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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am the proud owner of a 1996 Mercury Sable GS wagon, which I purchased a few weeks ago with only 76,000 miles on it. The inside is in mint condition, and so I think overall it was a great deal.

I've had to deal with a few issues on the car so far to get it in perfect driving shape. Since the beginning, the service engine soon light will come on (flashes for awhile then is static). I rooted around under the (extremely clean) hood and noticed several things. First, vacuum hoses were missing from the EGR and the pressure intake part for the engine (sorry, I don't know all of the real names for car parts). I had these hoses replaced.

Next, I replaced the spark plugs, (especially plug #2). Still didn't fix the problem. Then, the gentleman at the auto parts store suggested the coil pack. Replaced this. Same problem. Finally, I looked closely at the spark plug cables (which were brand new looking) and realized cable number two was actually clamped down between the cylinder head cover and the engine block and oil was leaking out. Had this fixed and the problem stopped briefly.

It seems whomever worked on this car before was super lazy and left off vacuum hoses, clamped the spark plug cable, etc.

Everything seemed fine, but now, on cold days, the car will start to shake when it's turned on, and then the familiar light comes on, and when I read the code it says cylinder head 2 misfire - P0302.

A mechanic friend suggested I put in a combustion cleaning additive, so I did this. Still have the problem on occasion.

I noticed the other day that the car has smoke coming out of the exhaust, and after a while, oil.

What could be going on at this point? My mechanic put the cylinder head under compression or something for a number of hours, and said there weren't any problems there and he doesn't know what else to do.


Also, if it's of any consequence, if the AC is on vent instead of Max AC, a horrible exhaust smell fills the cabin.

Thanks!

Richard
 

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They may have left the vacume lines off of the EGR on purpose. I would pull the vacume hose off of the EGR and see if there is oil in the hose. The EGR valve might be sucking oil through the vacume line, and into the exhaust system. Did you replace the boot for the # 2 plug?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They may have left the vacume lines off of the EGR on purpose. I would pull the vacume hose off of the EGR and see if there is oil in the hose. The EGR valve might be sucking oil through the vacume line, and into the exhaust system. Did you replace the boot for the # 2 plug?

Just checked vacuum line - no oil. I'll let it run longer and check tomorrow.

Yes, boot (that's connected to the spark plug cable, right?) was replaced.



There's another thing I noticed, which could have to do with the smell.

The coolant tank is/was super brown and sludgy inside. I paid a mechanic to flush it out. Just check it and it's still totally brown, and now the coolant itself is brown. When I first got the car, the inside was sludgy, but the coolant was still green. I put some of that coolant stop-leak in (the black stuff with the black pellets) and I'm wondering if that is why the tank is now brown. Does coolant turn brown after you put stop-leak in it? I checked the ring on the coolant cap, and the gasket is there, but for some reason, it seems as though the coolant is overflowing over the top of the plastic reservoir. I'll take a picture. It's pretty nasty looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just checked vacuum line - no oil. I'll let it run longer and check tomorrow.

Yes, boot (that's connected to the spark plug cable, right?) was replaced.



There's another thing I noticed, which could have to do with the smell.

The coolant tank is/was super brown and sludgy inside. I paid a mechanic to flush it out. Just check it and it's still totally brown, and now the coolant itself is brown. When I first got the car, the inside was sludgy, but the coolant was still green. I put some of that coolant stop-leak in (the black stuff with the black pellets) and I'm wondering if that is why the tank is now brown. Does coolant turn brown after you put stop-leak in it? I checked the ring on the coolant cap, and the gasket is there, but for some reason, it seems as though the coolant is overflowing over the top of the plastic reservoir. I'll take a picture. It's pretty nasty looking.

There's still a seal though. When it's hot, I have to wait awhile to open the coolant tank. I don't know where the coolant is coming from, but I'm assuming that might be what my smell is. It smells more like oil than coolant though...
 

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Just checked vacuum line - no oil. I'll let it run longer and check tomorrow.

Yes, boot (that's connected to the spark plug cable, right?) was replaced.



There's another thing I noticed, which could have to do with the smell.

The coolant tank is/was super brown and sludgy inside. I paid a mechanic to flush it out. Just check it and it's still totally brown, and now the coolant itself is brown. When I first got the car, the inside was sludgy, but the coolant was still green. I put some of that coolant stop-leak in (the black stuff with the black pellets) and I'm wondering if that is why the tank is now brown. Does coolant turn brown after you put stop-leak in it? I checked the ring on the coolant cap, and the gasket is there, but for some reason, it seems as though the coolant is overflowing over the top of the plastic reservoir. I'll take a picture. It's pretty nasty looking.
Yeah, the boot is part of the coil pack. Did the old boot have oil on it? I would trace everything that is associated with the EGR system.

