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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I know, how could I let it happen, but it did. So here's the brief history and diagnostics.

1997 Taurus GL, 3.0 Non-Flex fuel. Bought it 4 months ago. Love the car. 195k miles on it and was a tight engine with no oil leaks or noises or creeks. Was a municipal vehicle up until 2 years ago. 20 year old "Ugly Betty" type college girl drove it and told us, "Guys at the shop said it just needed a tune up and brakes".

Two weeks after buying it started having Antifreeze leaking on the ground and we had an early fall. Chased that bastard around for a few weeks replacing clamps, caps etc for the bottle until I read their bottles suck and so replaced that. New bottle worked fine for a few weeks and then started leaving AF on the ground again. Yes, 50/50 mixture. At first was coming out of the cap, then Girlfriend said she saw it coming out of the top corner of the bottle nearest the radiator.

So, that brings us to Christmas day. Goin over to Dads for the day and hadn't put my 50/50 in for a few days and so we added more water. Garage stays above freezing for the most part. Drove it over, and heard some thunking and cludding about center of the car. Temp gauge showed normal, 1/2 way point. Was at dads for 5 hours and it was 25 degrees out. On the way home which was about 15 miles, (we had put about 1/2 a gallon of water in again until the next day when I could get to a parts store) All hell broke loose. Temp gauge was normal, then started to creep up a bit and then Somthin' Blew! Lasted about 4 or 5 seconds or about a 1/4 mile.

Stopped and checked the engine, knew it was out or low on water. Out in the country, so I decided to nurse it home about 7 miles. 4 miles from the house and back into a residential area she finally just Stalled out. Guys picked up the car took it to their shop, thawed it overnight and checked the compression on the cylinders. 1 & 2 are at 50 psi rest at 120. That's with the old oil in them. They held the pressure over 15 minutes or so. They didn't go for the water problem because the Water bottle he said is cracked from the freezing over that night. I will be getting the car back to the house tonight or tomorrow so I can see things for myself.

Now I know it's easy to say, "Replace the engine" (that's what the shop guys said) but that's not a possibility. 13.5 hours on the flat rate at $80/hour is $1100 plus a ReMan is $1900 and or a Used is $300 (found one that's at 150-170 on all 6 cylinders at a salvage yard. Then there's fluids, wires, plugs... Still, the car isn't worth it. So my question is, Is this thing Drivable at 50 psi, (with old oil) etc? I know changing the oil is a must. Could an Oil Additive help boost that pressure up a bit? I'm not expecting Factory Specs, Performance etc. I just need to get my Tush around town for work, kids, store, more kids at the airport etc. Won't be taken on long hauls and Mostly Highway and Freeway driving. Not a lot of stopping and starting.

Sorry it's wordy, but tried to answer most of the questions that needed answered.

Oh, BTW, No I don't know what CD is currently in the player. As if that has any relevance to the issue.
 

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Cake monster
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Ok, I know, how could I let it happen, but it did. So here's the brief history and diagnostics.

1997 Taurus GL, 3.0 Non-Flex fuel. Bought it 4 months ago. Love the car. 195k miles on it and was a tight engine with no oil leaks or noises or creeks. Was a municipal vehicle up until 2 years ago. 20 year old "Ugly Betty" type college girl drove it and told us, "Guys at the shop said it just needed a tune up and brakes".

Two weeks after buying it started having Antifreeze leaking on the ground and we had an early fall. Chased that bastard around for a few weeks replacing clamps, caps etc for the bottle until I read their bottles suck and so replaced that. New bottle worked fine for a few weeks and then started leaving AF on the ground again. Yes, 50/50 mixture. At first was coming out of the cap, then Girlfriend said she saw it coming out of the top corner of the bottle nearest the radiator.

So, that brings us to Christmas day. Goin over to Dads for the day and hadn't put my 50/50 in for a few days and so we added more water. Garage stays above freezing for the most part. Drove it over, and heard some thunking and cludding about center of the car. Temp gauge showed normal, 1/2 way point. Was at dads for 5 hours and it was 25 degrees out. On the way home which was about 15 miles, (we had put about 1/2 a gallon of water in again until the next day when I could get to a parts store) All hell broke loose. Temp gauge was normal, then started to creep up a bit and then Somthin' Blew! Lasted about 4 or 5 seconds or about a 1/4 mile.

