Car overheated now it won't start.

Asked by Jul 18, 2016 at 10:09 AM about the 1998 Ford Contour 4 Dr LX Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 98 Ford Contour. My car randomly shut
down on me in a parking lot and I went to check
under the hood of what might've happened. My
coolant was empty so I put what I had left in the
tank and drove it home. The next day I put 2 full
containers of coolant in my car and was good for
the next day. I went driving and my car started to
overheat and noticed my tank was already empty.
So I've already diagnosed I have a leak. I'm sure it's
the radiator. Anyway, after I let it cool down I drove
it for a few miles and got stuck on the side of the
highway. Engine was smoking so again I let it cool
down for an hour and a half with the heat on full
blast and a guy pulled over and helped me put
water in the coolant tank. Restarted my car and got
a mile down the road to a gas station. Car
overheated super fast and white smoke was coming
from the bottom of the car. I'm assuming it was the
water evaporating. I tried to crank my car after
letting it sit. It wanted to go but wouldn't turn over.
So I called a tow. After I got back I went to check
my car one last time before giving up for the day.
My car didn't do anything at all. My battery was still
going but it was a lot weaker. I've been
troubleshooting for days and don't want to spend
money on a mechanic I'd rather just buy parts and
do it myself. So I'm thinking the alternator? Radiator
leak, the serpentine belt possibly needs replaced
and maybe a new battery. Any input would be
greatly appreciated.

2 Answers

25,805

Don't just replace a part without knowing for certain it was faulty. You'll just be wasting money and not fixing anything. Refill the cooling system with water, and run the engine in your driveway and look for the leak. You seem to be losing a lot of coolant fast. That might be a blown hose or cracked housing. Check your heater hoses, and water pump seal, too. A lot of times when a radiator goes, the coolant leaks to the ground. (wouldn't hurt to check the petcock was closed!) If an upper hose goes, it leaks onto the engine and headers and you get a lot of steam. You say you also lost battery power, after the loss of coolant? Was that from running the starter a long time or was it related to the coolant loss? The leak may have soaked the battery or battery cables/starter solenoid (basically shorting it). try looking for your leak around those, especially the thermostat housing. Good luck!

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
25,805

Got a little too long winded in my reply, forgot to make one important suggestion: a lot of leaks develop in the thermostat housing, an o-ring can blow out, and you may have the temp sensor that plugs into the housing as well, also with an o-ring. Check both the upper and lower housing for cracks too.

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