What is broken - thermostat or water pump, or..?

Grape Ape

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Location
High Point, NC
Hey guys,

Trying to work out this issue while I'm stuck at work. Last weekend my '99 Cherokee XJ 4.0L - started to run hot - "check gauges" dash light came on. I immediately pulled over, and I noticed that there was no coolant in the reservoir. Filled it up and went on my way without issue. This is odd because I checked, and added some the week before. I usually check my fluids on a regular basis. Today the "check gauges" light came on again because it was running hot again. Pulled over again ready to fill up the reservoir, but this time it was full!??? Drove part of the way to work (just a few minutes) with the heat blasting to keep the engine temp down, but then the rest of the way to work I turned off the heat and everything seemed fine. Even while sitting at lights a couple times for over a minute or more, the temp gauge didn't climb.

My first assumption is that the thermostat is not working, or only working when it wants to. The fan seemed to be working over time this morning too. Could this be a water pump issue?

Any insights so I can pick up what I need this afternoon? I know the parts are not very expensive, but I can't replacing both this week.

Thanks in advance for your help.
Dean
 

Falko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 20, 2005
Location
Winston-Salem
Water pump failures do not usually present themselves as intermittent issues. Thermostats can, but it wouldn't be my first guess.

Were there other symptoms of overheat other than the gauge?
 

Grape Ape

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Location
High Point, NC
Hey Falko, Thanks for the reply. Belt tension is seems normal. No other symptoms to note right before the warning. Both times it happened, I accelerated up to around 70 mph, and after a minute or two the light came on. The belt tension could be suspect now too.

I did notice a coolant leak / build-up at the thermostat housing though, but not enough to drain my coolant in a week. Also, a few months ago I noticed that my oil pressure is not what it normally has been during the life of the engine. It has dropped from 60 to 50 on the gauge. It has stayed that way since.

This good ol' Jeep does have 205k miles on it, and could probably use a good freshening, but it's my daily driver so really can't let it be down long.
 

Ron

Dum Spiro Spero
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Apr 16, 2005
Location
Sharon, SC
1- Id mke sure you have an actual temp problem and not a gauge sender problem. Free to check with a thermometer
2- Water Pumps dont really go intermittently like stated they are usually good or bad.
3- If its a mechanical fan a fan clutch could be suspect as well. Since you comment that the fan seemed to be working overtime I am guessing its an e-fan and you could hear it, if so moot point.
4- Test the thermostat in a pot of water on the stove with the thermometer from step 1
 

shawn

running dog lackey of the oppressor class
Administrator
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Mar 13, 2005
Location
Raleigh, NC
Electrical issue. Verify that it's actually overheating.
 

Fabrik8

Overcomplicator
Joined
May 27, 2015
Location
Huntersville
When you take out the thermostat to test it, buy a new one and test that one too. Then install the new one. They're super cheap and you'll have a known good one for probably the rest of the engines lifespan. You're testing the old one for proper troubleshooting, and you're replacing it for reliability.
I suspect it's stuck partially open and not opening fully.

It would be pretty rare to fail an impeller, so if the pump isn't leaking and isn't seized, it's probably not the pump at fault here.
 
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Mac5005

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Location
Rocky Mount
Fan clutch. Electric fan is still cutting on as it should.

Another free check. Bring engine up to 200 degrees or normal operation temp. Go drive around a while to make sure heat soak is accurate in engine compartment.

Stop and shut engine off.

You shouldn't be able to turn fan, as clutch should be locked up at this point. If you can turn it, replace the clutch.

YJ, tj, and zj all lock the fan clutch at 170 degrees, not sure about xj, but I would assume it's similar.

So you need to ensure not only the engine is at 170 and above, but that all the coolant, the radiator, and clutch are above that to ensure your test is accurate.

Stop and go city driving is a good way to bring it up to temp.

Check t-stat as mentioned above.

Also Make sure your radiator cap is holding the actual pressure it should.

I added a clean out fitting on a heater hose that allows me to pressurize system with a gauge, cold, or even with no coolant, to check everything.
 

