gurgling sound and dead starter

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Aug 14, 2009
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First post (yay).

The other day, I tried to start my 97 LX450 but something strange happened.

The first time, the engine seemed very inconsistent and was having difficulty at 500rpm, it shook a lot and finally, it died. Right afterward, I hear a gurgling sound (like water flowing down a drain).

The second time I tried, the starter did not work but I did hear the gurgling sound again.

I let the car rest a little and tried starting again. The engine again struggled at 500rpm or so, but I gave it some gas to put it up to 1,200, everything was fine after that. No gurgling sound.

I drove it for a few minutes to make sure everything was OK and then stopped and started the car again with no problems.

A few days later, the starter died for good and I had it replaced. Right before it died, the gurgling sound happened again


Can someone tell me what that gurgling sound is? I've looked online and some say it's low coolant. Checking my coolant reservoir, it's approximately two inches above the "low" line... So it's on the low side, but not too low. I'm pretty sure it's been at that spot for at least a few weeks now. However, when I checked it with the engine running last night, it seemed like the tank was empty (?!). It was checked in the dark, so I will need to make a confirmation in the day tomorrow when I don't have class. The temperature gauge doesn't indicate anything strange, but I've heard it's highly inaccurate anyways.

Also, is the gurgling sound indicative of a bigger problem? Or is it something that happens normally when you start but wouldn't be discernible because the engine noise covers it up?

Finally, is the gurgling sound connected to the failed starter or are they two different issues?


I'm about to take a 300 mile trip this weekend, so I want to make sure I won't break down along the way.

Thanks a lot for your help in advance. I just inherited the car from my father and am still learning. And yes, I totally love it.
 
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When you checked the coolant reservoir, did you check to see if the radiator was full also? It sounds like your coolant is low in the system and you could hear it since the engine didn't stay running. I'd say it's a separate issue from the starter.
 
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The two items are unrelated. The starter probably was going out anyway.

Use the search to perform a proper coolant burp and fill. These are notorious for acting full when they are not.
 
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thanks for the replies and info, very helpful.

just an update: the reservoir level came back up 2 inches two days later (?) and the rad level was good too when i checked it. not sure why that happened but everything is running smoothly and no more gurgling either. i added a little more coolant just in case, but it's been running real smooth this last week.
 
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It could be a worn radiator cap that is letting air into the system and hence it is gurgling into the reservoir! Oh, I forgot! Welcome to the forum and enjoy your ride! :)
 

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