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Windstar Coolant Problem
02-05-2007, 11:26 PM
Post: #1
Windstar Coolant Problem
We have a '96 Ford Windstar w/3.8L AT. We went through a very persistent cold spell lately and about 10 days into continuous below freezing temps our Windstar began to behave strangely. I first noticed some coolant smell and related smoke coming from the front passenger side at a stoplight. Upon inspection I could not trace the source. Hoses are all good. A little soapy water showed no leaks. No trace of leakage on the ground either after driving or overnight. Top hose is nice and firm, yet spongy when warmed up, but when this first began the van would not warm up normally, which I first attributed to the unusually cold weather. But the heater would not get hot unless driving, and when stopped at a light would go cold again. Also, the temp guage when driving would fluctuate abnormally until the fan would kick on and return to normal temp. range.

Fans are working properly. Thermostat was working properly (I replaced anyway and now have a spare). A new radiator cap was added, and the problem persisted.

Water pump, right? It's been doing this steadily for almost 6 weeks now, we topped off with a proper coolant mix and it fixes temporarily (10 days give or take) and then it begins slowly all over again.

I've never heard of coolant being "burned" like this, and there is no trace of a leak anywhere that I can find either on the motor or on the ground (and I have spent a good couple of hours searching from above and beneath).

Also, no trace of heater core leakage--no condensation on the windshield; no wetness on the floorboards, etc.

A tough, but failing water pump? A disintegrating head gasket? We're moving cross-country in a few months and I really need to get this fixed before something "bad" happens.
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02-06-2007, 03:40 PM
Post: #2
RE: Windstar Coolant Problem
I've seen this before. It is possable head gaskets but I would try one thing first. The problem I have seen is air trapped in the system somewere. I would first make sure the thermostat you put in has a air bleed hole in it. If you are not sure take it back out and look. The Motorcraft thermostat has one. Then elevate the front on the van so that the radiator cap is the highest point in the cooling system. Then let the van sit and run with the radiator cap off till the cooling fans come on and off several times. There is a special funnel that attaches to the radiator cap neck so that as the coolant level rises and lowers it will not spill over. Below is a picture. Let us know how it goes.

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Cary Joe York
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