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Yesterday I posted about the cooling problem I encountered while driving from Austin, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico on Sunday and Monday (see "Santa Fe Chevrolet rescues Jim G"). Today, I learned a lot more I really didn't want to learn.

To quickly summarize, my previously utterly drivetrain-reliabe SSR decided to develop a cooling problem whenever it was not on the highway doing at least 40 mph. At 40 and higher (I cruised at 78 mph), it was fine. The engine temperature guage never budged above 200 (just left of the 210 mark). But, whereas before Sunday it NEVER went above 210 with the fan on/off settings, it now started rising well above 210 whenever it was in stop and go traffic or idling. In fact, in Tucumcari, NM, at the absolute hottest time of a 91 degree Sunday, it reached 240 at one point. In Santa Fe on Monday, it hit 235 at a traffic light, and quickly subsided once I was moving at 40 mph again.

I guessed that the engine cooling fan was not activating when it was supposed to.

Today, Larry Martiniez, the technician who diagnosed it at Santa Fe Chevrolet, confirmed my guess. But, HOW that was confirmed is both interesting and disturbing.

Larry first took the SSR for a road test to verify the problem. That was utterly unsuccessful. The temperature guage never went above 210. He reported back to MaryAnn the service advisor that there appears to be no problem.

I am a persistent guy, and INSISTED that the vehicle be tested again, but at low speeds and idling.

Larry, bless his pragmatic heart, started it up and worked near it while he waited for some sign of temperature rise. For 90 minutes, nothing happened. The temperature needle got to 210 and stayed there. Then, at the 90 minute point (!!), Larry detected a change in idle sound. He checked the temperature reading. It was 235. He popped the hood and checked the fan. It was NOT running. He could hear the relay eing cycled regularly, but the fan did not respond. He tapped the fan motor housing with a screwdriver handle, and, believe it or not, it started running! He then reported a defective fan, and Santa Fe Chevrolet is overnighting a new one in that will get here Wednesday midday. Larry needs an hour to install it, and then I should have my SSR back later Wednesday afternoon.

Howeverm besides being persistent, I am detail oriented, and I distinctly remember seeing "fan on" and "fan off" settings in the PCM for TWO fans on the 03/04 SSR. I asked Larry about this. He swore there was only one fan. I insisted on a physical check with both of us there.

When I popped the hood, I saw 2 things:

1. There is only ONE fan behind the radiator

2. Larry had ripped my underhood insulator blanket by having the hood prop release accidentally when he failed to seat it properly in the catch hole.

I insisted on a new insulator blanket, and Santa Fe Chevrolet is working on that right now, and is supposed to call me to let me know if they can get one to Santa fe before I leave. I also told MaryAnn that I wanted the prop rod checked to ensure that it had not been bent (This prop rod falling out of its hole, ripping the insulator blanket, and sometimes bending the rod in the process, is a repetive problem caused by a louy prop rod design, and is the reason the 05 SSR has pneumatic lift cylinders instead).

The one fan versus two in the operating system software is an unexplained mystery.

The Corvettes all have dual fans. Owners of 05 SSRs: Does the 05 SSR have a single or dual fans?

Some possible explanations:

1. There is a 2nd fan somewhere not obvious - in front of the rad where it cannot be seen (I tried to look, but couldn't see one)

2. What the software may really mean is that the fan on the SSR is a TWO SPEED fan, with separately programmable on/off settings for it. This seems unlikely, but possible.

3. GM may have built the software generically to handle either one or two fans, and simply didn't bother to deactivate the optional settings for the 2nd fan (highly likely given that this is what they do with 4-wheel drive settings)

Anyone out there know the correct answer?

I am particularly disturbed about this whole incident for some very pragmatic reasons:

1. The fan failed at only 12,000 miles. This is completely unacceptable for ANY part on a vehicle 6 months old, but especially grave when it involves sometimes as critical as the engine cooling fan. That can cause EXPENSIVE damage and/or complete immobilization if your route happens to involve anything except PURE interstate driving to get home.

2. The SSR is particularly prone to overheating issues, because of the high underhood temperatures caused by both the body shape and restrictions on radiator size. It NEEDS that fan even more than other vehicles.

