Ford Taurus Coolant Loss

I had the heater core replaced last August. Had interior smell + loss of coolant.

I went out to check the coolant yesterday and found the reservoir empty. I filled it and wondering if I should bring it into mechanic or just monitor for a couple of weeks. Maybe flush the system now or wait? I will pull an oil sample and send it in to check for water/coolant but that will be a couple of weeks to come back.

It’s my daughters daily driver to and from college.

Thanks in advance,


Please Give The Year, Miles, And Engine Size, In Case It Helps Somebody With Advice.

Some vehicles have vehicle specific ailments.

Your right. Not enough coffee this morning.

It’s a 2001, 3.0L V6, with 129,000 miles.
My daughter drive about 45 miles a day round trip. Not important to my question, but the car does warm up.

No Such Thing As Too Much Morning Coffee!

The fact that it’s warming up is a good thing.

I would not flush it until you figure out where the coolant is going, waste of coolant. Just refill it and watch. Try it when it will be sitting for a few hours so you can spot a cracked reservoir. Then start it up and let it idle for a while after warming up to see if you spot anything. You should not be losing any coolant.

Is this the first time the coolant was checked since the repair? If it is then perhaps there was air in the system and it has worked its way out lowering the amount in the reservoir, or it was not completely refilled and needed to cycle through the hot engine a couple times? If it has been checked since the repair and was full then these items probably wont matter.

probably still some air in thesystem, when COLD open the radiator cap and fill to top, then fill the reservoir bottle to proper level and make sure teh hoses are attached to the lid of the bottle and to the radiator. After running the engine to normal operating temps, then examine reservoir after cooldown and see if it pulls the coolant back into the engine. Some radiator caps are not the correct fit if the radiator has been replaced and make sure the pressure rating is correct

Thanks for all the replies. I’m also going to park it on some cardboard to help determine where or if it’s actually leaking.

This car has a pressurized resivoir tank with the pressure cap on top. These plastic resivoir tanks can develop cracks, and leak antifreeze under pressure. Sense the locaition of the resivoir tank is close to the fresh air intake by to the windshield the smell can enter the cabin. This can be easily be mis-diagnosed as a bad heater core.

A TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) Says These Cars Like To “Eat” Heater Cores.

However, Thermogapher says it was replaced in August when coolant was smelled in the cabin area. It’s not too likely this one is bad (but stranger things have happened). I don’t think Thermographer is smelling any coolant at this time, just noticing low coolant level.

Make this one more vote for this being a case of air that was trapped in the heater core after its replacement. As to these cars “eating” heater cores, I can tell you that the earlier Tauruses were very prone to rotted out heater cores. However, once they are replaced, they are usually good for at least another 5 or 6 years. Unless the OP got a defective heater core, I doubt that this part needs to be replaced again this soon.

If the “trapped air” theory does not prove to be the cause of the problem, then my next best guess would be that the pressurized overflow tank has a split seam. A very small split on the bottom of the tank might not have been noticed so far.

Edited to add:
If anyone recalls the VW Bug, circa 1963, the windshield washer fluid tank was pressurized by a hose connected to the spare tire. Yes, it was a really stupid idea.

After using the WW a few times, the spare was really low on air, and on a VW, with its sometimes quirky handling, one low tire could be a real problem. So, what solution did many VW drivers come up with? They would inflate the spare several pounds more than the specified pressure, thus allowing more WW uses before the spare was too low on air. The result, however, was that the plastic WW fluid tank would split a seam.

Yes, I know that the Taurus cooling system carries far less pressure than was put into those VW WW fluid tanks, but the principle is the same, namely expecting a part made of semi-flexible plastic to be able to withstand high pressure. After a while, a split seam is frequently the result.

I Agree With VDC. Make It One More Vote.

We’ll see how the cardboard test goes.

I took it out for a drive to get it heated up and pressurized before parking on the cordboard, and sure enough, I could get a whiff of coolent every so often.

Cardboard test didn’t show anything, so I took off the reservoir tank for a look-see. There appears to be a crack in the plastic, you can see it with the dark outline about 2 inches long.

My daughters and bf are headed out now to get a new one. I’ll keep and eye on it and monitor more closely from now on.

Thanks for all the great replies!

Glad we could help ( :

BTW, I would at this time drain out all the coolant and replace with new.

Hi all, same smell in cabin area, same problem of losing coolant and headed off for about a $450 bill to take the dashboard off and have the heater core checked, maybe replaced again and the coolant hoses replaced.

Inspected the coolant tank, did the cordboard test and cannot for the life of me find a leak.

In the last few months, I have had the shocks replaces, the brakes checked, new tires, so it would be hard to get rid of the car as it drives and handles very well.

The car is up to 148,000 miles now.
Cheers, Kevin