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What would have caused this to happen?

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Old 12-19-2013, 10:02 AM   #1
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Question What would have caused this to happen?

After driving for 30 minutes, I park the car and let idle, while my passenger runs an errand. After around 5 minutes, I start seeing smoke from the engine. My temperature hand is in the red. I shut it down immediately. The engine keeps smoking, so I pop the hood to let everything clear. Upon opening the hood I discover my antifreeze on the engine and the ground, with reservoir tank being empty. As far as I could tell, everything came out of the reservoir.

I refill everything with distilled water to see what happened and to hopefully get back home. Nearly took 2 gallons to refill. Once I crank the car, nothing out of the ordinary happens, temperature is normal after 5 minutes of idling with not a single drip found anywhere. Drive back home was fine with temperature being normal.

I have my antifreeze refilled and am now on day 2 after the incident. I am glad the car is running fine, but the fact that I do not know what happened worries me.

I replaced the thermostat housing last year and the thermostat itself. My coolant level was spot on prior to the incident.

Could it have been a clog somewhere? Did the thermostat not kick in?
Any suggestions on what I could check will be appreciated.

The car has 145k miles on it. No other issues.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:25 AM   #2
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Was there 2 gallons of antifreeze on the ground when it over heated? If not it sounds like your car was low on antifreeze.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:42 AM   #3
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Probably the fan. Pretty common issue on these cars. A quick search should yield some answers.
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Old 12-19-2013, 02:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by hootie_john View Post
Probably the fan. Pretty common issue on these cars. A quick search should yield some answers.
It is common? Not one I've heard of before...
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Old 12-19-2013, 06:05 PM   #5
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when anti freeze gets low, with the same amount of heat from the car input into the system, the pressure goes up as some of the mixture flashes to steam. I'm not sure if there is a relief valve in the system, but if there is, it popped open and reseated after the pressure went down.

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Old 12-19-2013, 06:31 PM   #6
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Did you notice if the fan came on when you were idling? btw, 2 gallons is a lot to dump out on the ground, I'm guessing the fan is not coming on and it overheats a little at idle. It may have been losing fluid for quite a while. That's a pretty easy thing to check.
Btw, I always replace the thermostat when my cars overheat, I believe the heat can cause them to open at a higher temp then the rating.
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Old 12-20-2013, 12:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by runstang22 View Post
I'm not sure if there is a relief valve in the system
On most cars, the relief valve is the radiator cap. It opens after its rated PSI has built up in the system to bleed off the excess pressure.
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Old 12-20-2013, 01:13 PM   #8
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Overheating on extended idle (although 5 minutes shouldn't be considered extended) sounds more like a fan issue. If I'm not mistaken, the fan can be controlled from the hand held tuner. Do you have a custom tune? If not, I'd check to see if the fan is functioning properly. If you're having issues now while it's cool weather, you'll have more issues this summer.
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Old 12-22-2013, 10:36 AM   #9
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I'd do a new thermostat and maybe a new reservoir cap.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:44 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the responses guys, and sorry for the delay. Its been hectic past two weeks. I have been reading all your comments, and definitely owe you guys a response.

As of right now the car is running fine without a problem, with the coolant level holding steady. I also have not been parking the car running for any extended period of time, I guess I am still paranoid.

The coolant level was perfect before this happened. I do have a custom tune, and I modified the parameters to make the fan kick in quicker than the factory setting. Maybe something went haywire (although it has been fine for the past 2 years with the tune), however, I will re-flash the tune just in case. The fan not kicking in makes perfect sense, based on what and how this actually happened. I never though about the fan being the problem, I sure as hell listen for it now haha!
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:44 PM
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