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01' Malibu Overheating

Ok I had been having problems with my engine overheating. I tried to get it fixed, but nobody would help me. In the end my car kept shutting itself off. I had the thermostat and water pump changed still no cooler. What could be my problem? I think I may have seen steam at the exhaust manafold, but am very unsure. I cannot afford a machanic and just need some help so that I can have a friend help me fix whatever is wrong with it. The engine is a 3.1 liter V6. I heard they are bad, do you think I should sale and take a 3000.00 loss or should I try to repair?

How many miles does this have on it?
Have you been losing fluid?
Is your coolant getting discolored and/or foggy?

Whatever is going through the exhaust manifold, clean or not, steam or not, should be staying contained within the manifold. And steam our the tailpipe is not definitive. Water vapor is a normal byproduct of combustion, and steam on a cool day is normal. Dripping eater out the tailpipe on a cool day with a cool engine is even normal.

You could easily have a buildup in the radiator preventing proper coolant flow and heat dissipation. You could also have a bad radiator cap or a collapsed inner hose lining. Worst case, you could have a breech in your headgasket that allows combustion gasses to be blown into the water jack, heating up your coolant.

I’d suggest eliminating the worst possibility first, the headgasket breech. There are a few ways to check, but a pressure leakdown test is probably the most definitive. Since the engine has been repeatedly overheated, you probably have one now even if you did not at first. I hope your friend is a mechanic. And I hope the breech is in the forward bank.

My next guess would be the radiator. That can be checked, but not with the average homeowner’s equipment.

In future, you’ll likely save a lot of money if you have the shops diagnose problems rather than tell them what to change based on guesswork.

You can afford to throw away $3000 but you can’t afford a mechanic ? You paid for a water pump and thermostat you didn’t need but don’t want to pay for a diagnosis ? Any good mechanic could probably diagnose your problem in 1/2 hour but without checking for a clogged radiator, doing a pressure test on the cooling system,checking for exhaust gas in the coolant or observing if the fan is comming on when it should, you are guessing in the dark.

85,000 miles I believe I was losing fluids about four months prior to the issue. No discoloration that I can see. I plan on changing the head gasket and checking the head. Will this most likely fix the problem?

I cannot afford a machanic so I have to rely on myself and people that know about cars. I just really need to know whether or not I need to put the money into it or cut my losses.

I paid 3000 for that car out of my income tax check because I was walking my two children everywhere. Thank you!