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1997 ford taurus overheating while idle

I have a 97 ford taurus that when it is at idle (either in driver or park) it over heats. But if you give it some gas and the rpms get up to over 2300 the temp starts dropping immidiatly down to where it should be. Also the heater in teh car stoped working not sure if the problems are connected.

I would start by checking the water pump. Also check for a soft radiator hose.

I’ll bet the problems are connected. Have you checked the coolant level in the radiator? Is it full?

The radiator is full, but the water is a dirty brown, i have drained and refilled it but the after a few more days the coolant turned from the green back to the dirty brown.

Sounds like all the rust in your coolant has eaten away the impeller (the “fins”) in the water pump that make the coolant circulate. No coolant circulation means no heat in the car and no heat exchange at the radiator.

If in fact this is the issue then you can expect more trouble after the water pump replacement as the now proper coolant flow begins to take its toll on all the other parts that are already weakened and worn from the rust.

Check out this thread you will find a old service bulletin that pertains to the brown coolant problem.

97 Ford Taurus was over heating after the mechanic supposedly fixed the heater and flushed the system, note that there was no over heating before this trip to the shop. A couple of days later its over heating got up to almost as hot as it can get. The curious thing is that when it would idle and was hot I could revve the engine and the temp would cool some. I parked the car until the finances were available to fix it. 3 different shops have checked it and told us three different things wrong, needless to say we felt lost for who to trust with it, so we are doing what we can first. Changed thermostat and flushed the system and it was full of chunks and rust, so that flush they done didn’t do much to clean it, that is if they actually did it. Changed the water pump and the impelers were almost none existant and now the car can make a trip one way open road 70 mph and not get hot but then slow to a stop or turn or even just to exit the hwy and it pushes the water out through the expansion tank and then overheats, we give it time to cool fill the water again and can go a long distance again but upon slowing it heats up again. Its like its building pressure that has nowhere to go when the car is slowing. We have taken the hose where the thermostat is off and filled the radiator that way since the expansion tank is the only access we have and it takes so long to get it cool enough to fill it that way, you can tell that it is filling the motor as well because water will start to come out and then we put the hose back on , top the expansion tank off and away we go again till we need to stop and have to do this all over again. ??? What’s going on? Can anyone tell us please?


As your car has overheated several times you need to have a compression test and leakdown test run. You may have a blown head gasket, and/or a warped head - the car, not you :slight_smile: The tests will verify whether serious damage has been done. The first thing that happens when you shut down a motor is the fluid stops moving (duh!), but it also heats up pretty drastically for a few minutes, and then has to cool down. Normally, there’s sufficient coolant to handle that heat-up. There’s no telling whether yours has survived all those expansion/contraction states.

Depending on the condition inside the motor, you may get rusty bits for days/weeks to come. I would also say that it’s likely there’s at least some blockage in the radiator at this point, too. You may or may not be able to clean or flush it all out, and may have to replace that at some point soon.

You should also have a pressure test done, and they can test both the cooling system, and the cap. The radiator cap is cheap, and if you haven’t replaced that yet, you might want to now.

And, check out the link above that americar posted.


Your heater core may be clogged not allowing constant cooling flow through the engine. Does your car have the bypass kit installed per the service bulletin? I am guessing the head gasket is bad. At this point this car will be a nightmare because the damage to the cooling system is irreversible, it maybe time to move on.

When I click on the link that americar posted it just takes me to the email and chat menu.

When your car overheats at idle are your cooling fans running? It could have started as a bad fan relay. Now that you have had all this overheating I absoulutely would have a pressure test done and if it passes that I would check for a clogged radiator.

I am just guessing , but you haven’t changed the coolant on any regular schedule, right?

That link corresponds to the old forum address for the discussion. I searched for it, and this is the text of a post by americar from March:

If you go to this link and download the Brown coolant PDF file on the first post you will get the TSB #01-11-16