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1997 Pontiac Firebird WS6, 5.7L V8, LT1 348
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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Hey guys,

Thanks again for all the support. It really does mean a lot. So it was pretty nice out today until it started raining. Anyway I made progress. I got the new flow control valve in and raised the pressure somewhere between right around 18 PSI. My father and I inspected it for a couple minutes to see if we could spot any leaks. Then the mechanism we were using decided to shoot off the radiator cap like a rocket. We went around gently squeezing hoses while it was under pressure beforehand and so far so good.

I also went ahead and took off one of the Opti vent lines. The one that does not connect to the air intake between the throttle body and MAF sensor. I then used a handpump as suggested to see if I could get any sign of coolant and nothing, which I guess is good news. I did not take the other one off because it is a pain to say the least.

So I guess I am probably going to drive the car for the first time in about a year. I know I should not be but I am really nervous. I feel like as soon as I hit the accelerator the engine is going to disconnect from the frame mounts and transmission then go rolling down the road or something. At this point I expect it.

I may just replace the PCV hose. If not I will spray with some break cleaner on it soon and see if it changes the engine idle.

So if I could ask for anymore aid from you guys I guess it would be what to expect next? What can I do to ensure I do not end up damaging something? Just keep an eye on the temperature gauge and only take short trips for the time being?
 

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DELCO NERD
1993 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, LT1 5.7L V8
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Have you had an opportunity to run the car recently in any warmer weather to observe what the exhaust looks like coming out of the tailpipe?
 
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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Have you had an opportunity to run the car recently in any warmer weather to observe what the exhaust looks like coming out of the tailpipe?
You mean to gauge whether or not the white smoke was present in more mild weather? So no not really, I have tried to run it at every opportunity but unfortunately did not pay that much attention to the exhaust. Because now that I am thinking about it when I observed the white smoke it was definitely pretty cold out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Okay so I got the car off the stands today and drove it around a little bit. I am trying to get the transmission back to operating level before taking it into town. So my biggest concern now is that the car does not seem to be effectively cooling. This is the same issue I had before I ran into the leaks. I am going to keep checking the coolant level but I think something is more than likely wrong.

I already began watching a guide on how to test the radiator fans using my multimeter and testing the motors with a 12 volt battery. Now can I use ANY 12 volt battery to try and test the fan motors? I just took my smaller lawn mower battery off my Ferris for the Winter so I guess I could use that.
 

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DELCO NERD
1993 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, LT1 5.7L V8
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I think you could (1) turn on your air conditioning, assuming you have refrigerant pressure sufficient to cycle the compressor, or (2) let the car run with the hood open and wait for the cooling fans to turn on when the car reaches the appropriate temperature. The car has two cooling fans - a primary and a secondary.
 
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1994 Firebird Formula 381ci LT1 / TH400+GV O/D
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95-97 fans are set up differently than 93/94. Both fans turn on at low speed at 226F. Both fans step up to high speed at 235°F.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
95-97 fans are set up differently than 93/94. Both fans turn on at low speed at 226F. Both fans step up to high speed at 235°F.
I will have to pay attention to see if they are turning when the car gets around that temperature. I want to say that they are not. I know that they are suppose to turn with the air conditioner as well. I guess that would be sufficient to check the motors.

Unfortunately the car is leaking coolant again. I have no clue how and it is difficult to determine where it is coming from with the car off the stands. The good news is that I still have the pressure tester. So the funny thing is I did have it around 18 PSI and it was definitely bone dry. However, today I got that tire reseated and took it for a little spin before letting it warm up and as soon as I got it back into the driveway it was dripping very steadily. There is a little bit of coolant on top of the water pump so I was thinking it could be leaking from the top house again. Although I was just thinking since it was dripping onto the crankshaft the belt was slopping it all over the place so I guess a little could have gotten on top of the water pump from it slinging it around.

The only thing I can think to do is to jack the car up once again and use the pressure tester and check for leaks. Is there any reason driving the car would cause it to leak and not the pressure tester? Like could it be something that fluctuated while I was driving and was enough to let some out?
 

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DELCO NERD
1993 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, LT1 5.7L V8
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When you are using the pressure tester, are you looking at the pressure gauge to make sure the system is holding pressure? Sometimes leaks can be tough to spot, even with the system under pressure. Inspection mirrors can come in handy to look at places you can't otherwise see, and sometimes you can even hear the leak.
 
