I'm finally a Samurai owner and have a cooling question. Mine is an '88 with the stock engine. The temp gauge doesn't work and I haven't figured out why yet, might have to replace with a mechanical gauge. After a drive it smells hot but not boiling over. The upper radiator hose is very warm, the lower is very cool. The coolant in the radiator is warm. I've back flushed the system and replaced the thermostat. The outside air temp is high 20s to low 30s Fahrenheit and the heat is working.
Thank you in advance for any input you may be able to provide.
The fitting for the temperature sensor at the thermostat is 1/8 NPT in case you can't get the stock gauge to work. BTW, the oil pressure sender threads are 1/8 BSPT, so most aftermarket senders will not fit without an adapter.
Have you checked to see if you have a thermostat installed? One way to check is too remove the radiator cap before starting the engine. Once started, immediately look to see if you see the coolant moving. If you see the coolant flowing through the top of the radiator the same as it does once warmed up, then you have no thermostat.
Even if it does have a thermostat, that does not mean it is the correct one, as 160 degree thermostats are available.
You have bought a 25 year old vehicle and if a part is not shiny and bright, there is a very good chance that it is still original and probably in need of being replaced. Things like the thermostat, PCV, spark plugs and wires, distributor cap and rotor, coil, fuel filter, fluids, light bulbs, battery cables, etc should all be on your list to replace. Also things like the grounds should be cleaned up due to corrosion as this is a common problem, and adjust the valves to make sure that they are in spec.
Does it seem normal for the lower radiator hose to be much cooler than the upper? The top is borderline hot and the bottom is cold.
Yup, that's the way its supposed to be. Definatly check the thermostat and get a working gauge on there. You're probably ok in the short term, as long as you're not boiling over and loosing coolant.
One great thing about these Samurai, is the economy of the parts. You can buy a new radiator, for less than some shops will pull the tanks and rod out your old one. A good investment would be a new set of hoses. If, they haven't been replaced already, you'll end up doing them one at a time. Always at the most inconvenient times possible. A complete set (radiator, heater, by-pass, choke, etc.) runs about $100. Strange, that's more than a new radiator.
I like these Sammi's so much, I now have three of 'em.
This article has everything you ever wanted to know about your cooling system, and then some:
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