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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, 1997, 4.6, 155,000 miles on it.

I'm going to have to open it up and take it apart either way, but I'd like your experienced guesses.

About two months ago, I noticed the car would idle rough and sputter when I first turned it on to go to work. It would do that for a few blocks. It never did that before no matter how cold the engine was. It felt like it was trying to swallow too much fuel or air, etc. It ran nomal after it warmed up. About a week or two after that I noticed the radiator's overflow container was lacking about two inches of anti-freeze, so I filled it. I wondered how the level could drop so much since I last checked it. A week or two after that, I had to refill the coolant again. It was then that it hit me that I was losing coolant somewhere internally since it wasn't visibly leaking anywhere outside the engine. Long story short, a flashlight confirmed that the valley is green, as in coolant green.

I replaced the intake (with your guidance) manifold about three years ago almost to the month, so is that most likely the culprit, or would you lean toward head gasket? Any other tests I can take to give me some better idea?

Thank you.
 

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Sounds like the coolant valley tube may be leaking from the nipple or the gasket by the coolant passage..
I honestly never knew someone who blew a HG on their 4.6 ..
 

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... About a week or two after that I noticed the radiator's overflow container was lacking about two inches of anti-freeze, so I filled it. I wondered how the level could drop so much since I last checked it. A week or two after that, I had to refill the coolant again. It was then that it hit me that I was losing coolant somewhere internally since it wasn't visibly leaking anywhere outside the engine. Long story short, a flashlight confirmed that the valley is green, as in coolant green.

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If it's the intake, there will be coolant in the spark plug wells.

Every time I think I've blown a headgasket, it's been the oil filter adapter gasket; it leaks oil into the water, and blows the coolant out the overflow.

If you have oil in the water, that's most likely it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So bottom line is that it appears that it is the plastic manifold at fault, right?

I'll check the boots and the coolant in the reservoir to see what I come up with.

I thought the reason it was sluggish in the morning was due to the thermostat keeping all the water in the block until it warmed up, thus allowing more water to get through to the area where it was affecting the air/fuel mix somehow.

Thank you all. Please keep the tips coming. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Grog6: I changed that oil filter adapter gasket about a year ago right after I got the transmission replaced. It was leaking oil from the sender, or so we thought, but upon further inspection, it was the gasket that was leaking. That has been solid since then.

I'll look at it this weekend when I have the weekend free. You said it can blow coolant "out the overflow". What overflow is by the "valley"? You lost me there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What does throw me off is that u said ya had the manifold off 3 years ago, did ya not put in new gaskets at that time?.....if ya did, u may be dealing with a manifold issue...................
I did replace it with new gaskets, but I don't remember what brand of intake I actually bought. I was warned by some here that certain brands did not last very long.

I can see water getting into the valley from a defective leaking manifold or gasket, but if it is leaking into a spark plug shoot, how is coolant getting there? Refresh my memory as to how that manifold is designed or what's going on.

I'll look at it this weekend.

I also want to change the spark plugs on my 2001 F-150, which I dread after seeing those rear (4 and 8) spark plug locations. Yikes!
 

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Okay, 1997, 4.6, 155,000 miles on it.

I'm going to have to open it up and take it apart either way, but I'd like your experienced guesses.

About two months ago, I noticed the car would idle rough and sputter when I first turned it on to go to work. It would do that for a few blocks. It never did that before no matter how cold the engine was. It felt like it was trying to swallow too much fuel or air, etc. It ran nomal after it warmed up. About a week or two after that I noticed the radiator's overflow container was lacking about two inches of anti-freeze, so I filled it. I wondered how the level could drop so much since I last checked it. A week or two after that, I had to refill the coolant again. It was then that it hit me that I was losing coolant somewhere internally since it wasn't visibly leaking anywhere outside the engine. Long story short, a flashlight confirmed that the valley is green, as in coolant green.

I replaced the intake (with your guidance) manifold about three years ago almost to the month, so is that most likely the culprit, or would you lean toward head gasket? Any other tests I can take to give me some better idea?

Thank you.

if there is no antifreeze on the dip stick it most likely is the tube running under the intake which is great because the valley is closed off and wont wreck the engine.

check your dipstick ,if it is not slimey pull the intake off and replace the heater core tube as someone else has referred to if it is leaking. if not that the manifold is cracked, the coolent sensor in the manifold wont take a reading unless in contact with the fluid which would richen it up if it thinks its cold and take timing away. the rough idle is the symptom of low cooling fluid.
 