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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
When you are using the pressure tester, are you looking at the pressure gauge to make sure the system is holding pressure? Sometimes leaks can be tough to spot, even with the system under pressure. Inspection mirrors can come in handy to look at places you can't otherwise see, and sometimes you can even hear the leak.
Thanks for the reply. So When I had the car jacked up I also got under it with a light and inspected several places. It did hold the pressure for a few minutes and I do think it held at that pressure. I kept checking it to see if it went down even a little. The inspection mirrors are not a bad idea. I am using one of the 'universal' caps. There are two others that I may try this time as well. There is that piece of metal from the radiator that is not far down from the cap that is blocking out these testers. These are the ones that go down into the radiator and you twist them to get them to expand to close the gap.

Anyway there were no apparent leaks. My father was with me and I started the car again and we could not spot any obvious leaks. Also I do not think it was leaking after I started it again because it was coming out pretty steadily. However, when I started it again while sitting in the driveway it did not reproduce it.
 

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DELCO NERD
1993 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, LT1 5.7L V8
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Is it possible that the coolant you saw dripping was residual from when you filled the system? Did you spill any? A pressure test definitely wouldn't reveal that, but a moving car might...
 
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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Is it possible that the coolant you saw dripping was residual from when you filled the system? Did you spill any? A pressure test definitely wouldn't reveal that, but a moving car might...
I cannot say absolutely not. I have learned that liquids can act in very strange ways. We definitely spilt some. I highly doubt it though, it was really dripping constantly. I guess it is possible that there was a 'puddle' of coolant sitting somewhere that we spilt and driving the car slopped it onto the crankshaft and made it look like a leak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
So my whole life I have always been told that I overtighten things. Having that said, I have yet, as in NEVER had any issue with anything that I "overtighten". Throughout life I have only had trouble with things that I (or someone else) failed to tighten all the way. I have never crushed or crimped a gasket and caused a leak or had any trouble getting off a bolt for say an oil pan that I last tightened. Some times it takes a little elbow grease to get off something I put on, but I have never needed a breaker bar or anything close. This year for the first time my Ferris (zero turn) was leaking oil from the oil filter. The first thing I thought was it was too tight and I crimped the gasket. I decided to give it a few more turns this instead of taking it off and cleaning the gasket. It stopped leaking. It was only hand tight and I am telling you I had to squeeze the filter hard to get it tighter. Fixed it right up, kept an eye on it and didn't leak anymore this season. I do not think I am ever going to let someone tell me ever again that I get things "too tight". Just me babbling.

The reason I say this is because I have read that these worm gear clamps should not bite down on hoses. I agree with this because I could see how overtightening them could cause leaks. It could allow the hose to crimp or fluctuate on each side and cause a leak. So I tried to get them 'pretty' snug with a 1/4" chuck wrench. So I got the car jacked back up today an got it under pressure again. Literally everything is leaking now. So remember when I said the pressure tool shot off the radiator cap? That must have not been on correctly (obviously) and allowed some of the pressure to bleed off between the tool and the radiator neck. Just my thoughts. Because now I am getting it close to 20 PSI and we are going around tightening up everything that I guess I failed on. The good news is that so fair it seems to only be coming out of hoses. One of the narrow areas around one of the head bolts keeps getting flooded with coolant. That could very well be and probably is from it leaking up top though. As I said I know liquid can do some weird stuff but I remember the tool was holding at 20 PSI before and none of these leaks were present. It does however, take the leaks a little time to present themselves.

Well thanks for listening to my rant gentlemen. If you guys have any feedback or anything I would gladly take it. I need to remove the radiator fans and other stuff again because I screwed myself out of accessing some worm gear clamps when I installed the radiator fans back.

I am very, very stressed out because I need to renew the insurance on this car, purchase new tires and get it lined up which is going to easily cost $1,000 and I do not want to drop that if the car needs more work could possibly be not worth working on any longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Okay so I pressure tested the system again today and it looks like I got everything tight. I pressure tested it again to make certain. So back to the same issue, the car is overheating. This car should idle right around the middle correct? That is 210 degrees? Today it went past the three quarter mark which I believe is 230 or 235. I let it keep running while I checked for leaks. It never got into the red mark, though I believe if I let it keep idling it might. It is off the stands again by the way. I have not had a chance to check the radiator fans yet either. I tried turning on the compressor today and heard some 'squealing noise' but could not tell if the fans kicked on or not.

