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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 93 Sable that has been a very good car but I am concerned about a coolant question. A little over a week ago coming home from church the temperature gauge went very high on the car. I thought it was a stuck thermostat. I drove it all last week problem free until Friday when the temp. gauge went very high again.

On Saturday, I checked the radiator and it was low I filled it up with water and anti-freeze. I checked it yesterday and it was low again below the filler neck but not as low as Saturday. I checked today and again low, about like yesterday. I am not driving the car any great distance maybe 5 total miles today. I look I can't see any leaks.

I can supply more info if needed. Please give me your opinions.
 

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Other than looking for obvious leaks, Is the water in the overflow tank blackish or have bubbles in it, when the radiator is full and the engine is running? Does the exhaust smell sweet? Check the engine and transmission oil levels. Look at the oil filler plug and see if it has whiteish slime on the inside of it. All things you don't want to find. Ford radiators have a habit of rotting out on the inside and will swap fluid with the automatic transmission.

Sometimes a bad radiator cap can cause a loss of fluid.
 

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Check under the oil filler cap and look at the dipstick. Trace of coolant? Oil level increasing on the dipstick? Smell down in the oil filler. Coolant has a definite unique odor.

Look under the radiator cap and in the overflow tank for traces of oil.

Have someone watch the tailpipe when you start it. If you get whitish smoke in the exhaust, you're getting coolant in a cylinder. Whitish smoke in the exhaust when the engine's hot, you're getting coolant in a cylinder. Smell the exhaust, it'll smell different if your burning coolant.

That coolant is going somewhere. If you're sure there is no leak, then about the only place it can leak is into the oil pan or inside a cylinder. A blown head gasket / leaking intake gasket will allow that to happen.

Look again for external leaks and hope for a bad hose / radiator / heater core. External leaks are a relatively cheap fix. Internal leaks may be expensive.
 

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Go to your service shop and have them check the radiator cap. Then have then pressurize the radiator and look for leaks. If there is a leak the gage will go down. Then they just have to find the leak. This is a free service at the shop I go to. You might ask before you have them check anything.

Also...is your coolent overflow container staying the same....or is it empty?Ray
 

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Are you running the a/c? Is the cooling fan coming on? When is starts to overheat stop and see if the electric cooling fan is running. The fan should also always work when the a/c is turned on. If it overheats due to cooling fan inop it will usually blow the coolant out. Jackie B.
 

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If it is a 3.8 Liter, have them check for blown head gaskets. The 3.8 is notorious for that. If the temp guage reads low or not at all, the coolant may be very low. As long as you are getting a reading, you probably still have coolant. There is a chance of having a bad thermostat, but they seem to outlast the head gaskets.

If it's a 3.0 liter, it's less likely to be head gaskets. In any event, you need to find where the coolant is going. You can use a flourescent dye to trace any leaks. Looking for coolant in the crankcase, transmission, or externally is a good start. I've seen where the plastic tanks on the radiator will leak during engine warm up and stop when it gets up to temp. It's the seal between the tank and the core. It may be able to be repaired, but replacement is a better option.
 

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Had a similar problem on a 97 Sable w/3.0. I checked all the other usual culprits in the head gaskets etc.

Turned out the water pump was going bad (impeller was rotted away)and caused the overheating, which in turn caused the fluid to boil out of the radiator.

Before I figured it out it also caused a small split on the bottom of the overflow tank that was hard to locate, which expedited the draw down.

What color is the coolant? If it is a rusty brown, look at replacing the water pump.
 

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trapdady

Are you sure you had a third generation sable with a 3.8? It would probably be worth some serious money if it was original and a North American Market vehicle. They didn't offer the Essex 3.8 option in that model year. Reason? Bad head gaskets. They decontented this engine from the Taurus/Sable lineup after the second Generation vehicles. (1995 MY)

The water pump cavitation issue you described began to affect vehicles in the 1996 model year. The impeller would eventually disintegrate and the pump would lose it's ability to pump coolant. That was not a real issue with the 1993 MY 3.8l. First indicator of a third generation water pump cavitation issue is rusty/muddy coolant and overheating due to low coolant flow. There is a TSB published to cover the issue with a fix. It covered the Vulcan and Duratec 3.0 liters to some extent.

My first thought on a 1st/2nd generation 3.8 liter would be head gaskets. Ask any Ford Technician from that era. They can usually get them done in record time, due to the practice they had doing them. Local dealer had about one of them come in every day while they were at their peak.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the info guys, if it turns out to be the head gasket, is there anyway to tell how much time it has? Can I still drive it on my 35 mile round trip to work and back?
 

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If it turns out to be head gaskets, I would park it until it is fixed or disposed of. You can do way more damage by driving it than it would likely be worth. If it is losing that much coolant through the head gaskets, it is already done. You can consider doing the job yourself if you are mechanically inclined. One caution is not to clean the head and block surfaces with any power polishers or abrasive gasket removers. The surfaces need a certain amount of "roughness" (microfinish) to retain the gasket and if the surfaces are "polished", the problem will recur shortly. There are newer designs of the gaskets as well. They had been redesigned at least twice.
 

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Probably a 3.8 and if so, I really don't have any good news for you what so ever. Perhaps the worst engine Ford ever made. As quack shot noted, probably the head gaskets/heads.

Good luck.
 
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