Forum Thread

Car problems (security, high temp, and trac off)

RUsum1 9,544 1,696 August 21, 2015 at 02:39 PM
A couple days ago I noticed my car all of a sudden had the temp light come on. Now it consistently gets really high if my car idles in traffic. Putting the heat on full blast doesn't help but if I'm traveling at a decent speed it will go back down. Looking up these symptoms leads me to believe that either the radiator fan is not working or the radiator is clogged and needs flushed (I have never flushed my radiator since I've owned it)

The weird thing though is if the temps stay high enough for a long enough time, the Trac Off light will also come on and my engine will sound much deeper and it can't accelerate past 35mph. But once I start moving again, the temp needle starts to drop, the Trac Off light turns off, and my car will accelerate like normal. So what's that about?

I also notice a red light that says "security" came on right after the Trac Off light came on but it never went out when the Trac Off light went out.

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#2
First things first... see how much coolant is in your radiator/overflow bottle.
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#3
What kind of car? Can't go over 35 sounds like "limp" mode. Can you hear the fans come on? If you let it set there and open the hood you should see and hear the fans come on.
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#4
since you never had the radiator flushed that would be a good start. and have them replace the t-stat which opens and let the radiator fluid thru when warm/hot.
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#5
Sounds like a GM. If so, the car's computer is likely putting the car in a reduced power mode in order due to the overheating. Check the usual ... coolant level/quality, thermostat, water pump, radiator, hoses, etc.
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#6
also make sure the fan is coming on when idle. I had an issue earlier in the year where a rock lodged itself between the fan and cowling and blew the (40A!) fuse. I got a high temp alarm for the first time in the 7 years I've owned the car. Freeing the fan and replacing the fuse and it's A-OK.
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#7
When checking coolant, consult your car's manual for instructions on doing it safely (don't do it when it's hot).
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#8
Quote from dealgate View Post :
What kind of car? Can't go over 35 sounds like "limp" mode. Can you hear the fans come on? If you let it set there and open the hood you should see and hear the fans come on.
This sounds accurate for the extra lights and reduced power. My Saab would light up the dashboard Christmas tree and lock in gear 3 as the lowest in a limp home mode. Unfortunately I got all too familiar with it in my 4 years of owning that car.

I would look at the fan first, since speed seems to cool the car down. I have seen cases where the radiator fan fuse blows and the fan stops working.
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#9
I agree what kind of vehicle? Make, Model, Year, Millage please.

I agree, check the overflow bottle, when the car is at operating temp/hot open the hood and visually see if the fan is turning. You can easily check the front and rear of the radiator to see if it's really dirty.

If you need to add coolant make sure you get the right stuff. Don't go universal but go with coolant made specifically for your brand of car. So if it's a GM, get dexcool, if it's Toyota get the stuff thats toyota approved.

Overheating is not something to be messed with. You can do serious damage when an engine overheats.
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Vague questions receive vague answers . . . . . .
#10
3 days later and no sign of the OP... Frown
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#11
Quote from HarryH3 View Post :
3 days later and no sign of the OP... Frown
I also want to know more details on the car (especially mileage and maintenance history).
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#12
I'm back

Here is a picture. I took off the radiator cap and this is what it looks like. Is that just a clog that I can scrape out or something more troubling?

I turned the car on and let it idle and the fans eventually came on. I haven't driven the car since Friday afternoon driving home from work

Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
I agree what kind of vehicle? Make, Model, Year, Millage please.

I agree, check the overflow bottle, when the car is at operating temp/hot open the hood and visually see if the fan is turning. You can easily check the front and rear of the radiator to see if it's really dirty.

If you need to add coolant make sure you get the right stuff. Don't go universal but go with coolant made specifically for your brand of car. So if it's a GM, get dexcool, if it's Toyota get the stuff thats toyota approved.

Overheating is not something to be messed with. You can do serious damage when an engine overheats.
Oops. I already added some Prestone coolant. No one else mentioned different types to me when suggesting coolant. And I did that before making this thread.
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Last edited by RUsum1 August 24, 2015 at 06:08 PM
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#13
OP, no offense but it looks like you are in WAY over your head here. I'm guessing you added the wrong type of coolant and now its mixed into a frothy substance that could very likely clog your entire cooling system. I would have it towed to a shop and let the professionals fix it.

If you want to continue messing with it yourself, the #1 rule of asking for car help is posting the exact year/make/model.
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#14
Quote from WaarrEagle View Post :
OP, no offense but it looks like you are in WAY over your head here. I'm guessing you added the wrong type of coolant and now its mixed into a frothy substance that could very likely clog your entire cooling system. I would have it towed to a shop and let the professionals fix it.

If you want to continue messing with it yourself, the #1 rule of asking for car help is posting the exact year/make/model.
Well I did read the bottle and it says on the label "works with ANY color antifreeze. For ANY car or light duty truck. Will NOT void warranty" (they capitalized those words on the label).
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#15
Might be a head/intake gasket allowing oil and coolant to intermix. I had this problem on a 98 Grand Prix. Long story short it had a lot of the same issues your car has - temperature spikes and overheating on surface streets and stoplights but no issues on the highway - but if you pulled the oil cap it had a foamy substance on it (looked like cappuccino foam). Turns out the intake gasket was toast, allowing coolant to enter the engine oil (thus the foam) and vice versa (although I did have an oil residue in the coolant tank that wasn't my main problem).

It wound up being a terminal issue for the car; the gaskets were expensive to replace and it already had 165k on it.

Looking online for "clogged radiator cap" it seems that is correlated with a gasket failure like I describe, not mixing coolants - while not definitive it seems the jury is still out if mixing dexcool and non-dexcool presents any issues. Some people say dexcool sludges on its own, some say mixing will cause problems and others say it's fine for a short period of time, but to get a F&F done when possible.

I did find a photo similar to yours here:

http://www.mgf.ultimatemg.com/gro...buying.htm



"Coolant should be clear and either green or orange, depending on type of antifreeze. Creamy residues of the quantity shown here screams head gasket failure."

Granted that's for an MG but the symptoms should be more or less the same regardless of vehicle.
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Last edited by Dr. J August 25, 2015 at 05:49 AM
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