2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

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2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby Extremetgi » Fri May 22, 2020 5:34 pm

Ok, so I am chasing an overheating issue in my Trooper, which I initially thought was due to the leaking orings on the heater pipes under the intake. I have replaced those, along with the thermostat and and the fan clutch all in hope of not having to deal with head gaskets...
If I leave the radiator cap off it will idle just fine without overheating and seems to do okay idling with the radiator cap on. When I take it on the highway and run it for 15-20 miles the temperature looks good, but as soon as I get off the highway and get stuck at a light, it starts blowing the coolant out of the overflow tank and quickly overheats. When this happens, it seems that I have lost the majority of the coolant and the hoses are pressurized rock hard from steam, or more then likely combustion gasses.

The water pump was changed probably 12k miles ago.
I have tried back pressurizing the system to 15psi via hooking up an airline to the radiator overflow port and that is how I found the leaking orings. After repairing those, I have not spotted any other leaks.
Borrowed a combustion gas detector for the radiator from Oreilly's and it showed negative even after running at idle for an extended amount of time. It did change color when I tested it by sniffing the tailpipe, so I am guessing there is a very minor head gasket leak, but not enough at idle to give a positive result?
The coolant does not appear to be entering any of the combustion chambers, as they all look fairly uniformly dirty, Nor are there any signs of water in the oil, and it is not producing white smoke from burned coolant.
I will say that the flow through the radiator doesn't look very vigorous, but I would think that if it was overly clogged that I would have issues with a prolonged idle?

Any thoughts or suggestions before I spend the money and time to change the head gaskets?
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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby robb5 » Fri May 22, 2020 6:19 pm

I had struggled with the same situation and it turned out to be the radiator cap. It would purge and puke after driving but run cool otherwise. I'm not sure if it wasn't pressurized or it was drawing air? Cheap fix tho.

Do you have coolant in the spark plug wells when you lift the coils out?
When in doubt gas it!

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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby Extremetgi » Fri May 22, 2020 6:37 pm

Forgot to mention that I tried changing the radiator cap too, would have been great if that fixed it! That does bring up another related question though. The bottom, inner surface of the radiator neck, isn't exactly smooth anymore, which makes me wonder if that is keeping things from pressurizing properly? Does the bottom rubber gasket on the cap actually seal against that surface? If so, that might be the issue, I just hate to throw anymore money at things if they are not needed. Coolant does not leak from the cap out of the radiator, it just gets dumped under pressure into the overflow, which quickly fills up and runs over.

No coolant in the spark plug wells, though I did see a little bit of oil in one well, so I plan on changing the seals on that valve cover again...
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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby robb5 » Fri May 22, 2020 8:22 pm

Coolant in the spark plug wells = cracked cylinder head. Have you done the thermostat?
Have you tried a real pressure tester with the correct test cap? I wonder if the expansion tank tube method that you describe may give a variable result?
When in doubt gas it!

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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby Extremetgi » Fri May 22, 2020 8:42 pm

Luckily then, I did not see any coolant in the spark plug wells. Yes, the thermostat was changed last week when I did the heater hose orings, though that doesn't mean the new one isn't bad.

No, I have not tried an actual pressure test with proper adapter, yet. I need to see if I can find one somewhere. What I did was pull the overflow hose and attach a new hose to the expansion tube port, which allowed me to pressurize the the system, which definitely seemed to work as it was forcing coolant out of the bad heater hose orings. Still though, it is probably worth tracking down the real thing.

Any thoughts on condition of the inside lip on my radiator? If that is supposed to be a sealing surface to preventing overflow to the expansion tank, then we could be looking at a possible culprit.

Thank you for the help.

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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby robb5 » Sat May 23, 2020 9:35 am

Looks normal to me. The fan clutch is working correctly? It should be locked up when the engine temp is up.

So here's the real question-
Is it pushing coolant out because of high temp boil over -or- is the temp good but the system is being pressurized as you have suggested?

If you have a temp gun shoot the radiator from the fan side, heater hoses, and water neck engine off before and after driving.
When in doubt gas it!

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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby Extremetgi » Sat May 23, 2020 8:41 pm

I hope that the fan clutch is working properly, as it is brand new. I will have to do some reading on testing the fan clutch to verify it is working as intended.

Boil over or headgasket issues is the question, and I would much prefer it to be a boil over issue.
Part of me wants to go ahead and order a new radiator and hope that fixes it, but I hate to spend a $100ish on it, if it is not needed.
I will have to run down to my shop tomorrow and borrow the temp gun from there, as I tried to pick up a cheap one from harbor freight today, but they did not have any on hand. They don't even list them on their website at the moment, so I am guessing they have specified them for medical or related usage.
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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby robb5 » Sat May 23, 2020 9:47 pm

I would do the temp gun first then move to the pressure test again with the use of a borrowed tool from O'Reilly, AutoZone, or? If a head gasket leaks or gases the coolant you usually will see a grey discoloration of the overflow tank as well as an exhaust smell.
When in doubt gas it!

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Re: 2002 Trooper Overheating, possibly headgaskets?

Postby Extremetgi » Sun May 24, 2020 6:55 pm

Grabbed some temperatures after a 6 mile round trip, but did not get on the highway. The dash gauge looked good the whole time, and the fan blade felt about the same from a cold start as it did when I returned. The outside temperature was 73 degrees and I have not driven the Trooper in several days, so it was definitely at ambient air temperature.

These 2 were taken on the metal portion:
Water Neck Outlet from Engine - 188
Water Neck In to Engine - 175

Top of Radiator Input/Left Side: 163
Bottom of Left Side: 143
Top of Radiator, Outlet/Right Side: 168
Bottom of Radiator, Right Side: 142

The overflow started around the low mark and upon returning was just above the high mark.

I will drive it to the shop some point this week to try running another pressure test on the coolant system, though it will probably be a few days before I get to it.
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