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Hey folks, long time no post. Not that I post often... I've noticed my coolant becoming a bit rusty and low. I'd gone into a general repair shop and the guy immediately warned me that it would start a lot of issues to do a coolant flush because my car is so old (96). It's almost as if he was persuading me not to have the work done. I walked out. I'd like to do it myself but no experience or workspace to do it in. I'm not even certain my radiator is stock, really. Was there much truth to his claim? What's the worst that could happen if I'd gone through with it?
 

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He's full of ****.

I'd find another shop to work on my car, if I were you.

Flushing the coolant should be done every 3 years at the longest, or it starts eating stuff, like aluminum.

Put the car on stands, drop the lower radiator hose loose at the radiator, and drain all you can get out.
Coolant is hazardous, so it has to be disposed of properly.
Ask at the parts store where to get rid of it.

A five gallon bucket will work for draining it, IIRC. Two worst case. :)

Then dunk a garden hose in the top, and let it run for a couple of hours, lol.
Seriously, you want to flush as much crap out as you can, in all directions.
I take all the hoses off, and run water thru them both directions.

A new thermostat is a good idea FYI, a 180 degree thermostat doesn't help unless it's changed in the tune.

This would be a good time to replace the upper and lower hoses, they're 20+ years old, and not that expensive.



If you decide to do the heater hoses, be really careful not to damage the heater core; I'd cut them off carefully.
Take them to Advanced auto, and compare the ones they have on the rack in the back; they have the hoses, but you have to cut off an extra bend in one, and the other one
needs to be modded with a knife too.

I recommend Prestone; buy a gallon, put that in, and fill the rest up with distilled water.
 

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Transmission flushes can be dicey on cars with high miles and infrequent fluid changes, but not coolant, if there’s an issue a flush will create, it’s going to become an issue regardless, a garden hose isn’t coming close to the pressure and heat of the operating system. It sounds like your mechanic is mixing up disclaimers.
 

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Rusty, or just frothy in the overflow bottle? It's typical to have a little crud floating in the overflow bottle. It's the highest point, and once some crud gets there, it can't circulate back.

Al
 

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So, I've been going through some fun cooling system work for a while now. A few years ago the heater core started leaking on my 1995 4.6 car. It was very minor and I think it had leaked for a while before growing to the point where the leak was sufficient to begin interfering with the automatic temperature control system for the interior fan. In case you're wondering, it would leak on the fan speed control box and would cause it to intermittently work at best. Mostly it would just not work at all. I bypassed it for a while and then finally took everything apart and replaced it. I have plenty of thoughts on that, but that isn't what you're asking about. Once the bypass was done, the fan worked again perfectly, btw.

After I put it all back together I also replaced the radiator which also had a small leak and ran the prestone flush treatment through the car before swapping it. I drove with the flush fluid in and water for about a week before continuing. I continued to flush and flush and flush it until I got relatively clear output. I can't recall for sure but I believe I flushed one final time after a few days/week or something and that is when I got the darker fluid again in the rightmost jar below. Hopefully the picture will show properly. You can see that the leftmost jar is terrible and by #7 it was getting basically clear.

One thing I didn't do enough was clean the recovery tank behind the battery. I tried to get everything out of it but couldn't without removing it and I didn't commit at that time to doing so. Not sure how much gunk ultimately broke loose from it and circulated but that might have contributed to the next stage I'll mention. Others above say none can but I have no idea.

Fast forward 1 year later to this week and my new carquest radiator (yeah I know most/all of them suck) is leaking from the drivers side tank. Still very slow but enough to have to add occasionally. I was still not getting proper heat and replaced the thermostat which was truly stuck in a slightly open state. So I decided to replace the thermostat and radiator. While apart, I took the recovery tank off and cleaned it out as best as I could with soap and water and old toothbrushes. I got it pretty clean but one of the compartments isn't really accessible and therefore was only cleaned by agitation.

