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Old 01-12-2014, 08:57 PM   #1
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Overheat after Unintended Offroad Excursion

Hey, y'all,

2003 TJ Sport, 4.0 L with 5 speed manual trans.

Due to VERY icy conditions on Friday night/Saturday morning, I slid off the road and got stuck in the snow. Waited from midnight to 6 am to get pulled out.

It wasn't a "fast impact" (I was only doing about 15 mph when I finally bit it), and there's no mechanical damage to the drivetrain. The snow was up to the bottom of the body/bumpers, and I didn't hit anything (signs, fenceposts, cattle, etc.) but hard pack snow.

Everything was fine with the Jeep (prior to that), and the first couple of hours that I waited, I was able to keep warm by running the old girl intermittently to keep myself warm and dry after trying my best to dig out.

At about 3 a.m. during one of these "warming sessions", the heat started blowing cold air, and the temp gauge went from the normal 210 to full blown pegged to the right. I shut it off and let it cool down to nothing (to avoid permanent damage), and then tried starting it with the same results.

I finally got pulled out, and drove home slooooooooowly. When the gauge would start to get over into the red, I'd pull off where I could, wait, and then limp along for another few miles. Lather, rinse, repeat until I got home.

Found (maybe due to overheating or impact?) that steam was pouring from a crack in the plastic top tank of the radiator, so I purchased a replacement and installed it tonight.

Same results - heater blows cold when it hits 210, and I haven't had the guts to let it go over that for fear of blowing out a brand new radiator.

So, I'm guessing it's the thermostat, but I won't get a chance to replace that until tomorrow. The radiator I replaced was the original with a carbon copy that I got from the parts store, and I'm still using the same cap.

My question is, given the UNUSUAL circumstances of my off-roading into the snow, other than the thermostat and the cap, is there anything on the undercarriage that I might be missing that would cause the overheating/no hot air out of the heater?

I'm headed back out to the garage now to change the oil (while I'm under there) and to look for any damage I might have missed.

Thanks, in advance, for your help.

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Old 01-12-2014, 09:06 PM   #2
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Does it stay full of coolant or is it leaking out?


Possibilities first obvious things like is the serpentine belt intact and spinning water pump

Could be water pump blade inside failed

If loosing coolant may have gotten too cold for amount of antifreeze and frozen and expanded causing crack in block or freeze plugs

Start with basics adequate coolant and no leaks?
Belt ect

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Old 01-12-2014, 09:12 PM   #3
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I'm leaning towards diggers water-pump idea. Coolant circulates the heater core regardless of if the thermostat is opened or closed. As far as stuff under neath there is nothing I can think of that would cause it. Lowest things are the transmission lines in an auto and the lower radiator hose. Everything else is really high.
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:47 PM   #4
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Looking at it right now, no visible leaks, and the serpentine belt is intact. No unusual noises, or sounds of anything being under a burden. No straining, etc.

Any surefire way to know if it's the water pump?
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:59 PM   #5
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Did not put a crimp in lower radiator outflow or hose in the slow speed crash did it?

If it has coolant and no flow, water pump is suspect

Just speculating but if you removed heater core inflow hose at firewall and onto firewall fitting clamped on a small plugged hose while holding the open end of original hose over a bucket you could observe flow briefly with engine running if no flow probably a water pump problem

Others will probably have better idea on verifying water pump function when you know pulley is spinning
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:59 PM   #6
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Hmm. Squeeze the hose that connects to the foot long metal tube out of the water pump feeling for flow is what I would do. It goes to the heater core. Normally you squeeze the top radiator hose to check if the t stat is opening but feeling nothing there could be either.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digger84 View Post
Did not put a crimp in lower radiator outflow or hose in the slow speed crash did it?
Excellent idea!
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Old 01-12-2014, 11:32 PM   #8
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Did not put a crimp in lower radiator outflow or hose in the slow speed crash did it?
I'm with Majnoon on that one - good call. However, I checked it, and it seems to be fine.

So, here's the update. First, changed the oil. Fortunately, oil looked normal with no anti-freeze contaminants. I was really sweating the worst.

Second, ran the engine up to temperature, and it didn't budge past 210, but I didn't want to push my luck.

Third, squeezed all hoses, and flow seemed to be fine in all of them. I know it doesn't mean much, but I thought I heard some coolant moving through with every hose I squeezed. I don't know why that sounds dirty, but it just does. 😳. Couldn't squeeze the lower hose since it's spring reinforced.

All of that said, the upper tank and upper larger hose seemed warmer than usual but I could be dead wrong. Kind of guessing at what normal is. The hoses leading to the heater core did not seem warm at all, and the lower hose to the radiator did not seem warm either, neither did the lower tank.

The next step that I'm going to try is what you suggested, and take one of the heater core hoses off to check for flow. However, that will be tomorrow. I'm kind of wiped out after the past couple of days. I'll keep you posted, and if any one has anything occur to them, please share. I'm looking for any suggestions.

