Question about 1988 Ford Bronco II

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88 Bronco ii Coolant not circulating

88 Bronco ii - 118K on motor.
The vehicle sat for five years without running. When starting to run again, it ran on hot side per temp indicator inside vehicle and valves start tapping after 15minutes or so. Coolant appeared ok visually, but drained and replaced anyway. After draining radiator and refilling with new coolant, and changing thermostat I noticed coolant doesn't seem to be circulating, I don't know if it was prior. The upper hose and motor is very hot and lower radiator hose is only lightly warm. The temp sensor on dash now reads less than normal since changing thermostat; it used to be high. Engine is definately hot though and coolant is not ciculating. I say hot to the point of valve lifter start tapping after engine in running for 15 mintues or highway speeds for 10.
No coolant leaks seen. I believe the water pump is moving some water as I can see it moving up and down with accelaration of motor with the rad cap off. Heater core is deffinately hot.
I removed thermostat and put in pan of water and brought temp up slowly, and it starts to open at 200- it should be 195, but I don't think 5 degress will make that big a difference. I did not verify it fully opens at 217 like book says it should. This is my next move.
Can the water pump be partially bad? It doesn't leak. I don't want to pull water pump if don't have to.
I added a flush kit to heater core hose and flushed system now. Also used this to prevent air lock in coolant system. No help.
Could a faulty temp indicator cause the motor computer to ****** timing and causing the motor to overheat?
No oil in water, nor water in oil either. Could this be bad head gasket?
Any advice would be useful.

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  • tass1 Jul 01, 2008

    Forgot to mention- I did flush the oil system, twice now as the first one did seem to help quite a bit.

    I went home today and figured it out! I must have had an air lock in the coolant system. Bleeding the coolant from the heater hose last night must have worked. As today I went home at lunch and saw the water level was down in the radiator after it cooled. I tried it and now I get hot water circulating through the lower radiator hose, and the temp indicator now works. I guess there must have been air locked in near the temp sendor on the intake manifold. I saw one other posting on the internet for 88 bronco ii with 2.9L that had same problem.

    It didn't fix the tapping I get when the motor get warm though. I suspect you are right with the lifter. Maybe some STP or 20/50w oil would work?


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Good Day,

Sounds like the thermostat is working properly, the only other cause for the valve/lifter noise could be the oil pump is not pumping enough oil up to the top of the motor. I suggest doing an oil change(if you haven'y aleready), be sure to flush several quarts through, after sitting for 5 years I'm sure the old oil is pretty sludgy, this well help rule out this possibilty. As far as the water pump goes, It either works or doesn't typically when they are on there way out the will leak from the gaskets. A bad head gasket would cause white smoke form the exhaust as coolant get's into the oil and is burned off, so I don;t hink this is the problem.

Here's a start for you, hope this helps and good luck

Posted on Jul 01, 2008

  • Patrick McGee
    Patrick McGee Jul 01, 2008

    It's definatly worth a shot, If I were you I would do another oil flush and change but try flushing it with a heavy weight gear oil as I'm sure the top of the motor was bone dry for the 5yrs it sat. Also grab a bottle of "Lucas Oil Stabilizer" You can get it any autoparts store, and dump it in with the fresh oil, this stuff works great, it really helps in circuilating the oil.

    Anyway I wish the best of luck, If anything changes keep me posted


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