2000 Ford Windstar water in my engine

Tiny
MRAMONAS09
  • MEMBER
  • 2000 FORD WINDSTAR
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 124,821 MILES
Got a 200 ford windstar that just got it transmission rebuild. I had it home for 10 days and we had a heavy rain storm. The next morning I went to start my car and it would not start. So I assume the battery was dead. I brought it back to the same place I got the work done and he said there water in my engine. I do not understand. I only had the car back for ten days and he said I been driving with water and my engine and I need a new one I need help!
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Saturday, August 16th, 2014 AT 8:37 PM

11 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I think this would be a good time to get a second opinion, but lets start with the exact symptoms. "Doesn't start" is like telling your doctor you're in pain. You could have a hang nail, cut your foot off with a chainsaw, or your ex-wife came back! If you took it to your mechanic, how could you do that if the engine didn't start?
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Saturday, August 16th, 2014 AT 9:47 PM
Tiny
MRAMONAS09
  • MEMBER
I got the car towed to his shop the same place I got it fix. When I took my car to him he did a full car inspection ( he had my car over a month ) and he said everything else on the car is good. So when I brought it home 10'days later after driving it to work and back, the day before I was going to bring it back for a 2 week inspection it dies.
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Sunday, August 17th, 2014 AT 8:23 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Your details and observations are conflicting and confusing. There's supposed to be "water in the engine". That's the antifreeze and water, but I think your mechanic really implied you drove through water during the heavy rain. If water gets into the air intake system it can lock the engine up and make it stall, but very often the fix is to remove the spark plugs, crank the engine to get the water out, let it dry for a few days, then try to restart it. You don't necessarily need a new engine although water can do serious damage if the engine is running at a high speed when a lot of water comes in.

If he meant water got into the engine oil while the car was sitting in the rain storm and not running, that is highly unlikely. Cars sit in rain all the time with no problems.

If the engine simply wouldn't run right after it was running fine the night before, water is not likely the cause of the problem. I still don't know what the exact symptom is. You said you thought the battery might be dead. That would result in a "no-crank" condition. At that point we need more observations like do the head lights stay bright or do they get dim or go out before AND when you try to crank the engine. Do you hear any clicking under the hood when you turn the ignition switch to "crank"? If the engine cranks fine but doesn't start and run, that is an entirely different symptom with a totally different diagnostic procedure.

Both of those can be called a "doesn't start" condition. I would love to help solve this problem. That's why I need a better description of what is happening.
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Sunday, August 17th, 2014 AT 9:05 PM
Tiny
MRAMONAS09
  • MEMBER
What yapping is when I went to start the car it would not turn over. So I assumed the battery was dead. So when tripple AAA came they try to start it and it would not start. So they toyed it one more time and it turn over but did not start. So it got towed to the mechanics shop and he look at it an said that I have water in my engine and I need a new engine. So the weekend passed and he still has not call me to official tell me what going on. Please help, I hope this help a little better
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Monday, August 18th, 2014 AT 8:19 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I still think you should get a second opinion, especially for such an expensive diagnosis. Take the van to a different shop and tell them exactly what happened, but do not tell them the diagnosis of the first shop. That can sway their opinion. Let them come up with their own diagnosis based on their testing.

If some how it rained and the water got under the hood, and ran uphill into the oil dip stick tube, and filled up the engine, or it managed to run into the air intake tube and air filter, ... All while the engine was not running, that would not do serious mechanical damage to the engine. You would need to get the water out from wherever it is, let it dry out for a few days, then work on getting it running again. Until I hear differently from your mechanic, you haven't said anything that suggests you need a different engine.
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Monday, August 18th, 2014 AT 8:31 PM
Tiny
DONF
  • MEMBER
I have the same exact problem with the same vehicle, and I can assure you that clear water (not anti-freeze) can leak into this particular engine from the top.

