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  #1  
Old July 18th, 2011, 01:49 AM
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Neill Thornton
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Urgent Help Needed with 300Tdi

OK everyone, we need some serious help. I am apologizing for the long post now, but we have been troubleshooting the shit out of this for almost 2 days and want to include all the info.

Josh (crash303) and I had started a trip to Alaska in our 90s. We left San Diego with no problems, until we hit pre-carmeggedon traffic in LA. When we hit the stop and go, the temp on my Tdi started climbing up to ~230 before we started moving again and it cooled down slightly to about 200. We pushed on for a while through LA until we got to the grapevine, and the temp spiked again. We pulled over, and discovered that the electric fan (replacing the engine driven one) had been wired backwards and was actually pushing air back over the radiator instead of pulling cold air in. We switch the wiring, pat each other on the back and think we are in the clear.

Several hours later we need to stop to get gas. The station doesn't have diesel so I just sit and idle while Josh fills up his thirsty V8. In the mean time, apparently my expansion tank overflows and pours coolant everywhere. We pull out of the gas station, and about 30 seconds later my temp heads to 250. We immediately pull over and start looking, and the expansion tank is pressurized and blowing coolant, but the cooling fan on the radiator, who's sensor is on the bottom hose leading to the water pump, is not on. We crack open the bleed bolt on the thermostat and it's empty and steaming. Also, the heater is cold.

We re-fill the engine with coolant through the thermostat housing, it starts cooling down. We jump on the highway and make it to San Jose (about an hour's drive) with no problem.

We get to my cousin's house in San Jose and start troubleshooting. We tear apart the cooling system, remove the water pump, clear out all the hoses. One of the hoses, the bleed hose from the t-stat housing to the expansion tank, was clogged with stop-leak. We blew that out and made sure all the other hoses were good as well. Pulled the expansion tank, cleaned it, etc. We decided to remove the thermostat, bleed the shit out of the engine, and think we are ready to roll. We head out towards San Francisco up 280. Lots of little hills, the 90 has no problems, temp never goes above 200. So I think we solved it with a bad thermostat removal and a good bleed.

Unfortunately, as soon as we hit the city and stop and go traffic, the temp spikes, the expansion tank starts steaming and gushing coolant, the heater goes cold, and the cooling fan isn't running.

We try re-bleeding the engine, something that had already worked, so we could turn around and head back to San Jose. No joy. We admit defeat and call AAA and have the truck towed to my cousin's.

So, here we are trying to get to Alaska, and this thing will simply not cooperate. Our ferry leaves from Seattle in a few days and we are trying to salvage this trip.

Things we know:
1) The engine seems to be very happy on the highway, it's when we stop we have a problem
2) The water pump seems to be pumping just fine as we can leave the bleed bolt off the top of the thermostat housing and start the truck and it gushes out. Pulled the water pump from the housing and it appears to be clear and functional.
3) Hoses all seem to be free and clear
4) We removed the thermometer, and then also clamped off the "bypass hose" that goes from the water pump to the thermostat housing, forcing the water through the radiator and block. At first it seemed like we fixed the problem, but then when we got back from a test drive it did the same symptoms all over again. This was with the water pump "hard wired" with no thermostat and no bypass. The cooling fan was not running, the heater was cold, and the expansion tank was bubbling over.

Something seems to be either sucking the coolant out of the engine, or injecting air into it, which is displacing coolant into the tank, but not letting water circulate via the radiator.

We need help. Not only does this place our Alaska trip in jeopardy, but I am not sure how to get the truck home to San Diego. We are running out of time.

I am going to go buy some "head gasket leak detector fluid" that runs in the coolant and will apparently change color when exposed to exhaust gases first thing in the morning. Other than the head gasket, we are simply out of ideas.

