'99 taurus cooling system issues

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by beorning, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    Driving around today, I heard my back wheel making some noise, so the next place I stopped I got out to check it out. Turns out there was a stick wedged under there dragging, but lo and behold while I had my head under there I just happened to notice that my coolant was spraying out like no tommorow. There's a pressurized coolant reservoir which I just replaced, and the cap on it had blown off, and all of its interesting springs and gaskets had come loose. I couldn't let it sit where it was, so I re-assembled the cap, filled up the reservoir with water and screwed the cap back on to drive two miles to my office parking lot, where I could let it sit for a day or two. On the way there I noticed that there was no heat inside the car from the heater. The temperature gauge never budged, either before or after this happened. I flushed the cooling system when I replaced the cooling tank about a month ago.

    I definitely need a new reservoir tank cap and my first inclination is to check the thermostat. Seems like something must be plugged up to have built up enough pressure to blow that cap off. Anyone have any thoughts?
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    The reason the heater is not producing heat is due to the coolant level being too low to circulate through the heater core. You need to add coolant prior to drivng the car.
     

  3. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    Yep, kinda figured that. Thing is, I added about 1 1/2 gallons of water to the system before I drove it again. I'm guessing that something is preventing the fluid from getting to the heater core. Trying to figure out what without having to yank too much apart. And trying to troubleshoot the pressure issue at the same time. There were no coolant leaks other than at the blown off reservoir cap
     
  4. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Is this a 3.8L engine? Unfortunately these are well known for head gasket leakage.
     
  5. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    Nope, it's a 3.0 liter overhead valve engine. Not the flex fuel one. It's definitely not the head gasket. There is no leakage anywhere but from the blown out reservoir cap, either coolant or oil. ( no coolant in the oil or vice-versa either.)
     
  6. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    3.0L are good engines, head gasket leaksge causes compression to enter into the coolant system more than any visible leaks. The compression pushed into the cooling system causes excessive pressure and air pockets in the cooling system which usually first appears as a loss of heat from the heater core as it's not designed to heat with steam.
    You should be able to drive without the cap on the resevoir as the cap is actually what should allow pessure to build from the heat of the expanding hot coolant. The system itself shouldn't create pressure.
     
  7. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice.

    The coolant reservoir is pressurized. When the engine is hot, you can't open the cap without losing a good amount of fluid. The cap also seems to have been designed to vent excess pressure. It has a spring loaded gasket inside that would seem to release when pressure is too high. My initial thought when this happened was that I installed a faulty cap. The new reservoir had to be ordered from out of state, and was not a Ford produced part. "Made in China" is prominently stamped all over it, which always gets me worried, but the old tank was in bad shape and unusable. I was and am hoping that it isn't something as major as the head gasket, but what you describe would explain the pressure issues.

    On the other end of things, when I drove the two miles to my office, the cap was not fully sealed. There was no further leakage from the tank, but also no heat from the core. The system holds about 1 1/2 gallons, which is what i put back in it before I drove it.
    My biggest dilemma is that my office is 40 miles from my house. I'd like to get it home without forking out for a tow truck. It's a third car, so there isn't any dire need to fix it right away. If it is the head gasket, I'm inclined to scrap the car. Its got 180,000 miles on it, and has been nickel and diming me to death for the last six months. Of course, now I'm wishing I hadn't redone the brakes, put new tires on it, or dumped the other $400 into it for a new alternator/coolant reservoir, et cetera.

    I'm just glad that we bought the new truck a month ago, or I'd be up the proverbial creek.