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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, So along with my free taurus came a coolant issue... I left my friends house where I got the car with a full tank of coolant. Now that im home I look under the hood and the tank is almost empty!!

The coolant tank could be (or one of) the problems with the car overheating over long distances.



Honestly someone suggested it could be a crack in the tank... but I really dont know! the coolant is only leaking while the car is running (so I guess pressured) and is only leeking from somewhere around the tank (and its evident its leaking ON the tank. So Im thinking maybe its the hoses? Or maybe something blocked and its causing the coolant to pressurize so much that it just goes whereever? I have no clue. Do you?

Heres some pictures of the car. Its it okay shape. AC control needs new knobs, the dash is warping around the instrument cluster, and theres a spot of rust on the hood that is only surface rust, so ill sand prime and paint that later.

The big issue of the day is whats going on with the coolant!







 

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Coolant gone

Hi, So along with my free taurus came a coolant issue... I left my friends house where I got the car with a full tank of coolant. Now that im home I look under the hood and the tank is almost empty!!

The coolant tank could be (or one of) the problems with the car overheating over long distances.



Honestly someone suggested it could be a crack in the tank... but I really dont know! the coolant is only leaking while the car is running (so I guess pressured) and is only leeking from somewhere around the tank (and its evident its leaking ON the tank. So Im thinking maybe its the hoses? Or maybe something blocked and its causing the coolant to pressurize so much that it just goes whereever? I have no clue. Do you?

Heres some pictures of the car. Its it okay shape. AC control needs new knobs, the dash is warping around the instrument cluster, and theres a spot of rust on the hood that is only surface rust, so ill sand prime and paint that later.

The big issue of the day is whats going on with the coolant!







Consider the possibility of a blown head gasket. Pressure going into the coolant and blowing it out. I had that on a '95 with a 3.8L and Ford replaced the head gaskets.

I know, this engine is all iron and less likely to leak around the head gasket, but any engine can do that.

If it leaked into the oil you should notice that. If it leaked from a hose or connection, you should be able to see that.

Good Luck

-chart-
 

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Couple of observations (some obvious):

Coolant looks like it hasn't been changed in a very long time. Condition of coolant might indicated corrosion throughout the system which degrades ability of coolant to remove heat from the system. What does your temperature gauge on the dash show?

Residue pattern on top of the tank looks like coolant overflow through the pressure cap. These caps are not very good, either OEM or aftermarket. I've changed mine at least 3 times. Get a new one.

Either DIY or take it in for a coolant change, system flush and pressure test. Hopefully it is something that can be addressed by putting in fresh coolant to a clean system.

Tanks have been known to crack but usually they do so toward the bottom of the tank or where the hoses join.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Im sure it needs a flush, previous owner just kept putting coolant in the car but i dont think they flushed it. Coolant in the tank is clear.

Temp guage ahows normal, prob because its not dompletely out of coolant yet. They said it overheats at long distances, prob means all the coolant gets out.
 

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Coolant boil-over (if this is the case) can be caused by either insufficient pressurization of the system (pressure elevates the point where boiling occurs), low ratio of coolant to water (if the owners just added water, the coolant ratio would decline over time) or poor heat transfer between the radiator and atmosphere due to deposits such as scaling or corrosion. Both of which are accelerated by using water with mineral content such as tap water.

If you have good pressure in the system and still boiling over, then you are probably low on ethylene glycol in the coolant and/or have a clogged or scaly radiator. Fortunately, the radiator is fairly inexpensive and relatively easy to replace if that's the case.

To rule out pressurization from exhaust gas due to a leaky head gasket, when your car is cold, undo the pressure cap, put it back on securely and then start and run the engine for a minute or so. This is long enough to introduce pressure to the cooling system if it's a leaky gasket, but not enough to introduce pressure through heating of the coolant. If you have no significant pressure when you open the radiator cap, likely it is not a situation where you have a leaky head gasket.
 

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If you don't have any money in it at this point, just get rid of it. It's more trouble than it's worth. The owner who gave you the car knew that. You're going to have to replace the water pump and all the engine gaskets, probably the heater core and maybe even replace a head if one is cracked from all the overheating. Then the 1996 era AX4S will go out around 100K miles, almost guaranteed. Take the money you would sink into it and buy something more reliable. I hate to be the jerk, but the 96/97 models were money pits and you're better off getting out from under it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
To clarify thecar never overheated to the point of pure shutdown or smoke or anything. Guy saw it was hot and he pulled over and waiting for it to cool down, drove to a station and put tap water in it to get home and then went and bought a new car. After he got home he emptied all the fluid and replaced with a coolant mixture. Then it sat for one year while he tried to sell it before he gave it to me.

