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Radiator fluid is brown with substance!

09-10-2007, 10:58 AM
Picked a Taurus up for my sister and kids the other day just to find out that
after I get it home and stuck a radiator testing tool in the tank it, the fluid is brown and
the tool had muck on it. This muck is kind of like mud.
I am going to flush the system of course.
What makes me nervous is that when I changed the plugs they were white.
There are no leaks and I changed the oil (nothing irregular in oil). Rather strong running car.

Could this just be the case of an abused radiator in need of some fresh fluid? Or could this get expensive.

Any input would be appreciated! :popcorn:

09-10-2007, 12:20 PM
Could be rust and stuff in the cooling system. I'd also be nervous that this might be someone's attempt to mask a head gasket problem. Maybe they dumped a bottle of the cooling system stop leak pellets into the system to get a few more miles out of it.

You may want to pull the oil fill cap and look on the underside of the cap for evidence of a froth/foam/milkshake appearance. If stop leak was used, worked, and the oil was changed, they may not have cleaned the oil fill cap if they were trying to hide something.

With any luck, this is just due to neglect of the cooling system and a thorough flush of the system will have your car healthy again. There are numerous posts on this forum related to failed impellers on water pumps and plugged heater cores. You may want to review some of those posts for suggestions on flushing the system. You can use the "Search this forum" tool from the Taurus forum main page.


09-10-2007, 01:11 PM
I guess I won't know for sure until I go ahead and flush it. I have a bottle of that Prestone Flush.

I actually bought this car from a used car dealer. If the head gasket is indeed shot and they tried to mask it.... isn't there a lemon law or something that is supposed to stop these transactions from happening?

Thanks for your input. It's more than appreciated!

09-10-2007, 05:56 PM
I'm not sure, but last I checked, lemon laws are for new cars. You may have other recource if the dealer has a return policy, or if you can prove they hid a problem (very unlikely). Good luck. Hopefully its just rust from the system

09-10-2007, 08:13 PM
You may want to save some of the coolant from the system, or take it back to where you bought it and ask them to explain/document the situation. Don't know if either will gain you anything, but it won't hurt.

I imagine next time you will check all the fluids before purchasing a vehicle. ;)


09-11-2007, 06:45 AM
Lesson to be learned here. A lot of shops offer a pre-sale vehicle inspecton for a nominal fee and it's well worth it because you pay them and they find a head gasket is blown they just saved you big bucks for repairs. Transmission has problems about $1500. for a rebuild. Serpentine belt needs replacing $75. to $90. bucks. You're auto mechanics 101 ignorant and go buy a car you are hangin' out all over the place so demand you take it for a pre inspection. If the dealer won't let you, that tells you something, doesn't it? And don't take it where the dealer tells you, YOU find a shop.

09-11-2007, 11:51 AM
Yep, I'm going back there tonight. I've already taken some pictures of the issues I'm having for my records. Maybe the guy will get scared and do something about the problem or maybe not.
Wouldn't you know it...the first time I don't check the radiator fluid and it's BRoWN! ha! What luck. Thanks for the input everyone. I appreciate it.

Oh! One last thing..........anyone want to buy a Taurus? lol. j/k

09-12-2007, 04:47 AM
"Wouldn't you know it...the first time I don't check the radiator fluid and it's BRoWN!" I don't see how you could buy a USED car and not check the coolant, tranny fluid and engine oil and a lot of other checks. Anyway, if they don't make it right you can file a complaint with your better business bureau and they send a copy of the letter to the dealer so maybe it'll get some action.

You have a very tought tool for fighting back called picketting, but you have to USE it. Make a sign saying "Dip-Stik Motors sold me a bad car" and Saturday stand on public land in front of the place and let the passers by see it and I guarantee you shortly the management will be out to negotiate with you. Call your local newspaper & TV and tell them what you plan to do and they might come do a story. Take the car and put the hood and park it as closeby as you can so you can show people what's wrong. Check with your local police and find out if you need a picket license and ask for a copy of your local picketting laws and ask specifically where public land is in that area. I know sidewalks by roads are public land so walk up and down the sidewallk smiling and waving at passersby.

Make a big sign that fills the whole back window saying the same and get there early and park it in a front parking spot at the mall or WalMart and leave it there while you shop superfically. If they ask you to move it, move to another parking spot, but leave it there all day. Park it on main street at the busiest place you can find, put the sign in the window and stand by the car and have a cup of coffee. You can believe you will generate some attention and probably have people asking what's the problem. NO BUSINESS wants adverse publicity, expecially the normal working stiff who got stiffed by a car dealer advertising their selling sorry cars then do nothing about it. Fight back Brother, Fight Back! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Make every effort to resolve the problem at the local level, you and the dealer, then if you aren't satisfied show them you intend to get satisfaction and standing in front with the sign will bring them to their knees. When saying adverse things about them, always preface your statement with :IN MY OPINION" and that way you are not stating it as a fact, you are merely sharing your opinion and you have every right to do that. "In my opinion Dip Stick Motors knew they were selling me a bad car and took me for a ride and now won't make it right". No problem. "Dip Stick Motors sells bad cars and they knew it." Grounds for a lawsuit. Taking them to small claims court will generate adverse publicity and geneally the jury decides in favor of working stiffs like yourself.

