Tech Tip: OverheatingOriginally written: 1981 for Brickline Vol.6 #2
by Duane West
Many of you have experienced overheating problems. Before I give you the cures, I'd like to explain the theory of overheating.
A bricklin with a 15 pound radiator cap will not boil the water in the radiator until the coolant reaches approximately 250 degrees temperature. With anti-freeze, the boiling point is 250 to 260 degrees. You can run your car at 240 or 250 degrees without hurting anything, as long as the water in the radiator doesn't boil. Once the water boils, it will immediately push water out the overflow, lower the coolant level in the radiator, and give you air bubbles circulating through the cooling system. Air bubbles do not cool an engine, so the engine temperature will immediately skyrocket. Your main concern should be to keep your engine below the boiling point of your coolant. If your radiator cap is no good, it will lower the boiling point of your coolant to 212 dgrees. A leak of any type anywhere in your cooling system will have the same effect. That is why you must have a good radiator cap on your car.
Many people get worried if their car gets up to 220 degrees. On a hot day, going up a hill with your air conditioner on, that is a normal temperature, and is nothing to worry about, as long as you aren't losing coolant. You can safely operate to 240. Above 240 you are nearing the boiling point of your coolant, so start being concerned. If you reach a point that your coolant boils, the radiator cap will immediately release the pressure on the radiator, and the coolant will immediately boil out the overflow. Now get worried!! stop the car and cool it off. If you continue to drive past this point, the engine temperature will skyrocket. The gauge will not show how hot it really gets, because the gauge will only read water temperature. Once the water boils, there is steam in the cooling system, and the gauge doesn't read steam pressure. The gauge can read 220 after overheating and boiling, but in actuality, it is closer to 300. Once the water boils, the gauge is useless. If you don't stop the car and cool it off at this point, you will cause engine damage, such as blown head gaskets, cracked heads and blocks, etc. Not good!!
Now, lets get down to your car. If you are experiencing overheating problems on your bricklin, here is what to do:
The heavy duty stainless steel fan will pull a lot more air through the radiator than the stock fan, however, it will give you a little more noise because of the tremendous amount of air that it moves. The above should correct all heating problems unless you have engine problems such as a blown head gasket, cracked head, cracked block, etc. These tips apply to all cars and not just to your bricklin. If ever you have to replace your radiator, always buy a heavy duty one and not just a standard replacement one. The difference in cost is worth it.
A word about anti-freeze. Cheap anti-freeze is watered down. Always use "prestone" or the equivalent. If you use cheap anti-freeze, be sure to run 100% anti-freeze without any water added, because they already have some water added when you buy it. With "prestone" you can run 1/2 antifreeze and 1/2 water, or 100% anti freeze if you prefer. Fifty percent "prestone" and fifty percent water is a good mixture to run.
ENGINE HEAT - Originally noted in Bricklin Vol.1 #6
A helpful hint to aid both engine cooling and help eliminate some body curling resulting from inadequate engine compartment cooling is to remove the rubber strip that runs along the heater plenum in all 1974 and early 1975 cars. It is not necessary to remove the partial rubber in later equipped SV-ls.