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Old 06-10-2012, 09:39 AM
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loss of coolant

hi all -

So I know this is a well written about problem, but I don't think my current symptoms point 100% to headgaskets... at least not yet - any thoughts are certainly appreciated.

First the specs: 2006, 90k, egr delete w/ sct tune (have only run street). mbrp exhaust, k&n air filter everything else stock.

I just started the sct tune last march - only run it street when i'm not towing/hauling anything. I went to hook up my 5th wheel last month, and before leaving just checked levels and notices that my coolant was very low - almost dry in the degas bottle. At the time I don't remember seeing any white residue.... I didn't have any coolant on me and I was about to leave, so I filled it to the min line with water and made my trip.

Drove the fifth wheel about 300 miles (returned the engine to stock to do this). It has been driven a little bit around town since then - all still with the engine on stock (hadn't gotten around to re-programming after my trip). Anyway, the other day I popped the hood to check levels and noticed the coolant was again low and this time there was residue so it must have puked. I filled it with about 1/2 zerex and 1/2 water.


sooo in order to see if it is my head gaskets, I hooked up the pressure gauge from the degas bottle and have been driving around with it. The gauge isn't great because it is a 100psi range, but it's all I could find in a pinch. Anyway, when I start driving it climbs very slowly... I can't seem to influence it with driving habits -- I have tried getting on it... have driven the turnpike at 75mph with about 2000lbs of stone in the back pushing the turbo to 20psi+ -- the needle climbs very slowly as the coolant warms up and gets to the 10 - 15psi range and basically stays there. coolant temps during this time are about 190 - 210 degrees (oil temps are within 15 degrees of this at all times). After the engine shuts off it very slowly dips back down, eventually to 0psi by the next day.

So I'm guessing by those results that my gaskets aren't completely shot -- I don't know if its only an issue when I'm towing though? (The fifth wheel is 12,000lbs+). The coolant pressure seems a bit high to me though, no? I thought that it was supposed to stay under 10psi.

Sorry for the long post, just trying to give as much info as possible. Again, any insight is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 06-10-2012, 04:47 PM
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Degas Caps are 15 buck at ford Also some trucks like to be run about a half inch below the min line. You can also get a tester at napa for combustion gasses in your coolant (make sure its the one for diesel tho) Most diesel shops will have one and be more than happy to check for you
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:54 AM
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ok guys i need some help here --

i've tried to continue to diagnose...and here's what i found


my pressure gauge will rise slowly up to about 15 psi and no higher. Haven't had any puking - when i shut off the truck hot though i can hear a whistle sometimes coming out of the cap - very faintly.

this morning i turned the truck on, pulled he degas cap off, and let the oil temps come up. I put my combustion gas tester on the degas bottle and sucked the air out -- theoretically i should get to a vacuum point where i can no longer suck air right? well the bulb (to suck air) would get collapsed, but then slowly re-inflate. air was bubbling up through the solution, but it was not testing positive for combustion gases. I did this for about 5 minutes, even giving the engine some fuel at times to raise the rpms. I would get some air, but no combustion gas.

If the truck is running with the degas cap off, you can see what almost looks like steam slowly rising out of the bottle -- this happens even when the coolant is relatively cold (125 - 150 degrees).

Finally, with the oil temps up, I put the degas cap back on and promptly sped down the street. My coolant pressure moved up from 0 to about 3psi.... then to about 5 psi.... but that is all.


what in the world is going on here? I feel like I am somehow building un-wanted pressure in the coolant, but from what I have tried I don't think it points to head gaskets & combustion gases..don't you think? any thoughts at all?

thanks
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:14 AM
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First, you WILL build pressure as the coolant heats up (the volume of the coolant increases and the temp increases). If you leave your cap on when the coolant is cold, you'll see higher pressure than if you leave the cap off, allow the coolant to get to temp, and then put the cap on. This is normal. And based on what your described, it's exactly what you're seeing.