They want to get rid of you tell them you want another car, and THIS TIME take it for a pre inspection.

09-12-2007, 08:05 AM
I couldn't agree more. I'll be taking action against this place if the car turns out to be a lemon. I'll keep you posted on how this progresses.

I was looking for a hobby anyhow. This is just as good a hobby as any I guess.

Thanks for the input!

09-12-2007, 12:17 PM
Roger all that. Like my old Grand Pappy said, "don't get mad, . . get even." :iceslolan Go to the county court house and ask kind of permit you need to pickett. Ask for a copy of the laws governing picketting and adhere to them so it doesn't backfire and you get put in jail or fined. Heck, if you have a wife and kids make them a sign and get them out there to. If it's legal while driving, put signs up in the back side windows and leave them there while your car is parked at work. He99, write the state attorney general a letter and ask if he can help you. Contact your state reseprentative and ask if they can help. Call the Pope and ask if he can help. :slap:

09-19-2007, 12:37 PM
Well, the holding tank for the radiator was extremely dirty but yet when the radiator was drained the antifreeze looked good. From the underside of the car I noticed that the back of the engine had some wetness and it appeared to be anitfreeze but it's hard to say. I am having CarX inspect the car (including a block test for the head gasket) and give me a complete report. It's only costing $45.00. I'll keep you posted.

09-19-2007, 08:41 PM
$45 for an inspection is a good deal and let's hope they do a through job. I would emphasize you want the blown head gasket test because that's the most expensive repair we have talked about. Please let us know what they find and good luck.

My gut feeling - I think any good used car dealer would invite you to take it for an inspection and that way they've pretty much covered themselves if the inspection proves OK and you buy it and something goes wrong.

09-19-2007, 11:02 PM
All this comotion over a little bit of dirty radiator coolant. I havent seen a used car that didnt have discolored radiator coolant due to not having it regularly changed out. Chances are its just a little bit of rust and dirt like taurus guy said.

09-20-2007, 08:47 AM
...stuck a radiator testing tool in the tank it, the fluid is brown and the tool had muck on it. This muck is kind of like mud.

This doesn't sound like "just a little bit of rust and dirt" to me.


09-22-2007, 10:30 PM
My 03 with 57K miles had regular cooling system maintenance and the inside of the resevior tank is dirty but it isn't brown and no muck or solids settled to the bottom. A solid has to be rust or somebody put dirty water in it, or an additive to stop a head gasket, heater core or radiator leak. The good thing is it hasn't run hot yet, so let's hope it doesn't and a good system flush is all it needs.

09-23-2007, 04:18 AM
This is a very common problem on the Taurus.

Was it a 96-99?

It is called brown coolant syndrome.

Ford issued a recall kit for the 96-98 which included
A bypass hose kit to keep coolant circulating thru the heating system
a grounding strap to help stop the electrochemical reaction.
A new water pump

THis kit used to be available from ford but is no longer.

In 99 the bypass hoses and the grounding strap came from the factory.

to Eliminate it

You must chemically flush the cooling system
then flush the system thoroughly with water.
Replace the water pump
Ground the engine to the frame
add the bypass hoses.

This is a very common problem and happens to the Vulcan (3.0 OHV pushrod motor)


I am not a newb I used to be mwt878991 but I changed internet providers and lost my old email and i couldn't remember my password

09-23-2007, 04:20 AM
isn't there a lemon law or something that is supposed to stop these transactions from happening?

Thanks for your input. It's more than appreciated!

This is america. It's pretty much buyer beware


09-27-2007, 02:20 PM
Well, my sister is refusing to take this car into the darn garage for inspection. Instead, she has driven it about 1000 miles so far. The most that has happened is some chugging when she was at low idle. I pulled the EGR valve off, sprayed it with carb cleaner, put it back on and it ran better. Should probably replace it.

She sure is taking a big gamble not having that car checked. When she does I'll let you know. :shakehead

Colt Hero
09-30-2007, 07:32 PM
mwt47 is absolutely correct. I've got a '97 Vulcan with the cruddy coolant. I've flushed it multiple times completely with water, chemicals, the Ford-approved Iron-ph cleaner used in the recall, and it still turns cruddy after re-fill. At one point along the way the plastic recovery tank cracked and I replaced it. I remember the green coolant flowing beautifully through the new tank like a waterfall ... for about a month or two ... then the new tank became stained and cruddy just like the old (original) one - and I can't clean it because of all the baffles inside. Maybe I should fill it with brake cleaner, hot water, and small stones ... I did that once with a tank from an Impala and it worked pretty well.

I also have the "H" bypass hose on my car. All it does is prevent the heater core from blowing cruddy coolant all over the floorboard. See, the heater core continually gets blocked due to the cruddy coolant. Every year before winter arrives, I hook up my remnant hoses and blast the heater core both ways to clear its passages. Otherwise, I have little or no heat.

Never heard of the grounding strap. Maybe I should look into that (or maybe it's already there)

09-30-2007, 09:15 PM
The strap is just a braided strap that runs from the Water Pump to the heater core.


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