My mechanic said that it appears to have to do with a leak or plugged drain in the plastic tray that catches water from below the windshield. Strangely enough, the water then somehow finds its way from the top of the engine into one of the cylinders, even though he did some kind of smoke / pressure test that didn't reveal any leaks. A certain amount of water in the cylinder will prevent it from turning over, I suppose because the volume of the water raises the compression ratio too high. Left set, the water eventually seeps past the piston and ends up in the oil pan. It will then turn over/start, but you don't want to run it until you drain the water out of the oil pan. Since oil floats, you can crack the drain plug open, and the water will drain out the bottom, and the oil won't.

As a test, I covered the engine with cardboard, and after a rain, the cardboard was wet toward the back of the engine, below that collector tray.

I'll try to post more as I find more answers, but for now I'm hoping this much information can be helpful to someone, and that maybe someone else might know how the water gets past the collector tray and into the engine. The van is 15 years old, but never did this until just recently.
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Saturday, April 4th, 2015 AT 4:00 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I have some questions and until there's some logical answers, I'll be skeptical.

How can water get inside the engine and especially into a cylinder? Combustion gas would leak out and that would be real noisy and cause a misfire. Next, if water could get in, the same thing would happen when driving in rain. The engine and entire engine compartment will be wet.

There are a couple other things that could develop leaks where water could sneak in, but all of them are monitored by the Engine Computer on '96 and newer vehicles, so those can be ruled out.

That said, I've heard about enough weird and "impossible" things to not be surprised any longer. Thank you for adding to this post. Please post a followup if you learn of the definite cause and repair. Mramonas09 didn't list their engine size. If you post a reply, which engine do you have?
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Saturday, April 4th, 2015 AT 9:50 PM
Tiny
4BOLTS
  • MEMBER
I agree with Don.
I have a 2001 Winstar with a 3.8L V-6 engine. It had sat unused for about 3 to 4 weeks with the front of the vehicle up close to the house. When I went to crank the engine over to start it, it turned maybe one revolution and coughed then stopped like a misfire. When I tried to turn it over again the engine would not rotate and the starter stalled and acted like a dead battery. The starter actually started clicking so I assumed the battery was low on charge so put it on the charger and charged it over night. I check the battery in the morning with a battery load tester and it showed good results so I knew the battery was fine. I tried to turn the engine over again and still the starter stalled and engine would not spin. It acted like engine was hydro-locked.

I crawled underneath the vehicle and put a ratchet on the dampener pulley bolt and tried to turn the engine over by hand. It would not budge in the forward direction (clockwise). I however was able to move it counterclockwise so I knew the engine was not seized. When I turned it clockwise again it rotated until it got back into the same position then stopped. It was not a hard stop like metal on metal but it just stopped. So I assumed it was hydro-locking with the cylinder that is staged for compression. I assumed it was a blown head gasket with anti-freeze getting into the cylinder.

With the Winstar you have to take the wiper tray completely off the vehicle to access the rear of the engine and get to the rear spark plugs. Don, I did not notice any drain holes or really any collection points in the tray but then again at the time I was not looking for anything like that.

When pulling the spark plugs I found the middle cylinder on the back side of the engine had about a cup of water in it. I rotated the engine by hand with the dampener pulley bolt and squeezed the water out. I collected the water and it was crystal clear and no hint of anti-freeze. I know a lot of websites say blown head gasket but I am disagreeing in this case for there is no hint of anti-freeze via smell and no sign of the overflow tank dropping in anti-freeze. With the amount of water that came out of cylinder the overflow tank should have been half empty.

I blew the engine out by rotating the engine with starter and all the plugs out then put everything together and the engine fired up and ran perfect. A ton of water came out of the exhaust pipe maybe few cups of water. The tail pipe blew out steamed for the first 30 seconds the engine was running then quit blowing steam. The engine ran smooth with no unusual sounds or hesitations. I idled the engine for an hour and the tail pipe continued to drip water. So I took it for a 10 mile drive at 60 mph. Tail pipe finally dried out and quit dripping. Up to that point I kept thinking maybe I am wrong. Maybe there is a blown head gasket but nothing seemed to really support that except for the amount of moisture. For two weeks I kept checking the engine by starting it up to see if it would hydro-lock. No issues. No loss of anti-freeze in the over flow jug. Took the vehicle on a 150 mile journey. No problems, no loss in anti-freeze.

