Disappearing coolant. Mechanics opinions welcome. [Archive] - Glock Talk

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Detectorist
04-28-2013, 08:53
I think I've posted this before. '94 Ford Ranger 4.0

I'm losing about half a quart of coolant a day. It's not leaking out. Not a drop under the car. None in the oil. Nothing out of the tailpipe. As a matter of fact, after the truck is warmed up, no smoke is visible coming out of the tail pipe. The passenger side carpet is bone dry. Can't small anything when I turn my heater on.

I just installed a new overflow tank and hoses. No leak there..

Out of desperation I'm going to do the Liquid Glass treatment next weekend...

Any mechanics with experience on this?

I'm frutrated..

aircarver
04-28-2013, 09:05
There are all kinds of sneaky leaks that dissipate the coolant without a leak ever being apparent. Radiator leaks that come and go with a heating cycle. (Look for water stains on the metal frame under the radiator.) Look carefully at the hoses. (I had a pinhole leak that was blowing and dissapating the coolant, and didn't find it until I got hit in the face with the fine stream it was blowing when I examined closely.)

Sneaky coolant leaks are a major PITA and you'll have to operate and examine (throughout the heating cooling cycle) until you locate it. My money would be on the radiator.

.

elsolo
04-28-2013, 09:05
Something like a small crack in the cylinder head can leak a tiny bit of coolant into the motor where it is burned off and you don't notice it. And it may disappear once the engine heats up and the metal expands. Rangers have an issue with cracked heads.

In the morning, when the engine is cold: remove the oil fill cap and look at the backside for condensation. There shouldn't be any water droplets.

You can also remove the sparkplugs and check the business end for coolant evidence.

warhog
04-28-2013, 09:11
Not a ford mechanic and I don't play one on T.V. but have you changed out the radiator cap yet I usually start with the cheap then work my way to the expensive parts also check the sides of the radiator I have had some leak there as well, check all hose clamps too.

686Owner
04-28-2013, 09:11
It's either leaking out or you're burning it. OR the coolant gnomes are stealing it at night.

MaxxAction
04-28-2013, 09:12
Unless you want to replace that engine completely...

and a lot of other parts, don't do the liquid glass treatment. It will destroy your heater core, radiator, and clog off the coolant passages in the block and head as well. It may stop the head gasket leaking, but will introduce a whole host of other problems.

I know this from experience. When we were getting ready to move last year, my kid's 240sx lost the head gasket, so we did that liquid glass treatment. The motor ran for about a thousand miles, then overheated so bad that it ended up warping the head beyond repair. When we pulled it apart, all the coolant passages in the head were reduced to about 10 percent of their original size.

Ragnar
04-28-2013, 09:16
It's either leaking out or you're burning it. OR the coolant gnomes are stealing it at night.

That would be awesome. Kinda like taking gas out of a buddy's car to make him think his mileage is really bad. And then putting more in so he thinks he's getting 50mpg.

UtahIrishman
04-28-2013, 09:19
My '95 Ford F-150 was doing this, or I thought it was then the problem disappeared. :headscratch:

There is a fluid you can buy that will show up under UV light. You throw the fluid in and take a UV light and look for leaks. I don't recall the name of it, but it was available at my local auto parts store. Kind of expensive. I think it was about $25.00 for a single application.

faawrenchbndr
04-28-2013, 09:22
Like others have stated,.......either leaking or burning it.
A quart a day is a BIG loss! How many miles are diven daily?

Eric
04-28-2013, 09:25
You need to pressure test the cooling system. Pressure testers can be rented/borrowed at Autozone, or purchased inexpensively. The tester attaches where the radiator cap goes and you pump it up, to pressurize your cooling system to operating pressure. Then you can look for the leak. You might also add a UV dye, to help spot where the leak is.

Barring that, a cylinder leakage test is a bit more involved, but it can tell if you have any leaks out of any of your cylinders. Eric

jakebrake
04-28-2013, 09:25
betting you either have a crack in the head, or one of the rings in your head gasket.

easest way to prove it, is take it to a shop, and have them put the probe for the emmissions machine in your radiator under the cap. it will sniff out hydrocarbons.

JohnBT
04-28-2013, 09:47
Disappearing quarts of coolant always reminds me of the brand new '87 Camry LE 4-cyl my wife drove. Turned out the dealer knew what was up - the water pump had what the dealer called a "weep hole" for overpressure situations and many of the pumps were defective. It only dripped when it was running and hot. They replaced the pump for free and that took care of the problem.

Whew, I was concerned a month-old car was a major lemon. As it turned out it ran for more than 20 years for the next owner.

