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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just found a Taurus Wagon. I've had now 3 Taurus cars (96, 00, and just picked up the 98). We really needed a wagon because we'd been driving a 5 seater 87 Mercedes 300d. While it was a great car and ultra reliable, it didn't fit all of us.

Anyways, glad to have found a deal on this wagon. We got it for $200 and it's got 165k approximately. It seems to run pretty good. But there are some unknowns. It's got a 3.0 Vulcan engine.

1. The shop that had in for repair (AC related) it before the owner sold it to me today said they thought it had a blown head gasket or cracked head. I asked if it was smoking or had coolant in the oil or vise/versa and the guy said no. I said so what makes you think there is a head issue? He said he put some kind of test in the coolant (dye?... something???) and his test found exhaust gasses in the coolant. I'm not familiar with this test. Anyone heard of something like this? I always thought overheating and smoke at the exhaust was how you determined the head gasket or head had a problem.

So... I guess my question is, am I wrong on how I'd diagnose a head gasket? Also, can a problem with a head or head gasket come and go? In other words, what seems ok one day may wreak havock another and then go away again?


2. The coolant is very brown and dirty. It didn't look like oil had entered though. It has a water consistency I think. I'm guessing the entire cooling system needs a good flush since it's so dirty and brown. Any tips on that?

3. There is a squeaking on a belt drive device or the belt itself. It's not a steady squeak but more of a chirping. It doesn't go away. Where do I start to look? I had an idler pulley fall apart on my old 96 Taurus and it broke the belt (left me stranded in a bad part of Joliet IL around 6-7 years ago). So I know the chirping can be the idler. Could it also be the water pump? How do I isolate a chirp? Would the water pump be weeping if it was on it's way out?

4. The coolant reservoir is wet around the cap and top. Is there anything I should check there?

Thanks for any help. It's nice to be driving a good ole Taurus again. :)
 

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1. Cylinder leak down test.

2. Change it. Usually I just open the drain at the bottom of the radiator and let out everything that will come out and refill the coolant tank once a year. This leaves a fair amount of used coolant in the system, though, but to get it all out is a much more involved process. I'd probably just drain and refill and run the car several minutes to circulate the new coolant, and repeat. MAKE SURE you let the engine cool down before you add room temp coolant to the tank.

3. Mechanic's stethoscope.

If it's the idler pulley you will probably be able to see the pulley wobble. Visually check all the other pulleys that your serpentine belt drives for wobble. Also check the belt itself and replace if it shows wear.

Another strong possibility is your cam synchronizer. This makes a chirping noise when it goes out. It also drives your oil pump, so if this fails you will experience a reduction in oil pressure, which can kill your engine or at least damage it prematurely.

4. Get a new cap.
 

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Congrats on the good deal! For only $200 it's worth the gamble and even if there are serious problems you can always sell it for salvage and recover some of that money.

I've not heard of using dye in the coolant but it's possible. I have seen and used an exhaust gas anylizer to 'sniff' the open radiator neck to test for head gasket leak but I don't know how reliable that is. The leak down test will give you a really quick and easy check of the engine plus you'll have the spark plugs out and you can visually check them for signs of trouble too. I'd put new ones in as long as you are that far. Keep us posted on how you come out!
 

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1. The shop that had in for repair (AC related) it before the owner sold it to me today said they thought it had a blown head gasket or cracked head. I asked if it was smoking or had coolant in the oil or vise/versa and the guy said no. I said so what makes you think there is a head issue? He said he put some kind of test in the coolant (dye?... something???) and his test found exhaust gasses in the coolant. I'm not familiar with this test. Anyone heard of something like this? I always thought overheating and smoke at the exhaust was how you determined the head gasket or head had a problem.
I am very familier with this test (unfortunatly) It is a "combustions gas tester" among other names but it is a great and cheap test. works great, it let me know that my beautiful Cadillac Deville with a Northstar had a blown head gasket just 3 days after I bought it. I was pretty upset but I took it to the dealer and had it fixed. Head gasket blown on cyl 4 and 6. It alsotold me that the $5k repair bill from the dealer had failed just 1 week later! As much as I love Cadillac's, I can not do a NorthStar again:flamethrower:

You can youtube a video and see it done on some ricer car.

Good Luck with your car, I just bought a set of heads and had everything done to them because i thought I needed a head gasket but it looks like my car worked itself out with everything else replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Congrats on the good deal! For only $200 it's worth the gamble and even if there are serious problems you can always sell it for salvage and recover some of that money.

I've not heard of using dye in the coolant but it's possible. I have seen and used an exhaust gas anylizer to 'sniff' the open radiator neck to test for head gasket leak but I don't know how reliable that is. The leak down test will give you a really quick and easy check of the engine plus you'll have the spark plugs out and you can visually check them for signs of trouble too. I'd put new ones in as long as you are that far. Keep us posted on how you come out!
I figured I couldn't resist at that price. I've gotten some really nice cars at under $500.

A few years ago I bought my current 87 Mercedes 300D Diesel for $500
A few months ago a guy from my church had a nice 94 Mercedes E320 that he didn't want to mess with. It needed new plug wires and a tune up. I got it for $200.
Then I found this. It's a nice car. It's got 165k on it. But still... the price is right.


The one thing I am not crazy about is the distance from the rear seat to the rear bumper. It's not a huge distance. But it seems like a nice car none the less. I may buy an old Volvo 240 Wagon just to have a little extra distance between a rear end accident and my kids. But we'll see! Either way, it's nice to have a Taurus again. They're nice cars and especially for the money.

I'm going to drain the coolant right now. I'm sure I'll get a good bucket of sludge when I pull that lower radiator hose. I squeezed the heater core bypass hose before I started it (when I checked the car out) and it felt like it had some gunk inside. It didn't feel like water only. So we'll see what is in there.
 
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