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#4054636 - 03/26/20 12:06 AM Strange Coolant Issue
JordanA Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 117
Loc: Canada
Hey everyone,

I hope everybody is okay during these crazy times we're in.

I thought I'd just run this ongoing problem by you guys I'm having with the cooling system in the '03 LX.

In the very beginning of February I noticed white smoke/or steam coming through the HVAC vents and the windshield was really fogging up. Strong smell of anti freeze. I was sure it was the heater core but I noticed that there was no leaks inside the cabin and eventually I noticed the steam seemed to be coming out somewhere on the right rear of the engine by the firewall. But not near the heater core hoses. Then I noticed the reservoir was almost empty so I added a little more than half a gallon and the next day it was fine. And it hasn't done it again for over 6 weeks. Until today. Assuming it's burning anti freeze, why would this happen when it gets low? I'd think maybe it's over heating but the temp gauge pretty stays steady but I did notice the secondary fan was on today and it was only like 50 out.

I was figuring that maybe a crack in the intake was "sealing" when the engine reached operating temp but why would it matter if it was low on coolant.

Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks!

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#4054808 - 03/26/20 10:42 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
JordanA Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 117
Loc: Canada
Anyway, I added about half a gallon of coolant and it seems to have stopped. How do you know how much coolant is there? Is the reservoir supposed to be full to the line in the morning? Today the reservoir was totally empty.

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#4054844 - 03/27/20 04:50 AM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
White Falcon LS Online   content


Posting Addict

Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 19101
Loc: SoCal
Total coolant capacity is roughly 15 liters if you have an engine oil cooler. If not, I think it's 13 liters. Half a gallon is still quite a bit of coolant.

Rear of the engine, I can think of a couple of things; the area around plastic nipples on the intake manifold that go to the heater core, the pipe from the water pump that runs down the center of the engine, or the coolant plugs on one of the cylinder heads. But this is all guess work, do you have access to a pressure tester?
_________________________
Lucifer: '01 Grand Marquis GS Convenience
Tuned By Marty @ Mo's Speed Shop

In Memory of Ned Nuss, Rick Richardson and Matt (2vmodular)

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#4054846 - 03/27/20 05:04 AM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: White Falcon LS]
JordanA Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 117
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By White Falcon LS
Total coolant capacity is roughly 15 liters if you have an engine oil cooler. If not, I think it's 13 liters. Half a gallon is still quite a bit of coolant.

Rear of the engine, I can think of a couple of things; the area around plastic nipples on the intake manifold that go to the heater core, the pipe from the water pump that runs down the center of the engine, or the coolant plugs on one of the cylinder heads. But this is all guess work, do you have access to a pressure tester?



I don't have a pressure tester. Are they cheap? Like AC gauges?
I'd be happy to go buy one but "non essential" things are closed here at the moment and the local Walmart only sells basic supplies.

Yeah, back of the engine. What perplexes me is why adding coolant "fixes" it. I'd think it's overheating and steam is escaping but the temp gauge never goes higher than half. And would half a gallon push it over? Unless it's REALLY low, but it can't be empty cause I still have HVAC heat. Probably a stupid question but should the reservoir be full in the mornings? Is that the only way to know if it's full?

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#4054866 - 03/27/20 10:35 AM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
Peachpicker Offline
Climber

Registered: 08/29/11
Posts: 609
Loc: PA
Actually in the morning if the engine has not been run, the coolant should be lower in the tank than with an engine at operating temperature. I would think that with the coolant loss you have described, you should have seen coolant somewhere. One trick I have done when hunting for an external leak is to run the vehicle for a few minutes, say like just enough to move the gauge but not up to normal. Turn engine off and start looking. Also, if you have access to a lift, check the bellhousing for dried scaly residue that might have been running off the back of the engine and burning off.
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2001 CV LX Sport
2000 CV Base (HPP Package)

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#4054868 - 03/27/20 11:15 AM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
White Falcon LS Online   content


Posting Addict

Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 19101
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By JordanA
I don't have a pressure tester. Are they cheap? Like AC gauges?
I'd be happy to go buy one but "non essential" things are closed here at the moment and the local Walmart only sells basic supplies.

Yeah, back of the engine. What perplexes me is why adding coolant "fixes" it. I'd think it's overheating and steam is escaping but the temp gauge never goes higher than half. And would half a gallon push it over? Unless it's REALLY low, but it can't be empty cause I still have HVAC heat. Probably a stupid question but should the reservoir be full in the mornings? Is that the only way to know if it's full?


