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Thread: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

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    Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Hi all. It's my first post here, though I've been using the forums as a very useful resource since the purchase of my 86 cargo van about a month or so ago. I've been picking away at problems and, with the aid of your pictures and writings, I have replaced the high pressure power steering hose, found myself an overdrive gear, replaced the o2 sensor, changes the distributor cap, plug wires and plugs and found out how to read my van's error codes. I was coming into town on the weekend to go salvage a muffler and exhaust pipes when the van overheated causing me to pull off to the side of the road. My coolant was down and I also discovered that the evening before, in a hasty clean up, I hadn't fully secured the radiator cap (Yes, I know, dumb). Hence the coolant loss. So my girlfriend came and brought me some coolant and I started her up. Seemed fine. Ran about the same and I hadn't run it at overheating very long (only so long as to register the problem) and so I took off. Then, stopped at a parking lot to purchase some more fix-up items and coolant, I took off again. This time I started overheating again in about 5 minutes. So I pulled back into the parking lot whereupon the van started leaking coolant profusely. I couldn't tell where from there and eventually got a tow to a place I could look at and work on things. Having removed the fan shroud, fan, and belts I was better able to look at where the water was coming from. Of course I wasn't running it, I just had someone turn the pump while I looked from below. It looks to be coming from somewhere around the water pump itself, though the exact location is hard to tell. I know some of you are probably thinking blown head gasket but nothing so far is pointing to that. The water seems to have some rust in it, but I am attributing that to lack of coolant changes in the past and extra water in the ratio. It doesn't look like oil in the coolant and there is no sign of coolant in the oil. No white smoke, no scent of burning coolant. I've heard some water pumps will do this to signal that the pump is shot. Sound possible? Or a pump gasket? It doesn't seem to be coming out of any hoses or anything, just straight down off the pump. Any other suggestions or leads or experience? I'm just getting to know these beasts a bit. Thanks for any help. All the stuff up on here has been really great.

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Well, I can all but confirm that the pump was shot. The coolant was coming out of some sort of release valve on the pump. And whoever the monkey was who owned the van before me appears to have run not much more than water through the system. The nut inside the pump was covered in rust and there is a bit of pitting on the block beneath where the pump sits. Will have to flush the system well... New pump en route!

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Hi and welcome to the forum! Sorry for the late reply. I've been working major overtime all week (to meet deadlines) and haven't had any spare time for the internet. It sounds like you've got the hard part figured out. There is a weep hole in the neck of the water pump and it sounds like that's where the leak is coming from. If the shaft seal fails inside the pump, then the coolant will travel up the shaft and come out of that hole. Usually the shaft seal fails due to a failed bearing. Regardless of what caused what, leaks are leaks and need to be dealt with. Replacing the pump sounds like the right thing to do. Good luck with the repair and keep us posted on how things come out. Tim

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    New pump in! No leaks! However, the engine sometimes cranks hard, or has a hard time making a good connection now at initial startup. I have a bit of a weak battery, does this seem to be the most likely cause? I end up having to turn the key on and off a bunch of times and then it finally connects and then cranks a little tough. Also, my coolant seems to still have rust in it. Anyone done much coolant flushing? I'm hoping to fix it by just draining all the fluid again and add some more new stuff...

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    CLICK HERE for a good thread on starter circuit issues.

    As for flushing the cooling system, Prestone makes some flushing products that work pretty good. You can purchase the Prestone flushing kit at any auto parts store (even Walmart should have it). The kit consists of several tees and an adapter for a garden hose. For the van you want the 5/8" tee (discard the rest). The best place to put the tee is under the front of the van. Just lay down under there and find the heater hoses. Cut the line and mount similar to the way Llamavan mounted in the picture below. She has it labeled "This is aftermarket"

