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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A couple of weeks ago, I posted on this board about a problem I was having with a brownish/tan/rusty color sludge forming in the degas tank on my girlfriend's 2000 Taurus w/ 3.0L Vulcan.

Based on the responses I got from members, I did the following:

1)Flush coolant system 3 times (first with water, fill with water then added radiator cleaner and drove for a while, and then flushed with water again)
2)Replaced Water Pump
3)Replaced Degas Tank and Cap
4)Replaced Thermostat

Once that was done, filled it back up and everything was going fine. I only had to add a little water the next day, but that was expected. My girlfriend drove it everyday to work (about 45 miles each way), and I kept checking it every morning. The coolant level stayed right at the correct marks, color was nice and green with no sign of any thing going on...

Until this past weekend when we took a roadtrip to Richmond, VA.

It's about a 3 hour drive, with only 1 quick stop in the middle, and ran beautifully going down. The next morning, I checked the tank, and noticed that a bit of the same color sludge was in the bottle. I chalked this up to it simply being some remnants working through the system.

But when I got back home on Monday, it was late and didn't want to deal with anything. Checked the next morning before going to work, and discovered that not only was the inside of the tank coated in this dirt and sludge, but the tank was almost empty. From what I can see, it boiled over from somewhere, because I could see the trail of rusty-colored residue on the outside of the tank and on the fender near the AC lines. The tank also had a odor that smelt just like exhaust.

Just like before, the vehicle is not overheating, has great cabin heat, is showing no signs of coolant in the oil, and is not putting out any white smoke out the tailpipe.

However, I am now getting the computer fault code for a Cylinder 1 misfire. I pulled that plug, and the tip was definitely fouled with some gunk, and had some white formations it. I pulled the other plugs, and they all look good.

So once again, I'm back to square one.

My biggest fear is that I am dealing with a blown head gasket, especially given the condition of the plug and the smell in the degas tank. I was thinking about flushing the system again, but the fact that this sludge and boiling over problem has come back after doing the above repairs, it leads me to believe I've got another problem going on.

I would appreciate if anyone has any insights or thoughts to pass along before I get into a project I don't really want to get into.

Also, as a bonus item, when I was doing all this work, I came across some sort of air/vacuum line (about 1/8" dia) that was shoved up under the windshield cowl. It has a clip that goes onto one of the strut mounting studs, but for the life of me I can't see where it's supposed to go.
 

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You need to buy/borrow (from Autozone) a test kit to detect if you are in fact getting exhaust gases in the coolant.

If you start the car from cold with the degas tank cap off and see bubbles in the tank (no steam yet as the engine is still cold), that might be a symptom of a head gasket leak but to confirm you should get the kit.

That tube sounds like it might be the vacuum line to the vent system.
 

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I would do a compression check and a leak-down test.

But from past examples i think your looking at a pending head-gasket failure.

If your pro active, i would tear the heads off, have them done at a machine shop, and put it back together with new gaskets.

If you ever been to a upull yard, you cannot count the number of Taurus with empty degass tanks full of brown sludge. Probabaly how they got there in the
first place



bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I know what you mean about finding a clean tank at the Pick-n-Pull. Out of the 20 or so in the yard, I found only 1 that had a nice, clean tank.

This weekend, I plan on doing both the compression and pressure leak-down test and see what that shows.

One thing that is a bit puzzling is that the coolant in the system is still a nice shade of green with no traces of gunk. I drained some from the radiator and pulled the cap on the backflush tee I put in, and it comes out looking brand new -- no brown tinge to it at all. It's confusing the heck out of me -- any explanations for that?

Thankfully, we've borrowed a family member's car for her to drive for the next month so I can take my time in getting this fixed.
 

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I know what you mean about finding a clean tank at the Pick-n-Pull. Out of the 20 or so in the yard, I found only 1 that had a nice, clean tank.

This weekend, I plan on doing both the compression and pressure leak-down test and see what that shows.