All of that to tell you that even after all my flushing, the coolant came out 1 year later with a green tint but definitely still brownish. It might even be more brown than green, it varies by the lighting. I may go take a picture so you can see it. There is definitely rust buildup in the block and throughout and it is just about impossible to get it all out. Only standard things I have not replaced at this part are the various radiator hoses which do have a hard rust coating within one of them (top I have seen, others may also) which is definitely contributing but it is the same amount today as it was a year ago, so I'm just ignoring that.

Moral of the story is, if you're considering doing any of it:
1. Know you're going to be at the flushing for a while - hours or days if you run the flush through like I did.
2. Anything you consider doing and are on the fence, just go ahead and do it. For me this ended up as: Radiator, Heater Core, Temperature Switch (gauge sending unit), Thermostat, Coolant
3. Know you might still be disappointed a year later if you look closely at the coolant again.
4. Doing the flush is worth doing and won't hurt anything. It might make you realize some other things need done, but won't in itself hurt anything. I have to assume my thermostat failure was related to the poor state of my coolant.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them.

37792
 

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I'd check the gasket on the oil filter adapter.

Only overheated coolant turns brown.

Old non-oil fouled coolant stays green. But gets corrosive.

Our oil systems have enough oil pressure to infiltrate the coolant at the interface, and turn the coolant brown.

I've done those gaskets multiple times on the cars, every 10 years at a max.

Lazarus is on his third gasket; every time the fluid turns brown and I think I've blown a headgasket, I do the oil filter adapter, and change the fluid, and it's fine.
 

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I attributed it to just being more sediment and crap in the system. I've replaced the oil filter adapter gasket 4 or 5 years ago so I'm hoping that is not the issue. I did not particularly enjoy changing it! If it returns to a brown color, I suppose I'll change it again!

Thanks for the insight.
Willum
 

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If it's not boiling over, and turns brown, it's not the coolant.
 

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Hey Vicinity,

When one of my heater core hoses blew out on my '95 4.6, after seeing that I wasn't going to do a very good job bending a straight hose into an S without kinking it, I was happy to see it was available on rockauto. I also bought one of those special hose clamp tools, which didn't make the job easy, just maybe a little easier with those clamps next to the firewall.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well I just checked the coolant color, and I'm surprised how green it is. (Attached) I could have sworn that I checked on it, and it was uncomfortably orange. I even double checked the forums that our stuff is green because the color had me second guessing. Perhaps my initial check was just skimming the top layer, where as todays check went down a bit further (as T6Rocket indicates). That must be the only explanation, right? I might be jumping to conclusions on the urgency of this maintenance, let's keep this discussion going a little as it may benefit others in the future. I appreciate all the insight thats been posted, I've still got a lot to learn. Do we have an exploded diagram of coolant systems, or are they about as typical as any car?

Grog,
If he's full of it, this will be the second time in a row I've nearly been had. You're saying the Rockauto parts don't need the modification that Advanced parts would? I don't know anything about getting a thermostat or what the standard tstat rating is.
There's an adaptor for the oil filter?
XR7,
Yes, transmission guy tried to convince me a few years ago the tran wanted to die when we drained it. Its been fine...
T6Rocket,
No froth.
Willum,
Other than the coolant being low, I don't see indication that theres a leak any place. Perhaps I've improperly sealed the cap and some water escaped. Since I might have a false alarm about my coolant condition, it might be good practice to simply drain it soon and rest a little easier. I read 40k miles is the time to consider a flush?
Jim3,
How did you come to realize you lost a heater core hose?

37793
Over 160k miles on the bird that I'll never know the stories of. The only service record I have suggests there was an engine misfire in 2005 that fixed itself when the shop checked on it. (classic literature lol)

37794

Much love, Tccoa
 

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I'd check the gasket on the oil filter adapter.

Only overheated coolant turns brown.
Let's add "only overheated coolant, or coolant in a system with insufficient anti-rust and with an air leak, turns brown". Brownish-red anyway. I've drained systems that were very, VERY rusty; they're a brownish red color until they turn red.

