2004 2.3L ZTS overheating issue - Focus Fanatics
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:17 AM   #1
qtully
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2004 2.3L ZTS overheating issue

I've look around the board for a solution, but I'm not sure what's going on here. The car overheats, but at what appear to be random times.

It overheats when idling. The temperature will go up pretty high (3/4 of the way) before the fan kicks on and cools the engine. I replaced the low fan resistor. The old one didn't look burnt or bad, but I figured it might be bad so I swapped it out. Should the fan be kicking on sooner?

It will also overheat when I'm driving at freeway speeds. It was warm the other day and I was driving with my AC on through some low hills/mountains. Whenever the engine had to really put some work in (while the AC was on) the car would start to overheat. It would never peg in the red, but it would run hot until I turned the AC down. I've been looking around and can't, for the life of me, figure out what's wrong with this thing.

Should I flush the coolant system? I imagine it's been a while since that has been done (just got the car).


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Old 08-20-2012, 07:40 AM   #2
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flush coolant, change thermostat with 180 degree, verify car has never blown a head gasket. If bought used some underhanded people add head sealer to coolant and this cloggs motors making them over heat, mainly by clogging the small ports in motor and lower areas of radiator.
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Old 08-20-2012, 12:31 PM   #3
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Thank you for the suggestion. I'll get the coolant system flush taken care of and see where I'm at from there. I might also be the thermostat, but I'm not sure.

As far as the head gasket goes I'm pretty sure it isn't cracked. I've had it in to a mechanic to look things over a few times and he's never said anything about that being an issue. Also, from what I've read about cracking head gaskets the car doesn't show any of the telltale signs. No misfires. Still runs really strong. Responsive. Not sluggish.
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:33 PM   #4
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I ran through the test options on the odometer and ran the car for a bit to check the temperature. It got all the way up to 108 C before I turned the car off. No change in the temperature gauge itself at all. Is this a thermostat issue?
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:53 PM   #5
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The gauge & the odo test function both get their info. from the CHT sensor (cylinder head temp), so if the gauge doesn't change readings while the odo test does - there may be an issue with the gauge.

When did which fans turn on?

except for when the A/C is on max., the temp will get VERY close to the red zone B4 the high speed fan circuit turns on, and often spike into the red B4 that cooling takes effect. That's why having the low speed functional is important - to start the cooling of the radiator BEFORE it gets REALLY warm.....

Gauge wise, it's NOT unusual for the reading to be at 3/4 before the low speed kicks in - you just want to see that happen before it gets near the red & the high speed activates....

Luck!
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Old 08-20-2012, 05:15 PM   #6
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I drove it around this morning and the temperature hit 116 before the needle started to move into the 3/4 range of the gauge and that was when the first fan kicked on. But, this is what confuses me, when I accelerated up to 65 from a the temperature went nuts (all the way up to 121 or 122). The overheating issue isn't a concrete thing. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I'm guessing the thermostat might need to be replaced.

There isn't a coolant leak, that much I know for sure, but I am going to flush it anyway.

How do I check that it isn't a cracked head gasket or should I take it to a mechanic to get that done? I just can't believe that it is because my brother, the previous owner, took it in to a mechanic to check out the overheating issue and I assume he would have figured out the gasket was cracked.
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Old 08-20-2012, 05:40 PM   #7
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Odd spiking MIGHT be from a system that has air in it, try checking that the bleeder hoses are still routed correctly & not kinked, preventing the system from self bleeding....

When it's drained for that flush, disconnect them from the bottle & blow through them to make sure they are clear....

Pulling the thermostat & checking it while the coolant is drained wouldn't hurt, if it's OK at least you KNOW that then....

luck!
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