95 3.8 Losing Coolant

Discussion in '1994 - 1995 Specific Tech' started by Miss Buny, Oct 19, 2013.


  1. Miss Buny

    Miss Buny New Member

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    Hi, I need some advice about my cars coolant situation...I'm a newbie, so please, bear with me. I have a 95 3.8 v6 with 160k miles. When I bought the car, it had a t-stat housing leak. The car's temp also ran below halfway, only reaching the halfway mark in a traffic jam. So, the shop attempted to fix the leak, it took three times before it was barely leaking. Meanwhile, I had to keep topping off my radiator. Once the leak was fixed, I still had to top off the radiator. ( about 2 inches) The shop said I was being paranoid and that I should never check the radiator. Well, I bought a new cap, and the losing coolant problem was gone. Then I noticed coolant on the ground, it was my water pump. So, a friend of mine fixed the water pump and changed the thermostat.(he fixed the t stat housing leak on the first try!) He said there were bubbles in the radiator so he put stop leak in the car to fix the supposed head gasket problem. So, new thermostat and my car is running much warmer ( 3/4 to hot) than normal. Oh, and I had to get another new radiator cap. I took it to another shop because I didn't like the fact that it was running so hot. The new shop checked for hydrocarbons and there were none. But, my coolant temp sensor was shot and I had hot and cold spots in my radiator. So, they put in another new thermostat, and a radiator, and coolant sensor. They checked it twice for hydrocarbons (once before they changed the radiator, and once after) Also did a pressure test. All was fine. But, I am still having to top off the radiator. The shop also put on another new radiator cap. (I've been through 4 caps now) The car's temp now runs at halfway, sometimes a little more if I am in traffic, or going up hill, but never less than halfway once it gets there. Can someone tell me if that temp is normal? And where the heck is the coolant going? No visible leaks. Could it be air bubbles? Thanks
  2. toyman

    toyman Active Member

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    Since you are in the 5.0L section the response may not apply. However, if there is a coolant reservoir make certain it isn't being sucked dry as the engine cools and the fluid level is at or above the cold line on the reservoir at all times. If this is the problem add water to the reservoir vs. the rad cap. This will help to prevent air being drawn into the coolant system. Dash gauges aren't particularly accurate and that's why there is a "NORMAL" range so I wouldn't worry much about it's relative mid range position.
  3. Miss Buny

    Miss Buny New Member

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    Sorry for posting in the wrong place.... My reservoir is a little over full. But, today, I changed the cap to a ford cap, took it for a spin and popped the hood to make sure my cap fit. I smelled anti-freeze. Not strong. But the odor was there. So, I must have a leak somewhere.
  4. toyman

    toyman Active Member

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    Small leaks that evaporate before hitting the ground are common and hard to find. You need to do a cold pressure test on the cooling system. If there is a leak it will become evident during the test.
  5. sandman357

    sandman357 New Member

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    Hi,
    I am not an expert, but it could be your head gasket. I had a 3.8 in a 94 T-Bird that blew a head gasket and I did some research into it. I just got a 95 Mustang with the 3.8 and am "hyper aware" of symptoms that could point to head gasket problems. Here is a thread to check out that talks about some of this.
    http://www.stangnet.com/mustang-forums/threads/3-8-blowing-head-gaskets.529396/

    Here is another site that has 3 simple tests you can do to see if it is your head gasket. The first two tests you can do yourself with no tools. The last test would be one you may have to have your mechanic do. Even if up to this point your mechanic has ruled out head gasket, with the overheating that has happened recently, it could have caused it to fail. So your original symptoms may not have been due to a blown head gasket, but your current ones could be since the car was over heating a bit.
    http://troubleshootmyvehicle.com/ford/3.0L-3.8L/how-to-test-a-blown-head-gasket-1

    If it is the head gasket and you get it replaced, make sure you or your mechanic replaces the head bolts. Ford put out a service bulletin saying to replace the bolts as well as the gasket when making the repair. Here is a link to the service bulletin. The mustang is not listed on this one, but it was added later.
    http://www.autosafety.org/tsb9849.pdf

    Good luck!
  6. jozsefsz

    jozsefsz Active Member

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    +1 on possible head-gasket problem unfortunately. If it's not coming out of the engine, it's going out the tail-pipe, and it's way too common on a 3.8. It's also way too easy to clog a radiator trying to use the block-sealer gunk (which never works anyways), causing the car to overheat, and then blowing the head-gasket even if it wasn't blown before.
  7. Chythar

    Chythar Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the head gasket. I had he head gasket fail on my old 3.8 twice. After the second one, I dumped the engine and dropped in a 5.0. In my case, the leak let exhaust into my coolant, causing the coolant to overflow and the engine would overheat. I also had bubbles in my radiator. Fixing a head gasket by adding something into the coolant tank is at best a band-aid fix - you're going to have to replace the head gasket. Depending on where you live, you'll probably be out $1400 or so for the repair.
  8. Miss Buny

    Miss Buny New Member

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    Thanks for the help. I will take it back to the shop.
  9. rbohm

    rbohm Founding Member

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  10. Miss Buny

    Miss Buny New Member

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    Just an update.....Yes, it was the head gasket. The shop said it was such a small leak that it was hard to detect. But, it's getting fixed this week. My heads came back from the machine shop with no issues. Just resurfacing and new valve stem seals. (thank God). So, hopefully, my mustang will be running great for a long while. The shop also checked my timing chain. So, thank you all for the advice. It is an expensive fix. ($1660.00) but I will now have peace of mind!
  11. elarm1

    elarm1 Active Member

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    You sure it wasn't the intake manifold gasket? I must have change 5 of those in the last year or so because they tend to leak and cause all types of disruption
  12. Miss Buny

    Miss Buny New Member

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    Don't they replace that gasket with the head gasket repair?
  13. elarm1

    elarm1 Active Member

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    yes they have to but that would have been the first place ida checked. Glad you got it all worked out
  14. jozsefsz

    jozsefsz Active Member

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    If this was a '96 or above 3.8V6 this would absolutely have been the most likely thing thanks to those pathetic plastic lower intake gaskets with the embedded thin silicone seals that happen to melt when they contact oil. The '95 still used a traditional flat intake gasket so the possibility of that being the problem (vs. the incredibly common head gasket problem) is pretty slim. I'd wager all 5 that you changed were the faulty design?

    Happy for the op getting it sorted out. With an improved head gasket installed those 3.8's can go many hundreds of thousands of miles.
  15. Miss Buny

    Miss Buny New Member

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    Okay, well, it didn't all get sorted out. :( So, they did the head gasket repair, and all the stuff that goes with it. I was excited. When I got to the shop, I asked them to show me my full radiator...."no problem" said the Tech. And guess what? My radiator was NOT full. Two inches low, as usual. The Tech scratched his head in bewilderment. He pulled the car back into the bay. Now, they have done many pressure tests, and there is no exterior leak. They have changed the radiator, radiator cap, and head gaskets. So WTH??? Apparently the little hose that goes from the radiator to the overflow, or vise versa was shot. So, they changed that hose, free of charge, and problem solved. So, it took $2200.00 in repairs before they finally realized that I wasn't just some stupid female, and fixed the problem.

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