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Hey, Im asking this here, simply because there is a wealth of mechanics knowledge here. I am working on a friends 2001 ford windstar 3.8 v6(I know, just take it out back and shoot it)

He has been experiencing coolant loss, the coolant temp gauge reading warm, and sludge on the radiator cap. no water in the oil..yet.

The first thing I did when it showed up was use my "block tester"(similar to below) and the fluid turned immediately yellow

Block Tester | AutoZone.com

Is everyone/anyone here familiar with "block testers"? they are used to test for combustion gasses in the coolant, to look for HG leaks, etc. You use them by /resevior from the radiator thru the filter and blue fluid, if combustion gasses are present, the fluid turns green/yellow.

The next thing I did was hook up my coolant system pressure tester, when brought to system pressure the intake manifold began leaking from all four corners, quite heavily.

I have seen this intake leaking cause the sludge on the rad cap from oil contaminating the coolant before.

So here we know at least the intake gaskets need redone, and by block tester is turning green... but has anyone ever seen a block tester misidentify oil contaminated coolant as combustion gasses(hg leak)? Im not to sure how that blue fluid works, but it doesn't seem to far a stretch that it could turn green from oil vapors from contaminated coolant. anyone have any info on this magic blue goo?

Next I removed all the plugs and prepared for a compression test, and what do find? the 4th cylinder ground electrode is missing, broken off right at the elbow.

All cylinders read 150psi, except for cylinder 4 which read 100psi, I then dropped some oil into the cylinder and ran the test again, and got 130psi, so now we know the rings/cylinder wall is damaged. and possible cyl 4 head gasket leak.

My plan is to do a leak down test tomorrow, but if the rings/cylinder is worn on #4 AND it had a HG leak, will it hiss thru the dipstick AND bubble out the coolant? or will it take the path of least resistance and just hiss out the dipstick?

Id hate to do the intake gaskets and related parts, only to find it all has to some apart to do the HGs.

any thoughts/advice/pointers/tricks?

Thanks guys.


:bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown::bowdown:
 

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1989 560SL
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2,062 Posts
Well I do have some experience with Ford 3.8 iron block / aluminum head engines. My supercoupe has one with a ported supercharger. Headgaskets go in a heartbeat with mine. With a normal NA engine they do live quite a bit longer. But each time mine has gone never has oil mixed with coolant, but has blown out the coolant system itself. The intake gaskets are know to be weak for these engines, but I would guess if it has heated up one time or two then a headgasket has moved and leaking, I would bet on it.

If you want to talk give me a call.
 

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Always Remembered RIP
1979 280sl 4 sp w/ac 1957 MGA 1998 volvo xc/70 2004 F150
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6,050 Posts
^^ Agreed, the head gaskets are a known weak point on that motor.
 

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1993 600SL, 1973 450 SL,1982 380SL,1998 SLK 230, 1968 Firebird, 2001 Dodge Ram 4x4,2005 Ford Escape
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5,247 Posts
The head gasket blew on the ex's 1996 ish Windstar. There was a campaign by ford. The van was not under warranty. Ford reimbursed me $ 1,600.00. This was in early 2000ish. The bad thing is that the head gasket can leak into a cylinder and the ethylene glycol roaches the cylinder walls. At the same exact time, the head gasket went in my 1986 Lincoln town car. Ford 302 v8. I replaced that head gasket too. Scored cylinder always burned oil and fouled the plug after that. I sold it! If you have a roached cylinder, you'd better look for a good takeout. Rebuilding will cost more than the van is worth.
 

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1972 350SL 148,000 miles
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7,104 Posts
what would it take to replace a tranny on one of those? A GY swap you think? My Dad -just- sent me this email
advice pls my 98 f0rd windstar which i have had no prob with from 72k to 185k [miles] just blew a right front bearing and spindle [repaired $400] and simultaneously i was doing 40 at the bottom of a hill and when i tried to speed up to go up the hill my rpms fell to 500-1000 as it tried to down shift it made a noise like braaaaaaaa not loud i pulled over and shifted manually to low and that worked and then to 2nd then drv since then three more similar episodes mech says sounds like big tranny prob any ideas bout rebuilt or used from ur neighborhood
 
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