'00 Ford Ranger XLT Idling & Overheating Problem

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  #1  
Old 10-14-08, 05:24 PM
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'00 Ford Ranger XLT Idling & Overheating Problem

Truck: 2000 Ford Ranger XLT 4x4 4.0L with 120,000 miles

For the past couple days the check gage light was popping on and going off a few seconds later. It was mostly happening while goin up or down hills. I thought this light was only for the gas gage and didn't pay any attention since I had a full tank and thought the sensor to be faulty. This morning while going to work I put on the heat with the defrosters and noticed the check gage light go on again while going down a hill. Then I saw the temperature gage was on H. As I leveled off the truck on a flat road the gage dropped below the H line and the light went off. It came on and off periodically during the 20 minute drive to work and I noticed that hot air was not coming out of the vents. When I got to work there was a minor amount of steam coming out from under the hood. I let it cool down for a few hours and opened the radiator cap and began to pour water into it. It took nearly 7 liters before it was full. I just filled the radiator with water two weeks ago. During my lunch hour I drove about 7 minutes to an autozone and picked up some antifreeze and a thermostat. During that trip and the one back to my office I did not have a problem. The needle stayed in the middle of the gage. On the way home the gage stayed constant but I did notice that the truck seemed to putter a bit. I didn't seem to drive smoothly. When I got to the big hill where my adventure started in the morning, I didn't seem to have enough power as normal so I stepped on the gas which made the truck jump to speed instead of glide and the temperature needle climbed to H again. as the road leveled off so did the gage a bit but it still seemed to jump around. When I came to the stop sign the truck seemed to want to stall out. Two minutes later I was home with the temp gage at 3/4 and the truck not sounding so smooth as it was idling in park. I then put it in drive with my foot on the brake to test it and as I sat there the truck seemed to putter and jump and want to stall out.

Well if you made it this far I commend and thank you. I'm not sure what it is and if I can fix it myself. Times are tough and money is tight so I'd like to remedy this porblem myself with some of your help if possible. So with that said PLEASE HELP. Much appreciation in advance.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-14-08, 05:44 PM
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Possible blown head gasket. How does the oil look and are you getting any sweet smell at the exhaust? Any signs of external coolant leak?

Wouldn't hurt for starters to swing into AutoZone again and have them scan for codes to see what comes up that caused the check engine light to come on.
 
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Old 10-15-08, 06:12 AM
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UPDATE: This morning's trip to the office was rather uneventful. I started up the truck 5 minutes before I left and put the defroster on to battle the heavy dew on the windshield. When I got in the truck, there wasn't much of a change with the due and there was cool air coming out of the vents even though I had the dial turned with the heat to max. AS I began my trip the temp gage was on C. It jumped to the middle of the gage when I slowed to make a turn about 3 minutes down the road. It stayed there the rest of the trip. The vent turned warm for a couple seconds on and off but there wasn't a steady stream of haot air ever. Also the truck wasn't smooth idling but was as jumpy as last night whn I was stopped at a traffic light.

I still have the new thermostat and I'm thinking installing may fix this problem. Any other thoughts?

Also, to answer the question above, the oil is maybe half a quart low and towards the end of it's life but still semi clean and there must be a small leak somewhere in the cooling system since I need to fill it once a month but I haven't actually investigated thoroughly to find it.
 
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Old 10-15-08, 08:55 AM
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You have some air in the cooling system from it being run low on coolant.

I would be interested to see what codes come up when you have time to get it scanned.

Wouldn't hurt to pull the spark plugs for a look-see. If one or more of the center porcelains are nice and white, like they were steam cleaned, also a head gasket indication.

Moving this to the Truck forum, also.
 
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Old 10-15-08, 09:36 AM
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Should I install the new thermostat?

Do I need to do anything to get the air out of the system or will it work itself out?

Lastly and most importantly, is it safe to drive in it's current condition?
 
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Old 10-15-08, 03:00 PM
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New thermostat wouldn't hurt, but I suspect the problem may be a bit more involved. Air won't usually work itself out. My cure is to park the vehicle on a steep uphill incline with the engine cold. Car ramps work well if you have them. Remove the radiator cap and run engine until thermostat opens (top hose gets hot, coolant flow observed in the radiator). While waiting for the thermostat to open you will get some overflow from the expanding coolant as it warms; ignore that. When the thermostat opens the level in the radiator should drop and the system should "burp". Top off the radiator and immediately install the cap. You should do this AFTER doing the thermostat.

Safe to drive? Probably, but I wouldn't venture too far from home or too late at night. Probably a good idea to have the number for a local tow company on hand, too.

Still stop by AutoZone and get a code reading.
 
  #7  
Old 11-03-08, 03:50 PM
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more than likely you've got a blown head gasket,warped or a cracked head, by what you've described i'd guess that the headgasket went,then it overheated and warped the heads,
more diagnosis is necessary,the codes that you get will likely relate to the oxygen sensors, but i would not spend any money on that route untill you make sure you arent losing coolant into the cylinders, you should be able to remove the plugs and check for coolant,the plugs will be white and flaky, you can also get the engine hot, quickly remove the plugs and crank the engine to see if you can get an antifreeze smell from the cylinders, but from what you've said,its pretty much a foregone conclusion that you are going to be into some cylinder head work
 
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