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During hot days, my 99 Cougar V6 overheats. Usually takes about 30 minutes of driving. The gauge reads straight up for the first 25 minutes or so (after warm up). Then there is a clearly audible click or shift or something. The fans are still running at that point but the temp jumps immediately after the click and will redline in 60 seconds unless I shut the car off or turn the heater on full blast. It happens whether I run the AC or not. Haven't heard any belt squeaks.

I flushed the system to see if it was gunked up, used new specified coolant, no additives. The old coolant wasn't gross either but I changed it anyway. The coolant level is not dropping (after 1 month) so there is no leak.

Any ideas?
 

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Tried bleeding the system ? though shouldn't be required .Thermostat is the easier and cheapest to replace first , water pump next if needed . If still not right , radiator partially blocked ?
 
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