K and see if cools down to 210. If so - I would bet that your radiator is low...

PS Checked my radiator yesterday and the level was down to the bottom of the neck - I filled it all the way up to the cap and will check it again in a few days. I hope that I'm just burping air out of the system at this point. Given that it's at 48K miles on an 08 model with a 3/36 wattantly - I hope I'm not replacing the engine...
 

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Given that it's at 48K miles on an 08 model with a 3/36 wattantly - I hope I'm not replacing the engine...
[/quote]This is covered by 5 year 100K.
 

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Your situation sounds exactly like what happened to my Acadia a few weeks ago. My water pump was apparently leaking and was replaced by the dealership.
 

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I would like to see a UOA on this oil to see how it handled the abuse
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Please post a link to a UOL service and I'll have this oil tested. I've seen posts about the 3.6 DOHC "wearing out" the oil in 4000 miles - this sounds unlikely to me unless you're driving dusty country roads all day or pulling a 4500 lb camper thru the mountain passes of Colorado every day. Our Acadia does have the trailering package on it - but I don't know if that comes with an oil cooler or tranny cooler that would extend the oil life. Ours just does Mom duty - no trailer pulling - just some little hills around Austin Texas - AC blasting in the 95-100 degree heat. (and sunroof leaking after a rain - and I just found the TSB post on that one....)

Are you sure the 5 yr/100K powertrain warrantee applies to 2008 models, or did it start with the 2009 models?

thanks for the info

Jim
 

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67_Pacer said:
Please post a link to a UOL service and I'll have this oil tested. I've seen posts about the 3.6 DOHC "wearing out" the oil in 4000 miles - this sounds unlikely to me unless you're driving dusty country roads all day or pulling a 4500 lb camper thru the mountain passes of Colorado every day. Our Acadia does have the trailering package on it - but I don't know if that comes with an oil cooler or tranny cooler that would extend the oil life. Ours just does Mom duty - no trailer pulling - just some little hills around Austin Texas - AC blasting in the 95-100 degree heat. (and sunroof leaking after a rain - and I just found the TSB post on that one....)

Are you sure the 5 yr/100K powertrain warrantee applies to 2008 models, or did it start with the 2009 models?
thanks for the info

Jim
Definitely applies to 2008 models. I have one.
 

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67_Pacer said:
Are you sure the 5 yr/100K powertrain warrantee applies to 2008 models, or did it start with the 2009 models?

thanks for the info

Jim
It goes back at least as far as the 2007 models. My Silverado is an 07 and it has the 5yr/100K powertrain warranty.
 

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67_Pacer said:
Please post a link to a UOL service and I'll have this oil tested. I've seen posts about the 3.6 DOHC "wearing out" the oil in 4000 miles - this sounds unlikely to me unless you're driving dusty country roads all day or pulling a 4500 lb camper thru the mountain passes of Colorado every day. Our Acadia does have the trailering package on it - but I don't know if that comes with an oil cooler or tranny cooler that would extend the oil life. Ours just does Mom duty - no trailer pulling - just some little hills around Austin Texas - AC blasting in the 95-100 degree heat. (and sunroof leaking after a rain - and I just found the TSB post on that one....)

Are you sure the 5 yr/100K powertrain warrantee applies to 2008 models, or did it start with the 2009 models?

thanks for the info

Jim
Here is one that has been used by members here:

http://www.blackstone-labs.com/

The towing package has a cooler for the trans fluid
 

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67_Pacer said:
Please post a link to a UOL service and I'll have this oil tested. I've seen posts about the 3.6 DOHC "wearing out" the oil in 4000 miles - this sounds unlikely to me unless you're driving dusty country roads all day or pulling a 4500 lb camper thru the mountain passes of Colorado every day. Our Acadia does have the trailering package on it - but I don't know if that comes with an oil cooler or tranny cooler that would extend the oil life. Ours just does Mom duty - no trailer pulling - just some little hills around Austin Texas - AC blasting in the 95-100 degree heat. (and sunroof leaking after a rain - and I just found the TSB post on that one....)

Are you sure the 5 yr/100K powertrain warrantee applies to 2008 models, or did it start with the 2009 models?

thanks for the info

Jim

It would be very interesting to see how that oil handled the heat. I definably would change it out.
You can sent it to either http://www.blackstone-labs.com/free-test-kits.php or to http://www.dysonanalysis.com/servicelist/premiumkits.html Terry sends you back a PDF of a complete UOA, all parts tested TBN, TAN everything, along with sending you an MP3 file explaining in detail each of the properties along with recommendations if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK - thanks for the clarification on the 5/100 warrantee, I will sleep somewhat better now...

Loach - I saw your posts on the water pump, and I agree the Acadias were doing very similar things. Do you know if anyone checked the fluid level in the RADIATOR before they changed the pump ? (Ahem - not that a GM Dealership would EVER change a warranty part that wasn't needed...)

I will have the oil checked and report back - you guys are guilting me into changing it now... but Mobil 1 is not cheap ! (and I am !)

I am still curious if there IS a low coolant light (and sensor) that I missed in the owner's manual. If there isn't - I think this is major engine protection screw-up. My coolant recovery bottle was showing full - and my radiator would never have drawn fluid from it. Still want someone with a factory service manual to confirm/deny the coolant level sensor. Also like to know the location of the coolant temp sensor -would be good to know if the sensor is uncovered if you lose 2 qts of fluid...

Also discovered that thermostats & housing gaskets are still a DEALER ONLY item if you want to replace them - and I'm going back today to ask about radiator caps - maybe my cap is faulty and isn't pulling in fluid from the recovery tank..
 

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67_Pacer said:
Loach - I saw your posts on the water pump, and I agree the Acadias were doing very similar things. Do you know if anyone checked the fluid level in the RADIATOR before they changed the pump ? (Ahem - not that a GM Dealership would EVER change a warranty part that wasn't needed...)
It appears they did check it at the radiator, because the work order said that coolant level was low - even though I had topped it off to the full line at the overflow tube the night before. I have not had any problems with engine temperature since the water pump was replaced.
 
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