LEO/Dad
04-28-2013, 09:55
My '95 Ford F-150 was doing this, or I thought it was then the problem disappeared. :headscratch:

There is a fluid you can buy that will show up under UV light. You throw the fluid in and take a UV light and look for leaks. I don't recall the name of it, but it was available at my local auto parts store. Kind of expensive. I think it was about $25.00 for a single application.

HVAC guys use these also, if you know any. Ritchie makes several models.

ray9898
04-28-2013, 10:14
Pressure test with UV additive.

xtreme99
04-28-2013, 10:18
You need to pressure test the cooling system. Pressure testers can be rented/borrowed at Autozone, or purchased inexpensively. The tester attaches where the radiator cap goes and you pump it up, to pressurize your cooling system to operating pressure. Then you can look for the leak. You might also add a UV dye, to help spot where the leak is.

Barring that, a cylinder leakage test is a bit more involved, but it can tell if you have any leaks out of any of your cylinders. Eric

This. We can give possibilities all day long, but the reality is, there are just too many possibilities. Pressure test, find leak, fix, and be done.

Sent from my SGH-T999 using Tapatalk 2

larry_minn
04-28-2013, 10:57
I would say a ATV engine, car engine are not same size hoses/ports/pumps....
IMO adding "liquid patch/sealer/etc into fluid is last resort. Often when you decide repair cost is higher then unit is worth.
I have a OLD tractor. Was leaking coolent. I decided I did NOT want to spend $$$ on. So put in "sodder seal" and it has held up for couple yrs.
So find leak, fix, but if not worth it THEN consider this option.

Glockdude1
04-28-2013, 11:10
How old is the radiator?

My wifes Town & Country had a problem like yours. Turned out the radiator had a hair line crack. It was spraying fluid towards the exhaust, burning it off just enough not to make smoke.

:cool:

Detectorist
04-28-2013, 11:36
The pressure test option makes sense. Will do it tomorrow.

Radiator and hoses are about a year old, as is the intake manifold gasket.

Hopefully, the pressure test will reveal if there is a leak which is fixable.

Thanks for all the advice, guys..

elsolo
04-28-2013, 11:47
What happened a year ago that resulted in the replacement of the radiator, radiator hoses, and intake gaskets?

Detectorist
04-28-2013, 11:52
What happened a year ago that resulted in the replacement of the radiator, radiator hoses, and intake gaskets?

Coolant was leaking from the intake manifold.

Then a few months later, the radiator exploded. There was a jagged hole on its side about the size of my fist. Original plastic radiator. Decided to change the hoses, too.

elsolo
04-28-2013, 13:08
Usually when a car starts blowing radiator hoses, or bursting radiator tanks, or blowing out coolant gaskets; it's a head gasket or cracked head.

byf43
04-28-2013, 13:26
My old Lexus had the same symptoms.

Lose about a quart to 1-1/2 quarts, every day.
After two days, the temp. gauge would climb.

No leaks, anywhere.
Drove me and the repair shop nuts trying to figure this out.
It wouldn't overheat for them, but did for me.

Finally, the tech drove it for 2 hours, and it started overheating, again.

They refilled the radiator and put 'a tablet' in the anti-freeze and drove it around. (??? Tablet ???) :dunno:
Come to find out the headgaskets were leaking bad and pressurizing the cooling system.
(Bad headgaskets on '93 Lexus is a common problem!)

http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a366/byf43/KILGORE002.jpg (http://s15.photobucket.com/user/byf43/media/KILGORE002.jpg.html)

http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a366/byf43/KILGORE004.jpg (http://s15.photobucket.com/user/byf43/media/KILGORE004.jpg.html)

Runs like a new car, now!!

johnv56
04-28-2013, 13:34
Ford V6 engines (3.0 & 4.0) are known to have head gasket issues. I had an Aerostar minivan with a 3.0 that mysteriously lost coolant at less than a year old and under 12K miles. If you've eliminated the more obvious causes, this is the likeliest answer.

Jake514
04-28-2013, 17:15
betting you either have a crack in the head, or one of the rings in your head gasket.

easest way to prove it, is take it to a shop, and have them put the probe for the emmissions machine in your radiator under the cap. it will sniff out hydrocarbons.

THIS^^^^

My money is on a head gasket problem.

dun4791
04-28-2013, 17:43
A head gasket is a possibility, however I would look towards having a crack in the lower plastic thermostat housing.....inspect the upper as well. Common issue especially on the pre95 4.0. As the coolant warms and opens the crack, it leaks into the valley and is burned off.

That's the first place to check, keep us posted and good luck.

Lee-online
04-28-2013, 18:18
Pressure testing is where you start, check when cold and then when hot after a good long drive. pressurize to just over the system limit. If the cap is 7psi, go to 9psi.

