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Thread: Coolant leak, Cooling fans not starting (Newbie)

  1. #1
    Join Date:  Jun 2015

    Location:  Virginia

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    Cool Coolant leak, Cooling fans not starting (Newbie)

    Well, I have come across my first (possibly) major issue with my car.

    I'm currently stationed in VA Beach. I've owned the car just over two years, but had to leave it with my parents in their garage while I was stationed in Japan for most of that time. Since I've come back, I noticed the coolant leaking quite a bit (not gushing, more like dripping, but it adds up) near the rear of the car, close to the left driver exhaust. I would pour some coolant/anti-freeze into the reservoir to refill whatever may have been lost.

    As I'm driving back to my room on base, I notice that my temperature gauge was climbing a bit up to 220 without the fans kicking on. Luckily, it was a short drive, so I was able to park my car in the lot and shut it off before the temperature rose any higher. The fans have never given me any issues before (then again, while I was in Japan, it wasn't being driven much if any during that time).

    I waited at least a half hour before looking into the coolant reservoir, and saw there was very little in it. We're talking like scraping the bottom here. I then filled it a bit, put the cap back on, and started the car. After letting the engine warm up, I drove around the parking lot, and my temperature gauge rose to 220 without the cooling fans starting. Once again, I park the car, and shut it off so it won't overheat.

    Does anyone know what the issue(s) might be, and what parts are going to be needed? Much help appreciated.

    Last edited by Fluxn83; 01-19-2016 at 07:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bitsyncmaster's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  Leonardtown, MD

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    It may be to cold but normally, you can check if your fans are running by turning the AC on. If that runs the fans then you would need to jumper the otterstat to verify the fans go on then.

    When I say it may be to cold, that is because the refrigerant in the AC system may not have enough pressure to trigger the compressor to go on. An if it does turn on once it probably won't go on again until you get some warmer days.

    You will need to find where your leak is coming from. Sounds like the otterstat may be leaking from you description.
    Dave M vin 03572

  3. #3
    One of those purists you keep hearing about. sdg3205's Avatar
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    You can't top off the coolant and expect it to bleed like other cars. You need to pressure test the system, find the leak, fix the leak(s) then look into the fan issue. Baby steps my friend.

    We cover cooling issues twice a week. Run a quick search and you'll find more in the next 10 minutes than we can re-write in the next ten days

    Here, somewhere.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rich's Avatar
    Join Date:  May 2011

    Location:  San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.

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    A decent overview and some info about the Otterstat, fans, relays, etc. are listed in an emergency guide from P.J. Grady.

    Post #9 has link to the .pdf which is somewhat different from what's shown in Post #1.

    LINK: Grady-Zilla DeLorean Glovebox Service Manual

    Regardless of the weather or the temperature try jumping the 2 wire leads that you pull off of the Otterstat. That's the temp. switch that always should start both fans when the coolant gets hot enough to need them. These pages show you where it is and how to do that.

    With jumper in place and ignition ON the rad fans should both work.
    March '81, 5-speed, black interior

  5. #5
    Senior Member DMC5180's Avatar
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    Creeping towards 220 could be normal. My fans come ON @ the 220 mark. If the temp needle goes above 220 say a couple needle widths and the fans still haven't come ON. Then you likely have an issue to address.


    VIN 5180, Frame 3652, STAGE II​, DM-eng Solid State Solutions (RPM Rly, Dm.Lt.Mod., Fan Fail Mod. , FAN Rly, HS.Rly) , HID headlights, SPAX user since 2009, Eibach springs, M Adj. Rear LCA's, DPNW poly-sway bar kit, DMCEU LCA Stabilizer link kit, DMCMW Illuminated door sills, Aussie Illuminated SS Shifter plate, REAL MOMO EVO Steering wheel, DELOREANA Extended View Side Mirrors w/ Heaters, DELOREANA LED Door Lights.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DavidProehl's Avatar
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    I'll throw another vote out there for step #1 being determining where the coolant is leaking from. Otterstat is the most likely candidate, but it is also possible that you have a cracking coolant hose or lose clamp.

    Should be easy to trace where the coolant is coming from. First clean all surfaces. Next, top off your coolant. Then run the car until a drip starts. Finally trace the wet drips back to the source. Starting with clean, dry coolant pipes and hoses is key as it will be clear then what shouldn't be there.
    David Proehl

  7. #7
    Join Date:  Jun 2015

    Location:  Virginia

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    My VIN:    6989

    Hey guys, just wanted to thank all those who replied. I appreciate the help and advice, and I will keep you all updated on my situation.


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