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Old 09-12-2012, 01:16 PM   #1
Phacade
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'03 SVTF overheating / died this morning / smells like a possum

I hate being that guy that doesn't post a lot and then posts when a problem crops up.

- So a few years back the radiator fans were not working and my '03 SVTF would overheat. Replaced the Engine Cooling an Resistor (C1027) and all was well. Car ran like a champ for the next few years.

The backstory: While not an excuse, two kids and a full time job keep me rather busy...but I have been lacking in maintenence. My car has been known to overheat occasionally. Not often, but when it does, the oil temperature spikes first, followed by the temperature guage. Usually I had a little coolant and its not been an major issue. I know I have had a coolant leak, probably at the thermostat housing, but haven't taken care of it. I also have a slight oil leak at the valve cover gasket, which I need to get replaced, but (probably) accounts for the warm smell coming off my engine after I turn it off.

Fast Forward to this morning. I'm driving to work and pull off the highway and come to a stop. Car died! It was idle RPM and, through the headlights, I see a little steam coming from the front. I look down and oil temperature is spiked and temperature gauge itself is at 3/4. It starts fine and, since I'm a block from work, I go again. The car cools down a bit and when I stop again at the guard shack, it dies again. Grrr! After its died, the Battery and Oil light come on, although I think thats more of a "your car died dash christmas lights" thing than a specific issue, seeing as neither has come on before the car died nor after it was running again.

So anyway I added water at the guard shack and, again, it fires right up. Temperature goes immediately down and the oil temperature starts down as well, so I am pretty sure I have a leak somewhere...but I haven't had the car up and die when its hot before. Strange? Where's a good place to start looking for a leak? What other places might I check?


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Old 09-12-2012, 01:33 PM   #2
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I'd get a dye kit and put that crap in every one (different dyes for different fluids)! Let it run a bit and use the glasses and black light to spot it... you may wanna start with the tStat housing you already suspect though!

A cheaper way about it would be: pigmats under the car, car in the air, goggles on the face, and spray the ever-lovin' hell out of the bottom of the engine... then wait to see what leaks.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:44 PM   #3
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You probably already know this stuff, but since you asked...

I'd start by tracing the seam where the tranny bolts up to the block. Start beneath the coil and look for coolant coming from a cracked T-Stat. Coolant will follow this seam.

Check your radiator to make sure any road debris didn't puncture it. Spray out the front of the rad as best as you can through the lower grill to get the dirt and grime out from between the vains to aid in proper cooling.

Check that skinny coolant tree tube along the top of the radiator support for cracks.

You can also drain a little oil (after you shut the car off for a bit) and look for traces of coolant in your oil. No coolant means good head gasket.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:59 PM   #4
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Good call! I shall do this tonight.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phacade View Post
Good call! I shall do this tonight.
Don't forget to check the small seals on both sensors plugs on the Tstat housings, more importantly the top one.

Take it as a blessing that your car did shut down temporary to prevent overheating and warping the head.

One more thing. Flush that tap water out of the car's system that you put in there and replace the coolant.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:18 PM   #6
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Can do. I'm thinking of picking up a Tstat housing tonight since I suspect its a leaker. Hopefully I can find one local.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Can do. I'm thinking of picking up a Tstat housing tonight since I suspect its a leaker. Hopefully I can find one local.
Make sure it's got two bungs. The regular Zetec housing just has the one bung for the top sensor and looks completely different. If you're having trouble finding one, I can reference my local Ford dealer. They were out of stock when I needed one last month and found one in two hours for me to go and pick up. The guy knew the differences between the both versions and I didn't have to say a thing!
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:22 PM   #8
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Well I just put a half-gallon in my car and took off down the road and, shortly later, I was overheating again! Its rather difficult to see, but it seems the thermostat housing is leaking. I just ordered a complete Contour housing replacement from Tousley. Hopefully this nips it in the bud.
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Last edited by Phacade; 09-12-2012 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phacade View Post
Well I just put a half-gallon in my car and took off down the road and, shortly later, I was overheating again! Its rather difficult to see, but it seems the thermostat housing is leaking. I just ordered a complete Contour housing replacement from Tousley. Hopefully this nips it in the bud.
Did you check the oil for any "milkiness" sounds a lot like classic head gasket, a thermostat housing is likely if it is cracked/leaking loss of pressure will definitely cause a condition where it overheats. But I never saw any kind of checking for the oil in your original post.
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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Yeah I just checked it. Black as...well, oil. I think I'm okay there. After driving a few miles, temperature went back down again. Its definitely a leak, but I think we've caught it in time. I plan on having my wife drive me to work for the next few days until I get my parts in to replace it.
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