One thing that is a bit puzzling is that the coolant in the system is still a nice shade of green with no traces of gunk. I drained some from the radiator and pulled the cap on the backflush tee I put in, and it comes out looking brand new -- no brown tinge to it at all. It's confusing the heck out of me -- any explanations for that?

Thankfully, we've borrowed a family member's car for her to drive for the next month so I can take my time in getting this fixed.
My theory on that is that the head gasket is not totally failed, it has
a bad spot between a cylinder and the water jacket that opens up
during certain conditions and pressurizes the cooling system causing
it to puke. My guess if that if thats the case, it will get progressively worse until it just about immediately overheats and blow out the coolant

On thing i made while trouble shooting mine is a ghetto water pressure
gauge that you can leave on the car while its running and driving
to watch real time what the pressure is. I got a pressure gauge from
Harbor freight, a T fitting to screw into it and two hose barbs.
I then inserted this into the small degass line coming from the drivers
side to the degass tank. You will also need a small section of hose
to complete this along with hose clamps. I periodicaly opened the hood
and checked the gauge for water pressure.
 

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I have had that SAME EXACT problem with my 99 sable wagon with the vulcan motor - which is essentially the same motor as your girl friends.
I had a cracked head and yours is probably too -maybe ever so slightly, but not to the point where it's sucking in water.. :(

I was getting that over flowing effect and the brown nasty sludge build up. My car has 120k on it and bought it only a couple thousand miles ago. I flushed it multiple times and it didn't do the trick. And on the day I was about to replace the radiator, I was doing that final flush and all of a sudden the water had compromised the oil and turned everything into looking like a milkshake. I immediately thought bad head gasket. however the more I looked at the symptoms, there was NO water/vapor coming out of the exhaust nor was the coolant tank bubbling either.
So I thought it was probably the intake manifold gasket letting the water loose into the air ways and into the motor.
So I tore the intake manifolds off, and could not find where the issues would be. so I went ahead and took the heads off, after hours of meticulous labor taking this motor partially apart and still did NOT see the head gaskets having any issues either.
I then took the heads to the machine shop and 90 dollars later they verified I had a cracked left/front head, right between the 1st and 2nd cylinder.
AHAH!
So If I were you, I'd go ahead and assume for the worse that you have a cracked head at this point- regardless if you think it's just the head gasket leaking. Who ever will pull the heads off is going to see that the head gaskets are probably in okay shape. I'd drop those heads off at the machine shop and verify if you have a crack forming or not.
If you do, just throw both those heads away and buy 2 more reman'd ones off ebay for a $100 each, like I'm doing. The machine shop will charge you twice a much to machine and rebuild yours, assuming you provide them with a good head - why waste that money when you can just order a pair for 200 bucks with shipping online for ones that have been machine and rebuilt already?
As of right now, I'm waiting for my new heads to arrive in the mail, then I'm going to do an overhaul on the motor (without taking it out) and replace the timing chain, maybe even replacing the bottom end bearings, if there's any play in the rods when I drop the oil pan. I have my work cut out now.

Good luck on that.
 

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I have had that SAME EXACT problem with my 99 sable wagon with the vulcan motor - which is essentially the same motor as your girl friends.
I had a cracked head and yours is probably too -maybe ever so slightly, but not to the point where it's sucking in water.. :(