Did you have the entire coolant system flushed, or just the tank? I don't know what color the powder will make the water, because I would never put that stuff into my car. Did you put in the right anti freeze?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah, the boot is part of the coil pack. Did the old boot have oil on it? I would trace everything that is associated with the EGR system.

Did you have the entire coolant system flushed, or just the tank? I don't know what color the powder will make the water, because I would never put that stuff into my car. Did you put in the right anti freeze?
The old boot did have oil on it, yes.


I had the whole coolant system flushed. When I came back, the mechanic said I had a tiny tiny leak, and there was coolant on the floor of his shop (after he'd let the car idle for several hours while he tested the compression of the #2 cylinder for a leak). He said that stuff had been used for years and shouldn't do any harm. But I now notice my coolant is brown. It was the correct kind, yes.
 

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Here is a question and answer I found on the internet.

Question

I have a 98 Mercury Sable. The antifreeze keeps turning brown and the heat in my car is barely warm?

I've had my antifreeze flushed a couple of times but it keeps turning brown. The last place that flushed my antifreeze said it could be the head gasket. Someone who used to work for Ford told me there was a hidden recall on these cars for the heater tube assembly and that was the problem but when I called Ford they said they have had no recall . I've noticed other people on here have had the same problem with their car and wondered what the problem is and how to fix it.

Answer

It was not a recall, but was a Technical Service Bulletin. #01-11-6 to be exact. The engine block had casting material left inside of it at assembly. This causes rust to form in the cooling system, making the coolant beige or brown in color. This rust will block the heater core, radiator, and completely destroy the water pump impeller. In order to fully remove the rust, the entire cooling system must be flushed by removing hoses and a freeze plug to flush out the engine block and heater core, radiator, etc with water. All of this is covered in the TSB I listed above, and your dealer will have that information. By just replacing the coolant and not removing a freeze plug to flush out the block, the rust stays in the engine to contaminate every new batch of coolant that is installed.
Source(s):

Ford Certified technician
ASE Certified technician
Ford Certified Diesel Specialist
18 years experience

Here is a link.

I have a 98 Mercury Sable. The antifreeze keeps turning brown and the heat in my car is barely warm? - Yahoo! Answers
 

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I checked the ring on the coolant cap, and the gasket is there, but for some reason, it seems as though the coolant is overflowing over the top of the plastic reservoir. I'll take a picture. It's pretty nasty looking.
Who wants to start taking bets for a headgasket? What colour is the smoke? Oil is blue, coolant is white. Though, the compression test indicates otherwise.
 

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Even with a leakdown/compression test, there could be a head microcrack or a weak head gasket bridge that only shows up under hot power. I've seen it.

Coolant pouring out over the overflow bottle usually means exhaust pressure in the coolant passages. The coolant recovery bottle can be checked for HC with the right leak detector kit.

It looks to me like you're going to have to put some more money into the car at this point. Make sure a machine shop checks the heads for warpage and cracks while they're off. And flush the block thoroughly, get all the old coolant sludge out. Looks like the previous had a lot of problems he didn't tell you about.

This just goes to reinforce one of my life observations: there are no great deals on used cars. :( At best, fair deals, but few if any great ones. No one knows the vehicle like the current owner, and if a price is surprisingly low there's always a reason.
 

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Who wants to start taking bets for a headgasket?

Even with a leakdown/compression test, there could be a head microcrack or a weak head gasket bridge that only shows up under hot power. I've seen it.
I think you are both right. The OP said that there was a wire under the head gasket, so someone has pulled off one of the heads for some reason. It kind of sounds like the old owner found what was wrong, slapped it back together, and dumped it on the OP. Having a car sit idle, isn't the same as driving it. It's going to get hotter while being driven. So if there is a crack, it may not expand enough when the car is just sitting idle. I don't know what kind of a mechanic the OP is using, but he might want to try another, and get another opinion. I just hope the OP didn't buy a money pit.
 

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you might be better off finding a low mileage long block from a scrap yard. I believe the long block is the same all the way up to 07 (end of the Taurus)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Problem Solved

Well, it turns out the TSB did apply to my car.

I'd already paid for a thorough coolant system flush, but it seems my mechanic did a cruddy job. A new, 20 year Ford veteran mechanic followed the bulletin and removed about three handfuls of solid junk from the system. The cylinder head was tested under compression and is running like a rock. Car is running well and not over-heating, and no oil was found in the coolant/vice-verse.

I think I'm going to demand my money back from the first guy.

Thank you all so much for letting me know about the TSB. This organization/forum is so awesome.


Thanks!

Richard
 
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