I am hoping one of the Tdi gurus here will have some advice.
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  #2  
Old July 18th, 2011, 04:49 AM
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Paul Beckwith
92 D90 300tdi hard top rebuild
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My first thought would be a stuck thermostat - but I gather you've removed that - if not run without it and see if that makes a difference..........second thought is a blockage somewhere in the water system - can you drain whats left and back flush with a hosepipe? Next thought is head gasket - although it seems strange that it only boils up when stationary - The tdi's will generally run pretty cool and many on this side of the pond are happy with no fan at all..........feel the coolant hoses to see if the top one is significantly different in temperature to the bottom one - if there is a marked difference that would suggest a lack of flow through the system......perhaps there is an airlock in the system? IS there a small plastic screw in the top hose to bleed air out.
Good Luck!!
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  #3  
Old July 18th, 2011, 07:30 AM
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You mentioned stop leak had clogged a hose. I'd be checking that you have a good coolant flow. That stuff can be dangerous. I've had 2 engines in the shop this year that were both ruined by being cagged up with that shit. You have to wonder what issues were being *covered* by using it.
Wouldn't be surprised if the head gasket needs replacing. It's a quick job on a Tdi. .
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  #4  
Old July 18th, 2011, 08:07 AM
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Very possible that you actually solved the initial problem but now you are dealing with the results of that overheat. Like Matt said, it may be a head gasket now.
I'd like to hear other opinions, but I find the TDI thermostats to be all over the place.
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  #5  
Old July 18th, 2011, 08:10 AM
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Mike
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This is an easy one, replace the cap on the expansion tank. Double check that the tank didn't bust a seal on the seam, common in high heat. While the truck was having problems did you try to turn on the heater to dissipate some of the heat? Did you replace the water pump or just examine it? As you are going to check, the next thing is the head gasket. bummer.
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  #6  
Old July 18th, 2011, 10:11 AM
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John Karlsson
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I had an intermittent overheating problem with my 200Tdi. I used the exhaust leak test kit, but the result was negative. What finally convinced me that it really was a blown head gasket was the bubbling I observed in the expansion tank, even when cold.
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  #7  
Old July 18th, 2011, 10:13 AM
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It sounds like you have combustion pressure entering your coolant jacket. If you have a lot of pressure in the overflow tanks with foamy coolant that is likely it. What may have happened… the backwards fan allowed the overheating which in turn expands the aluminum head at a different rate then the cast steel block producing a gap or reduced head bolt force. The combustion pressure likely eroded the head gasket between combustion chamber and coolant jacket.
A replacement head gasket may solve it. If the problem returns after a new head gasket then is more serious. I know when my 3.9 overheated the number 6 cylinder liner expanded temporally producing a gap to the block casting and allowed combustion pressure into the coolant. This one time overheating caused permanent damage to my block that was not totally fixed by a rebuilt, replacement head and gasket.
In any case if you get the head gasket off it reads like a book showing exactly what happened and where it happened. Good luck.
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  #8  
Old July 18th, 2011, 10:45 AM
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mark kellgren
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I would agree based on my recent painful lessons that stop leak/block sealant is a double edged sword. Trying to compensate for a minor fracture in my 2.8 head that was causing internal coolant loss, I used block sealant to close it. It's worked to almost 90% of coolant loss, but not 100%. The consequency was it completely clogged my radiator, which I just had to replace. My plan is to have the old one rodded out and retain as a spare, since there was nothing else wrong with it.

My lesson learned is not to try and band-aid serious cooling issues. coolant being sipped into my intake manifold from a cracked head contaminated my oil, which has caused two consecutive turbo failures. I've learned my lesson and have a new head enroute from M&D in the UK right now. I've already replaced my head gasket once in an attempt to resolve this issue, and now having done it once on a TDI, I realize it is actually a relatively easy job that can be done easily in a dedicated day, particularly with a buddy.

I would not head out on an overland trip period until this is 100% resolved. In my book coolant temp crossing 220 would be a red flag on a TDI for me, that would warrant a few days sacrifice on trip like this. hitting 250 even for a second would warrant a head gasket replacement or at a minimum a coolant system pressure test at a garage.

Since you have a tdi, not a 2.8, you can easily get parts to replace a head gasket or head for not much money overnight (the biggest advantage of having a 300 over a 2.8 btw). The fact that you overtemp at idle, which is completely opposite what a healthy TDI would do, tells me your expansion tank is either pushing coolant out while running (exhaust gasses sliipping past gasket into coolant) which creates massive air pockets, or worse, your block is now sipping coolant internally. if your oil level is rising, it's time to get that head off. There is no reason to pull that pump off again. it's not the pump.

I would also agree that if your cap is shot, or there is a seam failure in your expansion tank, then once you start running at cruise, and the coolant expands/pressure rises in your system, it will start purging coolant, and get replaced with air, then when you idle back down afterwards, you'll start overtemping due to all the air in the system. Once again, the pressure test at the garage is mandatory at this point, to help id where you are losing your coolant from (expansion tank or head gasket). if they find it's your epansion tank, get one quickly and retest. don't just assume it's fixed, as all these issues could have caused your head gasket to fail in addition to your expansion tank. not worth the risk for a trip like this.

