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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My girlfriend has a 2004 Saturn Ion 2 with a L4 2.2L MFI DOHC
engine, manual transmission, with appoximately 111K miles. I know it's not a Redline but I thought you guys would be able to shed some light on the current problem.

Her father was driving it up a very steep hill in 3-4 inches of snow. He couldn't make it up said hill and decided to try in reverse. After flooring the poor car for some time I decided to help push. I noticed coolant leaking from somewhere. Long story short we parked it. Checked it later and the reservoir was low. I added one quart of dex cool. The car runs fine and there are no visible leaks. However, the fan is only blowing cold air inside the car. I let the car idle and it warmed up as usual, the guage reaches 1/4 to 1/3 temp. I have checked the hoses and I can find two radiator lines. On the passenger side of the engine there is a hose running from the top of the rad. to the engine head. That hose heats up. The second line runs from the mid point of the rad. to the block and splits toward the overflow reservoir. That hose is cool. I checked the lines to the heater core and those are warm.
My mechanical knowledge is limited to older cars.

Just spoke to her mechanic on the phone and he suspects air in the system. He said that we should drive it and the thermostat will open and that will alleviate the air in the system.

What are your thoughts on this? I had first suspected a stuck thermostat or blockage in the heater core.

Im in Iowa and its pretty cold outside so any help that would limit my time working on this beast would be greatly appreciated.
 

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basically, fill it up with coolant, start it, let it warm up ALL the way (fans come on) with the heat and inside fan off.

1/3 or 1/4 on the temp gauge is not enough to get the thermostat to open. 1/4 is only like 100 degrees F.

then turn the temp dial to hot and go for a 10 minute drive. bring it back and park it. let it cool all the way down and then check the coolant level. top off if neccessary.

what you'll be doing is using the water pump to drive all the bubbles back up into the reservoir.
 

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newp, the tank is self bleeding. =P
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies. I had to take the night off work so I could fix it so I hope that the replies above work. I started the car 30 mins ago and the temp gauge is reading a little past 1/3. However, I can see small bubbles or drops of coolant being pushed back into the overflow.

Its only 8 degrees here so Im not sure if the car will warm anymore at an idle. I know that golden chicken had said to drive it after the fans had kicked on. Should we drive it before the fan kicks on?


Thanks
 

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you can. it's just that you can't tell for sure that the thermostat is open unless it's good and hot...and driving it will put airflow over the radiator and keep the coolant right near thermostat opening temp.

you might have a stuck open thermostat.

you can try holding it at 2500 rpm in neutral or park for a couple minutes. that'll push the air along too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
**Update**

So I drove the car for 10-15 mins at approx. 40mph. The fans kicked on and the temp gauge hit 1/2. I came home and popped the hood and their is coolant/air bubbling into the overflow. Any thoughts? Should I drive it longer? Its tough to drive it because the windshield fogs up without the blower.
 

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that should be good for now. check it in the morning cold and top off as neccessary.
 

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if you flip the temp dial from cold to hot, do you hear and feel the flap change? are the heater core hoses hot when the car's hot?

it's not still leaking coolant is it?

you might have to repeat this process several times depending on how air-bound the car is, or you can have a mechanic vacuum fill the car, which wouldn't take but a few minutes with the right tool.

looking in my haynes manual, they suggest squeezing the upper rad hose to squish out any bubbles trapped there.
 

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I know I was told on my SL2 that they needed a vacuum fill to get the air out of the coolant. If one was not used it could damage the engine. Is the Ion the same?
 

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i'm not sure if it's absolutely neccessary, but i do vacuum fill every car i work on.

and yes, you can damage your engine if it's air-bound
 
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