For the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed my 1998 Ford Windstar starting rough, off and on. The RPMs weren’t steady and the van would stall if I didn’t keep my foot on the gas but then the next time it would start up perfectly. A few days ago I noticed the heater was not working. Then Xmas eve it began not exhilarating properly, being very sluggish stalling twice on the road while my foot was on the gas. I opened the hood and found parts of the engine wet with dirty looking liquid (we think oil/coolant) and small puddle on the ground. I checked the dip stick and found the level to be unusually high. We towed the van home and it has not been started since. We think it’s a blown head gasket but from the videos/pictures on line have water coming out of the tail pipe. Please tell me your thoughts. Thank you.
What did the oil look like besides being unusually high? Was it muddy or did it have the consistency of a chocolate milkshake? Have you checked the coolant level? If so, was it OK, and what did the coolant look like? Did the vehicle ever overheat?
I think these engines are known for head gasket trouble, and it’s quite possible that this is your problem, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. Although it’s quite possible to have a head gasket problem without water/steam coming out of your exhaust. (keep in mind that in cold weather, some steam is normal too) I’d have it towed to a mechanic and checked out.
Too Bad The Van’s Not As Exhilarating As It Once Was. I’ll Bet The Acceleration Is Suffering, Too.
A bad head gasket can leak compression, oil, and / or coolant. The coolant can leak into the comustion chamber or possibly the intake manifold and come out the tailpipe as steam. However, it could also leak into an oil gallery and go into the engine’s crankcase and mix with and overfill the oil. A bad head could do this, also.
A bad gasket on an itake manifold could be the problem, instead. It will add coolant to the fuel / air mix and possibly wind up in the crankcase oil.
Anyhow, it will need to be properly diagnosed. Any running with coolant diluted oil is doing more damage to the engine. If you go anywhere with it to have it fixed, I don’t advise driving it there.
Make Sure The Upper Radiator Hose Hasn’t Worn Through By Rubbing On The Battery Tray, A Common 98 Windstar Problem.
Ford revised the hose by including a protective sleeve on the replacement hose or a sleeve that goes over the existing hose. Your 13 to 14 year-old van may or may not have the sleeve.
This doesn’t explain the unusually high oil level, though, just the coolant on the engine and ground and low coolant.