I've had problems at the onset of a major trip before. your worst enemy at this point, is shooting for the quick fix so that you are not delayed, and convincing yourself not to address the major issues. Yes it sucks, but accept the loss of 2-3 days, and be decisive, and you can get back on the road with confidence. Get it towed and pressue tested today so you can make a decision on what to fix with confidence quickly.

napa has the exhaust gas coolant test kit for about $40. At a minimum RN will likely have any TDI part you need to resolve overnight if needed. You can probably get a used replacement expansion tank from a Disco 1 salvage locally. If you need to replace the head gasket, you probably have all the tools you need to pull the head, but will need a torque wrench, feeler gauge to valve spacing, and an angle gauge that you can get from a good local tool shop like Harbor Freight, Napa, etc.

One other thing to remember and it was mentioned, if you have enough stop-leak to clog that return line, which the purpose of is to allow air to bleed out of the system into the expansion tank (like the fuel tank breather line), then your radiator at this point is also probably clogged. if your lower and upper hose are at the same temperature, assume your radiator is clogged and order a new one. Another symptom of a clogged radiator is if your cooling system is unable to shed head when it is not under load. I was getting up to 220 on the highway, then when I would pull over, it would just stay at 220. A healthy radiator would cause the temp to start dropping immediately if there is coolant circulating in the system. I confirmed this with a $10 IR temp scanner from harbor freight showing no temp drop between upper and lower hose. I replaced that radiator in about an hour, and that resolved my temp issues. This is not yourmain issue, since you are fine running but overtemp at idle, but I would suspect you might have a partial clog due to one clog already found in a hose that is larger in diameter than the tubes on your radiator.

Good luck. I know this sucks but make the hard decisions quickly and you can salvage this trip.
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  #9  
Old July 18th, 2011, 10:59 AM
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Neill Thornton
1984 D90 300 Tdi / 1965 Series IIA
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Going to play devil's advocate on some of this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulnb57 View Post
second thought is a blockage somewhere in the water system - can you drain whats left and back flush with a hosepipe? Next thought is head gasket - although it seems strange that it only boils up when stationary - The tdi's will generally run pretty cool and many on this side of the pond are happy with no fan at all..........feel the coolant hoses to see if the top one is significantly different in temperature to the bottom one - if there is a marked difference that would suggest a lack of flow through the system......perhaps there is an airlock in the system? IS there a small plastic screw in the top hose to bleed air out.
When we pulled it all apart we flushed everything with the hose... the best we could do for the block/heads was run water from the heater supply hose back through, and it didn't have any problem flowing out of the water pump housing.

Also, my top hose does not have a bleed screw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by junkyddog11 View Post
You mentioned stop leak had clogged a hose. I'd be checking that you have a good coolant flow. That stuff can be dangerous. I've had 2 engines in the shop this year that were both ruined by being cagged up with that shit. You have to wonder what issues were being *covered* by using it.
Wouldn't be surprised if the head gasket needs replacing. It's a quick job on a Tdi. .
Similar answer to above, we flushed all sorts of stuff, and if it's coolant flow, why does it work great for hours on the freeway at high speed, then explode when at idle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MC22958 View Post
This is an easy one, replace the cap on the expansion tank. Double check that the tank didn't bust a seal on the seam, common in high heat. While the truck was having problems did you try to turn on the heater to dissipate some of the heat? Did you replace the water pump or just examine it? As you are going to check, the next thing is the head gasket. bummer.
The first time it overheated I turned the fan on immediately and it was hot. Haven't replaced the water pump yet as all the parts are going to be special order and overnighted from somewhere at a price to match.

The expansion cap is an interesting suggestion. We ran it for a long time with no cap on, and then test drove it last night with it on but loose. No joy, still overheated. What would the cap have to do with it?

------ Follow up post added July 18th, 2011 08:08 AM ------

Mark, thanks man... yeah it sucks. Good news is that Cerrone's European, the sponsors of the LRR Forum, are about 20 minutes away. They might be able to pressure test it. I am going to call them, as well as Rovers North to see how fast I can get a head gasket kit.
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  #10  
Old July 18th, 2011, 11:12 AM
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mark kellgren
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Originally Posted by navydevildoc View Post
What would the cap have to do with it?
When the coolant starts to warm up, it expands. In a healthy system, this creates internal pressure throughout the cooling system. Past around 16lbs, a healthy cap releases excessive pressure, and coolant will flow out of the cap drain valve hanging down the side. You are either losing coolant this way, or internally in the engine. the only way to lose it internally is a failed head gasket, cracked head, or cracked block (in descending likelyhood).