I was getting that over flowing effect and the brown nasty sludge build up. My car has 120k on it and bought it only a couple thousand miles ago. I flushed it multiple times and it didn't do the trick. And on the day I was about to replace the radiator, I was doing that final flush and all of a sudden the water had compromised the oil and turned everything into looking like a milkshake. I immediately thought bad head gasket. however the more I looked at the symptoms, there was NO water/vapor coming out of the exhaust nor was the coolant tank bubbling either.
So I thought it was probably the intake manifold gasket letting the water loose into the air ways and into the motor.
So I tore the intake manifolds off, and could not find where the issues would be. so I went ahead and took the heads off, after hours of meticulous labor taking this motor partially apart and still did NOT see the head gaskets having any issues either.
I then took the heads to the machine shop and 90 dollars later they verified I had a cracked left/front head, right between the 1st and 2nd cylinder.
AHAH!
So If I were you, I'd go ahead and assume for the worse that you have a cracked head at this point- regardless if you think it's just the head gasket leaking. Who ever will pull the heads off is going to see that the head gaskets are probably in okay shape. I'd drop those heads off at the machine shop and verify if you have a crack forming or not.
If you do, just throw both those heads away and buy 2 more reman'd ones off ebay for a $100 each, like I'm doing. The machine shop will charge you twice a much to machine and rebuild yours, assuming you provide them with a good head - why waste that money when you can just order a pair for 200 bucks with shipping online for ones that have been machine and rebuilt already?
As of right now, I'm waiting for my new heads to arrive in the mail, then I'm going to do an overhaul on the motor (without taking it out) and replace the timing chain, maybe even replacing the bottom end bearings, if there's any play in the rods when I drop the oil pan. I have my work cut out now.

Good luck on that.
Good diagnosis. You can also verify this with a coolant pressure tester. I can only assume with a hair line crack some one must have overheated the engine at least once? This hair line crack will probably not show-up as a misfire either because its too small.

Monsoon
 

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dave2....
As above posts say plainly, what matters is that you are losing coolant. Sludge or not matters less. Degas tank getting empty over 1000 miles is a big leak. I don't see a need for cooling system pressure test. It IS LEAKING.

What I would do first is to look for an external leak. Wet spots when engine is warm, dried up water mark, wetness of the degas tank at the bottom, etc. If you don't see any, it is internal. Cylinder compression may be the most definitive test.
 

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+1^^ do a compression test. if you dont see a leak. with the oil not being a milkshake and the plug showing signs then the next step is to confirm a leak into the cylinder. if you hook up a pressure tester to the cooling system with a leak going into the cylinder then you fill the cylinder with coolant and more then likely make the leak worse at the same time.
 

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paker, Bigdogg2830

I think you guys are missing the point with the coolant pressure test. Here are the benefits of doing a pressure test:
* Verifies you have a leak
* Verifies if any of your hoses are weak (Preventive maintenance)
* Pressure test your radiator/tank cap
* Pressure testing does not need to be done at normal operating temperature

And most of all if you have experience with one of these tools wait for it ----
the LOCATION of the leak, otherwise your just guessing. If finding the location is KEY for repairs then this is a great tool to use.

Internal Leaks...
The only exception would be an internal leak (unseen). However with a little common sense you can diagnose this as well. Internal leaks will most likely show-up in the cylinder itself or the crankcase or maybe both. Either can be verified by looking for the "milkshake effect" or pulling a spark plug and verify if coolant is in the cylinder. Using normal operating pressure (15psi).

External Leaks...
With external leaks you pump up the pressure to what it would be under normal conditions say 15psi. And then start looking for external leaks, including the heater core. Heater cores will leak inside the car. If using the bright green antifreeze this should be easy to find the leak and location.

From my experience with the Duratec engine any form of pressure loss will have a direct relationship of increasing temperature. For example, under normal healthy conditions the temp guage creeps up to 1/3 scale and stays there no matter how hot or cold outside. Last winter it started to creep about 1/2 the scale and the engine was running "abnormally". I really didn't know what to think at the time other than my radiator was 15-years old. After a week or so I looked on the garage floor for leaks. Sure enough there was coolant on the floor and the root cause after inspection was a leaky radiator. After replacing the radiator the temperature went back to normal or 1/3 scale. With this scenario the thermostat used was Motorcraft and the replacement radiator was Performance Radiator.

Monsoon
 

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If you do pull the heads, could you maybe take some pictures and report back?
I am particularly interested in the condition of the water jackets in the heads
What i am trying to see if the water jackets in the heads and blocks are corroded
or blocked causing some cooling issues
 
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