Engine Cooling problem
1998 Ford Taurus 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 129500 miles
I got home last night and found I was leaking antifreeze. It was dripping from the front right (driver side) underneath the radiator. After the engine cooled down it stopped. I removed the cap to the overflow jug and it started leaking again. I put the cap back on and after a while it stopped again. I removed the cap adn the overflow was empty so I filled it and replaced the cap and yep it leaked out some more but did finally stop. I got up this morning and nothing was leaking out. I removed the cap again from the overflow and it was still pretty full to where I had filled it last night. But then the dripping started again. I then started the car and the dripping increased. I have taken to my mechanic but wondered what you thought it might be? The car is a 98 Ford Taurus se stationwagon with 129,000 miles, It is a 6 cylinder 3.0 ohv engine. I can see no fluid coming off the engine itself. The car does have a compression issue and the no. 1 valve has a burnt exhaust valve forcing air into the overflow jug/radiator. The leak seems to be down at the bottom of the radiator area on the drivers side.
First, an exhaust valve will not cause pressure to be forced into the radiator. If you have a burnt exhaust valve, it will allow the leak to enter the exhaust. Also, an intake will allow compression to enter the intake and not the cooling system. If you have pressure from the engine entering the cooling system, you have a bad head gasket.
As far as the radiator leak, it sounds just like it is. Chances are there is a leak that is in the radiator and running down the rad and on to the floor. When you removed the lid from the overflow, you allowed air to enter the system and thus, more coolant could leak.
What I recommend is this. To identify where the coolant leak is coming from, have the cooling system pressurized. Check the radiator for where the leak is coming from. If you can't tell, they make a dye that can be added. Place the dye in the radiator, drive the car for awhile, then using a black light, check for signs of where the coolant is coming from.
Honestly, a burnt valve will not cause pressure to enter the cooling system. It couldn't. The exhaust valve ports to the exhaust system and the intake valve to the intake manifold. Neither of which should have coolant in them. 99.9% of the time, it is a bad head gasket.
Let me know what you find. The leak is either the radiator, a radiator hose, or a heater core hose.
ALSO: Your heading mentioned transmission fluid leaking, but you didn't mention it in the posting. Is there a problem there too?
November, 20, 2009 AT 8:58 AM
I missed type, as of right now the trans is fine. Took car to mechanic and the radiator has to be replaced, it has a crack or something and can not be patched.
Is it true that removing and replacing the radiator in a ford taurus is difficult? The cost of the radiator is only $110, but the labor is running me over $200.
When I had a compression test done and a leak down test done, I was told I had low compression in the No. 1 cylinder and they got air showing up out the exhaust pipe and in the radiator overflow jug. So if that is a blown head gasket, and not a burnt exhaust valve then while not good, I don't have to worry about unburnt fuel getting to the cat with a blown head gasket? Also would an engine overheat cause a head gasket issue?
The car is running pretty well getting about 20 mpg in the city so I am just going to drive it till the engine dies, how long can an engine last with a head gasket issue?
November, 20, 2009 AT 11:36 AM
Acually, that sounds about right. The labor is calling for 4 hours unless you have the DOHC V6 then it's 5.5 hours. They are a pain to replace.
As far as the head gasket, yes an overheated engine can cause this. Also, with the engine cold, if you remove the radiator cap and start the engine, does the coolant get pushed out from the radiator?
Finally, unburned fuel can get to the catylatic converter.
November, 20, 2009 AT 11:43 AM
Yes fluid does get pushed out the overflow jug as I can wipe it clean, then later in the day there will be signs of antifreeze on the jug. Another person told me not to tighten the cap on the overflow jug all the way since there is no way on that type of cap to allow the extra pressure to be released. He said by not tightening the cap all the way will help the radiator eliminate excess pressure, but I will also need to monitor my antifreeze levels as antifreeze will be lost due to this. Was he right? Can I do that?