Stopped and checked the engine, knew it was out or low on water. Out in the country, so I decided to nurse it home about 7 miles. 4 miles from the house and back into a residential area she finally just Stalled out. Guys picked up the car took it to their shop, thawed it overnight and checked the compression on the cylinders. 1 & 2 are at 50 psi rest at 120. That's with the old oil in them. They held the pressure over 15 minutes or so. They didn't go for the water problem because the Water bottle he said is cracked from the freezing over that night. I will be getting the car back to the house tonight or tomorrow so I can see things for myself.

Now I know it's easy to say, "Replace the engine" (that's what the shop guys said) but that's not a possibility. 13.5 hours on the flat rate at $80/hour is $1100 plus a ReMan is $1900 and or a Used is $300 (found one that's at 150-170 on all 6 cylinders at a salvage yard. Then there's fluids, wires, plugs... Still, the car isn't worth it. So my question is, Is this thing Drivable at 50 psi, (with old oil) etc? I know changing the oil is a must. Could an Oil Additive help boost that pressure up a bit? I'm not expecting Factory Specs, Performance etc. I just need to get my Tush around town for work, kids, store, more kids at the airport etc. Won't be taken on long hauls and Mostly Highway and Freeway driving. Not a lot of stopping and starting.

Sorry it's wordy, but tried to answer most of the questions that needed answered.

Oh, BTW, No I don't know what CD is currently in the player. As if that has any relevance to the issue.
Sounds like the rear head is blown and/or cracked to me.
 

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Cake monster
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Also, I doubt you'll be able to drive it well at 50psi. You need to tear the engine apart and look for the issue.

Let's look at this symptomatically for a second:

1) Leaking coolant from cracked recovery tank, which was then replaced.
2) Replaced tank started blowing coolant from the cap shortly after installing it
3) Tank cracks around the upper part at some point after installation and cap issues, what is the exact time frame of this?
4) Engine looses all or most coolant while driving
5) You try to drive it home but it stalls part of the way there
6) Engine now has PSI ratings of 50 of cylinder 1 & 2

Was the tank Dorman? How long after did it start coming out from the cap? Unless it was defective, the cap was probably spewing coolant because of there being too much pressure, either from overheating or another source.

The tank cracked shortly after the cap starting blowing, how long did it all take for this to happen?

To me, it sounds almost like the system had too much pressure, started blowing off the rad cap and caused the tank to crack again. It's possible that this was from a cheap tank, but I think there's something more serious here.

After the engine overheated again (probably the 5th or 6th time it, sounds) you chose to drive it until it stalled out. Now it has low compression on the 1 & 2 cylinders.

If your heads weren't cracked or blown before, I bet that little stint trying to get it home did them in. I have trouble believing that you didn't have head gasket issues previous to the overheating event, but that's possible I guess. It sounds like exhaust gases were pressurizing the cooling system. I think you would be better off pulling the heads and getting it dealt with. You might end up with cylinder wall scoring or piston ring issues but the head would fail before that I think. The compression issues could probably be fixed by redoing the heads.

Just my thoughts.
 

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^^^^ +1
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi JW,

Thanks for the reply, and yes you got the Chrono on the events down pretty good.

I just drove it home but had to keep the idle high in order to keep it running. Going through some basic tune-up stuff, oil, plugs etc. It ran fine as far as firing and power goes. Don't notice in loss in the power department, so I'm encouraged. Will fill it with Rad Fluid and see where I might have Blown all the water out from.

Also, no signs of a breach on the heads as far as Oil and Water leaking, front, back, left or right. Oil is the typical Brown, needs and Oil Change brown, but not black. No foaming or white in appearance at all. So water isn't getting into the pan.

