2002 Ford Escape V6 Oil Cooler Leak

So, driving over Donner Summit, I was in one car and my wife was in the Escape. She calls me to ask why the alternator light is on.


So I pulled into a gas station, waited for her, and look at the dash… It’s a low-coolant light. Whew.

So, the car has a coolant leak somewhere. I figure it’s probably the water pump.

Went out this week and had it at idle to look for a leak. Could not find one. Hoses, degas tank, water pump, heater hoses, radiator… All fine.

But then I got underneath it, and there’s way more oil than I expected. This car has never leaked or used oil. It goes down 1/2 a quart between changes.

Looks like it’s leaking around the filter, so I attempted to tighten it. No dice.

The only thing I can figure is the oil cooler has a small crack somewhere that is allowing oil and coolant to leak out. So far, there’s no oil in the water or water in the oil.

Does this diagnosis make sense? Are these components a known problem? How much/how hard (Alldata says 1.2 hours).

Is there something else I should consider?

It uses about 1 pint of water per 100 miles. Oil loss is still very low.

I’m having a hard time picturing this setup but does this model Escape use an oil filter flange, one on which the filter is mounted and has several hose fittings?

If so, look closely and see if there’s an approx. 1/8" thick fiber gasket between the filter adapter and the engine itself. If there is a gasket like this that could be the problem.
Some Crown Vics and Lincolns use a hard fiber gasket with rubber inserts. With age, the rubber crushes down and quits sealing. This leads to oil or coolant leaks, mixing of the two, etc.

IF that is the case you may have to hit the dealer up for the gasket but they’re not that expensive (15 give or take) and generally not too hard to change out.
If the oil pressure sending unit is in that area that’s also something that is prone to leaking with age. You might clean it thoroughly and watch it while the engine is idling to see if a drip develops. Age and the onset of cold weather can do them in. Hope that helps.

Thanks for your response.

From what I’ve read at another forum, any such gasket isn’t separately available. But I haven’t looked.

This is one of those pancake coolers; two hose connections, and it goes between the block and the filter.

Given the design of those coolers, it’s almost impossible that it is the source of both your oil and coolant leaks, without major mixing of oil and coolant. I think that it is likely that you have two separate problems. An oil leak at the oil filter, and a coolant leak somewhere else. Your 2002 is at the right age to expect that tiny cracks may have formed in some of the plastic cooling systems parts. The leak(s) will be hard to see.

You don’t begin an entire paragraph, nor most sentences, with the word SO.

Not a common problem at this Ford dealer.

The very best way to find a leak is to CLEAN the area well first.
Then as the leak begins again you’ll see where it is.
The gasket 'tween the cooler and the block is just an oil filter o-ring. Though not sold separately, take an o-ring from a used oil filter.
Also check the seams of your oil filter for leaks.

Yeah, it’s a Fram, so that’s probably the first thing to check.

I also checked on the price of the factory cooler. $366. Yikes.

(Sorry about my style. It was late, I wasn’t thorough enough…).

I can get an after-market one, still a pancake style, for about $130. The kit includes the hoses, fittings, the pancake, and a little radiator through which the oil circulates. Obviously a little engineering involved, but in general, are those any good?

The water pump sounds a little squeaky to me. Honestly, that’s the first thing my ear was drawn to. Maybe it’s just a leaky filter and a bad pump (2 hours, $50)? Obviously the more desirable problem.

But why wouldn’t I see moisture in that general vicinity?

Oh, and thanks. I gotta say that too.

Well, I fixed the oil leak. It really wasn’t much of a leak – it never got to the point where I had to add oil between changes.

I didn’t have the oil filter on as tight as I should have. So, it wasn’t the Fram or the cooler; it was my error.

Now, on to the water leak.

Thanks for everyone’s help.