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Okay, so I turned it on tonight (More so to keep the battery charged) after work before I ran out of daylight and ran it for about 20 minutes and got nothing EXCEPT for some "shiny-shiny" around where the manifold makes contact to the heads near the seven and eight spark plug boots. I removed all the boots on the driver's side and all appeared to be in good shape with no wet signs of coolant, as were the tunnels down to the spark plugs. All bone dry. No coolant materialized in the "valley" during those 20 minutes I had it idling. Also, the oil appears fine, as does the coolant in the reservoir.

Should I have just driven it instead where it is pushed a lot more than idling? Thoughts, anyone?
 

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Okay, so I turned it on tonight (More so to keep the battery charged) after work before I ran out of daylight and ran it for about 20 minutes and got nothing EXCEPT for some "shiny-shiny" around where the manifold makes contact to the heads near the seven and eight spark plug boots. I removed all the boots on the driver's side and all appeared to be in good shape with no wet signs of coolant, as were the tunnels down to the spark plugs. All bone dry. No coolant materialized in the "valley" during those 20 minutes I had it idling. Also, the oil appears fine, as does the coolant in the reservoir.

Should I have just driven it instead where it is pushed a lot more than idling? Thoughts, anyone?
Honestly..i would....try and replicate the problem doing the same thing and chase it down..
Mine didn't leak till I beat on it a little..just be safe and keep a close eye and ear on everything .
Get it home and give it a once over very well and while your at it why not run a pressure test since you need to pull the plugs and check them..just don't assume the worse , you could be looking over something as simple as a stuck thermostat. Not saying it is but I would 1st do a pressure test if thats all good i would next pull the manifold, new gaskets and inspect the manifold very well, new thermostat ,check the valley tube isn't leaking,new plugs so you can get a good look at them and see a lot better at what's going on if you have to remove them again..
 

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...

Every time I think I've blown a headgasket, it's been the oil filter adapter gasket; it leaks oil into the water, and blows the coolant out the overflow.

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When you run it hard it will lose oil pressure into the coolant, making the coolant dirty.

It also pressurizes the coolant system, as it runs ~50-100psi at higher rpms, and will blow coolant out the overflow.

Also, once the overflow valve opens, the coolant flash boils, and even more blows out.

I've seen this on two cars so far, and Lazarus has done it twice.

The key symptom is the oil in the water; I've never seen it go the other way.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Okay, I finally ran it this morning (after sitting for two weeks) to a diner about four miles away which was a freeway drive, returned, and that "shiny-shiny" is more pronounced around the areas I described upstream. It's near the number 8 plug flat area where the manifold rests near where the spark boot comes to seat. In fact, one could see the coolant slowly rising upward on the manifold and also to the rear of the manifold near the firewall. I fashioned a couple of q-tips together to make sure it was coolant, and yep, it wiped up. It's obviously leaking there.

Observations:

I realize it was only four miles there and four miles back, but I experienced no sputtering this time during warm up this time (I did let it warm up a couple of minutes), and the engine never got to the operating temperature it normally runs at (about two-thirds up the gauge).

No coolant in "valley".

Okay, we can probably attribute the lack of coolant in the valley this time to such a short drive, but where was the sputtering?

No coolant on the #8 spark plug boot or shute. Dry.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Decided to drive the car again and "push it" in terms of heating it up, and sure enough the leak is near the firewall on the drivers side. I'm going to have to remove the intake manifold and see what's going on. I won't be able to do anything until I return from Las Vegas on the 12th. Okay, a couple of questions:

* What's the best manifold out there to purchase today in case it is the manifold and not a gasket?

* Is my original theory correct in assigning the stumbling and hesitation when the engine is cold to the cylinders taking in coolant, too much air, or both? After all, there is a leak in a sealed system.

Thanks again for all your help, guys.
 

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Decided to drive the car again and "push it" in terms of heating it up, and sure enough the leak is near the firewall on the drivers side. I'm going to have to remove the intake manifold and see what's going on. I won't be able to do anything until I return from Las Vegas on the 12th. Okay, a couple of questions:

* What's the best manifold out there to purchase today in case it is the manifold and not a gasket?

* Is my original theory correct in assigning the stumbling and hesitation when the engine is cold to the cylinders taking in coolant, too much air, or both? After all, there is a leak in a sealed system.

Thanks again for all your help, guys.
Ford pi intake..imo
 
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