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Old 01-13-2007, 22:36   #1 (permalink)
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cool 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

As this is my first day here I hope the thread started here was not out of place.

I am the original owner of a 1987 GT Convertible with about 68000 miles. Maintenance on the car has been excellent and the temp gauge has never gone past the 9 o'clock position.

After the car has been warmed up and parked, it leaks at least 4 ounces of coolant. The amount it leaks goes down after the level of coolant has dropped in the radiator and very little if at all if the car has not been warmed up. The bottoms of all the coolant hoses (less than 1 year old) are dry. Neither the water pump (Replaced about 2 years ago) nor thermostat housing leak. I am not certain, but the leak does not appear to be coming from either of the head gaskets. There is no cross contamination between the oil and coolant. The leak is coming some where behind the alternator, but I cannot see where. My best guess would be the timing cover.

The questions I have regarding this are: Has anyone else had this problem? Is it common? What is the best way to go from where I am at? I am not much of a mechanic but I can remove and replace an alternator. I thank the stars this is a rear wheel drive car.

Any comments you could provide on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Rich.
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Old 01-14-2007, 16:25   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

This is a fun one. This is a very common problem with a 302 at least once in their life. It may likely be the timing cover as the timing cover shares a water jacket passage between the block and the water pump. You can usually spot this leak at the upper left or upper right of the timing cover. You may notice a white build up at or near the block and timing cover. If uncertian- take it in for a pressure test.This is not a difficult repair- but requires you to use a torque wrench and have very clean surfaces when putting it back together. It could take upwards of 3 hours to complete this repair depending on experience. Hope this helps in your search for the missing coolant!
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:39   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

Any possibility that you have a very small leak in the heater core. Coolant will then just drip out of the evaporator housing hose and would appear as just condensate from the A/C.
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Old 01-15-2007, 15:07   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

Good one Mikeh- something I had not thought of. If this is occuring- usually you will smell a sweet smell when the heater is on. Depending on your climate- it may fog over your windshield.
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Old 01-15-2007, 16:49   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

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Good one Mikeh- something I had not thought of. If this is occuring- usually you will smell a sweet smell when the heater is on. Depending on your climate- it may fog over your windshield.

Thanks, just trying to think of everything. I agree that one should be able to detect a coolant leak by odor. One note though, 4 ounces is only a little more than a teaspoon. Not very much and when mixed with water (condensate) and the color and odor may not be noticable. Most climate control systems now run the A/C as well as the heat with some sort of blending to control not only the temp but humidity as well. Pressure test should tell from where the fluid is leaking.
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Old 01-15-2007, 16:52   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

OOPS! My mistake, I should proof before posting. Four ounces is MORE than a teaspoon. However, mixed with condensate may still make it hard to detect by odor or color.
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:56   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

Thank you for the helpful comments. The coolant leak is definitely coming from the front part of the engine. I am currently in the process of replacing the timing chain cover gasket along with all the other ones that sit on top of it. The estimate of upwards of three hours depending upon experience in my opinion is a bit low. It has taken me about two hours just to scrape the old gasket material off.

The Chilton book I have recommends dropping the oil pan as part of the procedure for replacing the timing cover. The gasket kit I purchased recommends just cutting the exposed portion of the oil pan gasket off and provides the gasket material for that. Dropping the oil pan on this car involves, disconnecting the oil pump, dropping the steering assembly and jacking or lifting the engine up. After all that you have to remove all the gasket material. That is one job I am a bit tired of doing at this point.

As I see it and am soon going to find out, the two problems with leaving the pan in place are: one it is going to make it difficult to center the front seal on the crank and the other a good seal between the oil pan and timing cover might not be made. If the latter problem is all I have, I have lost nothing. If the front seal leaks, I will be back to square one and slightly upset with myself. I will let you know how it goes.

