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Coolant/heat problems with Windstar van

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posted on Jan, 4 2009 @ 05:35 PM
Problems with 1996 Ford Windstar cooling system:

1. I added antifreeze - the container was empty. This in the middle of fall when the weather started getting chilly.

I parked the van in the garage, came out next day to see a large puddle of coolant under the van. I refilled it, and it still does the same thing.

2. The heat cycles between semi-warm and cold. It never gets what I would call hot.

While driving, the van does not overheat. The temp needle goes up to a certain point and then recedes, which tells me the thermostat is working.

Why would the coolant overflow? I didn't overfill it.

Any help/ideas is appreciated.

posted on Jan, 4 2009 @ 06:00 PM
Freeze Plug or bad hose some where.

posted on Jan, 4 2009 @ 06:47 PM
Its not overflowing, its leaking from somewhere.

THere can be a number of things going on here.

- Your rad can be craked along the plastic tanks along the side of the unit

- one of your rad hoses or pipes are leaking

- your water pump has began to leak

- your resevoir (if there is one) tank has began to leak

- your heater core has began to leak

- other than your thermostat you have a coolant tempurature sensor attached to your engine that sends the information to your gauge telling you how hot your engine really is.

** Some models evaporate coolant from their resevoir, this is usually caused by a cap that no longer seals it.

** You cant put JUST coolant in your system, it has to be mixed with distilled water at a 1:1 ratio of coolant to water UNLESS you are buying premixed coolant (more expensive) otherwise you are ruining your entire cooling system.

Also make sure you are running the recommended type of coolant for your vehicle.

Check for drips and leaks while the vehicle is cooling down about 5-10 mins after you shut it off, this is the best time because the sudden change in temperature causes it to leak more.

If you are unsure where to check buy a repair manual for your vehicle and it will list the parts and locations of the cooling system and is usually accompanied by pictures, they usually go for around 20-30 dollars, for example , This one

posted on Jan, 4 2009 @ 06:52 PM
reply to post by metaldemon2000


It does have a reservoir with an overflow hose. This is where I assumed it was leaking from.

I don't think it's the heater core because there are no odors, fog, steam inside.

I have heard of the problems with the plastic radiators.

Water pump, hoses, all good places to check.

Thanks for the pointers.

Edit to ask: can you elaborate on the dangers of adding pure antifreeze?

[edit on 4-1-2009 by jsobecky]

posted on Jan, 4 2009 @ 07:26 PM
On most vehicles the overflow tank also acts as the fill point so you dont have to open the rad cap. DO NOT ever attempt to fill or top p the engine while warm you can crack your engine block!

Adding pure antifreeze can cause your engine to overheat! This is bad for all your engine seals and also for the rubber and plastic components of your cooling system. Water is really good at dispersing heat but evaporates much quicker than coolant, and can also freeze in colder climates, hence the reason why it not used by itself.

In the summer i use a mixture of 60% water to 40% coolant, and since i live in a northern climate in winter i use a 50/50 mixture so it doesnt freeze. I also drain my system twice a year in order to make the ratio changes. My car is designed for GM Dexcool only (the red stuff), yours is probably standard green coolant.

posted on Jan, 4 2009 @ 07:32 PM
reply to post by metaldemon2000

The more I think of it, a 'leak' seems the problem. But I see no steam! Anyway, i'll check it out tomorrow in the daylight.


posted on Jan, 5 2009 @ 05:23 AM
look for stains around any suspect leaks. (usually a similar colour to your coolant)

sometimes they drip on other components, leaving a trail back to the leak point.

you can get some products that will fix the leak temporarily but your really just best off finding it first time.

posted on Jan, 7 2009 @ 03:00 PM
Update: Yesterday was in the mid 30's. I filled the reservoir with 50-50, drove about an hour, and parked it.

Not one drop leaked out.

Maybe it was the improper mixture (yes, I had put in pure antifreeze earlier)?

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