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Chasing a coolant leak

MaioCampo

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Hello,

Over the past month I've been chasing a coolant leak. I've had a shop look at it, but I've given up on them (just taking money I haven't got). So here is what I've got:

- Coolant leak from the front of the engine, in the neighborhood located behind the thermostat housing. It doesn't appear to be the housing, or the heater coil hose, nor does it appear to be the freeze plug located behind the A/C compressor and power steering.

- Coolant leak from the radiator cap. This just started in the past couple of weeks. I thought it was from the overflow hose, so zip-tied that, but then saw it coming from the cap. I replaced the cap, but I still have a slow, dripping leak.

- Coolant leak that appears to be coming from somewhere towards the back of the engine... maybe? While watching the front engine leak, which would make its way to the front of the front axle, I could hear a steady drip coming from behind the front axle. I don't think it is blowback... it dripped pretty steady long after the front leak stopped.

- Tonight I noticed milky white fluid on the radiator cap lip (just below the cap). Not milky green... milky white. It's a new radiator, I haven't used any sealant, so I'm not sure what that is. Oil looks fine. Fluid in the radiator is green as you please.

- No heat issues. The engine warms up nice, the gauge hangs around between the N and O, and straight up. Has never gone past straight up. I did have issues earlier in the year, but fixed those by replacing the radiator and thermostat.

- White smoke from the tailpipe, but only when cold. Once things are warmed up I don't really notice anything.

So I'm thinking about replacing the lower intake gasket. A friend wondered about heads, but I just don't see it... but I'm a hack. I'm sorry this is so long, but if you're still with me, what do you think? :)
 
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jd4242

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I would just try and tighten the lower intake bolts first.more than likely its the heads tho
 
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OneofMany

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http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=384221&highlight=lower+intake+gasket
A little tan sludge on the rad cap is an indication that there is oil in the coolant. rule out the trans cooler tho. check what changed, coolant system pressure? crank case pressure? Im not so quick at pointing at a head gasket. There is a test kit to check for a head gasket failure http://www.amazon.com/Lisle-75500-Combustion-Leak-Detector/dp/B0007ZDRUI/ref=sr_1_2/181-7488270-6144439?ie=UTF8&qid=1386045183&sr=8-2&keywords=head+gasket+test+kit
 
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malohnes

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What JD said...
 
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MaioCampo

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@ JD: I had seen that recommendation before. What all do I have to remove to get to those? I figured if I still have to remove upper manifold, fuel rail, and valve covers, I might as well replace that lower manifold gasket. If I don't have to do all that to tighten things down, I'll definitely try that first.

@ OneofMany: No tan sludge anywhere. The milky fluid was white, and fluidy (is that a word?). Heh. I dipped a finger into the radiator and it came out fine. I haven't observed the stuff over the last couple of days, so maybe just some crud from the overflow? I'm not observing fluid levels dropping there (overflow), nor getting higher... so I don't know. I'll keep watching. Oil looks like oil. The test is a good idea.

I bought this Explorer in May '11. It has a tran cooler on it, and it was leaking bad. I replaced it, and hoses. As far as I can tell it all looks good (no leaks). About this time last year I replaced the radiator, hoses, and thermostat. That stopped all coolant leaking I had. I basically had this thing down to a trans fluid leak, which I isolated to vaccum hose, and a small oil leak from between engine and oil pan (I understand there is a gasket there). I was proud of myself. Heh.

First week of October (10/7) I replaced the trans vacuum modulator. The very next Monday, a half mile from work, I heard a pop and suddenly started blowing huge amounts of white smoke... I mean huge amounts. I stopped as quickly as I could and had it towed to a shop. I just knew the head went. But the shop said the modulator experienced a catastrophic failure. They replaced it, changed the oil, and all was good... until Thursday (10/17). Temps dropped drastically here in Alabama and I picked up the coolant leak. I also thought I had a significant oil leak. Took it to the shop (I didn't have time to work on it). They came back with thermostat and valve cover gaskets. Expensive, but I needed the vehicle back. I picked it up, and two days later noticed the coolant leak again. Took it back to the shop and they diagnosed a bad radiator cap. Two days later... you guessed it. So I'm done with that shop.

But that is the recent history. While in the shop they compression tested before recommending thermostat and valve cover gasket, and again when I brought it back (recommended I replace the radiator cap). They repeatedly assured it wasn't head, but I'm concerned... especially since every "fix" has not resulted in a fix.

Thanks guys. I'll keep observing this poor ol' fella. I'm off next week, so I'm looking forward to getting hands dirty... stop this worrying and pacing. :)
 
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jd4242

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Should be able to get to them with a long extension, just a shot in the dark but worth a shot.could be many things.you can put a dye in your oil and confirm its oil getting in
 
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MaioCampo

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Hey,

I am about to get started and learned some stuff that has my head full of newb questions. Really just two of them:

1. The Explorer is in an enclosed garage, not out in the open. I've learned that some parts I was waiting for will not arrive until Monday. Is it okay for me to go ahead and tear everything down to the lower manifold gasket Saturday/Sunday, then let sit until potentially Tuesday?

2. The lower manifold gasket in the kit I purchased (MS98005T) is in two pieces. The write-ups and manuals I have seen show the gasket as being one piece. On another forum a few said this two-piece was good, a new design, but I thought I'd run it by you. Is the two-piece cool?