3. On most GM vehicles, and I assume the SSR is not unique, the transmission is cooled by a puny cooler mounted INSIDE the engine radiator. The theory behind this apparently silly location for a transmission cooler is that in cold climates, the engine coolant will HEAT the transmission fluid so that the transmission will actually operate (think Minneapolis on a -30 degree day). In hot weather, the theory is that the engine cooling fan will keep the engine coolant at a temperature below what would damage the transmission coolant. Since my fan took an early retirement, my transmission coolant was rising in temperature along with the engine coolant. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if the engine coolant was oscillating between 210 and 240, the transmission fluid wasn't far below that. Transmission coolant life is cut by HALF by every 10 degree rise above an ideal 170 degrees or so. So, even though it was not for long periods, this heating of the engine coolant also degraded my transmission fluid.

4. Larry, with good intentions, nevertheless idled my SSR for 90 minutes, with the temperature climbing until the exhaust note and temp guage both indicated the temperature had been climbing during at least some portion of that time period. That can't have been good for either the engine or ANYTHING under the hood.

5. If the fan failed once, what is to stop it from failing AGAIN? My experience with electric and electronic devices has been that if they fail because of a manufacutring defect, they fail rather quickly. This one did not do that. It failed after 12,000 miles. Is this fan's duty cycle too low for use in the SSR? For those of you unfamiliar with the duty cycles of electric motors ( :) Most of you, I'm sure), the duty cycle of an electric motor is VERY inversely proprotional to the ambient temperature of its operating environment. Is this sucker going to fail every 12,000 miles or thereabouts?

6. Notice that the failure mode was intermittent. It worked fine for Larry for 13 miles of test driving at city speeds, and for most of a 90 minute test idle period, and then just stopped. A tap with a screwdriver handle awoke it temporarily (similar to a bump in the road?). This could make reliable diagnostics VERY difficult.

I'm starting to get pissed. What we seem to have here is a really neat vehicle with a drop dead gorgeous body but a chicken****, low volume, adapted SUV chassis that just maybe cannot handle the increased requirements of a vehicle with sporty aspirations (and that's how Chevrolet is advertising it, guys, not me. LOOK at their advertising). We may have an awesome engine (whether you have the 300hp LM4 or the 390 hp LS2) stuck in a chassis that just isn't on the same planet in terms of performance.

And here's something more to be concerned about. If the engine fan on the LM4 300 hp "truck engine" can't handle the thermal loads in this environment, how in blazes is the fan (or fans?) on the 05 going to cope with an engine that makes over 30% more heat?

Freezer or Marc: any feedback?

I am not happy.

Jim G
 
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When I mentioned 2 fans to Ed doing the tune. He said there is only 1 fan on your SSr for cooling the radiator. mine is a 05, 1 fan. I'm going to look at a vett c6 to see if it has 1 or 2 fans. only 1/2 mi from dealer. :flag :ssr :seeya
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The Corvettes have TWO.

I am now pretty pessimistic about the potential life of the 05 fan in its 30% more challenging environment than in my 04.

My 02 Z06 Corvette used to get hot in traffic, but at least the darn fans never retired early,

This is pretty disgusting.

Jim G
 

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Hey Jim,
Sorry to hear about your luck. 1 fan here on the '05 but I may put a C6 vette fan in it if I experience problems such as you, that should solve it...if it fits that is.
Good luck making it back home. How's the temperature out there? I am not talking about your SSR's or yours........
OP
 

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what I think is warranted here is a heavy duty variant, aftermarket or borrowed from another GM application. :reddevil
I'm determined to have a truck that won't merely keep up with a chipped&exhausted cummins :flag
 

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Jim, Jim, Jim......... You MUST be pissed! I've never heard this "glass is half empty" from you before.

OK, let's break this down............

- Your fan failed in 15K miles. :nono
- Chevy will replace it under warranty. (And willfix your hood blanket!) :thumbs
- Diassappointed in GM's choice of fans :nono
- What other GM fan (or aftermarket option) can we use? :confused
- You still have US! :cheers

Here's hoping that they fix it the first time. But, I know that you'll keep us informed.
 

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I have been there done that. Same sort of problem. My fan gave up around 11,000 miles. My gauge pegged the temperature during stop & go traffic in Dallas. My dealer stated that the "second speed" gave out. I waited 4 days because they didn't have a new fan in stock at the dealer or GMDirect. I came out of Lansing via UPS ground. I still reach 225 during stop & go traffic and dealer deems this acceptable. Any comments?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ssr3: The dealer "deems this acceptable" only because GM told him to. This is how UNengineered, homebuilt hotrods behave. Not $45,000 factory vehicles from one of the largest car manufacturing companies in The World.

I think the best answer was earlier above. We need to find an aftermarket bolt-in replacement that will perform and perform RELIABLY.