If you can answer where all the coolant is going that is leaving the coolant system, that will help you trememdously in isolating your problem. you can't get around 1) coolant system is filled up cold, 2) engine gets hot, 3) air in system/coolant was lost.
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  #11  
Old July 18th, 2011, 11:27 AM
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Julien Dalbin
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I would get back to the viscous operated fan.
Do you have A/C? was it on? is your A/C fan working properly?
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  #12  
Old July 18th, 2011, 11:29 AM
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mark kellgren
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Originally Posted by JFD View Post
I would get back to the viscous operated fan.
Do you have A/C? was it on? is your A/C fan working properly?
He has an electric fan, not viscous.
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  #13  
Old July 18th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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Neill Thornton
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I have A/C but we only turned it on during testing to induce a load on the engine. I wasn't on during any overheating adventure.

------ Follow up post added July 18th, 2011 08:41 AM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlander View Post
When the coolant starts to warm up, it expands. In a healthy system, this creates internal pressure throughout the cooling system. Past around 16lbs, a healthy cap releases excessive pressure, and coolant will flow out of the cap drain valve hanging down the side. You are either losing coolant this way, or internally in the engine. the only way to lose it internally is a failed head gasket, cracked head, or cracked block (in descending likelyhood).

If you can answer where all the coolant is going that is leaving the coolant system, that will help you trememdously in isolating your problem. you can't get around 1) coolant system is filled up cold, 2) engine gets hot, 3) air in system/coolant was lost.
The coolant is coming out of the cap as I think is designed, it has an integrated pressure valve in it. When I stop, or when we have been going on test drives around San Jose with the bonnet off, you see the coolant come out of the tank. The question is why is the coolant all in the tank and overflowing, and not in the engine block where it belongs?
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Old July 18th, 2011, 11:50 AM
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I had this exact same problem on my 3.9L V8. At highway speeds, no problem. Pull off at an exit, instant overheat. After replacing everything but the head gasket and still having the issue, I replaced the head gasket. No more problems and truck ran solid as a rock until 50K miles later when I had to do it again..

If I were you, I would overnight the parts for the head gasket and knock that out ASAP. You might still be able to make your trip if you get on it. While you're waiting for FedEx, pull everything apart and source any other tools and fluids you'll need so that it's a quick job.
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Old July 18th, 2011, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris snell View Post
I had this exact same problem on my 3.9L V8. At highway speeds, no problem. Pull off at an exit, instant overheat. After replacing everything but the head gasket and still having the issue, I replaced the head gasket. No more problems and truck ran solid as a rock until 50K miles later when I had to do it again..

If I were you, I would overnight the parts for the head gasket and knock that out ASAP. You might still be able to make your trip if you get on it. While you're waiting for FedEx, pull everything apart and source any other tools and fluids you'll need so that it's a quick job.
X2. failed head gasket that is leaking exhaust gases into your coolant will push your coolant system pressue past the 16 psi forcing your cap to release.

what you'll need off top of my head.

new head gasket,
metric and sae sockets
angle gauge
gasket scraper
torque wrench
feeler gauge set (with .020mm I believe for rocker clearance, and .06mm I believe for measuring head warpage tolerances)
solid metal ruler long enough to check head for warpage along it's full length.
fresh coolant

when doing this work, the trailfitter tech videos on youtube are enourmously helpful in visualling some of this stuff. he has several 10min videos covering a variety of maintenance issues on the 200/300 tdi heads.
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  #16  
Old July 18th, 2011, 12:41 PM
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I'm leaning toward head gasket as well. But it's a small leak. You probably won't see signs of it when(if) you pull the head and replace it. But this will lead to the over pressure condition. May also be the reason the reason the heater is cold (if pressure/gas is causing a reverse or no flow through those lines). Pressure cap tester on the expansion tank while running - if it rises about 15 psi, that's the only place pressure can come from.

sucks. good luck
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  #17  
Old July 18th, 2011, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlander View Post
He has an electric fan, not viscous.
I got that. I think he should get back to the viscous fan setup.

------ Follow up post added July 18th, 2011 12:49 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by navydevildoc View Post
I have A/C but we only turned it on during testing to induce a load on the engine. I wasn't on during any overheating adventure.
Even if A/C was not on, your A/C fan is supposed to be wired so it would start if your coolant reach a certain temperature. Temp switch is under thermostat elbow. The other temp switch is too cut off A/C compressor clutch in case of overheating.
It will be wise to check for proper work of both circuits.
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  #18  
Old July 18th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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All parts were in stock and ordered from Rovers North priority overnight. Tomorrow will be fun.
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  #19  
Old July 18th, 2011, 01:24 PM
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Lee Davis
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i'm no techie but am rooting for you. hope you make it to seattle!!!
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  #20  
Old July 18th, 2011, 01:34 PM
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Coming into this thread late, but I agree that the head gasket is a likely source of the trouble. Something about Rovers and head gaskets. They just do not hold together for long.
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