Low Coolant Level in Radiator - normal?? | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations

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Low Coolant Level in Radiator - normal??

arifleman

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Hi all. My son runs a 2000 Explorer, 4.0 SOHC, 90,000 miles. It overheated recently and ended up with a blown head gasket. Local shop installed a used engine (90 day guarantee). I had new hoses and waterpump installed at that time.

The problem: It seems to be using water still. When I fill the radiator to the top when cold, and overflow bottle to its cold mark, things willl go along fine for a day or so, i.e., normal expansion and draw down of fluid in overflow bottle. Eventually though, when the car is driven under load the fluid level will be down one to two inches in the radiator. I haven't let it run lower than that, so don't now how low it would go. Most recent was a 300 mile trip to college. His fluid level cold, in the radiator, was down about 2 inches (16 ounces fluid approx). The overflow reservior did NOT draw down from its cold level line.

My mechanic says the internal radiator coolant level doesn't matter on these cars, that they are not meant to run full to the neck, that a couple inches low in the radiator would be considered normal. I have a feeling he's feeding me a line - this flies in the face of my experience with every radiator with overflow reservior I have used over the years.

One strange thing re radiator cap. When I could not get the coolant level to steady, I replaced the cap that was on it with a Stant 16lb pressure relief valve cap. With the Stant, when the engine was hot and then shut down, there was some coolant bubbling out from the underside of the cap. I bought another cap without the pressure relief valve and it holds fine. I am wondering if the radiator neck could have warped when the car overheated and not be making a good seal?


What say you? I would love to know if these explorers are normally full to the radiator neck when coolant is cold. Any of you have experience with these radiators? I appreciate any help and thoughts.

BTW, I checked, tightened all hose connections, check for coolant leaks around engine, heater, etc. - all clean.
 
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Bern

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The mechanic you talked to was an idiot. The radiator should be plumb full at all times, hot or cold. The level is meant to change in the plastic bottle.

If the bottle is not drawing down before the radiator, make sure you have a double seal cap, and make sure the hose between the rad and botttle is not leaking.

If it was mine, I'd put a pressure tester on it and pump it up when it's cold to about 10 lbs or so and check for leaks.
 
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jahzwolf

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Mine does the same thing runs about 2 inches low in the radiator.. I have recently replaced the entire cooling system hoses, radiator, thermostat housing and water pump and it does not go down any further just likes to stay there for some reason .. not sure why.. but flow is fine to the overflow tank and maintains pressure..

So i would just fill up a few gallons of water and drive it and then see where it goes.. if it stays there it is all good.. if not then well time to start looking for the leak..
 
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arifleman

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A long circle back to this topic but here's the update:

After about a thousand miles this thing finally burped out whatever air bubbles were in the system and maintained a constant (full neck) coolant level when cold. In further reading, I understand this engine can hold air pockets in the cooling core for long periods.

Unfortunately, somebody ended up totaling the Explorer. My son ended up getting a first generation Toyota Tacoma 4x4 TRD which is a terrific vehicle (sacrilege here on a Ford forum). My best to all here.
 
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jahzwolf

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I am sorry to hear about the junker. Toyota rocks!
 
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