As far as the Overflow Bottle, I'm not sure of the brand, but got it a Napa. Dorman kinda sounds familiar. The pressure cap seems to function properly but no way to test the actual pressure at temp. The cap started releasing excess pressure about a week after I put the new bottle in. Then about 4 weeks later when the GF noticed it coming out of the corner. I'm kinda stumped as to why I am getting too much pressure built up in the system. When I replaced the bottle, I ran the car for about 20 minutes to a half hour, making sure I got all the air out of the system. The only thing I'm thinking it could be is a clogged radiator. But when watching the overflow bottle fill and empty, it seamed to have good, steady flow and not a lot of gunk in it.

I'll update as I progress.
 

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Cake monster
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Hi JW,

Thanks for the reply, and yes you got the Chrono on the events down pretty good.

I just drove it home but had to keep the idle high in order to keep it running. Going through some basic tune-up stuff, oil, plugs etc. It ran fine as far as firing and power goes. Don't notice in loss in the power department, so I'm encouraged. Will fill it with Rad Fluid and see where I might have Blown all the water out from.

Also, no signs of a breach on the heads as far as Oil and Water leaking, front, back, left or right. Oil is the typical Brown, needs and Oil Change brown, but not black. No foaming or white in appearance at all. So water isn't getting into the pan.

As far as the Overflow Bottle, I'm not sure of the brand, but got it a Napa. Dorman kinda sounds familiar. The pressure cap seems to function properly but no way to test the actual pressure at temp. The cap started releasing excess pressure about a week after I put the new bottle in. Then about 4 weeks later when the GF noticed it coming out of the corner. I'm kinda stumped as to why I am getting too much pressure built up in the system. When I replaced the bottle, I ran the car for about 20 minutes to a half hour, making sure I got all the air out of the system. The only thing I'm thinking it could be is a clogged radiator. But when watching the overflow bottle fill and empty, it seamed to have good, steady flow and not a lot of gunk in it.

I'll update as I progress.
The low compression has to be coming from somewhere. The likely causes for your situation are: bad piston rings, scored walls, cracked or damaged piston, burn, bent, melted or somehow damaged valve, leaking head gasket or a warped/cracked head. I think the head would go out first, like I said previously. Just because it hasn't crossed fluids doesn't mean it isn't cracked or otherwise blown. The best option is to still pull the heads either way and figure out what's causing the bad compression, I still have my bets on a crack or blown gasket. I doubt you could overheat a Vulcan that much without doing that, the castings are obviously incredibly weak and don't take the abuse.

You'll have to pull the engine apart either way to correct the issue. So you'll know for sure soon as you do that. I would start with the upper end. If you can change the heads yourself, you might have to buy some used heads to get machined or some remans, the ones you have might not be any good now. It'll probably need $300 to $600 in work depending on how much you have to replace, machine and buy. It won't be cheap. Another option is swapping a wrecker engine in, that might be a good alternative.

You could also have a leak down test done, that'll tell you what's wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok, Progress so far....

Pulled the plugs, most of which weren't even finger tight. The shop that tested compression I don't think pulled the plugs to test compression and just ran it on the Diagnostics computer. Which would explain the low compression. Plugs looked about 40-50k miles old so replaced them. None were fouled with oil at all. All were a beige color and not dark arcing at all.

Oil was liquid and not sludgy at all. Typical color of 3-5k miles since the last oil change. No oil evident inside the engine compartment and the only real visible place of Water Blow Out was around the bottle and it was quite visible on top. The lid is much more loose than I expected. I think that's where the Blowout occurred.

There is a noise coming from the and Water Pump area, so I am replacing that. My question is, would the pump cause the excess pressure that is giving me my leak problem? Putting too much pressure on the overflow tank? Or should I be looking at the Radiator being clogged? or both?

Thanks for your Help JW!
 

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Cake monster
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Ok, Progress so far....

Pulled the plugs, most of which weren't even finger tight. The shop that tested compression I don't think pulled the plugs to test compression and just ran it on the Diagnostics computer. Which would explain the low compression. Plugs looked about 40-50k miles old so replaced them. None were fouled with oil at all. All were a beige color and not dark arcing at all.

Oil was liquid and not sludgy at all. Typical color of 3-5k miles since the last oil change. No oil evident inside the engine compartment and the only real visible place of Water Blow Out was around the bottle and it was quite visible on top. The lid is much more loose than I expected. I think that's where the Blowout occurred.