1.) I have noticed when the meter needle starts to come back it does it very slowly. It literally creeps down and gets close to the middle again slowly starts to heat it back up.

2.) It looks like my thermostat is rated for 180 degrees. This is the one I got from Auto Zone.

It sounds like the thermostat is at least opening right? I thought maybe it getting cooled off a little could be from the heater core still and still explain a faulty thermostat. Also that the radiator fans are not kicking on at all or at least when they are suppose to and it is swapping out for coolant that is not properly cooled?
 

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Sounds like you may have forgotten to bleed the system. When fluid leaks out, air replaces it. LT1 cooling systems must be 100% air free. Period. Even the smallest of air pockets creates a major reduction in cooling capacity.
 
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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Sounds like you may have forgotten to bleed the system. When fluid leaks out, air replaces it. LT1 cooling systems must be 100% air free. Period. Even the smallest of air pockets creates a major reduction in cooling capacity.
Hey Tony,

No, I bled the system. I have done it several times. Ever since I got the car running again it overheats. I just read another thread on here that you posted on, trying to get some ideas. I think it was you that said the LT1 thermostat is "special"? Does that mean the one I got from Auto Zone could be a problem?

When I bled the system today, the front of the car was jacked up. I thought if anything that would have helped it and also saw that as a recommendation on something you posted on before. Having that said, I did not lose any coolant when I opened the drain valves. I may try again tomorrow with the car on a level surface. I was missing coolant from the radiator, which makes perfect sense because two of the lines that were leaking were on the radiator.

Something I have failed to do since addressing these problems is topping off my overflow reservoir. I am kind of scared to even put coolant in it now. Because I understand it is designed to allow expanding coolant to well overflow into it so it doesn't blow your cap off or allow coolant to bleed through the cap. So just make sure the level is at the very bottom of the dipstick right?

Thanks for the help as always.
 

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1994 Firebird Formula 381ci LT1 / TH400+GV O/D
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Air bleed:


I have never raised the front end to bleed the system.


Unique, LT1 thermostat:



Both fans turn on low speed at 226°F, both go to high speed at 235°F. The dash gauge does not necessarily indicate the same coolant temp as the PCM. PCM controls the fans.


The radiator cap haas a spring controlled pressure relief. When coolant gets hot and expands, the pressure increases and the spring allows the pressure valve in the cap to open. Coolant flows into the reservoir. When the engine shuts down, the coolant temp drops and the volume of coolant contracts, creating a vacuum. A second spring in the cap opens the vacuum relief valve, and the vacuum pulls coolant out of the reservoir, to keep the radiator filled to the very top of the fill nexk. In a correctly working system, the volume of water in the reservoir will never increase. An equal amount overflows into the reservoir, and that same amount is pulled back into the radiator. Fill the reservoir to the “Full-cold“ reading If the system is cold. When checking the reservoir when hot, the level should be at “Full-hot”.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I have never raised the front end to bleed the system.


Unique, LT1 thermostat:

Both fans turn on low speed at 226°F, both go to high speed at 235°F. The dash gauge does not necessarily indicate the same coolant temp as the PCM. PCM controls the fans.
Hey Fred,

I only tried bleeding the car when it was on stands because it was already there. I thought it may help it. I am going to try to bleed it again today.

Okay so "SBC" is that for small block chevy? Can someone tell me if the Failsafe thermostat I bought is for a SBC?

Additionally, I had a OBD2 reader plugged in and it was spot on with the gauge on the dash. The OBD2 reader would have pulled that information from a digital source like the PCM right?

Thanks for the feedback.
 

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1994 Firebird Formula 381ci LT1 / TH400+GV O/D
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As I understand it, Failsafe make t’stats in separate versions for the Gen 1 (non-LT1) small block Chevy and for the Gen 2 (LT1) SBC. You need to have the latter. It has to look similar to the one in the upper right corner of Shoebox’s photo. The extended bottom “plunger” seals the opening directly under the t’stat, preventing coolant from bypassing the radiator when the coolant warms up.

The “failsafe“ feature just keeps the t’stat fully open if it fails, as I understand it.
 
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