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Old 02-27-2005, 04:44 PM   #1
kurtr
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'98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

Greetings:

I have a '98 Windstar that appears to being using (not leaking) coolant. I filled the resovoir last weekend... now it is empty. We've noticed it running rough on occasion (like it is missing on one cylinder). Yesterday it was running rough and the exhaust was thick, white and smokey. I pulled the plugs today. #6 looks a little different than the others. It had more crud and looks like some of the metal was eaten/burned away (making for a larger gap).

(Regarding the coolant loss: I filled the radiator AND the resovoir 7 days ago. Today the resovoir is empty, but the radiator is still full. I would estimate I have lost about 4-6 cups of coolant.)

Any thoughts? Your ideas are greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-27-2005, 04:54 PM   #2
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Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

have you checked your oil to make sure it is not leaking into the oil. if so the oil would be cloudy.
my van does the white smoke but it is caused by system running to lean. we had the heads and headgasket replace last summer. cause of the same problem you are having.

kevin
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Old 02-27-2005, 06:38 PM   #3
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Re: Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

Quote:
Originally Posted by e_t_phonehome
have you checked your oil to make sure it is not leaking into the oil. if so the oil would be cloudy.
I changed the oil last weekend. I cannot tell conclusively if it looks different than fresh oil. I always heard that if coolant was in the oil there would be white bubbles visible when checking the oil. True?
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Old 02-28-2005, 08:35 AM   #4
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no there won't be any bubbles that i know of oil will just look cloudy kind of like a milky color ( like the inside of a milky way candy bar, but tad lighter). i hope this helps.

e_t_phonehome
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Old 02-28-2005, 03:43 PM   #5
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Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

It may be a tiny bit cloudy... hard to tell with the little bit that is on the dipstick. Given the cloudy white exhaust and the how rough the engine was running, I'd guess the coolant was ending up in a cylinder. Is that possible?

The problem seems intermittent. It lasted one day, now seems to be running fine.
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Old 02-28-2005, 07:08 PM   #6
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Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

you know that is one thing i noticed about fords they just keep on running with any problem seems like anyways, we used to have a dodge caravan and had this problem and it quit running. but my ford windstar keeps on running and i have a ford tempo that leaks water into the motor someplace but not the heads and it is running and running. has over 200,000 miles on it to.

check your tailpipe and see if you have any water drops coming out of it (shouldn't have) if so you are getting water into the motor someplace. might just need head gaskets.

good luck

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Old 02-28-2005, 09:13 PM   #7
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Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

2 ways into the cylinder are common on the windstar 3.8L.
Head gasket, and lower intake manifold gaskets.....
If you have new head gaskets put in.....do the lower intake gaskets as well.
There are a lot of posts on here that you can read and find information....from people who have done the job.
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Old 03-02-2005, 02:26 PM   #8
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Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

Thanks for the help, guys. It is in for new head gaskets, manifold gaskets, etc. $1600. Ouch!

Funny: The mechanic (a one-man-shop) quoted me 12 hours of labor on the phone this morning (9am) and then said he thinks he can have it done today by quitting time!
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Old 03-02-2005, 09:03 PM   #9
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Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

They have found that it is better to quote longer.....and finish earlier.....better than going longer than what they say......
If they job goes well, they are heros....if they have a snag or so in the process.....delay in getting parts delivered, frozen bolts, etc.....they do not have to go back on their word.....
Scotty did that on Star Trek......"It should take 6 hours...but I'll have it for you in 3".
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Old 03-02-2005, 11:14 PM   #10
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When I experienced the exact same symptoms on my '96 with a 3.8L that you are describing, I found it to be a blown lower intake gasket. The break in the gasket allows coolant to enter a cylinder via the fuel-air mixture which is why it runs rough. I even got a CEL with a code for Bank 1 Too Lean because the O2 sensors are inhaling that white cloud of steam. It may even stall when backing up or when stopped at lights.

One other symptom that distinguish it from a blown head gasket is the intermittent nature you describe. The coolant will tend to leak into the cylinder after a period of non-use (e.g. - parked in drive overnight) and it will run rough when first restarted. But, after the engine gets warm, the coolant doesn't seem to leak fast enough and the car will seem to run OK.

When I pulled the plug on the affected cylinder, that plug was wet. I turned the engine over with the starter and plugs out and coolant blew out of the affected cylinder. On the '96, the design of the gasket pretty much dictated that the failure would be near the #1 or #4 cylinders (the ones closet to the "front" of the engine - near the passenger side wheel well).

I did the work myself and went ahead and changed the head gaskets and had the heads checked/machined as preventative maintenance. I spent a couple of hundred in parts and several days of my time.

Ask your mechanic to check for pitting in the aluminum lower intake and heads and correct it if possible. The pits are due to corrosion. In my case, I admit that I was negligent in not changing my coolant every two years as required. There was a post in another forum where a Ford dealer used an epoxy to fill the pits and prevented the need to completely replace the heads and lower intake.
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Old 03-03-2005, 05:07 PM   #11
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Re: '98 Windstar using coolant & blowing white smoke

Quote:
Originally Posted by Winny_the_Pooh
When I experienced the exact same symptoms on my '96 with a 3.8L that you are describing, I found it to be a blown lower intake gasket.
The mechanic says it is the head gasket in this case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Winny_the_Pooh
I did the work myself and went ahead and changed the head gaskets... I spent a couple of hundred in parts and several days of my time.
I so wish this is something I could tackle. $1600 is so much money. I always feel like I'm getting ripped off when the car goes to the mechanic. I think the only way to avoid that feeling is to do it yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Winny_the_Pooh
In my case, I admit that I was negligent in not changing my coolant every two years as required.
I am learning so much on this forum. Growing up my Daddy always said that the only preventative maintenance that cars needed was changing the oil. It was his belief that changing antifreeze or tranny oil only led to further problems. Before now I just figured that antifreeze changes and tranny oil changes were gravy for quick-lube places and dealers.
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:33 PM   #12
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Yep, right there with you. My dad always said "you can run 'em out of gas but you can never run 'em out of oil". So, I have always been diligent with my oil and filter changes. But, dad and I never owned a car with aluminum heads and intake manifolds before. When I finally drained my coolant to do the lower intake, it was just a rusty brown mess. Learned my lesson - will never happen again. Same with the tranny fluid - everyone on the forum says to change it regularly.
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