Its got new tires, shocks, belts, pump, filters, oil, and a few other things

So if it ru s beautifully with full coolant, and only overheats once all the coolants gone, is it still a money pit in this case? It would only be our emergency car if our pt cruiser messed up or if one of us was gone and the other needed to get to thw store or something.
 

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hi, if you have the time and funds go ahead and learn from it, otherwise you can sell it and get a newer model.

no doubt the thermostat needs to be replaced, it may be stuck open.
is the heater working normally?

both my cars 99 wagon and sedan had some 'sludge' stuck in the bypass hose,
replaced them and cars run normal temp and performance.

regards
 

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Cleaning up the cooling system is a relatively

inexpensive task that might fix your problem. The symptoms are consistent with a neglected cooling system with corrosion, sludge and other conditions that lead to overheating.

Letting it overheat is an invitation to blown head gaskets.

Start with a flush and fill - take it to a radiator shop if you don't want to do it yourself. Replace the thermostat.

Address the most likely and least expensive to fix conditions first. You might be pleasantly surprised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks everyone. The car seems to run perfectly fine, idles fine and all. But the coolant for some reason is gushing out of the tank either through the hoses or the cap (im 99% sure its the cap). The only reason the car woukd overheat is if it completely ran out of coolant. So the car would run fine at normal temp if I just keep filling it up every 20 miles.

So if I can figure out why its only leaving the vehicle through the tank and figure out the cause and fix it, then this car will be running beautifully.

So far from what ive read the inexpensive things t try first is a good flush (should I use chemicals?) a new pressure cap, thermometer and replace any hoses that seem funky.

Right?
 

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To clarify thecar never overheated to the point of pure shutdown or smoke or anything. Guy saw it was hot and he pulled over and waiting for it to cool down, drove to a station and put tap water in it to get home and then went and bought a new car. After he got home he emptied all the fluid and replaced with a coolant mixture. Then it sat for one year while he tried to sell it before he gave it to me.
But that's what everyone says when they blow up an engine. "I didn't let it get too hot." Thing is, he probably didn't notice the first 20 times it overheated. You don't have to run it until it shuts down before you do engine damage. Based on his description of overheating on the highway, it needs a water pump, and like I said head gaskets and a heater core are a high probability. So add up the parts cost and your 10-20 hours labor, plus cost of tools you'll need, and then decide if you want to keep it.

I've learned to look at any project on a 10+ year old car through worst-case-scenario glasses, because it almost always is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I understand.

I havent noticed any odd smells in the cabin particularly the wonderfoul aroma of antifreeze.

And most certainly the exhaust is running clear so if theres an issue with the head gasket then the only way to know is to see if exhaust is getting into the coolant lines.

What im gonna do is just try to diy flush it, change the thermostat and put on a new cap and really test all the hoses. Personally i dont want to get anymore involved with it, so if the issue is more than that then ill look into getting rid of it. It would be excellent for a parts car or someone who has connections.
 

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^+1 on the water pump. The pump impeller is probably corroded away from lack of cooling system maintenance. I wish the body on my 96 LX looked that clean...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The car is throwing a code, something along the lines of feedback pressure on egr valve or something... I cant recall
 

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Probably po401. Change out the dpfe sensor (egr backpressure sensor). Get the borg-warner (probably #egr155 or 630 - both #s will work, but 155 is cheaper) from oreilly or advance auto.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Thanks, is that issue at all coolant related or just its own issue?

Also I just noticed the guage for the temp of thencar is stuck at about 1/4th rather than straight on C. The car hasnt beem ran for two days does the guage just stop where it was when the car turned off or am I looking at something that has to do with my cooling issue?

It works fine while the cars on, i was watching it bob up and down slightly rit in the middle while driving it home 2 days ago...
 

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Dpfe is not coolant related, its part of the 3 part egr system. Turn ignition key to on or run and observe temp. gauge movement.
 

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Had the same problem in my Taurus. Here is what to do...

Flush the system.
Change the thermostat.
Make sure radiator fan is working.
Change any hoses that are leaking.
 

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I've been through these very same issues with my '97 GL wagon and I bought my car brand new and have meticulously maintained it myself.

All is (probably) NOT lost here. These cars have cooling systems that gunk up all the time - even if you're flushing them by a regular schedule.

