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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
7-25-10 Update: Issue resolved. Was the water pump; scroll down several posts for addt'l info and photo of failed water pump.
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Trying to help my friend with wife's car. Have done a lot of Google research & read a lot of posts but didn't find one that matched this particular scenario. Please advise or direct me to the right page!

Car: 1998 3.0L Duratec (VIN "S") Engine
History: Dash gauge shoots up to H. Coolant tank would gurgle and overflow around the pressure cap. First mech he took it to replaced the temp sensor and sender, but problem remained. Said thermostat or bubble in system, but didn't know. He also took temp of engine & said it was running much cooler than dash gauge reads.
Took to Dealer who said thermostat and water pump, but was too much $ and I volunteered.

Symptoms: After short time driving (3-4 min) gauge is close to H, however the engine does not seem hot. Often coolant would gurgle from the reservoir cap. I carefully removed it with a rag and there wasn't much pressure and no steam. I replaced the thermostat last night. Gauge still reads high and now there's a slight overflow of coolant, but not from the cap. And now there's no gurgling.

The radiator fan turns on as the car heats up. However, when running it doesn't blow hot air from the radiator. The heater inside the car also does not get very hot. So, I'm thinking there's little/no coolant circulation--blockage somewhere or water pump is to blame. Although the shaft feels solid and there's no leakage or odd sound from the pump. BUT, if there wasn't circulation, seems like the engine would actually be hot but after shutting it off, however the engine doesn't seem like it really is (just very warm to touch, no "hot" smell nor metallic 'ticking' of expanding/contracting metal, and first mech said internal temp was lower than dash gauge).

Additional Info:
Coolant: No oil visible, didn't look bad from initial drain (rusty, gunky)
Tailpipe: No steam or sign of water getting into the engine.
Replaced: Thermostat, temp sensor, and sending unit
Reservoir cap: Was suspecting it was faulty, but performed fine after thermostat replacement.
In general, there's no obvious leaks or anything else that seems out of place.

From my research, seems like the next culprits would be head gasket, water pump, or this bubble thing. Based on the data I've collected, I can't easily determine what to tackle next. Without heat coming from the radiator fan when it spins up AND with no heat in the cabin, seems like a circulation issue and the car really is overheating. But the engine doesn't seem like it really is very hot. :(
 

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hi,

if the water pump is original then it is time to replace it.

early pumps did have problem with the metal used for
the impeller, the metal will be eaten away over time and
the result will be a paper thin impeller that whips the coolant
instead of pumping it.

regards
 

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Make sure the system can hold pressure. The tanks are notorious for cracking and leaking on the bottom. Also if the cap was cross threaded it will no longer hold pressure again. No pressure=high temps and gurgling.

The radiators too will fill up on the outside with fuzz. This is hard to get out as it clogs the fins outside the fan area where the fan is not there to pull it directly through.

Be sure both fans are working too, if only one works then the other just pulls the air from the engine side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Resolved - Water Pump Had Failed

Thanks for all of your input, MUCH appreciated. Turned out it was the water pump. The black plastic impeller (nylon?) simply fell apart. It cracked away from the shaft in 3 nearly-equal pieces. I'm very surprised this part was made out of plastic, but it was.

My friend found a good independent guy to do swap it out for a new one. He was able to feel inside the pump before removing it--through one of the hose ports--that there were pieces inside. This mechanic also raised the front end of the car up on the lift and listened for the bubble to go through the system until it finally burped. Cost wasn't bad at all, about $250 he said (for part & labor)--less than half of the dealer's estimate.
 

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W0W that thing just broke apart didn't it!? Dang. What kind of mileage did you have on your Sable when it busted? I've read of a couple other Gen 3 DOHC owners having this happen. Since my 2000 uses the same water pump as your 98, I want to keep tabs. At least you got it fixed cheap. $250 is a steal for parts/labor.
 

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hi,

interesting, btw this pump looks very similar to the pump a coworker just purchased for his BMW car, it also failed the same way with under 50K miles on his car.

regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Approx 133,000 Miles

W0W that thing just broke apart didn't it!? Dang. What kind of mileage did you have on your Sable when it busted? I've read of a couple other Gen 3 DOHC owners having this happen. Since my 2000 uses the same water pump as your 98, I want to keep tabs. At least you got it fixed cheap. $250 is a steal for parts/labor.
Bull Geek - the Taurus has approx 133K on it. By no means low miles, but I'm still surprised by the type of failure--just breaking apart. (At least this is one thing I never have to worry about when riding my air-cooled motorcycle!) :D

James - Wow, 50K to me is still considered fairly low mileage. Guess this type of failure is obviously more than a Ford issue.
 

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Hmm...OK well I think a water pump will be purchased next paycheck. Just to have on hand. Whoops you had a Taurus, no idea why I said Sable. Thanks for posting pictures and info!
 
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