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Old 11-16-2012, 09:24 AM   #1
Oblivion
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Join Date: Nov 2011
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Location: Austin, TX
What I Drive: 2001 Blue ZX3

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[2001 Ford Focus ZX3] Antifreeze burning in the sparkplug wells (#1, #2)

Hello.

On my way to work yesterday evening: My vehicle's temperature gauge was at 0F (never moved) for the majority of the drive; I thought it was rather peculiar, but possibly had something to do with the fact that I had just put petroleum jelly on the battery terminals (which shouldn't affect anything).

Then, ~10 miles in: The engine started to misbehave, and misfire (and now I think I know why). I pulled over, looked at it, and saw nothing wrong. I unscrewed the antifreeze reservoir, and immediately noticed it had no pressure built up. Then, after I started the vehicle up: The temperature gauge suddenly (slowly) climbed to 50% (where it normally sits at after you drive for a bit). It stayed there for a bit. Then, as I drove off, and used the gas: It would slowly drop back down to 0F.

This morning (a few hours ago), after I pulled into the drive way: I checked the radiator cap again. It had a very little amount of pressure. The temperature gauge read 'normal' too. It did the same trick.

I decided to pull the spark plug cover off, because I heard a slight 'hissing' noise (I thought it was the serpentine belt honestly). The spark plug well was filled up half way with something BOILING, and STEAMING (antifreeze.. The water portion).

I left the covers off, and walked away. I came back but not 10 minutes later: All traces of the liquid were gone. It doesn't smell like antifreeze. But I know what I saw.

Could it possibly be the head gasket (cracked/blown/damaged)?
Could it possibly be the 'core plugs/freeze plugs/valve covers/whatever nickname they have' be to blame? (Help. 2000 Zetec spitting out coolant from plug holes on valve cover!)
Could it possibly be something else, somewhere else, that I've yet to discover? It's definitely an INTERNAL leak. I have visually inspected everything.

Symptoms laid out:
- No pressure building up (radiator cap was good last I knew!)
- "White" smoke (but no odor) from the exhaust (possibly condensation from the cold morning?)
- Engine misfires on occasion (possibly occurring when the liquid enters the spark plug well)
- Low power/Acceleration (again: misfires?), until ~3k RPMs (DPFE sensor? EGR valve?)

Any ideas on how to check for sure what the problem is, and any potential solutions?
I am fixing to try a $10 solution that should theoretically work (assuming it's the head-gasket/tiny hole/valve cover screw): "Mendtite by Zecol" (a 'stop leak' type deal).

Thanks.


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