TIA.
 
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MaioCampo

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The upper manifold (UM) is off! Pretty easy. I'm taking lots of pics, and lots of notes. I went ahead and pulled out the alternator, and have the throttle body and IAC off the UM. Those two gaskets look okay, but I'll replace them anyway. The UM gasket looks good, but I'll replace that as well.

SEC Championship game coming up, so today's work is done. Priorities. Heh.
 
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OneofMany

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Good work! Did my write up on replacing the lower intake gasket help you atall? consider replacing the injector o rings, they are cheap.
 
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MaioCampo

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Hey OneofMany,

I took your write-up, broke it out into individual lines, and added check boxes. I like checkin' the boxes. Heh. I'm also using the write-up you refer to, and the Chilton book to fill in some gaps. But your write-up is great.

Yup, the plan is to replace o-rings.
 
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MaioCampo

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Everything is off. Today I removed the fuel rail, valve covers, thermostat housing, and lower manifold.

The valve cover gaskets were of course in good shape, since they had just been replaced, but I broke them both. I was going to replace them anyway. Heh.

The bolts on the lower manifold weren't hand loose, and I tried to tighten a couple with a wrench and none tightened. But with a wrench they came off really easy. Pretty much finger wrenched. Heh.

The gasket looked pretty good. The front right corner (if looking at the engine from the front bumper) looked worn. That corner is pretty much where I saw some coolant pooling when I removed the A/C compressor & power steering pump. It wasn't worn much, I basically saw it by catching it in the light right after the gasket was removed. I also didn't see much RTV there (I think there is supposed to be some there). Maybe just enough there to be a leak under pressure?

Phew! That fuel rail doesn't release much fuel, but I about ran myself out of the garage. I had the door open all day, but it was still pretty stout. Heh. Now I'll sit down for the evening and just keep taking deep cleansing breaths.
 
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MaioCampo

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Upon further review, I'm not seeing any silicon trace anywhere. There's some carbon accumulation across the straight edges, front and back, but there's really nothing at the corners. Cleanup will pretty much be just wiping things down.

The gasket is pretty clean as well. Some sludge at that front right corner, and slightly less sludge at the back right corner (sludge being traces of black goo), but that's about it. Pretty clean.
 
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jd4242

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Make sure to glob it in all 4 corners and I put a light film over everything on the edges, even if the gasket has it on them
 
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MaioCampo

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Thanks JD, will do.

Any opinions on the 1 piece lower manifold gasket versus the 2 piece? If no preference of one over the other, is there any special tips or tricks to the 2 piece? Just curious.
 
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jd4242

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Thanks JD, will do.

Any opinions on the 1 piece lower manifold gasket versus the 2 piece? If no preference of one over the other, is there any special tips or tricks to the 2 piece? Just curious.

I personally haven't used the two piece. So take some pics and let us know how you feel about it.
 
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MaioCampo

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Oh yeah, I have to get some pictures up. I'll do that later today.

Good news: Gaskets are arriving today.

Bad news: Today is cleaning day. I just noticed one of the fuel injectors is broken (back injector, passenger side). It looks like the ceramic (?) tip broke in half during removal. When I removed the rail that one came out with it (other 5 stayed put). I found the other half on the floor... didn't notice that last night. Drat!

One injector (first injector, passenger side) is seriously gunky. Black goo all over it (the consistency of a moist brownie). The heater hose connection is right there, and the whole area is pretty gunky. Is there anything special to cleaning fuel injectors?
 
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jd4242

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Oh yeah, I have to get some pictures up. I'll do that later today.

Good news: Gaskets are arriving today.

Bad news: Today is cleaning day. I just noticed one of the fuel injectors is broken (back injector, passenger side). It looks like the ceramic (?) tip broke in half during removal. When I removed the rail that one came out with it (other 5 stayed put). I found the other half on the floor... didn't notice that last night. Drat!

One injector (first injector, passenger side) is seriously gunky. Black goo all over it (the consistency of a moist brownie). The heater hose connection is right there, and the whole area is pretty gunky. Is there anything special to cleaning fuel injectors?

Personally I would just go on ebay and get a rebuilt matched set of 19lb'ers.I'm sure you also plan to clean the crap outa the upper and lower intake.now also would be a good time to check your rockers for wear and replace if you feel like they were noisy or have bad wear.
 
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jd4242

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Is there a seller you would recommend?

Ill have to look to see who I've been using.think it was like ""injector house"" or something. They are pretty cheap and worth it in my book.matched sets are nice, gives you a little better idle.
 
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MaioCampo

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Cool. Yeah, I don't know much, but I like to try and replace sets where I can.

I was actually scrubbing the lower manifold today. The gasket surfaces are looking good, but the rest is a mess. Then I got kicked out of the kitchen. Heh. The plan is to clean lower and upper manifold good, and tidy up the valve covers.

I read about the rockers, but really don't know much about them... except they are indeed sitting right there in the open. Heh. I don't recall hearing much noise, maybe when going up a hill, or when I'm trying to punch it (this thing doesn't really punch). It is a clanking sound that goes away once I reach speed and ease off the accelerator. Is that the rockers?

I really appreciate your time. Thanks again.
 
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