> > These sorts of issues are common with cars that are over 15 years old.
> > When I took a trip to Los Vegas via Interstate highway 58 which caused
> > me to have to travel thru the Mojave Desert (Death Valley), I saw at
> > least a dozen old cars next to the road with steam coming out of the
> > radiators.
> and how many were hondas? i drive that way every couple of months, have
> done so for nearly 10 years [family in vegas] and i can count the number
> of broken hondas on the fingers of one hand. in fact, i've done it on a
> half empty radiator, and the car /still/ wasn't overheating. in july.
> I did not write down the types of cars that I saw but did note that all of
> them were very old cars. I did not see any newer cars. I saw some signs
> indicating that air conditioners should be turned off to keep cars from
> overheating. I kept my AC on and the temp. guage ever went past the
> halfway mark--I have a 99 Accord EX. I still believe that cars that are 15
> or more years old are more likely to have cooling system problems than
> cars that are less than 7 years old. The reason is usually due to the
> build up of rust. I once flushed out the cooling system of an old Chevy
> and was amazed at all of the gunk and rust that I flushed out of that car.
> As you know, many people NEVER have had the cooling system of their cars
> flushed out. I doubt that rust is much of a problem with the alum.
> engines. Old cars are also more likely to have rusted out radiators that
I chalk it up to design, mostly. Sometime in the early '80s automotive
engineers seemed to get the picture that drivers wanted more robust cars and
started putting effective cooling systems in them. I'm sure that was aided
by improvements in fuel economy and the demands of aluminum heads (cylinder
heads, not engineers' heads). Anyway, I've never had a post '80 car that
ever overheated unless there was something definitely wrong - radiator,
hoses, fan, water pump.... Any trace of rust in the cooling system is a very
bad sign. I once broke my own rule of not buying any car with signs of
cooling system rust (car lust is a terrible thing) and ended up with a car
that had irreparable corrosion in the fittings and a nearly inaccessible
freeze plug that corroded through.
Overheating is fairly straightforward to troubleshoot now that the system is
made to work with enough margin. If the coolant level is dropping, find and
fix that first. If the temperature rises relentlessly you can be sure the
radiator is not conducting the heat away - repair or replace. (I've never
seen a radiator flush do any good at all, but I've tried numerous times. It
cleans the superficial stuff out, but when I tore down the radiator in our
Volvo I found the lower third of the tubes were blocked solid with hard
water deposits.) If the temperature rises at idle and drops when the car
starts moving, you have a flow problem; coolant flow if the temperature
drops in a few seconds, air flow if it takes a couple minutes to return to
If the temperature rises rapidly and the coolant is disappearing, it looks
bad for the head gasket(s).
You take care of your cars--many people do NOT take care of their cars.
This is especially true for people that have NO mechanical knowledge. I
once dated a woman that never had the oil changed on her car before I met
her. I checked the oil in her car and the oil looked like tar. The
coolant looked more like rusty water than antifreeze. There are thousands
of people like her. People like us rarely ever have problems with our cars
since we take care of them. It's my guess that almost everyone that I saw
in the desert with steam coming out of the radiators failed to follow a
maitenence program related to their vehicles. Cooling systems can not
handle desert conditions unless they have been properly maintained.
However, Murphy's law will kick in for all of us--even if we do keep our
vehicles well maintained--that is esp. true in related to electrical