As mentioned above, coolant level will drop slightly overnight on a cold engine, but it should still be at the COLD mark on the scale on the side of the degas bottle, to the right of the battery.

As with anything, radiator pressure testers vary in price. It's worth checking your local Walmart to see if you can grab one from there. I never really looked for one at Walmart, so I'm not sure if they even have them.

Mine has done great on multiple applications over the course of a couple of years, but it isn't exactly cheap. It is worth having a decent one in your tool kit though, because you never know when you just might need it again.
_________________________
Lucifer: '01 Grand Marquis GS Convenience
Tuned By Marty @ Mo's Speed Shop

In Memory of Ned Nuss, Rick Richardson and Matt (2vmodular)

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#4054882 - 03/27/20 01:29 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
TheCableGuy Offline
Climber

Registered: 04/08/19
Posts: 765
Loc: Far Northwest AZ
+1 on pressure test it.

I had a very odd loss of coolant in one of my vehicles a while back. But yet, I could never find anywhere it was leaking! It started off small, then pretty much took a gallon a day(it was driven for 8 hours a day for work). Well turned out to be a freeze plug on the back of the block. Somehow the coolant never made it to the ground tho.

Second time... I smelled coolant when the heater was on while driving down the highway. Pulled off at the next exit in a Walmart parking lot(grace of God I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere) temp gauge started fluctuating like crazy. Pop the hood, heater hose T connection busted. Did a quick fix and did a heater core bypass. Drove it like that through winter and all the way until I sold it.
_________________________
2010 P7B 149K. 11K hours. 3.27, RKE, Cruise, Ported stock plenum, JMod
2011 Sierra 1500 155K, too many mods to list. (RIP 01-05-2019)
2001 Durango R/T 5.9. 230K. SOLD 5-1-19

I’m a classical textbook over-thinker.


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#4054920 - 03/27/20 06:42 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
JordanA Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 117
Loc: Canada
Thanks for the input guys. Well, it just overheated on me. I left it in a parking lot. Will go pick it up later. I filled the reservoir up yesterday but this morning it was about an inch from the bottom. It wasn't leaking as much today as it has before but it really started running hot. It's funny I've always been pretty lucky and have never really had cooling issues with cars. A/C, oil pressure, starters, ECMs, brake lines; you name it, I've done it. But never really a cooling issue. I changed the heater core in my Fox Mustang but that's about it. So I'm wondering things like, if the cars is running hot, that must mean it's really low on coolant, yes? Then why was there coolant in the reservoir this morning? Can there be coolant in the reservoir but low in the radiator? And how do you fill a low really low rad if you can only fill a reservoir amount at a time. It's my understanding when the engine is at operating temperature the pressure won't allow it to draw more in from the reservoir. I'm sorry if these sound like newbie questions but I kind of am when it comes to coolant.

Much appreciated.

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#4054922 - 03/27/20 07:03 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
TheCableGuy Offline
Climber

Registered: 04/08/19
Posts: 765
Loc: Far Northwest AZ
To fill up radiator is best by removing the T Stat housing and filling your coolant into that hose until you can no more. Then, put back the housing and such, and open your overflow tank, fill it up until it’s at the line, run the car(with the overflow tank open) for about 10 minutes. Burping the system. Don’t want any air in there. Once when the overflow starts rising and you don’t see anymore bubbles, put back the cap. Pretty sure there is other ways to do it but that’s how I do it.

Pressure test the system. If you’re losing coolant yet you don’t see any make it to the ground, it’s very well possible that it’s ‘burning off’ ie hitting exhaust etc and not making it to the ground. My 2 cents if it’s worth it.
_________________________
2010 P7B 149K. 11K hours. 3.27, RKE, Cruise, Ported stock plenum, JMod
2011 Sierra 1500 155K, too many mods to list. (RIP 01-05-2019)
2001 Durango R/T 5.9. 230K. SOLD 5-1-19

I’m a classical textbook over-thinker.


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#4054924 - 03/27/20 07:13 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
TheCableGuy Offline
Climber

Registered: 04/08/19
Posts: 765
Loc: Far Northwest AZ
After re reading your original post and others, I’m also willing to bet it’s the nipple on the back of the manifold either that or a freeze plug(doesn’t seem often however on these).

Troubleshooting. When it started to overheat, were you using AC or Heat? Just wondering.

