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My son who only has his permit, just bought a 2011 SE (base model). I’ve only driven Ford (stick shift) and my uncle who was the family mechanic passed away so I need help trying to figure this out.

The lady I bought the car from said it was sitting over a year. Drove it home no coolant in the system. No oil. Live in Vegas with 115 degree summers. Added oil and Preston 50/50 all make coolant.

Car drive fine to smog location (3 minutes away). Car drove fine to grocery store 5 minutes away. Took him to work 10 miles away at 3 am over heated. No stream just the system beeping at me and temperature quickly rose to 265 Pulled over towed home. In the morning coolant leaking from radiator drain plug.

Replaced the O-Ring (auto zone replacement plug too large to fit. Refilled with coolant filling the instructions in the repair book (one from Autozone). Upper radiator hose didn’t get hot till the coolant temperature on the dash read 230. The needle one still was in the middle for coolant temperature.

Through Google advice was thermostat. Changed it yesterday. Now upper radiator hose gets hot at 200. Idling in drive way doesn’t go above 200. It does take about 10-15 minutes for the needle gauge to get to the midline. Heater blowing hot air. Test drove around the block coolant temperature rose to 220-230 then heater blows cold air. Giraffe still midline. Radiator fan does kick on.

i turned the car off once the heater starts blowing cold air as raging that’sa sun it’s about to over heat.

Questions and advice please.

what should the coolant temps be? Reading the forum most say 200. The manual for the car says between 200-220. Do I pay attention to the gauge where the needle is still in the middle or thecoolant temperature screen on the dash?

I’m not seeing any signs of a blown or cracked head gasket. No smoke from tail pipe (just condensation), no milkshake in the oil, no oil in overflow tank.

Water Pump going out? My only experience was in my zx2 and it was a complete fail. On that car when changing the water pump you also changed the timing belt. Watching YT videos show only the water pump being changed, would I need to change the timing chain too?

sorry for long post. I just want to get this car running so my son can get his license and not rely on me taking him every where.
 

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I don't understand what happened to the oil.

For the coolant, you should verify that the Prestone you used is OAT or 100% OAT compatible.

You did exactly the right thing by replacing the thermostat. Unless you purged all the air from the system very carefully, you should expect temps to be a little bit erratic until the air is gradually purged by driving. Check the reservoir cold for the next week or so and be sure to top it off if it's low. If it were me, I'd replace the radiator cap, too. A gen-yoo-wine Stant 10234 is only six bucks, shipped, from that website named after a river in South America.

Don't go by the temperature gauge. In my experience, the difference between 195º-210º barely moves the needle on LX/LD cars. If you're really concerned about it, use the digital readout instead. But bear in mind that your high speed fans don't even come on until 226º or so.
 

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First off, DON'T believe everything on the net! I may bite the bullet and get it properly diagnosed at a dealer, THEN fix it yourself. Unless you know exactly what is wrong, you may be chasing other things that you shouldn't. 1. Are the fans working right? 2. Have you verified the temps with a gun? 3. On a 70-degree day, YES last week, mine went up to 230 before it cooled back down.
 
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