There are a couple of aftermarket fan companies that SPECIALIZE in electric engine colling fans for custom streetrods. Maybe we need to contact them and get the ball rolling on a QUALITY replacement.

ampmop: The temperature here in New Mexico has only been in the low and mid 90s, probably because of the 6500 to 7000 foot elevation. Austin gets to 100 often, so going home presents a bigger test for the fan.

Jim G
 

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Jim, I am truly sorry that you're having mechanical issues while on vacation - the one time you really don't want to have to deal with this stuff! Some info and opinions for ya':

1) There is only 1 fan despite regular references to "second" fan, etc. This single fan operates in a low speed mode and a high speed mode - hence the 2 sets of on/off temps. The cooling fan failure appears to be a fairly common occurance with these vehicles.

2) The 90 minutes of idleing resulting in a 235 degree coolant temp while unsettling, is almost certainly harmless IMHO. The engine, operating without load, at low RPM, with no loss of coolant, despite the higher coolant temps is operating in a pretty friendly environment for this condition. The change in engine sound could very well be the PCM taking appropriate measures to protect the engine from overheat. (The PCM has the ability to stop fuel flow to one cylinder at a time allowing it to pump ambiant air through the cylinder for a couple of cycles to cool that cylinder and then moves on to another cylinder in rotation. You can actually drive the vehicle in a "limp home" mode in this manner).

3) Jim, if this was my SSR here's what I would do:
A) Have the dealer replace the fan and verify proper operation.
B) Have the dealer replace the hood insulator and either replace prop rod or convince you that it is undamaged.
C) When you get home, have the transmission fluid and filter changed (I MIGHT do it twice about 500 miles apart as you are changing 5 quarts of an approximately 11 quart capacity). I always do an ATF fluid / filter change every 15K anyway, and at 12K you're pretty close anyhow. (If you have the dealer do it, and you can verify that they actually DO a fluid FLUSH, the second change is unnecessary.)
D) If you are running regular oil ("Dino"), change the oil and filter. If you are running synthetic, I wouldn't bother with the oil change.

Well, that's it from me, except for one un-related personal observation: In the summer of 2003 I also found myself unemployed involuntarily. I was pretty burnt out at the time, so I took 7 weeks and towed my travel trailer around the western U.S. and had a truly wonderful time. BUT, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I could have because every day I woke up to the reality that I was un-employed and spending money like I was still working! I sure didn't cut my trip short because of it, but it was always nagging me in the back (sometimes the front!) of my head. Well, I got back home, got another job in 4 days, and after a few months I realized how I cheated myself out of a trip-of-a-lifetime for me (I love camping!), by not letting go enough to "sieze the day". Get your hotrod fixed, and ENJOY your time off, my friend. :thumbs

Blast
 
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Jim,

If your guy was able to tap on the fan to get it running, that sounds like an electrical connection problem and not necessarily a defective fan or motor. I have a 1990 Silverado that has a speedo that likes to go out, until I give the dashboard a good whack. I'm just too lazy to pull the dash and clean the connection to fix, and anyway punching the dash is good therapy for dealing with stupid drivers...
 

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JimGnitecki said:
ssr3: The dealer "deems this acceptable" only because GM told him to. This is how UNengineered, homebuilt hotrods behave. Not $45,000 factory vehicles from one of the largest car manufacturing companies in The World.

I think the best answer was earlier above. We need to find an aftermarket bolt-in replacement that will perform and perform RELIABLY.

Jim G
:agree

I will be 1 of the 1st to swap mine out......

RickSSR :cool
 

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A fan of mine

Hey Jim,

I hear you, thats a drag. Mine failed before I piked it up at the dealer. They blew the fuse while jump starting it after killing the battery demonstrating the hardtop.
They let it sit outside in the rain idling letting it cook off not realizing the fan wasn't working.My little brother just happened by to check it out(he lives in the area) driving by and turned the key off while the dumbasses were inside pickin their noses.Steam was flyin everywhere and they didn't see it.
I was very upset to say the least.But no harm, they fixed the fuse cleaned the antifreze off everything and replaced the hood blanket.
Since then ' I've been very wery of the fan operation.
My 03 SSR actually runs cooler with the A/C on. The fan runs on high speed with the A/C on.
Anyway,good luck.
 

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Blast: As usual, you offer good experienced advice.

I actually have an oil change place 1/2 mile from my home that specializes in full flush transmission fluid changes. I was intending to do one anyway, but originally AFTER I got my near-future transmission cooler installed! I guess I'll just flip the order aorund now.

I run only Mobil 1 in all my 4-wheeled vehicles, but as it turns out, I will be due for an oil change around the time I get back anyway, so will do that too!

