Cooling system Frozen = Overheating

Ok so it’s bitterly cold this morning (-17 F with a windchill of -35) Finally got my car started, and was driving to work, temp gauge went to normal operating temp so I waited another min or two and then turned my bower on high with the heat all the way up, but no heat, I continue on thinking it will kick in just need the vents cleared of cold air.

Still no heat and I look down to watch my temp gauge continue to climb higher and higher. I shut the car down let it sit for a few min, start it up, back at normal operating temp. still no heat and after driving 10 min or so, temp climbs back up.

Has anyone ever had this? never expected to overheat with temps this cold! Any suggestions on what to try first???

Thanks in advance!

You didnt say if your temp gauge went to hot so how do you know you were overheating? Its prolly not a thermostat stuck closed cause when mine did that the blower put out super hot air.
Check if your coolant overflow reservoir is frozen. If it is then your other coolant is likely frozen. Not sure how a frozen overflow bottle affects the cooling system when the radiator cap causes a vacuum, but maybe when the engine is cool again and the nose of the car is elevated you can start the car with the radiator cap off and do a cooling system burp. Would help monitor the frozen state of coolant too.

What’s your coolant mix ratio? A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water should be good down to -34 deg F.

I miss typed a “not” in my original post, but have corrected it now.

The temp gauge climbed up to the hot side. Luckily the guys out in our workshop had room for me to put the car in the heated building.

So when I got it out there the overflow tank was empty and we tested the coolant in the radiator and it only made one ball float which he told me on his gauge related to coolant that could withstand 20 F. NOT GOOD

The last time my coolant was changed was when my Motor was swapped out by a buddy, and I was not there when he buttoned everything back up so I’m not sure of the exact mixture he used. I have a good feeling that he put a good amount of water back in it. I’m going to go get some pure antifreeze on my lunch break and fill everything back up, might take the time to drain out what’s in there just to be safe.

I’d suggest you drain it and refill with a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and distilled water. Then you’ll be absolutely sure what the mix is. If the tester is accurate and the freezing point of your coolant mix is actually 20 deg F (not -20 deg F?), then what you have is mostly water. :think:

Well I’ve been reminded again how good my employer is! He had the guys in the shop (unknown to me) working on my car. I had fully intended to work on it after work. Went back there to ask how late they’d be around to find they had already drained my coolant, flushed the radiator and hosed down the motor with warm water and were filling it back up with new Anti-freeze.

We ran it up to normal operating temp and I took it for a test drive and had heat in the cabin along with the temp gauge never going above the Normal operating temp.

Thanks to those who responded and kept my nerves down as to what the problem was. And I hope others can benefit from the info that’s here.

lucky your block didnt crack if your coolant froze, congrats on figuring out the roblem.

had this happen to me this morning… started up the car for a good 30mins, thought i had heat but wrong… drove cold ass hell to work (10min), temp started climbing on me all the way to H, made it to work within 2mins in that state… didn’t want to be a popsicle stick and late, now my oil cap is a creamy color (hopefully i didn’t blow my headgasket :argh: or anything else)… started up fine later after work w/ working heat :rockon:…

I had something similar happen not that long ago, however I didn’t overheat thank god. My antifreeze was too diluted from constantly adding water cause of my radiator leak. It frosted, didn’t completely freeze the radiator at about 15 degrees F. I also had no heat for some time, even after the temp gauge went up. This is because the heater core was semi-frozen too. The safe thing to do is to make sure you have proper mix of coolant. When the radiator and heater core is frozen, like it was in our situation, the coolant cannot pass through the system, and thus cannot replace the coolant in the engine, leading to over heating.

Well I was able to drive the car home (30+ min) with no problems at all, gonna check fluids again in the morning just go be sure nothing mixed due to a seal blowing.

Supposed to get really fn’ cold tonight here, -28 with a windchill of -48 I want summer back!!!

:iagree: i better not blow any seals or anything i’ll be super :mad:… but one question thought how should I re-filled my coolant/anti-freeze ratio? 30%water-70%coolant/anti-freeze? or 50/50?

50/50 should be good down to about -34 depending on brand. just spend the extra $ and buy one of the little (turkey baster looking) testers to see what your mix is at.

okay but shitty coolant is still frozen (slushy, Anybody want some? Free :naughty:)… seems like both the radiator hose are hot but the two heater lines are frozen… gonna do a 30/70 ratio just for insurance, and i did buy one of of those testers (Prestone FTW)… tested it and i say -34 :werd:… flush and re-fill when i thaws down…

EDIT: the anit-freeze was actaully only -12 not -34…

If it gets that cold mabie you should consider an engine block heater? I dont know if they have them for b18’s or not, but if you get extreme cold, you need a better solution than just stronger anti freeze.

ive heard of aftermarked heaters that just use the coolant, you put it inline with a coolant hose and it keeps the the water flowing and warm so the whole system is prewarmed if you will, i dont know much more than that though sorry you could try going to a parts store like autozone and asking about it

This happen to me today in my civic. Had to drive 20mins without heat. As soon as i pulled in to my job the heat started to work.

Mine overheated on the way back home from the girl’s house. Stopped at Sheetz, got some food, and the rest of the way it didn’t do anything above normal temp. Turns out my coolant in the reservoir was frozen, and the radiator wasn’t full. Thank god i was close to home. -14 here last night.

[QUOTE=paul06660;1971370]If it gets that cold mabie you should consider an engine block heater? I dont know if they have them for b18’s or not, but if you get extreme cold, you need a better solution than just stronger anti freeze.[/QUOTE] Yes, they are available. They go in place of the coolant drain plug on the front of the block.