If the head is cracked or gasket leaking then it normally puts combustion gasses into the cooling system, There is a test kit to test for this. It will change a test fluid from blue to green if present.

You can also pull the spark plugs, if one is burning coolant it will have a whiteish build up. just compare all the plugs to each other.

UV dyes are helpful, just buy the correct dye. They are made for coolant, fuel and oil systems.

Lastly, take an oil sample to your local Caterpillar dealer and get it tested. They will check for water in it along with all the other things. It only costs $13 for a sample kit.

hpracing007
04-28-2013, 18:32
http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m2srg1s7gG1r02r3uo1_500.jpg

Detectorist
04-28-2013, 18:42
A head gasket is a possibility, however I would look towards having a crack in the lower plastic thermostat housing.....inspect the upper as well. Common issue especially on the pre95 4.0. As the coolant warms and opens the crack, it leaks into the valley and is burned off.

That's the first place to check, keep us posted and good luck.

My thermostat housing is metal. I changed the thermostat 2 years ago.

Detectorist
04-28-2013, 18:43
http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m2srg1s7gG1r02r3uo1_500.jpg

:rofl:

Detectorist
04-28-2013, 22:00
What puzzles me is that the truck idles and runs smoothly with no smoke at all from the tailpipe..

napp32
04-28-2013, 22:03
Pressure test the system. Look closely at the ends of the radiator where the plastic tanks are crimped to the aluminum headers of the radiator core. There is a rubber gasket sealing the union of the plastic tanks and the aluminum core. It may not leak all the time; because the seal will loosen and tighten as the temps change. This was a common problem with Ford radiators in the eighties and nineties.

Detectorist
04-28-2013, 22:20
Pressure test the system. Look closely at the ends of the radiator where the plastic tanks are crimped to the aluminum headers of the radiator core. There is a rubber gasket sealing the union of the plastic tanks and the aluminum core. It may not leak all the time; because the seal will loosen and tighten as the temps change. This was a common problem with Ford radiators in the eighties and nineties.

Thanks, will do. Radiator has lifetime warranty. Hope it's that simple.

silentpoet
04-28-2013, 22:52
My mechanic said the problem with the stop leak stuff is that it makes diagnosing the problem impossible and that it will fail and start to leak again shortly.

cityborncountrylivin
04-28-2013, 23:09
Head Gasket? You'll find out soon enough whenyou loose oil pressure. You could put some groud black pepper into your radiator. It would seal any pinhole leaks.

NEOH212
04-29-2013, 00:14
A cooling system pressure tester is your friend. Check for leaks both when the engine is hot and cold. Look for dried residue from coolant around all hoses, intake, head gaskets, water pump and it's weep hole, and all soft plugs.

Check your spark plugs for signs of burnt coolant. Check your oil fill cap for a white or milky brown residue, as well as your engine oil.

If you have a automatic transmission what does your tranny fluid look like? Is it milky like it has coolant in it?

(If you put a pressure tester on it and still can find a leak, leave the tester on it over night! Don forget to test the radiator cap too!)

Good luck!

NEOH212
04-29-2013, 00:18
Please!


If you even remotely love your vehicle, please don't put stop leak products in it!


Fix it right!

:wavey:

NEOH212
04-29-2013, 00:19
Pressure test the system. Look closely at the ends of the radiator where the plastic tanks are crimped to the aluminum headers of the radiator core. There is a rubber gasket sealing the union of the plastic tanks and the aluminum core. It may not leak all the time; because the seal will loosen and tighten as the temps change. This was a common problem with Ford radiators in the eighties and nineties.

This too!

Good advice!

:wavey:

Ironbar
04-29-2013, 08:05
I think I've posted this before. '94 Ford Ranger 4.0

I'm losing about half a quart of coolant a day. It's not leaking out. Not a drop under the car. None in the oil. Nothing out of the tailpipe. As a matter of fact, after the truck is warmed up, no smoke is visible coming out of the tail pipe. The passenger side carpet is bone dry. Can't small anything when I turn my heater on.

I just installed a new overflow tank and hoses. No leak there..

Out of desperation I'm going to do the Liquid Glass treatment next weekend...

Any mechanics with experience on this?

I'm frutrated..

Sounds exactly like what happened with my Chevy. The problem is that coolant is leaking into the exhaust manifold from a bad head gasket. If you let it go, eventually the gasket will completely rupture, sending your truck overheating in about ten seconds.

My advice is to get it fixed NOW as opposed to when it blows. The repair bill for my truck is now more than the whole truck is actually worth, therefore I'm selling it off as a mechanics special.

Detectorist
04-29-2013, 09:54
Please!


If you even remotely love your vehicle, please don't put stop leak products in it!


Fix it right!

:wavey:

The vehicle is not worth 'fixing it right'. It cost me $1300. two years ago.

