Tail pipe leaking water. Blown head gasket? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Tail pipe leaking water. Blown head gasket?


New Member
February 9, 2015
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Sport Trac
Hi, guys. New member, here. This is my first post. I own a 2002 Sport Trac with a 4.0 V6 SOHC engine with around 170,000 miles on it. I've had it for about 4 years and have always kept up with proper engine maintenance. I started noticing a heavy antifreeze smell for the past couple of weeks, whenever the truck is running. It only smells on the outside, though, and not inside the truck. I've been checking the radiator every weekend since then and it's usually missing about the amount of fluid that fits into a soda can. I have checked all over the undercarriage and hoses for leaks, but haven't found any. I did notice a bit of clear water coming out of the tailpipe, today, but no smoke from anywhere and it has never overheated. Just enough water leaked to leave a small puddle. I had the truck raised from the front on ramps. I also followed the muffler and noticed a drop of water forming right where it connects to the catalytic converter and a "wet" hose going to the upper front of the radiator. Does this necessarily point to a blown head gasket or something less costly to repair? I do the basic maintenance work myself (oil, fuel filter, plugs, etc.) but I would have to take it to a shop for the tougher jobs and this is my only vehicle and mode of transportation for work. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Check the thermostat housing. Hard to see under all the houses and stuff. That is where my leak was. Dave p.

Dad's 92 TBird with the 3.8 showed the same symptoms. Would lose perhaps a qt. of antifreeze a month, but never dripped out of the front of the car. I always thought that when you lost a head gasket, there would be oil in the water and water in the oil. Have you checked the oil dipstick? When we finaly figured it out, the antifreeze was leaking into the combustion chamber and he had a "James Bond" smoke screen of burning steam & antifreeze coming out the back. It never overheated. When we pulled the heads off, found the leak in the head gasket between 2 &3 cylinder. I hope I am wrong with you. My suggestion is to rule EVERYTHING else out first...and DON'T use Barsleak! (Unless you want to plug up your radiator and heater core.) Good Luck and keep us posted.

Check the thermostat housing where in bolts to head. The O ring goes bad, the plastic also goes bad and starts to leak. If you replace it, DORMAN parts has the Ford/Motorcraft replacement. Also check the drip hole at the bottom side of the water pump, the fan will blow coolant all around the engine.

Ditto lower thermostat housing. The 4.0L SOHC is notorious for leaking seams. The tailpipe dripping water is normal, and should dissipate after the engine reaches operating temp. As mentioned, check for milky oil first, then use a small mirror and flashlight
to inspect the housing for leaks. Here's a great tutorial that has been used by many. Check RockAuto or Amazon for pricing. GL

How To Replace the Upper and Lower Thermostat Housing on a Ford 4.0L V6 SOHC Engine

Thanks, guys. I drove it for 18 miles, stopped and left it running and there was no more water from the tailpipe. It was completely dry. I checked the engine oil dipstick first thing in the morning and there's no water, but it was a quart low. The back end of the oil pan is covered in oil, so I'm going to replace the lower gasket, there, since it seems to be the cause of the leak. I'm also going to replace the thermostat and the upper and lower housing, as well. I couldn't detect an obvious leak in it, but it did look "fishy". I'll be getting the parts directly from the dealership tomorrow. They're a bit more pricey, but a lot more reliable than the "replacement" parts from the Auto Parts stores. I've also been getting the "check fuel cap" light, even after replacing the gas cap a couple of times, already. I'm going to replace the vacuum line that goes to the inside of the front bumper area, right by the driver's side fog light. It looks pretty worn out.

i to had the same issue of coolant loss with no drips on the ground, being we have different engines, i have the 5.0 and you the 4.0. I don't know if you have the splash guard underneath, check there for your coolant leak collection. The seams of the radiator will leak on the passenger side collecting there. Just my 2 cents.