Rich
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Old 01-16-2007, 16:29   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

Rich,

You are right- 3 hours does NOT include an oil pan R&R. I have, on numerous occassions, replaced the front timming cover gaskets. You mentioned a problem with centering the cover. There is a year where Ford started using centering pins in the front timming cover on both sides to prevent an offset of the front oil seal- let's hope yours is one of them. If your 302 does not have the centering pins- you can use the oil pan bolts to draw it down slightly before sercuring the top bolts. If this is the case- install ALL the bolts in the holes prior to torquing any of them. I have never dropped the oil pan when accomplishing this repair. Please note that along with the sectioned cork gasket- I use some of the "Right Stuff" along the corners to seal where the three components meet up and along the front oil pan/cover seal. I have not had any oil leaks develop in these areas. As for cleaning the gasket off, 3M makes a drill mounted plastic abrasive wheel for alluminium. It is the color yellow. It works rather well and can shave off countless hours of scrapping. Check you local auto parts vendor for this tool. I would also like to point out that if your bottom oil pan gasket has a metal insert to the gasket- you can use a small chisel to create a cut/stamp in the metal. Then flexing it back and forth with a needle nose- you can make a nice clean break ready to accept the sectioned cork gaskets. With an air rachet and good tools- you can accomplish this job in about 3 hours- AND save your self a bunch of money in labor. The local dealership here will charge for all R/R- even if they don't do it. They consider it trade knowledge to do the job quicker. I worked at this dealership as Service Manager for 6 months and did not agree with there trade practices- so I left. Good luck to you- you can do it!
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Old 01-16-2007, 19:42   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1meanGT
Rich,

You are right- 3 hours does NOT include an oil pan R&R. I have, on numerous occassions, replaced the front timming cover gaskets. You mentioned a problem with centering the cover. There is a year where Ford started using centering pins in the front timming cover on both sides to prevent an offset of the front oil seal- let's hope yours is one of them. If your 302 does not have the centering pins- you can use the oil pan bolts to draw it down slightly before sercuring the top bolts. If this is the case- install ALL the bolts in the holes prior to torquing any of them. I have never dropped the oil pan when accomplishing this repair. Please note that along with the sectioned cork gasket- I use some of the "Right Stuff" along the corners to seal where the three components meet up and along the front oil pan/cover seal. I have not had any oil leaks develop in these areas. As for cleaning the gasket off, 3M makes a drill mounted plastic abrasive wheel for alluminium. It is the color yellow. It works rather well and can shave off countless hours of scrapping. Check you local auto parts vendor for this tool. I would also like to point out that if your bottom oil pan gasket has a metal insert to the gasket- you can use a small chisel to create a cut/stamp in the metal. Then flexing it back and forth with a needle nose- you can make a nice clean break ready to accept the sectioned cork gaskets. With an air rachet and good tools- you can accomplish this job in about 3 hours- AND save your self a bunch of money in labor. The local dealership here will charge for all R/R- even if they don't do it. They consider it trade knowledge to do the job quicker. I worked at this dealership as Service Manager for 6 months and did not agree with there trade practices- so I left. Good luck to you- you can do it!
One other trick on the 302 is to place the harmonic damper on the end of the crankshaft after temporarily positioning the timing cover so that the damper serves as a centering device and ensures that the crankshaft seal is centered on the shaft. I would slightly loosen the oil pan bolts so that the bottom seal on the timing cover would not be pushed out of place during the torquing of the timing cover bolts. Then use gasket sealant on the timing cover to oil pan interface and torque the oil pan bolts. Depending on the wear on the harmonic damper where the seal rides I would buy a sleeve that fits over the damper and provides a new surface for the seal to ride on. Don't forget to use plenty of gasket sealant on the damper before installing the sleeve. Look Ma, no leaks.
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Old 01-16-2007, 20:19   #10 (permalink)
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Re: 5.0 Coolant Leak Mystery

Thanks again for even more information. The job is now done and so far I have neither any coolant nor any oil leaks. You are correct in that my timing cover does have two alignment pins. Next time I have to do any gasket removal I will be using the tool you recommended. I did this job, and it was a big one, with razor blades, a paint scraper and a 3/8 inch wood chisel. When it comes to working on cars, some people move slowly, others at a glacial pace, and then there is my pace, geologic.
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