Coolant missing, but don't see any puddles.

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J Piroth

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So, I was adding some wiper fluid Sunday when I noticed that my coolant reservoir was low (ie- empty) in the holding tank. I had some pre-mixed coolant on hand so I dumped what I had in there which got it back up to where I could see it in the reservoir but not all the way back up to the cold fill line.



This morning (Tuesday, after driving the truck to work, lunch and home yesterday) I looked and the reservoir was empty again. I mixed some coolant & water 50/50 and filled up to the fill line. Planning to check again tonight and tomorrow to see if it keeps disappearing.



I've seen no puddles in my driveway or where I park at work, so I'm thinking maybe it only leaks under pressure? Any thoughts on what might be up?
 

Yardsale

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Maybe the lower thermostat housing or some other pesky leak that hits the block and evaporates.



<a href="http://bengrosser.com/howto/fordthermostat/" target="_blank">Replace the Upper & Lower Thermostat Housing on 4.0L</a>
 
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swshawaii

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^ Most common cooling system failure with the 4.0 SOHC. Use a flashlight and a small mirror to inspect the housing.
 
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Kurt DeVries

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I currently have the same symptoms. My issues seem to lie along the lines of a small radiator leak as well as the biggest culprit, a leaking timing chain cover gasket. Currently at the shop getting fixed and as long as they are in it that far, the water pump is being replaced as well because that annoying creature known by the name of Murphy always likes to show up!
 
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Robert Howell

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I had to do the thermostat housing twice on ours, last time I bought the aluminum one and suspect it will never need to be done again.

Check the intake manifold for puddles behind the thermostat housing
 

J Piroth

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Ok, so I added more coolant yesterday morning (reservoir was dry again) and now it seems to be holding steady as of this morning.



I looked all over the engine for signs of leaking or splattering, and found almost nothing. The only sign of a leak I saw was this small pool of what definitely looks like coolant around the post directly behind the thermostat housing. (PHOTO LINKED BELOW. Sorry it's huge, but I wanted to make sure you can see the little green puddle.) So my theory is this: There's been a tiny leak for a while now and the coolant level got lower and lower with time, but never hit a critically low level. Since I just happened to notice the empty reservoir by chance when refilling the wiper fluid, I think I caught it before anything more major could occur.



Question for those who've done it: Does this look like a typical thermostat housing leak? I read Yardsale's link to the replacement directions (thanks for the link), and it looks like something I can definitely handle, but I don't want to replace the wrong part if it's not the problem.



 
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Vic Sorlie

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You can find source of leak by doing a cooling system pressure check. Search YouTube for some videos. If you're getting white smoke from exhaust on cold start then you may have head gasket failure.
 
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J Piroth

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Ok, just bought all the parts at my local dealership and plan on doing the work this weekend.



Just a heads-up for anyone who might read this and tackle this project- Ford sells a "kit" containing all of the parts for this job. That kit sells for $490+. When we added all of the parts separately, it came to $225. (The only difference was that the kit included the clips and bolts, which I didn't get because the guy was sure I could reuse them here in our climate.)



Even the parts guy at the dealership thought that was nuts.



 

J Piroth

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Ok, post-project update:



1. HUGE thanks again to Yardsale for posting that project (and to Ben Grosser for writing it up in the first place). Made it possible for a relative novice like me to save some cash and pull this off.



2. This job is time consuming (took me about 5 hours), but not technically complicated. So if you're willing to get your hands dirty and have half a day to spare, I definitely recommend doing it vs. spending the extra $$ at a dealership or mechanic.



3. There are a couple of tools listed on the project that I never touched. So if you're looking to skip on purchasing/borrowing some tools, you don't really need:

- slip-lock pliers of any size (I just used regular or needle-nose pliers to squeeze hose clamps)

- torque wrench (I just hand-tightened the bolts, then snugged them up with a 8mm wrench. The only point of the torque wrench is to not crack the plastic housing. You're not torquing anything to spec.)

- 8mm deep socket (this was listed as optional, but I'm not even sure what it would help with)



4. On the flip side, DO NOT skip on the 8mm swivel socket (I actually used a 1/4" universal joint with an 8mm socket on it) or the various 1/4" drive extenders (though I didn't have a 12" extender, so got by with using the 6" and 3" together). It would be damn near impossible to reach a few of the bolts without these



5. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. DON'T buy the thermostat housing replacement "kit" from Ford for around $490. Instead, use the parts list included with the project, which ran me $225 at the dealership. I'm sure you could find the parts cheaper by searching around too, but I wanted mine quick and local since the leak was getting worse and I wanted to be able to return anything easily if it was wrong or unneeded. (I ended up using everything. The crack SEEMED to be between the upper and lower housing, but while I was in there I wanted to swap it all out so I didn't have to ever go back in again.)



6. When you start, your Trac may have a shroud under the front end that obscures the bottom of the radiator and has to be taken off before Step 1 can be accomplished. I looked around for 15-20 minutes trying to figure out where the drain nipple was...until I realized that it was under that shroud. 7 screws and less than 5 minutes later it was easy as pie.



7. In the project, it warns about the small plastic tabs under the bottom housing breaking off. Plan on that happening. I'm not sure how it wouldn't if your Trac is older. The plastic was very brittle and even being careful I broke off two of them and the third was dangling. I used the needle-nose pliers to grab one of them out of the engine and used the length of hose I used to drain the coolant on the end of my Shop Vac to suck out the other.



8. Have some carb cleaner handy to clean off your throttle body while you have it off. Mine was pretty gunky on the back side. A few sprays, a rag and a few q-tips and it's nice and shiny again.



9. Also have enough rags/paper towels to wipe up the gunk that's atop your engine from this leak. I still need to blast mine off with a hose, but I got a lot of it by poking around in there with a rag and wiping a lot of the green/black gunk up.



10. That's it. Take your time. This project isn't hard, but you're working in a very tight space so it all takes patience.



 

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