Thanks again for all your suggestions. I really appreciate it.
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:04 AM   #9
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I would buy a digital temp gun (about $25) and check the temp at the thermostat housing to see if the temp sensor is correct. Also check the flow with the cap off when you first start it then put the radiator cap on and let it warm up.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:38 AM   #10
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So assuming all is well after the radiator install and it is correct. Did you give the system time to burp? Sometimes there is air trapped in the system somewhere along the way and this won't allow heated water to make it properly where it should.
This is what I suggest doing;
1) Top off all coolant in your radiatior and overflow bottle.
2) Start and run jeep with heater on while watching your temp on the dash...watch until you see it change and get slightly colder...this is when your thermostat opens. Now watch it come back up to operating temp.
3) allow the thermostat to cycle two or three times.
4) Shut jeep off and allow it to cool off.
5) check fluid levels and go from there.

If you find you have a leak then you can chase it or rent a pressure tester and use that. I do agree that the waterpump may have failed and pulling the heater hoses is a good way to check. Now I am not completely sure about your model jeep but some vehicles have a valve that is opened to allow the hot coolant into the core you may also look into this. I will check later today on the all data program. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:16 AM   #11
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Update:

Well, tried the ride to work today, and only made it halfway before it went into the red. Let it cool down and drove it home to pick up the wife's car.

As I said before, the top tank and upper radiator hose were HOT, and the upper hose was also rock solid - under the tremendous amount of pressure that that kind of steam creates.

However, the lower hose was cool to the touch, until you got to within a couple of inches of where it connects to the water pump. At that point it was hot - most likely acting as a heat sink for the lower portion of the water pump.

So, I'm guessing no flow in the lower portion of the cooling system. I'm leaning toward the water pump, but I'll check the thermostat as well.

I just keep scratching my head at the cause/effect relationship of the "accident" (maybe I'm just a slave to the scientific method). I had just driven about 100 miles from south-central WI to the Milwaukee area and most of the way back with everything working just fine (heat, cooling, etc.). Then the accident occurred, and I start overheating.

- There's no physical damage to the lower hose - not even a scuff, bend, kink - and that was the only EXTERIOR portion of the system that was exposed to the snow underneath that hasn't been replaced (I replaced the radiator, so take that out of the equation).

- The engine, however, was under a good amount of stress when I was trying to dig/get myself out of the ditch. Could that stress on the engine have caused a catastrophic failure of the water pump? The old girl does have close to 140,000 on her, so it would stand to reason that the water pump was on the razor's edge anyway, and this was just the thing to push it over the edge. I guess we'll find out.

- Take the heater core out of the equation (if I hadn't mentioned it before, the heater core's hoses were cool to the touch, too) and consider the lower hose temp. Something is not letting the coolant flow through the radiator portion of the system as it should. Either the "gatekeeper" - the thermostat, or the mechanism that gets it there - the water pump.

Sigh.

Thanks for all the input. I'll keep you posted.
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:37 AM   #12
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The water pump can fail at any time for any reason. Get that checked.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:28 AM   #13
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I would go to diggers removing the heater core hose from the water pump idea and see if it shoots water. With a cold engine of course and maybe another length of hose hooked to it going into a bucket to not make a huge mess if it is working.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:13 PM   #14
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You have an air lock. With the engine cool remove the upper heater hose at the engine and the fill the radiator until coolant runs out of both the hose and the engine. Replace hose and top off the radiator. Run engine until temp gage reads 210 and check heater hoses both should be hot.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:37 PM   #15
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You could also have fried the thermostat if you didn't replace it along with the new radiator.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:54 PM   #16
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Sweet! This is an interesting one.

What does your coolant look like? "Gritty"? Does it happen to be darker than whatever normal color it usually is?

An impact like an accident could (maybe) have knocked loose some rust/scale build up and be intermittently clogging a coolant passage. When you changed the radiator, did you flush the block & heater core? Can you provide us detail of your repair procedure?

If the coolant is dark, dark like something is wrong, then a headgasket failure can allow combustion gasses to get into the coolant.

If the color is fine, I'm on the pump band wagon. H2O pumps don't have the best reputation for reliability.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:11 PM   #17
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What does your coolant look like? "Gritty"? Does it happen to be darker than whatever normal color it usually is?
Nope - the coolant is fine. At first I was thinking along the same lines - that "chunks" somehow got knocked loose, however, not only was the coolant clean, but I also took the opportunity to change the oil since I was in the mood to multi-task. Checked that and the oil seemed to be fine, too.

So, I'm going to go the following route when I get home:

- Go for the "burp" test that RedRubicon suggested, because it's cheap and the least hassle. It's hard to explain, but this is what this seems to be the most symptomatic of. If that doesn't work......

- Check the thermostat. Again, cheap, and not out of the realm of possibility. I know that it's "out of the loop" if it's isolated, but RubiconTJ04 might be right - I could have cooked it and, worst case, I've got a spare. If that doesn't work.....

- Water pump. The local parts store has one for $60. If it isn't that, I've got the receipt. If it IS that, problem solved, and improved efficiency.

Wish me luck - the hour of reckoning is almost at hand...

