1999 Taurus - Radiator leak, need new engine??? - Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board
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Old 04-13-2008, 04:42 PM
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1999 Taurus - Radiator leak, need new engine???

Yesterday I smelled coolant and saw water and antifreeze all over the parking lot under my Taurus. We went straight to shop where I was told it was the plug on the back of the motor and the engine would need to be pulled and the plug hole tapped and plug replaced. It's definitely leaking out the back. The mechanic suggested that I replace the engine because of the mileage (123k) and there may be other reasons the plug failed, such as bad heads, etc, and if I spend a fortune fixing the plug I may still have the original problem that caused it to fail. This shop doesn't do the repair, so he doesn't have anything to gain by telling me that, but it seems extreme.

I've read on this site that you can replace the plug with expandable plugs and that it may require removing the engine or transmission to access it. I'm wondering, though, is there a possiblity that there is a bigger problem or is it more likely the typical rust issue associated with these cars and replacing the plug and flushing should do the trick. I have to be very prudent as this is my only vehicle for a family of four and some greedy corporate types recently sent my job to India. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Old 04-13-2008, 04:50 PM
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Well I think if you replace the plug ,that it ought to go another 120 plus thousand miles without leaking....that is if the motor lasts that long. The thing to remember is ....you have a lot of miles on it now and if you fix the leak you still have a high mile engine and at its age ( almost 10 years)...anything could happen not only with the engine but everything else on the car. It may be time to trade vehicles.
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:41 PM
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Where is the coolant leaking from at the back? Is it dripping out of the torque converter cover, or back by the firewall? I don't recall ever seeing freeze plugs in the rear of one of those engines, between the transmission and block. I could be wrong since it has been 8 years since I have pulled one out. I also have never heard of having to tap a hole a freeze plug came out of.
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:32 PM
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Beware!

If this is the Vulcan (iron head) 3.0 I have seen many problems pertaining, but not limited to;
cylinder head cracking, internal rusting through of the 'freeze' plugs, rotting away of the water pump impeller (just a flat disk left), and other problems associated with coolant loss. The bottom end of the motors (bearings) seemed to be in good order for any I have torn down. At your mileage, if proper maintenance schedules were applied, the crank and cam ought to spec at or near factory, maybe spot on. Bearings at this mileage have all appeared in a 'new' condition. The loss of any coolant though, seems to have a drastic affect on the cylinder heads, rings and pistons. The heads are just weak, and crack prone. The only plug on the back of the motor, IIRC, is the one at the cam tunnel, a special dealer item sized plug about $10, not included in any 'kit'. I do not remember any coolant plugs there (engine 'back') - unless you are meaning the rear bank of the engine. No matter. If you have driven this vehicle with coolant loss, I would suspect you will have issues soon, if not already with the heads. This engine (speaking of the iron head Vulcan) seems a durable unit provided there are no cooling problems. I have seen many run over 250k miles, while others seem to make just over the 100k mark. If you plan on keeping the car, pull the motor and go through it. They are an easy build and relatively inexpensive. If you're going to get rid of it, do a patch job. I happen to have one good iron head for this type engine. Sorry for the book and eyestrain - just trying to cover what I have seen plague one of these. I'd check to be sure exactly where this leak is coming from before proceeding any further - it does not require any teardown to do this.
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:45 PM
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As Stroke stated, there are problems with these engines, and confirmed my thought of no freeze plugs between the engine and transmission. We need to know exactly where the leak is coming from, and if the engine missed or does it miss now. It is very possible you do not need a complete rebuild right now if it did not get that hot. If it runs smooth and quiet it quite possibly could be an easy fix.
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Old 04-13-2008, 11:45 PM
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if you dont mind a drive to Arlington, give Tony Huerta a call 214-724-3246 or www.northtexasperformance.com . he specializes in Ford Taurus SHO's but does pretty much anything automotive related and hes real fair on his pricing.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:12 PM
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Issue Resolved - Thanks for the input

I couldn't quite make out where the leak was specifically coming from, so I went ahead and took it in to a reputable neighborhood mechanic. He checked it out and it was a busted weld on a pipe instead of the plug. He replaced it and my wife is back in business. I appreciate the input I received...the initial diagnosis from the first shop had me really concerned. The car never overheated, so for now I'm hoping we can squeeze a few more miles out of it.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:20 PM
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Very good. I am glad you took it to a different shop for a second opinion. Good luck with it and have a great day.

Stephen
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