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Discussion Starter #1
I have had this issue for a couple years now. I know that somewhere in my cooling lines there is a small leak. because I have to add coolant every once in a while (4 monthes or so). If i run my air on a hot day it will be ok for 10 minutes but then likes to over heat. After parking my car for a few hours i will come back to find a medium sized puddle of coolant under my car, hence why i have only turned on my AC a handfull of times over the past 2 years. I know it's leaking onto one of the pulleys because whenever this happens i get a squeek that goes with the revs of the engine, and sticks around for a few monthes. Otherwise everything else seems fine. Is there a common line that goes out that someone can point me in the right direction to. I would hate to take it to a shop an get charged an arm and a leg. I switched out the thermostat a couple years ago so i know its still good. Any help will be greatly appreciated.[dunno]
 

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Coolant leak on that side is likely from the water pump, NOT a "small" job if you aren't a "mechanic"... as ther isn't a coolant line over there other than the ones to the reservoir.

THAT area is easy to check, just look at the bottle you add coolant to & the lines running to it to check for obvious leakage....

Overheating because of cooling fans not operating, resulting in spewing more than is "normal" comes to mind... Does the fan work when the A/C is on???

Just a couple thoughts...

Problems left unattended can result in MULTIPLE problems to diagnose at once...

You MAY be in this category, & we'll try to help....

Luck!
 

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Mine, although newer, did the same. It ended up being the coolant temperature sensor. Just a though, might not be your issue but it's my 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
ok, so i checked to see if my fan was running after my drive home. It wasnt. I also cant recall hearing it running anytime recently. Is there a way i can manually kick it in to see if that may be the issue. Could it be something as simple as a fuse?
 

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ok, so i checked to see if my fan was running after my drive home. It wasnt. I also cant recall hearing it running anytime recently. Is there a way i can manually kick it in to see if that may be the issue. Could it be something as simple as a fuse?
Yes, turn on the AC. [neener] LOL anyway, yes check your fuses first, but most likely it's something other than a fuse. Your owner's manual will have the location.

Ok first off, what engine do you have? That makes a big difference because the fans on the Zetec are not wired the same way on the Duratec.

Do you have a digital multi-meter?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Duh, geez i asked for that. I'll check it out. I have a zetec. If it's not a fuse am i looking at an expensive fix?
 

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If your fan doesn't come on with the AC, then I'd guess your problem is most likely the fan plug-in connector, and possibly the resistor as well. This is a fairly common problem in these cars with that engine, and there are many threads on it. The heat from the exhaust manifold melts and deforms the fan plug and the resistor just goes out from age. The damage should be fairly obvious if the plug is melted, so check that immediately. Run a search for "cooling fan problems" or "cooling fan resistor replacement".
 

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Discussion Starter #8
ok, so the cooling fan came on when i checked. It wasn't a super strong current of air but it was definitely blowing (not sure how hard it should blow). If it was the water pump why would it only overheat when the ac is on. Could it be anything else. The plug across from the heat shield appears to be fine.
 

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OK, well that's a sign that the fans are working, at least the fans are working when the AC is on, so that's good.

What's your mileage? Did you flush the cooling system and replace all the coolant when the thermostat was replaced?

A leak on the pulleys could be the water pump or it could also simply be the hose that goes to the coolant reservoir. If you can get a look under there and see white residue, that will give you the clue you need. If it's the water pump, then white residue will be evident behind the water pump pulley. Likewise, it's a good idea to check the reservoir cap, or simply replace it- and make sure that the overflow hose is connected. A bad cap and a disconnected overflow hose will cause a leak on your pulleys like you're describing only when the engine is heated up sufficiently for pressure to build up on the cap.

The only thing that bothers me about the water pump explanation is that it only overheats when the AC is on. True, the AC adds heat in front of the radiator, so it could be that heat is just the straw that broke the camel's back in this case. On the other hand, you're saying this is something that's been going on for a long time, so unless you drive like 30 miles a week- I'd have expected a water pump with bad seals/bearings to start doing other fun things long ago. A water pump replacement is going to be on the expensive side because the timing cover will have to be removed from what I understand.

Now I expect a car with a running AC to have a puddle under it while sitting and idling- whether it overheats or not, so be sure that puddle was coolant and not simply water. I'd also like to know if you have the same overheating problem with the vehicle while it's moving, or does it only overheat while sitting in traffic with the AC on. If condition 2 is the case, and driving off cools the engine down, then your problem could be a radiator full of crud on the outside. This happens over time to any good radiator and condenser. Bugs, leaves, trash, etc will get caught in the condenser and radiator. If that sounds likely, then a good cleaning could solve the whole problem.

IF you're not used to working on your vehicle, then this might be something you can pay someone to do. There are several ways to do it, but the best ways will involve removing the radiator, and cleaning it outside of the vehicle. That means coolant replacement, and you might as well flush the cooling system as well while you have the hose handy. An inferior method is to simply remove the engine cooling fans and force water or air through from the back side to break all the crap loose. The problem with this method is that the radiator crud remains trapped between the condenser and the radiator, and flow is usually not strong enough to force all the crud out of the condenser. That's why I ask if you DIY because that's something that I'd only do myself if I had enough skills to remove the radiator and fans.