I plan to check the prop rod for damage tomorrow when I pick the SSR up (hopefully). If it's damaged, I'll insist on a replacement here in Santa Fe, or one at my hometown dealer if they can't get a new one in time before I leave.

The worst case on the insulator mat is if the Santa fe dealer cannot get the replacement mat by the time I leave Santa Fe. If so, I will get the dealer to note the damage on my warranty invoice for the fan, and then get my hometown dealer to order in the replacement mat.

I share your view on the importance of enjoying the trip. My wife in fact considers it overt demonstration of faith in the fact that God provides for Believers. To NOT enjoy the trip and to worry about where the new income will come from, implies an inadequate depth of faith that crumbles under pressure.

Besides, the only actual cashflow cost is the fuel and lunch each day. I am staying for free at a Homewood Suites by Hilton, using a fraction of my Hilton points accumulated over the past several months of extended stay out of town on that SunTrust assignment. This chain provides a full (real) breakfast every day, plus a light dinner every day. And since I have a full kitch too, I am able to make a sandwich and fruit lunch most days, and thus avoid any extra expense at all compared to being at home, except for fuel. That's not bad, and probably indeed The Lord providing for me in a different than typical fashion!

I'm also able to execute a full job search every day using the provided high speed internet connection ad my fully functional cell phone (even at 12,000 feet at the top of the ski lift yesterday!).

I cannot, and really am not,complaining about any of that. My anger is more because of my growing realization that in their admirable desire to bring the SSR to market in a hurry, the GM folks took some shortcuts that are now biting them, but mostly biting US. Driveshafts that tink and then shake, cooling fans that fail, AC fans that make funny noises, windows that periodically forget to dive under the windseals, and covertible tops that sometimes don't work, are all symptoms of this. I have been hoping that the SSR is a strong enough platform to serve as both my transportation and my hobby for a long time. I am fearful that maybe I made a mistake in believing that.

I can deal with defects, even repetitive ones, that don't threaten basic driveability, but defects that stop movement down the road are just plain unacceptable in a modern vehicle. In our mobile culture, their real cost is just too high. The Japanese competition doesn't experience that, and that is the capitalism-enforced standard whether GM likes it or not.

There's also the response from the manufacturer when something does go wrong. The alltime "perfection" standard for me came in 1985 when Honda notified me that my brand new Honda 500 Interceptor, new model, had a POTENTIAL problem. Apparently, their crankshaft manufacturer had failed to properly heat treat a VERY small percentage of the cranks, and so a few hundred in a specified VIN range were VULNERABLE to failure, but only if you revved the engine PAST the redline (which was set to somewhere in the 11,000 rpm range as I recall). You know what Honda's response was? They VOLUNTARILY recalled ALL Honda 500 Interceptors in that VIN range, REPLACED the ENTIRE engine (not just the potentially vulnerable crank), GUARANTEED that the local dealer would do the engine swap within a 3 day time window, AND compensated me for even the cost of re-registering the vehicle wth its new engine number, without me even asking for that! THAT is the Gold Standard that I doubt that GM will ever rise to.

Come on GM. Convince me anew that this drop dead gorgeous vehicle really has the durability to go with the looks. I need that reassurane right now. If the Santa Fe dealership's General Manager wasn't so nice, I'd be stranded right now.

Jim G
 

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fans

I also have an 05' Silverado and it does not have a mechanical fan, it has two electric fans, one small and one large. It runs hotter than our 03' with a mechanical fan. It seems the system for the 05' Silverado is to wide to fit in the SSR. Mofo
 

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Based on "Wanaba's" note, if each of us were to turn on our A/C to high, this in turn would start the cooling fan. Sounds like a good way to check if our fans are working. Sometimes it's very difficult to duplicate our problems when visiting a dealer and convincing the write up person. I'm been there an done that. I have 05, 6 sp. and have suspected a heating problem. I run around 210 most of the time. When caught in stop and go traffic temp. heads upwards and I never hear a fan kick on. Yes, I would consider installing after mart fan if I could find a place to put it. This is a great site and full of info. I'm looking foward to our LLC homecoming weekend. Scheide.
 

