Question about 1999 Ford Taurus

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No boil or steam when coolant overflows after shutting off engine

I have a 1999 Taurus SE (3.0L Vulcan V-6 12 Overhead Valves) that I have recently done quite a bit of work to. I have replaced the timing chain along with the front oil seal, timing cover gasket, oil pan gasket, water pump, water pump gasket, front bank (4-6) cylinder head, both head gaskets, head bolts, intake manifold gaskets, exhaust manifold gaskets, thermostat, flush and fill (though not a back flush), and all other related gaskets. I have recently been driving the car around town with no problems. Coolant would rise and fall, though the speed with which it would fill will vay- it would never overflow, steam, or boil in the recovery tank. It just started overflowing today. I did all the work myself, and I'm a pretty knowledgeable amateur mechanic-and I had the assistance of a Hayne's manual. Did everything right as far as I can tell. I'm using the Napa green coolant and mixing somewhere between 50/50 and 70/30. More coolant than water, but did not account for the water in the engine block. Not really sure where to go from here. The older cylinder head (1-3) passed warpage tests. I had a shop do a pressure test and leak down test before the repairs. Block liquid indicated combustion gasses in coolant. Leak down test showed 5% leakage in 1, 12% in 2, 20% in 3, 40% in 4, 65% in 5, and 2% in 6. I replaced the cylinder head that contains 4-6 and the gasket in the head that contains 1-3. What else could be causing my coolant to overflow when it is filled to the correct cold level? It was driven for 27-ish miles today in stop and go traffic. Car runs nicely, except for this. Preceding this today, the car hesitated for a moment during acceleration. The only access to fill the radiator is through the recover/ expansion tank. Cooling fans operate, and during the bleeding process I measured the heat of the coolant while waiting for the thermostat to open. Over the course of several minutes the temperature in the expansion tank climbed from the 180's to over 190 (the thermometer only goes to 190), then after checking again the coolant was around 184 and holding. I would think this would indicate the radiator was working because it transfered the heat. The shop noted that other cooling systems functions appeared normal. Again, the shop looked at the problem before I did repair. Why I kept the old cylinder head: with nominal leakage, I performed a warpage test, using a razor blade placed on the mating surfaces of the head in a myriad of different positions and angles. Never did the maximum allowable warpage feeler gadge blade pass beneath the blade. My square has etched rules that go down both sides of the straight edge, nullifying its smooth finish. With the head having only the 20% leakage on one cylinder, a bad gasket, and passing warpage tests, I thought it would be a good head. By the way, the heads are cast iron. have also not done a follow-up block test (liquid coolant tester) or a follow-up leak down test.

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  • Ford Master
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The only real way of checking for warpage on any head is by using a bar that extends from corner to corner on the head. The bar must be certified as straight (you can actually buy one from a tool dealer) since you likely will have little use for it, you can also have a good machine shop check that. Additionally, you should have had the heads magnafluxed (crack checked). The deck on the block should also be carefully examined and cleaned.
You are on the right track if you are going to do another hydrocarbon test. That will verify if you are getting a proper seal at the head gaskets or have any other seal problems (like cracks).
It seems as if you have done a very careful job and I know you don't want to take it apart again. The things you mentioned though do appear to point to exhaust driving coolant from the engine.
You can check the actual antifreeze mix with a simple ball type hydrometer. Anything except 50/50 will change the boil point of the mixture in a direction that isn't good. One thing I'd check is that you may still have an air pocket in the system somewhere. Make sure when filling that the heater is on high heat. One trick for getting the T stat to open without an air bind is to turn the engine off as soon as the temp approaches the opening point (195 (f)) then re-starting it in about three to five minutes, the engine temp will continue to rise during the time it is off but there will be no flow, allowing air to escape without fighting the coolant flow. Once re-started, add coolant slowly so the stat does not close again but add just fast enough so it does not overheat. One other item...If you need to take it apart again, don't use any kind of steel shim gaskets for the heads. Though a composite gasket will many times lower compression a bit, they also seal better. I use fel pro blue gaskets in everything. Unless I was careless or something got by me (not often) I never had a problem with any engine I ever built or repaired. The only application where I did not use them was in fuel engines where they were "o" ringed with stainless wire and used solid copper gaskets. (way different than a street engine!!!)
Have that hydrocarbon test done ASAP. No sense messing with it 'till you have that squared away!
Good Luck!!!

Posted on Jul 11, 2010

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Mcdevito75 here, Over flow container, over flows and has boiling water in it, you certainly did a lot of work, very good for you. A faulty thermostat could cause exccess water in the over flow container, so can a small clog in the radiator, and or heater core, do a back flush with the garden hose thru the radiator and the heater core, be carefull with water pressure thru the heater core, 1 more thing, the radiator cap, if that doesn't hold pressure the over flow container will also fill, change the radiator cap also, and If you can get at the heater control valve, sometimes in one of the heater lines from Radiator to firewall, chek, make sure thisheater valve is working, temp. on heater control in dash, cold to hot.

Posted on Jul 11, 2010

  • Michael C. De Vito
    Michael C. De Vito Jul 12, 2010

    mcdevito75 here, You say your useing Fresh (new antifreeze) 50/50 0r 70/30 mixture, most antifreeze now a days is already mixed, you use it straigh from the container, double check the directions, as a weak mixture of anti freeze could cause excess in the over flow container, but I still lean toward a small clog somewhere in your cooling system, slow thermostat, small clog in heater core, or block, faulty or slow heater control valve. The antifreeze in your system is getting too hot, also, change to a 180 degree thermostat.

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SOURCE: Coolant overflowing out of expansion tank no boil no steam

As you've stated driving around town it's fine, and everything is working well. For the symptoms, there are 2 possible causes:
1. Your cooling fans are not working.
2. Your radiator needs to be replaced.
I'm sure you can determine which it is, and I wish you luck on your repair.

Posted on Jun 02, 2009

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Coolant overflowing out of expansion tank no boil no steam


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1. Your cooling fans are not working.
2. Your radiator needs to be replaced.
I'm sure you can determine which it is, and I wish you luck on your repair.

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