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Do vehicles get in trouble for smoking unknown chemicals after the age of 18?

I had an exciting time tonight taking the radiator out of our 1995 Windstar.

The mechanics quote this as a 3-hour job. I had read online that many amateurs had done it in less, but some took a little more. I took a lot more.

Granted I wasn’t working with full earnest on the job the whole 6-1/2 hours, but this is the length of time it took me. I wish I had begun before 2:30.

Did I mention this was just to get the radiator out? I don’t even pick up the replacement until tomorrow. OK, now for the fun part: part of the removal calls for disconnecting several “quick connect/disconnect” lines that apparently Ford loves to put in their engines. Or at least they did in the 90’s. And nowhere in the instructions to use the quick disconnect tool did I see any other warnings. (Cue ominous music).

One of these “quick disconnect” lines was met with a “quick disappearance from the scene” by the pre-amateur mechanic. For probably 30-45 seconds, a cold high-pressure released itself with a modest amount of greenish liquid. After running around the corner, realizing that I didn’t need to go change and I hadn’t lost any body parts to frostbite, I reapproached the wires, still losing pressure but not nearly at the vigorous rate with which it began. The shop light was laying on the ground about 10 feet from the van and a couple tools had been randomly strewn in my near-death escape.

My question is, though: what was this? What did I do? How did I not see this coming? Was this just radiator fluid under high pressure? Do I have to do anything special to restore this pressure when I reconnect the hoses tomorrow night? OK, it was 5 questions and not 1.

And I realize I could probably do some research and find out the details of what I did, but I could not think of a more apropos place to vet the story and get some feedback.

Perplexed on the Pacific

For some reason you disconnected an air conditioning line which (if the A/C was functional) was probably under pressure of 75-100 psi. Lucky you didn’t hurt yourself. Also the refrigerant isn’t particularly healthy to inhale. The yellow/green residue you saw was the ultraviolet dye in the system (used for leak detection) that’s now all over everything.

So once you get it back together you won’t have a working A/C system anymore.

Let us know what kind of adventure you have putting this thing back together. And be a little more careful, huh?

You may have depressurized the AC system. The cooling system doesn’t have quick disconnect looking fittings. Although many radiators have the automatic tranny fluid cooled through a partitioned-off portion of the radiator, so you might have drained your tranny.

It might also be that the fluid had a greenish tint because the radiator was breeched between the tranny fluid portion and the coolant portion and the fluids were mixing. You didn’t say why you’re changing the radiator, but I think I can guess why.

The smart thing to do is get a manual and start over. And be sure you flush out and refill that tranny too…with the proper fluid. If I’m right and the tranny fluid and coolant were mixing, you need the flush to save your tranny.

And, by the way, buy the correct tools for those flared fittings that look like quick disconnects.

The radiator itself is cracked. This was the only such repair I have made, and I doubt there was a breech. But I’ll be sure to check. And it sounds like a tranny flush is in order now, too. Perfect Christmas vacation project.

As for the A/C system, this would just need a service visit to get recharged/repressurized, right?

For what it’s worth, I am not quite sure how I would have managed to take out the radiator without actually disconnecting this line.

You could not. That’s one of the downsides of having the coolant radiator and the tranny cooler built into the same unit. It’s cheaper to manufacture and to install, but they do tend to breech between the two units, and when that happens or when one part leaks you have no choice but to disconnect both.

The good news is that if you haven’t experienced any try problems you’ve very likely caught it in time. You may, at this time, hold your head up high. Service the tranny and you should have many more trouble free miles.

OK - and as for reservicing the AC – are we talking a $100-$150 trip or something bigger?

You’re probably looking at an amount like that for a basic recharge of the A/C system; give or take, depending upon the facility.

I would advise that in the future you be very careful around A/C lines. A few seconds of discharged refrigerant can cause frostbite and permanent numbness in the fingers, instant blindness, etc.

I’m A/C proficient and in a moment of carelessness a few years ago got a refrigerant blast to the tip of my right index finger. That brief shot left the finger throbbing for several days and to this day the fingertip is numb.

Thanks, @ok4450. I have learned my lesson, and the more I thought about it last night the more I realized how fortunate I was. I was not wearing gloves or eye protection at the time (dumb dumb dumb). Glad to know the damage to the vehicle isn’t worse, too.