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Engine overheating woes. Maybe undercooling is a better word.

1995 3.8-liter engine. Radiator was re-cored and waterpump replaced an couple of years ago. The headgaskets are defiantly NOT leaking combustion gases into the cooling system. I have the cooling fan set to run continually on hi-speed all the time when engine is running. The hoses and serpentine belt are fine, lower radiator hose is not collapsing. No leaks, smell, or loss of coolant at all. The cooling system was pressured tested and the radiator cap is good. I've tested and eliminate the thermostat, ECT sensor, and the temperature gauge. The heater core is not clogged and the catalytic converters are not clogged. The engine timing is not to far advanced, and she still runs good.

Normally, my engine temperature gauge will stay around the O on NORMAL, even in the hot summer months. But starting a couple of weeks ago, that is no longer the case. Starting cold in the morning I can drive for about 30 minutes, or longer at highway speeds with no problems, then the temperature gauge starts to climb to the red zone. At stop lights on a hot afternoon the temperature gauge will go all the way to L in NORMAL if I don't pull over and shut the motor off to cool. Seems like it could be an insufficient air flow problem, but like I said, the engine cooling fan is running so that's not the problem. And there are no obstructions on/around the radiator. I tried to feel around the radiator with my hand for cold spots that would indicate an clogged tube, but there's not much room for my large hands. Also, I have not been using the A/C.

Usually I'm pretty good at solving cooling system problems, and I have helped other Taurus owners solve theirs. But this time around I'm about ready to start throwing parts (and money) at the problem without really knowing the cause of the problem. I'm beginning to suspect that I may have a partially clogged radiator. But wait, here's a new clue. Today when I got stuck in traffic and the temperature gauge pointer went all the way over to the A, I pulled into a car wash, and with the engine running, sprayed water from a hose onto the front of the radiator for about 30 seconds, and almost right away, the temperature gauge pointer dropped all the way down to the N on NORMAL. So what does that tell us?

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks for reading,
Dennis Wolfe
 

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Originally posted by Generation 2@Aug 14 2004, 04:46 PM
Today when I got stuck in traffic and the temperature gauge pointer went all the way over to the A, I pulled into a car wash, and with the engine running, sprayed water from a hose onto the front of the radiator for about 30 seconds, and almost right away, the temperature gauge pointer dropped all the way down to the N on NORMAL. So what does that tell us?

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks for reading,
Dennis Wolfe
I don't think the water test can tell you weather its a radiator problem or a lack of flow from a bad water pump. But is does tell you that there is at least some water flow. If I was forced to make a WAG I would say radiator, but I would pull the water pump first and inspect it, if its not to hard to get at. It will only cost you time and a gasket.
One Question when it does get close to over heating and you turn the heater on is it blistering hot if so more likely radiator, if only kinda hot water flow problems threw the engine.

GOOD LUCK
 

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There isn't any debris in front of the radiator, is there? if the engine temp dropped like that from the radiator being cooled, I would guess that the pump is moving the coolant fine.


With the fans on high you might be sucking in all kinds of crap that is getting lodged in the radiator. Get some Air Conditioner coil cleaner, and clean the radiator fins.


Not to ask stupid questions, but what is your water/antifreeze ratio? Antifreeze doesn't actually conduct heat well - it's the water that does the actual cooling. a 50/50 ratio is perfect. The system could also be airlocked, or having bad local vaporization problems. It wouldn't hurt to add either Redline's Watter Wetter of Royal Purple's Purple Ice. they condition the water and prevent hot spots.



I'm sorry if I restated things you already knew; I just wanted to start with the basics.
 
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I'll second the water wetter. I used some in the Suburban, and it actually works well. It is however, a band aid fix.

At this point Dennis, I would start by flushing the cooling system, and putting in some 50/50 coolant. You can check radiator flow, and water pump flow at the same time.

IIRC, my Cougar with the 3.8 had a bleeder screw on the upper intake that I had forgotten to crack open when adding coolant. It behaved similar to what you're explaining, and once I opened that screw up and added coolant, I could hear the air escaping. After that, it never did it again.

Honestly, I'm really at a loss for what could be causing this. You've already covered everything that I would normally recommend.

The only other thing I can think of, which actually ended up being a problem, is the plastic air deflector mounted at the bottom of the radiator support. On this particular car (91 SHO) it was missing, and causing similar problems.
 

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Third on the water wetter. That's all I can really see to do...checking for debris in front of the radiator is also a good idea...

when you get it fixed, i'd be interested to know what it was.
 

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I don't consider water wetter a band-aid fix. It helps keep the oxidation down in my engine - I haven't done the bypass and the coolant is still nice and green after a year-and-a-half. I do agree that it isn't a fix-all, though.
 
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Originally posted by silvapain@Aug 15 2004, 01:48 PM
I don't consider water wetter a band-aid fix. It helps keep the oxidation down in my engine - I haven't done the bypass and the coolant is still nice and green after a year-and-a-half. I do agree that it isn't a fix-all, though.
That sorta came out wrong. I meant it would be a band aid fix in this particular case, where the car was fine for a while, and just started doing this. I agree, in my Burb, it does a great job!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks guys for all the replies. I was planning on trying some water wetter, but so far I haven't been able to find any here in my area. The heater is blowing hot air, and I remember reading somewhere that turning the heater on full blast when your engine is running hot will help to dissipate some heat from the engine because the heater core will act as a second mini radiator, but that doesn't seem to help any.

There isn't any debris on the front of the radiator, I checked that the other day at the car wash. I'm not driving the car much right now, only on short trips. As soon as I get some free time I will try flushing the cooling system as Bob suggested. And if that don't do any good I'll pull the water pump and look for a broken impeller.

When I find out what is causing the engine to run hot, I will post back here.

Dennis
 

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How 'bout between the rad and the a/c condenser? or do you have alot of fins bent over restricting flow into the rad, obviously, your problem is lack of air cooling,
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Today I picked up my new Modine radiator ($156 after $46 discount), the proper tool to disconnect the transmission oil cooling lines, some Teflon pipe sealant, and an extra gallon of antifreeze. Three hours of labor, a little sunburn and a couple of bruised knuckles...Problem solved!

I'm so happy to have my bull back to 100% :chili:


BTW, I never did pull the water pump. Now I have to re-adjust the cooling fan control and put an 195 degree thermostat back in. The engine runs too cool. :D

Dennis Wolfe
 
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