I'd hate to have you run out and pay $1100 for a water pump replacement unless you needed a timing belt at the same time, only to either end up with the same overheating problem minus a small leak in short order. I'd expect a water pump to cause overheating that you couldn't cool down with the heater- if not now- soon enough after you noticed a leak near the WP pulley that you'd already have that towed in for the repair. The same goes for an internally clogged radiator, although flushing never hurts anything as long as you have some other cause to replace coolant. A minor hose leak can do the leak part, and increase temperature because retaining pressure is part of how coolant temps are held down in a properly working cooling system. Usually a minor hose leak becomes a larger hose leak fairly quickly unless it's simply a loose clamp. The fans only cool down the engine when the car is sitting, so if you're overheating on the move, then it's something else. That's what led me to wonder if the radiator/condenser is clogged with road trash. Basically, your larger mechanical problems might cool off a few times by turning on the heater, but that temporary fix is not going to work every time for 2 years. Lastly, check your coolant temp sensor using the electronic odometer trick while driving to see that the A) thermostat is operating correctly B) Engine temps make sense and don't jump up and down suddenly C) The engine cools down when the car is moving. D) Because you want to be less Celsius challenged. You should see engine temps rise up to around the thermostat temperature, then fall down when the thermostat opens completely, then rise back up until settling right around the thermostat temp. When you turn the AC on, you'll see temps go up slightly, and cool off when either the fans come on or the car starts moving. Wild instant fluctuations of more than 25C in both directions indicates a bad coolant temp sensor. So does unlikely nuclear heat readings like 200C. If it ever got that hot, then you'd have other problems immediately. Another possibility is that someone put in a high temp thermostat, like a 208F which is around 96C IIRC. You should have a 194F or lower thermostat if you live in a warm area of the country.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Dude, Thank you so much for taking the time. To answer your questions; the car has 132,000 miles, i replaced the thermostat with a factory part from a ford dealship, sitting in traffic with the ac on is when it overheats, the puddle under the car is definitely coolant, i did not flush the system when replacing the thermostat (so much came out i figured just filling it back up would be fine. maybe stupid on my part).

The first time it happened was 1.5 years ago, and it didn't overheat. The ac just stopped blowing cold. So I stopped running my ac in attempt to avoid a bigger problem occuring. About 10 monthes later i gave my ac a shot again and it worked. I still only used it sparingly to avoid making bigger problems. to my knowledge it only overheated three times. Once the plastic tube above my fan cracked and dumped all my coolant. That was an easy replace. The other two time i was carefully monitoring the temp and as soon as i saw it start to climb i turned of the ac. it stayed hot until i parked it. but after an hour of sitting there i put more coolant in it and drove away, all things fine.

Now here is another kicker. After it overheats i'll have to keep adding coolant, here a little there a little, for a couple monthes. After that i'll see an empty resivor but no leak. No matter how many times I add 1/2 quart or so over time it disappears from the resivor but the car seems fine, and its not like im chill on driving either. I still get on it when my right foot feels an inkling to do so.

I am ok with DIY. I changed my thermostat, exhaust, camber bolts, TB, but i know thats all bolt on stuff. I am not a goof but i don't want to get in over my head.

I hope this helps narrow things down. Thanks again, i really appreciate it.
 

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i did not flush the system when replacing the thermostat (so much came out i figured just filling it back up would be fine. maybe stupid on my part).
Probably ok. Rust buildup is really a time age thing not a mileage age thing. Around 10 years is when it should be flushed, and probably the higher mileage vehicles have less of an issue. I just do it when I change coolant because there's nothing much to the process. Maybe an extra hour or so. It's really pointless on all aluminum engines- but I haven't flushed one of those yet. It's coming though.

After that i'll see an empty resivor but no leak. No matter how many times I add 1/2 quart or so over time it disappears from the resivor but the car seems fine, and its not like im chill on driving either. I still get on it when my right foot feels an inkling to do so.
Did I mention that you could be leaking from the reservoir hose? It could also be leaking from the cap. Without a good seal, the cap will pump coolant out of the overflow before pressure is really high enough for it to need to release coolant. You might have a cracked reservoir, loose hose, or bad cap.

You might also have some other problem that's causing the AC to tip the car over the top on heating. There's no way to be sure until you repair the coolant leak problem first. Coolant systems must retain some pressure to work correctly.

I'm putting my money on the hose being loose first. I'd pull the reservoir and inspect it thoroughly, and if I didn't find anything wrong with the hose I'd consider a junkyard run for another reservoir and cap. Small cracks or imperfections might not be visible or you might not be able to find them through testing outside of the vehicle. When it heats up, it might expand and leak.

I'd also consider cleaning the outside of the radiator and condenser like I mentioned before. That will only help engine cooling and condenser cooling. I wouldn't spend a ton of money on it because you should be checking your timing belt and saving for that project. I'd replace the water pump with the timing belt of course. Rock Auto has some great prices on timing belt kits, but if you're planning on taking it to a shop for that repair then that's not going to help you. Most shops don't appreciate people bringing parts in to be installed. You should have some time to get money together for that job.
 
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