SC Tiger
04-29-2013, 10:07
I think I've posted this before. '94 Ford Ranger 4.0

I'm losing about half a quart of coolant a day. It's not leaking out. Not a drop under the car. None in the oil. Nothing out of the tailpipe. As a matter of fact, after the truck is warmed up, no smoke is visible coming out of the tail pipe. The passenger side carpet is bone dry. Can't small anything when I turn my heater on.

I just installed a new overflow tank and hoses. No leak there..

Out of desperation I'm going to do the Liquid Glass treatment next weekend...

Any mechanics with experience on this?

I'm frutrated..

Next oil change watch your oil drain carefully. Look for sludge. Also look for it on the top of the oil filter.

Something else to check for is water vapor out of the tailpipe (once the car warms up). If you want to really check pull the valve cover.

Quite often when coolant (or water) gets in the oil it boils out.

Also check between the block and heads, and between the heads and intake (on the outside of the engine). It could be leaking there.

I had the same thing on a 2000 Silverado and it was (is) a cracked head.

Detectorist
04-29-2013, 14:15
Pressure testing shows losing about 1 psi every 2 minutes. No visible leaks.

Bar's head Gasket Fix..here I come.

SC Tiger
04-29-2013, 14:24
Are the heads aluminum or cast iron?

Cast Iron - likely a head gasket.

Aluminum - likely a cracked head (though could still be a head gasket).

Outside of cost of parts (you have to add the head in as you will need head gaskets either way) the repair cost isn't that much different really.

You can use an ultraviolet dye to help track external leaks. You can order the dye and use a UV light to find leaks. I bought a flashlight but then found I could just get a work light and a UV bulb at a hardware store. Fair warning though - power steering fluid (at least some brands) looks like radiator fluid under the UV light.

SC Tiger
04-29-2013, 14:27
Pressure testing shows losing about 1 psi every 2 minutes. No visible leaks.

Bar's head Gasket Fix..here I come.

Sounds internal to the engine (at least based on my experience), but could also be a less-than-perfect seal in the pressure testing system.

I used something in a green bottle that cost about $35 at Auto Zone. I can't remember the name but it looked like sour milk. Not sure if it fixed the crack but I think it clogged the heater core.

Can't say I'd recommend it yet.

You may want to use the dye trick with the pressure tester to force the leak.

elsolo
04-29-2013, 14:27
Pressure testing shows losing about 1 psi every 2 minutes. No visible leaks.

Bar's head Gasket Fix..here I come.


If it ain't leaking onto the ground, it's leaking into your engine. I bet if you fire it up, you'll have steam out the exhaust and chocolate milk for oil. Maybe even bend a connecting rod trying to compress a liquid.

You say it isn't worth fixing right, but the difference between that truck running for a long time and dying very soon is $500 in parts. Do you have a line on a replacement truck for $500?

Detectorist
04-29-2013, 14:42
If it ain't leaking onto the ground, it's leaking into your engine. I bet if you fire it up, you'll have steam out the exhaust and chocolate milk for oil. Maybe even bend a connecting rod trying to compress a liquid.

You say it isn't worth fixing right, but the difference between that truck running for a long time and dying very soon is $500 in parts. Do you have a line on a replacement truck for $500?

The truck is running fine. Smooth engine. oil is normal.

JimmyN
04-29-2013, 14:54
Since it's a '94 check the freeze plugs before dumping in stop leak. That's old enough they could be leaking. My daughters Toyota pickup was loosing water but no drips anywhere. Spark plugs looked OK, oil looked OK, and replaced the radiator cap, but no joy. Since the water was obviously going somewhere I checked with a flashlight and I could see where it was weeping from two freeze plugs on the left side. The water was evaporating on the side of the block before it could drip. Look for a clean area below the freeze plug, that's where the hot water is "steam cleaning" the block and washing the grease away as it leaks out.

Detectorist
04-29-2013, 17:43
It's done. Used Bar's 'Block Seal Permanent head Gasket Fix'.

Tired of refilling overflow tank. If it's a head gasket, it should fix it since I think I caught it in time while the leak was small enough.

Jeremy_K
04-29-2013, 18:04
I had a 90 Cougar XR7 with the supercharged 3.8. Notorious for blowing HGs. The first time they blew there was white smoke billowing out the exhaust. The second time they blew the only sign they showed was black specks floating in the coolant tank. It was pieces of head gasket material. The car ran fine and blew no smoke but you could smell exhaust when you opened the coolant reservoir.

Detectorist
05-03-2013, 18:37
Ok, it's been three days since I put Bar's leaks in. Have driven about 100 miles. No loss of coolant as far as I can tell.

If it lasts 6 months I'll be happy.