Just flush it like was mentioned. If you can get the pH Iron Cleaner that Ford used in the recall, that's probably your best bet. It runs about $45 in a 2Qt jug. Otherwise, I guess you can use the Prestone flush, but some have claimed this can cause you more problems than its worth. I've used it without any problems, but it also didn't "solve" the gunking up of the cooling system.

Check underneath the plastic tank and look down the inner fender where the A/C lines run by. Is there orange staining? If so, the tank is leaking from a hairline crack on the bottom. Buy a new one from the dealer. Don't pay more than $40 (call around).

Another thing you can do is pull the hoses that go into the firewall inside the engine compartment and blast a hose through your heater core. It's almost certainly plugged - which means no heat in the winter. Actually, wait until the beginning of the cold weather in your area to do this. Leaving it plugged right now won't hurt you. When you do this, look just inside the passenger fender near the upper corner of the firewall. There is a hose with a spring clip on it that runs down and into the firewall at those short elbow hoses. Disconnect here and attach garden hose. On the other side of the engine, find the plastic "T" with a hose leading back to the firewall. Disconnect here and attach a short length of hose to a bucket/pan. Run the hose one way, then connect to the other side and run it the other way. You'll see some scaly sediment come out. Do this back and forth until it's virtually clear (it'll never get TOTALLY clear ... you'll always see a LITTLE sediment come out). Then reattach the two hoses with the screw-type clamps so you can remove them easier next time (you'll be doing this at least once every winter season).

Don't bother with the T-stat just yet. It's probably OK. But DO flush the system. It would be best to pull the block plugs and freeze plugs, but that's probably over your head and you don't REALLY have to do it. Make sure the radiator is emptied by unscrewing the plastic drain **** at the lower corner of the driver's side (I think it is).

You're probably OK. These cars always look a lot worse than they really are. You MIGHT need a new water pump (because the impellers might have rusted holes through them limiting your circulation), but if so, that's only $35 and about 2-3 hours to replace (for a novice). Don't do this first. For now, just flush and make sure you're not leaking coolant from the plastic tank or any of the hoses (especially that "H" hose that comes out of the water pump at the elbow then runs to both the heater core and parallel to it ... sometimes this hose can leak at the sharp elbow or at the molded "T" just up from the water pump.

And yes, the transmissions CAN be soft on these cars (I've got the AX4S/AXOD myself), but I've been driving with a soft transmission since 97,000 miles and I'm now approaching 200,000. You can probably live with it. I have been since 2003. My tranny can slip going from 1st to 2nd if you accelerate too quickly from a stop, but to avoid a $2000 transmission bill, just transfuse the fluid with fresh stuff and accelerate slowly and smoothly from a stop. It's 11.5 Qts of tranny fluid, or $30 or so to replace all the fluid. Not a big deal. Use the Ford procedure as detailed on this board. I've done it twice. Not hard to do at all. You pull the lower transmission cooling line, attach a hose, and run the car for about a minute to pump out about 3-4 quarts. Then you pull down the pan (plastic gasket is re-usable) and drain off what's in there (2-3 quarts). Replace the filter while you're in there. Put the pan back on (20-something short bolts @ X inch-lbs using a torque wrench - look up the torque value ... it's fairly low ... make sure you turn them all uniformly ... I draw a picture of the pan and number the bolts then tighten in a criss-cross pattern). Then overfill by adding 10 fresh quarts, then run the car again and pump out the remaining old stuff through the still-attached hose. Stop when the fresh (RED) fluid starts coming out. I like to measure the fluid (in empty quart bottles) as it flows out. You've got 11.5 to start, you pump out 3, get 3 from the pan, then overfill with 10, so you end up pumping out about 4-6 quarts at the end to get back to 11.5. Then re-attach the lower cooling hose to the tranny (pinch the plastic clip to pull out, just push back in until it clicks on reinstall) and you're all set.

This can be a relatively inexpensive car to maintain and run and it'll be reliable - but you have to do the maintenance YOURSELF. If you go to a mechanic, you'll end up throwing a LOT of money at it and you'll end up getting rid of it and calling it the biggest piece of junk you ever owned.

That's NOT what it is. Just flush the fluids, keep an eye on the levels periodically, and you'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Im just fortunate that alot of the things on this car seem easy to get to.

Thanks for the Detailed instructions. Im going to put coolant back in the tank and drive arou d about ten minutes till the cars at norm temp then pop the hood to see where the coolant is coming from. Its def. Only coming out at the tank area as theres no other signs of leaks cept for right there as evident by the dripping under the car.

But what if the tanks not cracked? Could the gunk be causing enough pressure in the tank that the coolant escapes from the cap or hoses to the tank?
 
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