There is a noise coming from the and Water Pump area, so I am replacing that. My question is, would the pump cause the excess pressure that is giving me my leak problem? Putting too much pressure on the overflow tank? Or should I be looking at the Radiator being clogged? or both?

Thanks for your Help JW!
I'm surprised that the park plugs were loose. If it were my car, I'd borrow a compression tester, do that myself and get a spark plug hose attachment for an air compressor and see where the compression is being lost. If the coolant tank bubbles on the weak cylinders, it's a cracked head, gasket or less likely block. It's possible that they didn't bother screwing them back in after the compression test.

If the car still runs, you might want to test how fast the engine builds up pressure cold if you can't get the tools mentioned above. Rev the engine really hard cold with the rad cap on, possibly even in drive with your foot on the brake for a bit and see if it has any pressure in the cooling system, if it's still cold and has all kinds of pressure, then you have your answer. Did you ever check the weep hole on the water pump?

As long as the compression is low, you'll likely be tearing down the motor somewhat. If you want to know exactly what you need to do before taking it apart, get a leak down test done.
 

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Pulled the plugs, most of which weren't even finger tight. The shop that tested compression I don't think pulled the plugs to test compression and just ran it on the Diagnostics computer.
Why don't you ask the shop if they in fact pulled the plugs to do the compression test? Seems only right that if they found something wrong they may not have re-tightened them, thinking maybe you'd have them do the repair.

Sounds to me that maybe the head gasket/head may have already been a problem prior to the coolant tank being busted, especially if the replacement tank busted that quickly as well. Probably not the water pump putting too much pressure, radiator though, could be, heater core as well.
 

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As I read through this thread I see that no one asked nor have you stated what you paid for the car?????
If you can't do the labor and labor will be most of the cost a used engine sounds like it would not be a good investment and a rebuilt will be in the neighborhood of 3k I would think you should cut your loss' and part the car out and put that 4k into a used car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Why don't you ask the shop if they in fact pulled the plugs to do the compression test? Seems only right that if they found something wrong they may not have re-tightened them, thinking maybe you'd have them do the repair.

Sounds to me that maybe the head gasket/head may have already been a problem prior to the coolant tank being busted, especially if the replacement tank busted that quickly as well. Probably not the water pump putting too much pressure, radiator though, could be, heater core as well.
I'm going to for more reasons than you guys have mentioned. First I Don't think they pulled the plugs, since the wires showed no signs of being Pulled themselves. Second, they immediately went to Rebuild/Reman Swap to the tune of $3500.

I am going for the $25 water pump since I hear noise from that area that indicates failure. Since, I have gotten to the pulley and hand spun the pump and it's noisy, so I might as well replace it. I will however have to figure out whether the Heater Core or Radiator is clogged and flush or such. Unfortunately, it's only 21 degrees out, which is actually warmer than this past weekend, so I can't flush it myself.


As I read through this thread I see that no one asked nor have you stated what you paid for the car?????
If you can't do the labor and labor will be most of the cost a used engine sounds like it would not be a good investment and a rebuilt will be in the neighborhood of 3k I would think you should cut your loss' and part the car out and put that 4k into a used car.
You are correct. The car has about a $1500 value in the condition it was in with no Engine problems. Engine swap is about $3500 with fluids etc. Only paid $800 for the car. It has 195k miles on it and drives like it's got 125k. Was a Municipal vehicle so the back seat was never sat in. So trying to save it from the Junk yard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I do have a question, and I've only owned it for a few months, so I don't have a manual. I'm at the PS pump bracket and trying to figure out which Bolts to pull and if I have to remove the pulley (please say no, please say no, please say no, please say no). I just can't find a Diagram online for it. Any suggestions, tips and/or tricks?

Again thanks guys for advice and guidance!! We thought this thing was a gonner but now I have some hope.

Yes I know, I need to take a look at the heads and make sure I don't have problems there. I also need to get this to someone and do a REAL compression test on it!
 

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Cake monster
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I do have a question, and I've only owned it for a few months, so I don't have a manual. I'm at the PS pump bracket and trying to figure out which Bolts to pull and if I have to remove the pulley (please say no, please say no, please say no, please say no). I just can't find a Diagram online for it. Any suggestions, tips and/or tricks?

