1996 Explorer loosing coolant??

Old 09-29-08, 12:10 PM
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1996 Explorer loosing coolant??

1996 Ford Explorer is loosing coolant. No obvious visual leak. Suspect that it could be head gasket but would like other peoples opinion on possibilities that it could be. I am not an auto mechanic but would like to know something before I have someone else work on it.

The vehicle has a 5.0 liter V8 engine with about 200K on it. Thanks for any responses ahead of time.
Old 09-29-08, 12:32 PM
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most of the time if you have a head gasket leak you will have white smoke comeing from the exhaust along with a sweet smell. ask for a pressure test, look at the coolant overflow tank to see if the hose between it and the engine is leaking or cracked, check the radiator cap to see if it is showing wear on the gasket. all of these could be a cause of coolant loss. a pressure test with a competent technition is your best chance of a correct fix.

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Old 09-29-08, 03:34 PM
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As the leak, through the gasket, or a crack (either of which causes coolant to get into the combustion chamber), gets worse and worse, it will start showing signs of which cylinder it lies at, because if you pull your plugs and inspect them, the bad cylinder will have the plug start cleaning itself so it looks new. It is literally being "steam cleaned".

And as the problem continues to progress, the cooler coolant flying at the plug can cause the hot insulator inside to crack. When that happens, sporadic misfiring can occur as the spark pathway no longer has to jump the electrode and simply jumps by the crack.

And as the problem worsens even more in time, so much coolant can flood the combustion chamber that the engine locks up and can't be rotated until you pull that plug or possibly a second adjacent plug, and rotate the engine first, to clear out the coolant. This can occur at first after say you were driving and then shut off the engine for a bit, (perhaps while going into a store for a short bit), and then came out to restart it. The coolant leaks in at some given small rate, where maybe it would not lock the engine while driving, at this stage, but would leak in enough to fill the combustion chamber enough while it sat parked. Since coolant or water cannot be compressed, it locks the engine.
Old 09-29-08, 03:46 PM
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Kmeyer301, It is uncommon for head gaskets to go on 5.0L's. Two common things that I see leak are the water control valve, which is located on the passenger side connected to the heater hoses to the heater core. It leaks out the shaft. Also I have seen the heads crack. Look on the passenger side head, through the fender well, in between the spark plugs. sometimes there is only a trace of white residue, which is coolant.
Old 09-29-08, 04:39 PM
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one of the most common problems for this engine in any application is that the intake bolts rot out, I would not be suprised if this was your problem.
good luck

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