First of all, I'm sorry this happened and since you know what you did wrong I'll spare you the normal cooling system lecture. I don't necessarily think your thermostat being faulty would have caused the issue if it failed open. However, if it failed closed, it is a different story. I am kind of confused about your timeline though. You said you heard the pop last night and this morning there is no coolant in the tank. Generally speaking the pop was most likely a cooling system related item bursting and allowing coolant to drain out. Did you not notice any coolant on the ground after you pulled over? Also the oil on the heat shield is almost definitely the VCG. I almost would go as far as to say it is unrelated to your overheating last night. Check your oil level just for good measure, but I think you are good in that department. For now, I would check all cooling related items (e.g. hoses, expansion tank, etc.) for holes. Obviously, you'll eventually want to get in there and see what's up with the thermostat and water pump too, but for now, check for signs of where coolant could have possibly been relieved from the system. When is the last time you checked your coolant level? Have you ever replaced any cooling related items? Just trying to pinpoint your issue. Even after the problem is fixed, I want you to also realize a warped head is very possible if you drove the car for any extended period of time while in the red. Some have even warped it with minuscule time in the red.
Last edited by Teddy7; 09-19-2012 at 08:21 AM.