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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I just got home from a long drive and I noticed my temp gauge was rising steadily as I drove. It went all the way up to red as I got closer to home. When I finally parked the car, I heard a gurgling sound coming from under the hood. I couldn't see if there was any leakage as it's 1:30am. I'll check in the morning though. I know coolant is likely leaking.....what does this sound like to you guys?

Also, I won't be able to get anything fixed until Friday (today is Tuesday). Would it be safe to drive the car short distances (15 miles per day) until then?

Thanks in advance.
 

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We'll need the engine type to help out the best, there are two possibilities from the info. given (2001 SE). You can find a "stickie" at the top of this page that helps with ID if you are unsure.

By all means check coolant level once it cools off, and once driving again you'll need to check for fan operation as that is a common cause of overheating - usually by the low speed operation failing first which would often put it in the red zone by the time high speed tries to stop the heating.

Driving it too hot can damage/destroy an engine, you'll have to watch temps closely for any short drives IF the coolant level is OK.
 

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Fifteen miles is NOT a short distance, cars easily fry shorter than that. You're risking walking.
 

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The two common leaks are the thermostat housing and the coolant reservoir cap. Hoses also typically split where clamped, but can leak anywhere. Usually hoses get immediately worse, pump out a lot of steam, and you'd have to pull over.

We need to know your engine, mileage, and driving conditions as far as city or highway. 15 miles could destroy the vehicle if there is a coolant leak. Continuous overheating, regardless of the cause can blow the head gasket which is an expensive repair.
 

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2004 Focus Wagon, Zetec DOHC, Auto
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"Gurgling" is usually a description of boiling. If you are leaking coolant the usual description would be closer to a "hissing" noise and you should see steam somewhere or a puddle under the car.

One question I would have is what are you running as coolant? Plain water or 50/50 mix?

Boiling of coolant with plain water can easily occur especially if your reservoir cap is defective or not tight.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for your insight. It was the thermostat.

I checked the coolant this morning. There was a bunch of wetness under the hood, which explained the gurgling (?) My neighbor and I worked on the car today and I purchased a new thermostat. After he installed it, I drove around the neighborhood and noticed the gauge was at a normal place.

Also, a couple of years ago the gauge stayed in the cold forever and would take forever to get warm. So I guess it was a thermostat problem all along.
 

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Thanks for letting us know what fixed it.

I was thinking earlier stat was stuck shut, but was was wondering about the leaking. It must have gotten so hot it was venting steam.
 

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FYI, antifreeze in coolant at 50% will boil almost as fast as straight water, I've done it plenty of times farting around, screw the cap down good stops it in like 30 seconds or so. Antifreeze does NOT help overheating nearly so much as it does with the freezing issue despite what the makers would have you believe. Only maybe 5-8 degrees or so, the rest from 212 to over 265 comes from the pressure cap. Or most of it. I've seen these cut a groove in cap gasket such that simply hand tightening will result in a slight leak, you have to then take like big set of channellocks to overtighten a bit but not shearing the plastic threads.
 

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Hmm..... wetness..... that could be a leak. You didn't say you found a leak, only a bad thermostat. Keep an eye on the area where the thermostat is located for white residue. Typically coolant that leaks in tiny amounts will dry up and make a white residue. You should monitor your coolant level daily to be sure you're not losing coolant. Since you did change the thermostat, some coolant will leak, unless you dried it off completely you might see some white residue near where you made the repair. Clean it with a rag today, monitor your coolant level daily, and watch the area for new residue. Expect to smell coolant for a day or two, then the smell should go away. If it doesn't, then double check that you have a leak by checking the coolant level.

Hoses only last 10 years or so, no matter what, but overheating makes them break down sooner. Hopefully your problem is solved, but with this repair and any repair, you must observe the car continuously for a time afterwards to be sure that you didn't miss something.
 
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