Then it rained for two days prior to today. I went to start the vehicle today and again engine turned about one revolution and the starter stalled and could not turn the engine over any further. I put the ratchet on the crank shaft dampener pulley bolt and this time I could turn the engine over. It did not lock up like last time. So I rotated the engine by hand probably 90 degrees then tried the starter again and the starter was able to turn the engine and it fired up like there was no issue. The exhausted steamed again for about 30 seconds then the steam quit and the tail pipe just dripped a ton of water. I ran the vehicle up to a gas station that is about 5 miles away. Filed up. Restarted the engine at the station and drove home. No issues and the tail pipe dried out just like last time. Note, the water coming out of the tail pipe before it dried out was again clear. There was again no hint of anti-freeze smell in the exhaust or with the water. The over flow jug still has not shown any loss of anti-freeze.

I have to believe this is rain water finding its way into the engine cylinders either by the intake or exhaust manifolds. In the 14 years we have had this vehicle there never once was this problem in the 150K miles. Now we have seen it twice in one month. It has me baffled how it is getting in there. I have to assume it is getting into the intake plenum somehow. Only common element is we never have parked it with its front end close to the house until about a month and a half ago, usually it just sat in the driveway. The only thing my wife and I can think of is that maybe there is strange air turbulence when it is against the house and water may be finding ways through the intake system because of this. Today when we moved the vehicle there was a lot of moisture still on the pavement of the drive by the house under the engine even though the rest of the drive had evaporated and was dry, even under most of the vehicle except under the engine area.

Hopefully this will help the experts to think what else could be causing the water to get into the cylinders outside of it being a head gasket issue.
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Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 AT 7:47 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Thanks for the insight. It does sound like a rain issue, but how can water get in if there's no corresponding vacuum leak?
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Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 AT 9:22 PM
Tiny
BERNARD LOHMOELLER
  • MEMBER
Hello everyone, I know that this post is a couple of years old, but I have just run into the same problem. I am a trained mechanic, via my father, but not a certified of professional as he was. Just before Christmas of 2016 I had parked my 3.8L 2000 Windstar nose downhill in my driveway in anticipation of snow. The weather warming up with some rain and then to sub freezing thru the Christmas weekend. I went out and the Windstar would not turn over in the sub freezing temps, so I was thinking battery, starter frozen. Not really having the time I left it sit until better weather. Now I did have some intermittent issues with the motor no wanting to turn over but was able to keep cycling the starter and it would eventually turn and start. I was also having issues with poor running if it was raining and I had recently replaced the intake plenum o-rings because of a vacuum leak. My hood also has a gash in it from an object hitting me on the highway one day. As it turns out it was neither my starter or battery, but hydraulic lock. My oil pan had a minimum of a gallon of clear water in it. So it is very possible for rain water to leak into the engine, but there also was a vacuum leak.
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Monday, February 6th, 2017 AT 10:21 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Thanks to everyone who added to this solution. One thing that seems to be a common factor is age. That got me thinking about the rubber gasket at the rear edge of the hood. There is usually something there to prevent fumes from the engine getting into the fresh air intake for the heater system. If that gasket is loose or dry-rotted, it might allow water to run onto the engine from the windshield.

There is a service bulletin for water getting into the connector for the Engine Computer, but I still don't know how it could get inside the engine's intake system. One thing you might consider is pouring a small bottle of dark purple dye onto the windshield during the next rain storm. If the problem occurs, use a black light to see where the dye went. It will show up as a bright yellow stain that can be followed to its destination. This dye is usually used for finding cooling system leaks, and may not work for this application due to the fact is will run everywhere. You also might consider drilling a couple of small drain holes in the bottom of the wiper box.
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Monday, February 6th, 2017 AT 2:50 PM

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