Coolant leaks

ford
explorer

#1

2008 Ford Explorer, v-6, 140,000 miles. Went on a long trip. When we pulled into our driveway I smelled antifreeze. Checked it and it was indeed low. I filled it and checked it the next day and was low again. Took it to the local chain shop and it had blown the thermostat housing AND the water pump was leaking at the weep hole. got it home and the vehicle was not coming up to temperature. Carried it back and it was just a bad thermostat. Got it fixed at no charge this time. Got it home and smelled antifreeze. after some checking discovered the radiator was cracked. Carried it back and got it fixed only to smell antifreeze when I got home. Now there is fluid in the intake area. Other than finding a new shop, what would cause ALL these issues at the same time. To my knowledge, the car has never been run hot. Could it be building too much pressure? Any information would be appreciated.


#2

Have you checked the level of your antifreeze since all the work (engine cold, take radiator cap off). I had to replace the housing on mine, and there was a vast amount of antifreeze spilled behind it in the intake area - had to use a little stepladder to see, and it took a lot of effort to wipe it all out. Did you look at that area before? It could have still been there and when the engine warms up you’ll smell it.


#3

I would recommend that you have a different shop (NOT a chain-run operation) check for the presence of combustion gases in the coolant. They can do this with their emissions “sniffer”.

If they do find evidence of combustion gas in the coolant, then it would appear that you have a breach in either one of the head gaskets, or perhaps in an intake manifold gasket.


#4

Yes, we cleaned it well and check it hourly. It is physically still leaking


#5

Leaking with the engine off?
That plastic housing has 3 bolts that can easily be overtightened (something like 76-85 INCH pounds)-maybe cracked the housing again.
Other than checking/replacing the radiator cap with an OEM, just in case it is rated too high, I would go with @VDCdriver’s advice. And I agree, a small owner-operated shop can sometimes give better and more personal service than a chain run shop.


#6

Agree with VDC but not maintaining the coolant can also cause a degrading of all these systems. Coolant needs to be replaced from time to time. Otherwise though pressure from a head gasket can cause problems like this too.


#7

Also, fixing one leak will cause the pressure to increase and the next weak link will pop. I replaced the radiator and hoses on my uncle’s old truck and then the heater core sprung a leak.


#8

Over-pressure in the cooling system damaged the metal thermostat housing? Then you discover the radiator is cracked too? And the water pump is leaking? To me that sounds like a head gasket problem should be the first suspect. Shops have relatively simple checks for that. That’s probably the next step. There’s some slight chance the problem isn’t the head gasket, but that radiator cap has failed and isn’t releasing pressure like it should. You’ll have had to lived the life of a saint for it to be that though … lol …


#9

Except for the water pump all the parts damaged were plastic.


#10

The water pump and thermostat housing seeping coolant were easy observations and probably not the major leak in the system. Under-filling the cooling system caused you to return for an unnecessary second thermostat replacement.

The coolant in the valley is probably spilled from the repairs. Fill the cooling system yourself and monitor the level. Don’t ask for someone to search for a failed head without a valid symptom, they may condemn the head gaskets even if there is no problem.


#11

George, look at a Dorman 902860 for a picture of it. Has a plastic upper and lower housing.
I replaced this on mine-had to re-replace the thermostat within a weeks time. The little rubber gasket on the bottom did not impress me much; if those metal bolts were overtightened, I can see that gasket failing pretty easily.
OP, is it leaking with the engine off?
Get a mirror on a stick at any parts store (pocket sized if you have large pockets, extendable, flexible) and try to see just where the leak is. That housing has a seam between the upper and lower, the gasket on bottom, an O ring on the temperature sensor, and three hoses hooked to it.


#12

Maybe already mentioned above, but with these symptoms OP should also verify the radiator fan(s) are running when they should. My Corolla blew a hole in its radiator one time b/c the rad fan stopped working in stop and go traffic.