Thanks again, everybody.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:20 PM   #18
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Don't forget unhooking the hose from the water pump that goes to the heater core is free and easy too. I'd do that before I bought one.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:54 PM   #19
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Happened to my buddys TJ few days ago. He had to use water in the radiator few weeks ago. The water sunk to the bottom hose, and froze over night. Therefore, it wasn't circulating coolant. We took a heat gun to it, thawed it and drained it. Then filled it with coolant. Just a thought.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:31 PM   #20
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Certainly an air locked water pump could cause current symptoms and could have occurred on coolant loss from cracked radiator or radiator replacement but if the original overheat preceded crack to radiator hard to explain how an air lock could have spontaneously occurred. However a acell decel from an impact might finish off a failing water pump impeller to shaft connection and start the whole cascade of probs

I would definitely burp and check water pump to heater hose outflow

If the burping works great if not I don't think the thermostat would cause no heat in the heater hoses so after no cost burp if still not working would favor water pump prob

I defer to Jerry on water pumps and he has issues with most if not all aftermarket water pumps. No personal experience but looks to be an involved enough process to not want to have to do a premature re-repair
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:19 PM   #21
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I used this video to change my water pump. It was a huge help. Just in case you want to check it out to see what it involves. Also the metal pipe that comes out of it gave him a hard time when trying to remove it. Mine did too. I heated the connection with a blowtorch and it came off pretty easy. Hope you find the problem soon, Good luck!

How to Change a Waterpump in a Jeep Wrangler - YouTube
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:07 PM   #22
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Mkayyyyy,

Drained the coolant (I'm getting too good at this), and the color/quality was fine.

Burped the system, but didn't notice the usual "draw" of fluid that you see through the radiator fill spout (the level didn't go down when revved).

Removed the hose to the top of the heater core, and stuck it in a milk jug while my lovely assistant (my daughter) started the Jeep.

And nothing came out. Put my hand against it, and no vacuum, just in case I had the wrong hose.

Looks like I'm replacing the water pump after all.

I can't name you 'cause I can't see the previous post right now, but I'll watch the video with great interest.

And pics will follow......
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:27 PM   #23
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And, I'm just guessing, but if the impeller isn't supposed to fall off of the shaft, this might be my problem.

The good news is, the impeller didn't explode leaving bits all over the place. The better news is, I found the actual problem and I'm not chasing a red herring.

Still replacing the thermostat but I've got miles to go before I sleep.

Thanks again for all your assistance.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:14 PM   #24
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All done. Up and running and ready for another 140,000!!!

A few hiccups here and there, but I couldn't have done it without all of your help and suggestions.

This forum rocks!!! I really appreciate everyone's input.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:19 PM   #25
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All done. Up and running and ready for another 140,000!!! A few hiccups here and there, but I couldn't have done it without all of your help and suggestions. This forum rocks!!! I really appreciate everyone's input.
Great lol! Yours was an entertaining one. Glad you got it up and going!
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:10 PM   #26
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Great news just

Which water pump from where did you purchase and how was the apparent quality ( oem vs aftermarket)

Might help me decide where to buy when I need one
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:25 PM   #27
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Great news just Which water pump from where did you purchase and how was the apparent quality ( oem vs aftermarket) Might help me decide where to buy when I need one
I bought one from autozone. Fit, finish and feel were nice. It is a hell of a lot nicer than the clutch the dealer bought from them it's a pos. From looks and feel the water pump was OEM quality. It has a lifetime warranty too. So did the clutch but that's to much damn work to often. So you can see I'm not a hater or a fan but I think they got a good water pump.
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:42 PM   #28
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Hey 79scout, I'm not sure where in Wisconsin you're from but I live about 30 miles outside of Milwaukee and I work in Milwaukee. If I had any clue when this happened I would of driven and helped you out. That's neither here nor there now but if you come out this way again get ahold of me. I also know some really good jeeping land. My buddy also has a 99 Tj and he would love to come out.
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:10 AM   #29
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I bought one from autozone. Fit, finish and feel were nice. It is a hell of a lot nicer than the clutch the dealer bought from them it's a pos. From looks and feel the water pump was OEM quality. It has a lifetime warranty too. So did the clutch but that's to much damn work to often. So you can see I'm not a hater or a fan but I think they got a good water pump.
Digger, ditto on what Majnoon described. I got mine from A-zone as well, and the quality of the casting, the fit and finish of the mating surfaces - all that was great. Went in without a hitch, and the new one was 56 skins. No complaints.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:55 AM   #30
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Hey 79scout, I'm not sure where in Wisconsin you're from but I live about 30 miles outside of Milwaukee and I work in Milwaukee. If I had any clue when this happened I would of driven and helped you out. That's neither here nor there now but if you come out this way again get ahold of me. I also know some really good jeeping land. My buddy also has a 99 Tj and he would love to come out.
rubiconvict05 - thanks a ton for the offer - I sincerely appreciate your generosity, but I'm afraid you only would've become another stranded vehicle. Once I crossed the county line from Walworth into Rock, the roads went from being passable to a hockey rink. I'm out in Janesville, but I grew up on 56th and National on the "not so mean streets" of West Milwaukee. I don't make it back as often as I used to, but I'll be sure to keep you in mind on my next excursion.

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