Again thanks guys for advice and guidance!! We thought this thing was a gonner but now I have some hope.

Yes I know, I need to take a look at the heads and make sure I don't have problems there. I also need to get this to someone and do a REAL compression test on it!
You don't need to pull the pulley to remove the p/s pump bracket assembly. You should probably remove the tensioner (likely hex head) and unbolt the 3 or 4 bolts that hold it, I can't remember how many exactly, but the two upper ones are just studs that are a little tricky to remove and one of the lower ones is pretty well hidden. Btw, you shouldn't need to remove the p/s pump assembly to remove the water pump, from what other people have said.
 

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Cake monster
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I'm going to for more reasons than you guys have mentioned. First I Don't think they pulled the plugs, since the wires showed no signs of being Pulled themselves. Second, they immediately went to Rebuild/Reman Swap to the tune of $3500.

I am going for the $25 water pump since I hear noise from that area that indicates failure. Since, I have gotten to the pulley and hand spun the pump and it's noisy, so I might as well replace it. I will however have to figure out whether the Heater Core or Radiator is clogged and flush or such. Unfortunately, it's only 21 degrees out, which is actually warmer than this past weekend, so I can't flush it myself.




You are correct. The car has about a $1500 value in the condition it was in with no Engine problems. Engine swap is about $3500 with fluids etc. Only paid $800 for the car. It has 195k miles on it and drives like it's got 125k. Was a Municipal vehicle so the back seat was never sat in. So trying to save it from the Junk yard.
I believe cyl 1 is on the firewall bank, closest to the passenger side. It's possible that you're hearing metallic noises from those cylinders? These engines really like to blow around the 1 & 2 cyl from what I know. If you don't want you tear into the engine, your best bet is to run a compression test yourself or have someone do it and then at the same time tell you why exactly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi JW,

Thanks for the Advice. I did hand spin the pump and It makes that Squeaking sound that pumps make when they are about to go out. And that was the kind of sound I heard prior to diggin in. I will however try to filter my oil a bit and see if there are any metal shavings.

I'm keepin my fingers crossed! If things work out and the compression checks out, this could be the Best, Worst Christmas gift ever! It all happened on Christmas Day and if I can still drive it and only have a Buck and a Half into it, I'm THRILLED!

JJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update:

Pump in, car starts, filled with 50/50. A little bit of a chug in the idle. Drove it around the block a couple of times to get the water to cycle through. Back into the garage and a Ton of Steam coming out of the exhaust. I mean a lot. Doesn't appear to be Blue from oil.

What's the best guess. I know the possibilities, just wanting some opinions.
 

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Cake monster
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Update:

Pump in, car starts, filled with 50/50. A little bit of a chug in the idle. Drove it around the block a couple of times to get the water to cycle through. Back into the garage and a Ton of Steam coming out of the exhaust. I mean a lot. Doesn't appear to be Blue from oil.

What's the best guess. I know the possibilities, just wanting some opinions.
Does the exhaust smell sweet? If it's pouring white smoke, there's no doubt in my mind that she's got a leaky head.
 

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Cake monster
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Redo the heads (if you can): $150ish each
Gasket kit (on rockauto): $60 plus shipping
Bolt set (on rockauto): around $30 depending plus shipping

Wires, oil (2 or 3 changes worth), plugs, antifreeze and ATF for the P/S pump will be needed. You need a good toque wrench to do this. It's a good idea to only do it if your tool set is pretty good, and you know how to use them. Get a set of feeler gauges and a straight edge for this. You'll have to get the cooling system checked over or do it yourself to ensure that the heads won't blow again from some other component failure. Expect to break some things or end up replacing at least $100 worth of stuff while tearing it down, that's not very uncommon. You also need stuff to clean the block serface. If your rad is already full of oil, you might be better off taking it for a flush than trying to clean the crap out yourself.

I'm pretty sure this is the next step, short of changing your engine, getting rid of the car or running a compression test to be 100% sure. I really doubt that it is anything other than a leaky head.
 
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