As far as low coolant causing it to overheat, I’m pretty sure it would, but I never had it happen personally, only a stuck thermostat, but with that, turning on the heat opens it back up to buy you some time; but I’m sure this doesn’t apply to your situation.
_________________________
2010 P7B 149K. 11K hours. 3.27, RKE, Cruise, Ported stock plenum, JMod
2011 Sierra 1500 155K, too many mods to list. (RIP 01-05-2019)
2001 Durango R/T 5.9. 230K. SOLD 5-1-19

I’m a classical textbook over-thinker.


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#4054926 - 03/27/20 07:14 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: TheCableGuy]
JordanA Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 117
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By TheCableGuy
To fill up radiator is best by removing the T Stat housing and filling your coolant into that hose until you can no more. Then, put back the housing and such, and open your overflow tank, fill it up until it’s at the line, run the car(with the overflow tank open) for about 10 minutes. Burping the system. Don’t want any air in there. Once when the overflow starts rising and you don’t see anymore bubbles, put back the cap. Pretty sure there is other ways to do it but that’s how I do it.

Pressure test the system. If you’re losing coolant yet you don’t see any make it to the ground, it’s very well possible that it’s ‘burning off’ ie hitting exhaust etc and not making it to the ground. My 2 cents if it’s worth it.



Thank you for that, I'll try it tomorrow. Coolant is definitely making it to the ground, or rather, the right exhaust/catalytic converter. It steams like crazy when it hits so I'm like Halley's Comet driving down the road. I'll crawl under the car or climb into the engine bay tomorrow; I got to find that leak. I just hope it's not a cracked intake manifold or the dreaded head gasket.

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#4054930 - 03/27/20 07:23 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: TheCableGuy]
JordanA Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 117
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By TheCableGuy
After re reading your original post and others, I’m also willing to bet it’s the nipple on the back of the manifold either that or a freeze plug(doesn’t seem often however on these).

Troubleshooting. When it started to overheat, were you using AC or Heat? Just wondering.

As far as low coolant causing it to overheat, I’m pretty sure it would, but I never had it happen personally, only a stuck thermostat, but with that, turning on the heat opens it back up to buy you some time; but I’m sure this doesn’t apply to your situation.


If it's the nipple does that mean I need a new intake manifold?

I wasn't using the heat or AC. I tried putting the heat on to cool the car down but that just draws in all the steam from the engine by into the cabin.

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#4054932 - 03/27/20 07:32 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
TheCableGuy Offline
Climber

Registered: 04/08/19
Posts: 765
Loc: Far Northwest AZ
For the nipple, usually yes judging by what I have read on here, a replacement is needed. I have read on here that others have jimmy rigged it to buy some time. Since it has to come off anyway, best to just replace it *if it’s that*. It’s defiantly not a job for trial and error.

I would just troubleshoot more before you start throwing parts at it. Let the car run, get a flashlight and just start looking in all around to see if you can see a visible leak.

I bought a pressure test kit from Harbor Freight a while back, I think it was $70.
_________________________
2010 P7B 149K. 11K hours. 3.27, RKE, Cruise, Ported stock plenum, JMod
2011 Sierra 1500 155K, too many mods to list. (RIP 01-05-2019)
2001 Durango R/T 5.9. 230K. SOLD 5-1-19

I’m a classical textbook over-thinker.


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#4055132 - 03/28/20 08:57 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
JordanA Offline
Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 117
Loc: Canada
Well, today I filled up the reservoir and drove it 5 minutes down the road, topped it up again. Drove to a few stores and the temp stayed pretty steady. I don't know what to make of it. Still had the smell of antifreeze in the car and the windshield still fogged up but it didn't seem to leak as much. Also, I notice there's a whistling sound when the heater fan is running. I don't know, maybe it is the heater core. I don't get why it leaks more some days than others.

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#4055788 - 04/01/20 02:28 PM Re: Strange Coolant Issue [Re: JordanA]
Oinko_Blanco Offline
Stranger

Registered: 03/30/20
Posts: 2
Loc: FL
Without your car in front of me it's just a guess, but it sounds to me like your heater core is leaking and the coolant is coming out of the evaporator drain. This seems unprofessional but run your defogger for 10-15 minutes and catch the A/C drips in a bowl/ coffee can. Then boil it or pour it on something hot and see if the steam smells like coolant. Or bypass your heater core at the firewall DO NOT PLUG OFF THE HOSES! just connect them together and see if you still have an issue. That should get you some info without a pressure tester

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