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    After the coolant is drained and the tee is installed, attach one of those shut-off valves (for your garden hose) and the garden hose to the van via the tee. Open your radiator drain and start the water flow by partially opening the garden hose valve. Adjust the flow of the garden hose to exceed the drain rate. Watch the coolant fill port on your engine. When it's about to overflow, adjust the flow of the garden hose to match the rate of the radiator drain. Now start your engine and open your heater controls to full heat. While monitoring water level, let the van run like that for at least 15 minutes or until the water in the system looks clean (I usually let it flush for about 1/2 hr). If your system is really dirty, after you're done flushing, put in some of that Prestone Super Flush stuff (a liquid cleaning agent), run the engine for a while (follow product directions), then drain and flush again like you did the 1st time. After it's all clean, drain and fill. There's a drain plug on the side of the engine block that should be opened too (in a bad spot under the exhaust manifold). I use a 14mm socket and a short extension to reach it. After all the water is out close all the drains, put the cap (included in your flushing kit) on your flushing tee, replace the antifreeze and you're done. A good ratio of antifreeze to water is about 50/50 (that's a freeze protection down to -34F. Have fun. Tim

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    Cut the line and mount similar to the way Llamavan mounted in the picture below. She has it labeled "This is aftermarket"
    Actually, Skyler came to me like that and just I kept it that way when I replaced hoses. A couple of years later I tracked a coolant leak to that spot. Unlike joints between rubber hose and metal, the hose never "bonded" with the plastic and it was oozing coolant. No amount of tightening would keep the leak at bay even though it wasn't leaking for quite awhile. The tee cap was not in very good shape, either. I ended up replacing that section of hose with continuous rubber again. So if you do this (IMO worthwhile for doing the flush), keep that in mind.

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    1989 4WD 5-speed DLX; 410K and an odd sense of humor ("Skylervan")

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Hello everyone. My van is overheating and I'm hoping that someone can give me a short checklist of things to look at next? Here's a summary of the situation.

    1. Van overheated one day and I noticed that the water pump was leaking/bad.
    2. Replaced water pump, fan clutch, thermostat, hoses, radiator cap (all OEM)
    3. Flushed coolant: drained by pulling off lower radiator hose, but DID NOT use engine block drain plug. Note: coolant reservoir hose was clogged so I cleaned that and the reservoir.
    4. First minute or so of running, the van spits out a little fluid at the exhaust pipe along with some steam, but this all goes away after driving.
    5. While driving, the van warms up to the midway point on the needle, but after about five miles the needle moves to the end of the white cutoff point (just before red).
    6. Thinking about getting one of those blown head gasket testing kits.

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Does it have an unexplained loss of coolant? Some moisture out the exhaust is normal, but if it's antifreeze there' is a distinct exhaust smell. With what you've done so far, and your description of the problem. I'm leaning towards head gasket too. Tim

    PS: When you said your coolant recovery hose was blocked, did you find an actual blockage? The reason I'm asking is because the recovery system will often stop functioning if you have a cooling system breach (IE blown head gasket). This is because it's easier to suck air than fluid, and if there's a breach, when the coolant cools/contracts, it will often suck air from the breach instead of fluid from the recovery tank. Tim

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    Does it have an unexplained loss of coolant? Some moisture out the exhaust is normal, but if it's antifreeze there' is a distinct exhaust smell. With what you've done so far, and your description of the problem. I'm leaning towards head gasket too. Tim

    PS: When you said your coolant recovery hose was blocked, did you find an actual blockage? The reason I'm asking is because the recovery system will often stop functioning if you have a cooling system breach (IE blown head gasket). This is because it's easier to suck air than fluid, and if there's a breach, when the coolant cools/contracts, it will often suck air from the breach instead of fluid from the recovery tank. Tim
    Interesting. Yes, the recovery hose was physically stopped up with something that I had to blow/wash through before reattaching the hose. After I repaired this, I tried to see if the recovery tank was working, but I'm not sure that it does anything. I don't notice the level ever changing??? As a last effort, I was going to drain the block (only drained from radiator before), chemically flush, bleed, and do another test run. I guess it's possible that circulation in the block needs to be improved? Really don't know at this point.

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Unless your coolant was extremely contaminated with rust and/or other debris, it's unlikely an obstruction in the block. Always a small possibility, just not likely. If you haven't already checked it out, look at my overhaul thread. Tim

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    Re: Overheating van, coolant loss (a lot), water pump shot?

    Quote Originally Posted by timsrv View Post
    Unless your coolant was extremely contaminated with rust and/or other debris, it's unlikely an obstruction in the block. Always a small possibility, just not likely. If you haven't already checked it out, look at my overhaul thread. Tim
    When I flushed the system the water was crystal clear, so I will probably skip the block drain. I will checkout your write-up. Thanks.

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