RwP
 

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Rockauto parts are made like the oem parts; Advanced auto's rack covers as many cars as possible, so "some modification may be required".

You should change the coolant every three years; that's based on the length of time the additives last; the basic ethylene glycol will last forever.
But the gasses that dissolve in will become acidic over time, without the additives.
The only moving part in our cooling systems are the water pump and the level indicator, if you have that option. The water pumps bushings will love fresh coolant, and most last over 200k miles.

Boiled coolant turns brown; I think it's by design. If it's still green, it has not boiled.
I had a Subaru that boiled coolant like crazy; the radiator was too small for my driving style, lol.

You should ditch that mechanic; he's confusing problems.
If a transmission is on it's last legs, changing the transmission fluid will cause it not to engage; the junk and particles in the fluid is all that's making it work at that point, it will have to be rebuilt.
The guy in your town that handles the Crown Vic cop cars is going to be your best bet on finding a mechanic.

Yes, there's a oil filter adapter on the side of the engine that holds the oil filter. There are different designs for different cars ford put these engines in.
There's a gasket behind it, and every time I thought I'd blown a headgasket, this gasket was leaking, allowing 100psi oil into the 20psi coolant.

Assuming you have an auto transmission :) , you should look into doing the J-mod, adding a cooler, and changing the fluid every 30k miles; your transmission will last a lot longer.
Also, use the button on the shifter to avoid 4th gear while you're in town; the 3-4 and 4-3 shift adds the most heat.
 

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I am surprised about all these coolant issues. On my 95, which I have had since 97, I dump all I can get out of the system and fill with 50/50 Prestone about every 3 years. The coolant is always green and I have had no coolant issues. Still running the original water pump.
 

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The lube places I called said their coolant is manufactured in portland and is hybrid and 'universal'. Thats about all they could say, I might skip that. I'm going to give the flush a shot myself. There is a company that will let me borrow their lift and garage, my apartments ban vehicle servicing and have destroyed their water spouts.
I saw the 'chrisfix' video with a bmw and looks simple enough for me to do. I like the distilled water method as I dont have access to a hose. Grog6's post was very informative but I dont think I will be able to do a as thorough of a service this year until I get more resources and familiarity with the process. Are there any additional tutorials hiding about, in these forums? Do we know what the capacity is for the coolant system? Grog6 recommends 1 gallon of Prestone, and the rest with water. This is a 2 gallon gig?
 

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2 1/4 gallons is about how much comes out, maybe a little more. If you're draining the radiator, you can put a skinny rubber hose on the spout coming off the side and direct it in a bucket. Have to check the size. Without a hose on there, some of the coolant runs all along the frame and is basically a total mess. Removing the lower hose from the rad gives you another little surge of coolant, and a little more of a mess, lol!

Al
 

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Making progress boys! The lower hose did not want to come off; as Im charged hourly for the space, I plan to keep it on. The thermostat bolts did not want to come off either until we sprayed them. I think they'll come off now. I have a 95 degree thermostat (motorad) and a 92 degree thermo from motorcraft. I plan to use the motorcraft if I can get finally get to it.
As I've read, chemical flush might be risky but its in there tonight with some water as I ran out of time to complete the flush. I think the air is burped now. Id like to go back tomorrow and drain it again once or twice & finally add the prestone, but as luck would have it I suddenly have a project due tomorrow for work.

Oddly enough, on the ride back home I put my hazard lights on and the car stalled from a voltage drop. This felt like an issue I had a few years back, so I'm not crying yet. Im guessing its pushback from when I temporarily moved the battery to get the coolant reservoir out for a spray.
37960
 

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V - sorry just now seeing your followon question to me. The failed hose was streaming coolant. Must have finally burst a pinhole from all the times I bent it working items by the firewall. - Jim
 

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The heater hoses always get overlooked. If you feel the radiator hoses need replaced, then the heater hoses also need replaced. It's the same rubber, the same age.

Al
 
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