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Scheide said:
Based on "Wanaba's" note, if each of us were to turn on our A/C to high, this in turn would start the cooling fan. Sounds like a good way to check if our fans are working. Sometimes it's very difficult to duplicate our problems when visiting a dealer and convincing the write up person. I'm been there an done that. I have 05, 6 sp. and have suspected a heating problem. I run around 210 most of the time. When caught in stop and go traffic temp. heads upwards and I never hear a fan kick on. Yes, I would consider installing after mart fan if I could find a place to put it. This is a great site and full of info. I'm looking foward to our LLC homecoming weekend. Scheide.
Scheide -- In the past this didn't always work because the fan receives two different signals,i.e., the fan would work on A/C bought not come on because of high temps, usually due to a bad temp sending unit. I don't know if the SSR is set up the same way. In the meantime, I talked to BE COOL radiator, located in Bay City, Michigan, and the gentleman stated they would require a SSR to work on to get the right fit. The gentleman said to e-mail ther "guru" at [email protected] to discuss the plans.
 

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Cooling fan failure

Quote:[I cannot, and really am not,complaining about any of that. My anger is more because of my growing realization that in their admirable desire to bring the SSR to market in a hurry, the GM folks took some shortcuts that are now biting them, but mostly biting US. Driveshafts that tink and then shake, cooling fans that fail, AC fans that make funny noises]

Jim,
I understand your frustration but is it not true that GM would purchase production fans from a subcontractor. Does GM actually mfg the fan? If not, I don't feel that GM or any other manufacturer can be blamed for poor quality subcontracted items. The true mfg of the fan may, (or may not) have cut some corners to increase their bottom line.
 

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Calcustom said:
Quote:[I cannot, and really am not,complaining about any of that. My anger is more because of my growing realization that in their admirable desire to bring the SSR to market in a hurry, the GM folks took some shortcuts that are now biting them, but mostly biting US. Driveshafts that tink and then shake, cooling fans that fail, AC fans that make funny noises]

Jim,
I understand your frustration but is it not true that GM would purchase production fans from a subcontractor. Does GM actually mfg the fan? If not, I don't feel that GM or any other manufacturer can be blamed for poor quality subcontracted items. The true mfg of the fan may, (or may not) have cut some corners to increase their bottom line.
Calcustom,

Your point should not fall on deaf ears :thumbs The fact is that for the most part the items that have been failing on our vehicles have for the most part not been GM manufactured parts. I am not certain about the drive shaft but feel quite confident that the fan, convertible top motors, and the radio/antenna that folks are finding inadequate are for the most part items that are purchased, not manufactured by GM! We could find those exact same items failing in vehicles that we purchased from other manufacturers. I am a bit upset with GM for my own reasons at this point but feel somewhat enlightened by your comment that I for one have not even considered until now :thumbs

Thanks for sharing,

Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #19
2 points here:

First is that GM and virtually EVERY car company are not really manufacturers as much as assemblers of parts made by others, BUT those parts are made to GM SPECS. Those specs set the quality standards and performance standards. The parts makers build what GM is willing to pay for. So, GM does not get off just because they did not actually build a part. It was built to THEIR specs.

It's no different when you contract to have a custom home built. YOU specify the quality levels you want and are willing to pay for. The builder builds what YOU want, not what he wants.

Second point:

I examined the fan in the loaner Trailblazer that Santa Fe Chevrolet provided for me to use, while they got and installed a replacement fan for me.

THREE things I noted about it:

1. It is HUGE compared to the one in our SSR

2. It is MECHANICALLY driven via engine accessory drive belt so is MUCH more powerful on top of the size advantage (although it bleeds off a fair bit of engine power because of the fulltime mechanical connection)

3. It serves a 4.3 liter 6 cylinder inline engine that is rated at 275 hp at 6000 rpm and 275 ft lb torque at 3600 rpm - so it generates less heat than our 5.3 liter v-8s do. And by the way, if that inline 6 really makes 275 hp, those are pretty small ponies as my performance testing results will show (YES! Jim G responded to that taunt about not having the full specs on the loaner Trailblazer. Stay tuned!)

No darn wonder our puny fans are failing.

I think we should think in terms of a letter writing campaign to get GM's attention on this and some of the other repetitive failures.

Jim G
 

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Fan failure

Jim,
Maybe GM specs but who's to say the mfg, or subprocessors to the mfg, are following them? .

There are numerous components that comprise the fan assembly that could fail. Brushes, windings, armature, connectors, etc. The mfg of the fan most likely buys these components from various suppliers, and performs the assembly. Any one of these subcomponents could be the cause of the failure.

I would think since GM is registered to QS9000 (quality standard) whenever there is a trend in a specific part failure they would issue root cause and corrective action request to the mfg, who would be required to investigate the failure and correct the problem.

There are a lot of reasons why parts fail. I for one would not put the entire blame on GM. Just my 2 cents.
 
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