I recently got a new water pump put on, flushed the heater core hose and a new thermostat. My car overheated today and my radiator cap wasn’t hot just the hose connected to the thermostat was and the smoke was coming from the driver side. I added antifreeze directly to the radiator and it seemed empty, given I just put some in like 2 days ago. What else is it?
My guess is you had air in your cooling system so it wasn’t working efficiently. Other possibilities are a leak and a bad head gasket.
A backwards installed thermostat can do this. Also, if it’s so labeled, check that the top side is “up”. It’s possible to get a bad thermostat, check it in a pan of heated water. Also could be unpurged air - with the heater on and the car running, vent any air by cracking open the highest coolant hose (probably a heater hose) until coolant runs free. Sometimes water pumps have bad impellers that spin freely on their shaft.
First… Grand Prix?
Any particular model-year?
Could the “smoke” on the driver side be steam?
The water pump is on the passenger side on a 3800.
Another place it could leak coolant and/or compromise the “closed loop” cooling system is the two heater by-pass “elbows”. At least on some model-year 3.8Ls, these elbows hide just behind the accessory belt automatic tensioner (one actually fits into it) and near the power steering pump.
They’re made from some type of plastic that becomes brittle and ages out, developing cracks and seepage/leaking. Aftermarket aluminum ones (the pair) are available as a kit with four O-rings included for like 15 bucks.
I’d inspect that area carefully, with engine cold, and using a small mirror and dabbing under there (right near the passenger-side end of the forward cylinder head) with paper towel, see if you can find some liquid coolant as evidence of a leak.
Plus these engines have a coolant bleeder valve at the thermostat housing that needs to be open when filling the system. I’ve not had a problem when filling the system when using the bleeder as a vent. Nothing is tricky about it.
When one lets a car go to the point of smoking or steaming, all bets are off. Over-heating can damage engine components. If you’re really lucky that didn’t happen.