A quick recap. My coolant tends to overflow my expansion reservoir. I've flushed the cooling system and got quite a bit sediment out, some of which was rust and bit's of metal, some of which was black aluminum oxide. I've replaced the water pump because all it's fins rusted off and even pulled one of those fins out of the block's main water passage.
What I've noticed is that if I turn on the A/C I don't have this problem. I just took a three day trip through the mountains and didn't loose a drop of coolant because I was running the A/C the whole time.
So I hooked it up to ForScan to gather some data. The lines are RPM's, Temp and Fan On / Off ( X axis is time in seconds ):
Basically, when the ECU is reading about 97-98 C* is when I start to see the coolant in the expansion container expand. By the time it reaches about 100C* ( 212F* ) the coolant is bubbling and overflowing the container. About the time the fan turns off the coolant recedes rapidly. About 20 seconds after the fan turns off the ECU reads about 92-93C*.
The fan is on for about 35 seconds each time, and about 190 seconds passes before it comes on again.
Now as to why this is all happening. I can think of a few possibilities.
- Maybe I've got a partial clog in the engine block water jacket? I've flushed everything backwards and forwards multiple times and water seems to flow everywhere without any problem. I installed a tee on the heater core outlet and pinch off the top radiator hose to force the water backwards through the block with thermostat and lower hose removed.
- Slightly off Temp sensor? I've taken out the ECT and tested it and it seems accurate, although I guess it could be off by 5 or 10 degrees and I may not have noticed.
- Radiator Cap could be bad, it's old. 1.1 is written on it. I assume that's probably bar. I would think the temperature would need to be much more than 97-98C* before there would be sufficient pressure for it to start opening and letting coolant out.
Two side notes. I'm currently running distilled water, but it was also happening with the green Prestone coolant which is rated up to 126C*.
The dash temperature gauge has gone wonky recently and is usually pegged low or bouncing around randomly, even while the ECU reports a steady, normal temperature.
As a reminder, this doesn't happen when the A/C is on.
I'd really appreciate everyone's input.
So it was in fact the radiator cap. Thanks to zipzit and SolarMike for their great answers!
Here's a new graph with the new radiator cap installed:
Even when the temperature hits 101C* there is no evidence of any movement at all in the expansion container. Also, some other things have changed. The fan stays on for only 24 seconds and 195 seconds pass before it comes back on, which is about a 1:8 On/Off ratio now. And it only takes 13 seconds after fan shutoff for the temperature to get down to 93C*.