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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having a problem with a tan-colored sludge forming in the coolant tank on my Girlfriend's 2000 Taurus with the 3.0L Vulcan we bought used a year ago.

What started all of this was a failure on one of the welds on the heater hose assembly that runs from the engine and back to the heater core. When I popped the cap off the tank before starting to replace the assembly, I discovered this sludge and a bit of foaminess.

I backflushed the system (without a system cleaner) 2 weekends ago and refilled with Prestone (green). However this weekend when I checked the fluid level, the sludge was back, and with a vengeance.

I do not appear to have any coolant getting into the oil (e.g. No milky-whiteness on the dipstick) or white smoke out the exhaust, which are two things I have always looked for in a head gasket failure situation.

I am getting coolant loss, but thanks to the color of the coolant now, it appears to be boiling out from the tank (as in I can see the dried residue covering the tank). While this could be due to pressure loss from a failed gasket, I have to suspect the water pump could be gone too.

I did test for electrolysis, and for a split second got a 1v DC reading, but have been unable to get it again. Also, temp gauge has been staying in the middle.

After reading some of of the other posts on this matter, I plan on reflushing the system this weekend with a cleaner and seeing what that does for the sludge. I am worried about the coolant loss and whether it is due to a head gasket and/or water pump.

So if anyone could give me some tips or point me in the right direction to resolve this problem, it would be most appreciated. All the other engines I've ever worked on have been 4-cylinder Chryslers, so this is getting me into new territory.
 

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Could also be a bad degas tank cap. If it's the original, it likely needs replacement.

What condition was the coolant before you changed it out? If it had not ever been replaced (brown in color), you may have had extreme corrosion in the system.

If it's staying in the middle of the temperature range, you should just get a new coolant cap and see if it cures the boil-over/coolant loss.
 

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The brown sludge you speak of sounds a lot like stop-leak. I'd be curious if the previous owned had tried to band-aid a cooling system leak with it. If that is the case, it could have clogged up the system. The increased pressure from a clogged up system would explain the broken weld and the coolant blowing out of the de-gas tank.

I would flush the system the best you can, replace the cap on the de-gas tank, then try to determine where you're losing coolant. The de-gas tank itself may have cracked as well, it's not uncommon.

Unfortunately if it was indeed stop-leak that caused this, which I would strongly suspect it might be, you may never get it all out of there.
 

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The heater hose assembly weld didn't fail and cause the brown sludge. A lack of maintenance by the previous owner caused the acidic brown sludge to form, which rotted away the heater pipe. This is common on neglected 96+ up Vulcans. If the water pump is original you have to change it. The system will have to be thoroughly flushed to remove all the sludge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey guys - thanks for the info.

Given other things I've already had to do to this car, as in replace both rear springs which were broken (and how it got through inspection I have no idea), I can only imagine how well it was maintained.

The dealer did say they flushed the system before we bought it, and it looked fine. After the hose failed is when I took notice to all this.

So, what I plan on doing this weekend is flushing the system (any particular brand you recommend over another?) refilling just with water, run for a little bit, then backflushing again, replace the water pump and both the de-gas tank and cap, and then refilling the system.

Hopefully this will get out a bulk of whatever is still in the system out.

Also, are there any tricks for replacing the water pump?
 
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