A couple of questions: have you replaced the original degas cap with the upgraded one from Ford? Does your degas bottle have a sticker on the side with the revised max / min levels? Is your truck levelled or lifted?
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Old 06-19-2012, 06:31 AM
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thanks snake -

i know the pressure increases with temp... i just didn't think under normal conditions that it was supposed to go up that high (approaching 15psi).

to my knowledge, the cap and stick are original... i have not replaced either, although it is a 2006 and i have only had it for a little over 2 years. no lift or leveling...although i'm glad you said that -- before i left for my trip in may and noticed the coolant level was low, i forgot that i had already hooked up my fifth wheel... which lowers the rear end substantially--- it is possible that by filling up to the min line while the rear end was lowered, i overfilled the tank resulting in the puking that i saw after that trip (lightbulb)


even still, shouldn't i be a bit concerned about the higher than normal pressure? i have seen people on here comment that normal operating pressure is 6psi.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:23 AM
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Take everything you read on any forum with a grain of salt. 15 psi is the "max", but I wouldn't worry if you're seeing 15 psi, your coolant level is correct, and you're not puking.

If you have a sticker on the side of the degas bottle, it sounds like your truck received that update. If you look on the degas bottle itself, you'll see max and min lines indicated on the plastic. The sticker changed (lowered) those levels.

Since you already have the pressure gauge, try this: get your ECT up to 160-180* so the truck isn't totally cold, but you're not at the point of running it hot, either. Accelerate hard. I mean pedal to the metal. Do a couple of quick runs like that and check your pressure in the degas bottle. If you're over 15 psi, you most likely have a problem with your gaskets.

On a side note, Ford began offering an updated degas bottle cap that holds more pressure than the original version. The intent was exactly that: increase the pressure in the cooling system in order to raise the boiling point of the coolant. If you search the site, I'm sure you can easily find the part number and pictures of the new style cap. This cap has solved a number of puking issues, understanding of course that there aren't underlying problems (like a clogged oil cooler, busted EGR cooler, headgaskets, etc).

Any idea what your ECT / EOT temps are when you're running unloaded at 60-65 mph for ~20 min on level ground?
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:27 AM
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thanks - actually if the update is a sticker, I don't think i have that -- only the max/min lines on the actually bottle itself. I was planning on tracking down the updated cap sometime this week.

running unloaded at 60mph last time I looked i think my ect/eot was about 195/205
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:17 AM
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EOT/ECT temps sound good, and this next bit of info might be a little confusing.

Ford "updated" the max and min levels on the degas bottle with a sticker and the min level on the bottle became the new max. However, I've heard some conflicting info about Ford updating the newer degas bottles with the correct max / min lines (no sticker - the updated lines are part of the plastic).
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Old 07-05-2012, 05:45 PM
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quick update - I'm at a loss here... and I've found a handful of posters on here that seem to have similar issues and they all end up just doing head gaskets... really don't have the $$ for that right now if it isn't needed.

so my pressure does hit 15-17psi with the new cap.... I tried doing what snake suggested.... I left the coolant cap off, let the truck warm up until the ECT was 160*... put the cap on and sped down the street a few times.... pressure in the coolant barely made it to 5 psi.... so it definitely wasn't the quick spike like I've seen on the head gasket youtube videos. So I was feeling good even though my pressure seems a bit high....

then I pulled the 5th wheel this weekend for a few hours (during this heatwave).... and when I got home saw more white residue around the degas bottle.... coolant level isn't ridiculous low... maybe 1" below the old min line...

what gives? could a t-stat or water pump cause these high pressures? I watched my ECT/EOT all the way down pulling the fiver and they were consistently within 12* of each other except for 1 quick moment when they were about 20*
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Old 07-06-2012, 06:20 AM
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Not trying to hijack the thread but I notice my coolant level dropped and likes to live below the min mark as well. I keep adding Ford Gold to bring it back to max, does the upgraded cap and new min/max sticker update apply to my truck? 2003 Excursion 6.0 bone stock. 138k on the ticker.

The little return hose from the top of the radiator busted on me last year and the fix was to thread in a brass hose barb nipple. The first go at it liked to leak sometimes and I attributed the loss to that. I have it fixed better now and no leaks, but head gaskets are always in the back of my mind with this year 6.0, mine are still original.
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