Ron

Dum Spiro Spero
Moderator
Joined
Apr 16, 2005
Location
Sharon, SC
When you take out the thermostat to test it, buy a new one and test that one too. Then install the new one. They're super cheap and you'll have a known good one for probably the rest of the engines lifespan. You're testing the old one for proper troubleshooting, and you're replacing it for reliability.
I suspect it's stuck partially open and not opening fully.

It would be pretty rare to fail an impeller, so if the pump isn't leaking and isn't seized, it's probably not the pump at fault here.
Great tip. And bingo. Don't just replace it. You won't know if it's good nor bad and won't know if the new one is good, don't assume when trouble shooting it turns you into a parts swapper, but I'd change the $5 part either wayou for piece of mind.
 

Tradarcher

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Joined
Mar 20, 2005
Location
Creedmoor, NC
My Dodge truck is doing the same thing. On mine the radiator is cold though. Engine is in the red but I can put my hand on the radiator cap and it is cool to the touch. I suspect air in my rad or blocked rad.
 

Reid

Hasnt Seen Dirt in Years
Joined
Dec 30, 2005
Location
Winston Salem
My Dodge truck is doing the same thing. On mine the radiator is cold though. Engine is in the red but I can put my hand on the radiator cap and it is cool to the touch. I suspect air in my rad or blocked rad.

if the water in your radiator is cool, you probably have a bad pump. no water being pumped through the block.
 

Grape Ape

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Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Location
High Point, NC
Wow, guys, great responses. I didn't have a chance to test / remove anything last night, but I did notice that the radiator hoses were still hot after almost 2 hours of sitting. I will be working on it over the weekend though and will let you know what I find.
 

jeepinmatt

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Mar 24, 2005
Location
On the internet
Sounds similar to when my wife's ZJ had a split in the upper part of the radiator tank. It would get low on coolant, then the gauge would be all over the place as it intermittently pumped water past the sensor. Only clue was the coolant smell. I had to pull the radiator to find the crack, because it would only leak at higher temps when the water pump was at driving rpms and the radiator was full.
 

Grape Ape

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Location
High Point, NC
Well, I took the Jeep out for a run this morning to get it warm and do the fan clutch check as Mac5005 had suggested. Looks like that failed, as the fan does spin with the engine running and warm (210-220 degrees), but once turned off, I can spin the fan freely. Also, it looks like the VALVE cover gasket another issue as coolant is leaking out of that.
Can I just replace the valve cover gasket, or is there other stuff that I need to do while I'm in there? Like I said before, this is my daily driver, and I can't have it out of commission very long.
 
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rockcity

everyday is a chance to get better
Joined
Apr 10, 2005
Location
Greenville, NC
You can replace just the head gasket. While the head is off, have it cleaned and tested for cracks. Otherwise if it is cracked and didn't fix, you would continue to have issues
 

Mac5005

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Oct 19, 2005
Location
Rocky Mount
Sounds like a leak either at upper hose, or heater hoses or tstat housing to cause coolant to leak near valve cover gasket. Only oil under valve cover no coolant..... ?
 

Mangonesailor

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Sep 6, 2015
Location
"Triad"
Have you verified that the radiator is full after you topped off the jug? That's one thing I would check as well as you've already determined your fan clutch is shot.

Even though you have filled up the jug, coolant can still flow through the radiator with an air pocket in it, or the block. As that air pocket moves around it can make your temp-gage read incorrectly, and therefore cannot be trusted.

I'd pull the cap with it cold, top it off, squish some hoses to make it fill the voids until you no longer lose any coolant level and then install the cap. I use a lever-vent cap to do this, but the other way works great as well. This should be verified before electrically testing the system or installing a new t-stat.
 

Grape Ape

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Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Location
High Point, NC
Update....drained the oil, looks good / normal with no coolant (I'm glad about that). Tested the old and new t-stats and yes the old one was bad. Replaced with new. Replaced the fan clutch as well. All radiator hoses seemed to be in good condition. Dropped it off at mechanic today for a proper system flush and to verify that nothing is clogged.
 
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