Coolant leak - Driver Side | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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Coolant leak - Driver Side

Discussion in 'Tech & Repair' started by devonhiee, Dec 3, 2016.

  1. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    Noticed a puddle under car two days ago. Wiped it up and felt like coolant. Parked yesterday and nothing. No Check Coolant Light.

    However, I parked today and immediately, when looking under the car, saw coolant leak (green). The drip was coming off the piece of metal (not sure the name) where the motor mount by the radiator/bell housing sits on. The drip was coming near the center of that metal. It was dripping fast and made a puddle within a couple minutes. The leak started to slow down until it stopped.

    Checked under the hood and could see no visible leaks. Checked the hose and based on what I could see from the top, no noticeable leaks.

    Any ideas based on the location? Cannot jack up the vehicle yet. I have taken off the Intake Manifold once last year to replace the Crankshaft Position Sensor and never changed the gasket.
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    There is a motor mount on the bell housing on its 'front side, near the radiator. If that is the location, the leak could be from a bad gasket for the thermostat housing, or for the small hose that feeds coolant back to the heater inlet, or the large radiator hose where it is connected to the thermostat housing.

    There is also a motor mount on the rear side of the bell housing, but its really a mount on the differential part of the transmission. A leak from back there would likely be from the intake manifold, i.e. its gasket, or from the small hose that takes the coolant into the heater core. On a 2nd gen Escort, there are two openings into the water jacket of the head, that are closed off by the intake manifold and its gasket. These areas are subject to corrosion of both the head and the intake manifold, so when reassembling I take extra care to have scraped/sanded off as much corrosion as I can, and to put a thin layer of RTV gasket maker by Permatex around those two areas. I dont bother with RTV on the rest of the gasket, just those two areas.


    There is a bracket on the side of the bell housing on the transmission, that holds the rubber “isolator” of the motor mount. There is a crossmember under the bell housing which supports the transmission and engine, and prevents it from rotating too much when you are accelerating. I dont know its name either, but I think Ford calls it an “engine support”. Its runs front to rear. It has two areas in it where coolant that dripped from above can pool up, before dripping out of the holes in the metal.

    A leak from the head gasket would be rare, a leak from one of the freeze plugs in the side of the head would also be a 'new' problem, (i.e. no one has reported such a leak yet).
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  3. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    Thanks denisond.

    After watching a video online, I too noticed that it could potentially be the rubber hose the the heater inlet.

    I am unsure of when this car (if ever) has had it's hose repaired and when the last time it had a coolant flush. It would have to have been over 10 years if it ever had a coolant flush.

    Here are the items I just ordered last night from RockAuto. Figure to just overhaul the cooling system (minus radiator) and do the timing belt since the water pump is going to be changed too.

    [​IMG]
  4. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    There is one thing I dont see on your list. Connected to the thermostat housing is a short chunk of straight rubber coolant hose, less than 2” long. Its end goes onto the metal pipe that holds the sensors for engine coolant and the temp gauge, and from there an “S” shaped hose connects to the inlet of the heater core. With the original setup, that short chunk of hose has a swaged fitting clamping it to what I will call the “sensor support pipe”. Its other end was originally a spring clamp, onto the side tube of the thermostat housing. I have had that “sensor support pipe” off each of my project Escorts (all 8 of them), and only had one where that short piece of rubber hose was in bad shape. I had to replace it, which involved hacksawing through the swaged clamp, and installing a new chunk of hose. I think it was the same diameter as the “S” shaped hose going to the heater core inlet.


    If someone had the thermostat housing off, they would have needed to take the “sensor support pipe” off of the thermostat housing, and to reinstall it after putting the thermostat housing back on. They may have used a screw clamp on that connection, in place of the OEM spring clamp, and if they did not go back after installing that screw clamp to retighten it, it might now be leaking slightly.

    I find I need to snug the screws on the screw clamp initially, then come back and re-tighten it a couple of days later, and do it a 3rd time a couple of weeks afterward. The screw of the clamp might turn ¼ to ½ turn each time. I have nevr had a leak from such a connection when I do this.

    Or the prior worker might have gotten the spring clamp installed at a bad spot. Its just something to check.

    I always make a point of cleaning off any crud from the metal parts before putting a rubber hose back on.


    If I keep my Escorts long enough, I know I will eventually need to replace that short chunk of hose, and saw off the swaged clamp. And I will need to get a couple of the right diameter of spring clamps, to do it. The nice thing about the spring clamps is that they seldom leak later on. When I did a search on ebay for such clamps, I found their correct technical name is “constant pressure hose clamps”. I got essentially no help when trying to find the right sizes in auto parts stores.
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  5. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    Is that hose that is 3/4? I saw it on RockAuto but it's sold by 5" in packs of 50. Was too expensive so I will get it at Autozone.

    The S Shaped hose is the one of the heater hoses in the picture.

    I will check and see whether it id a regular clamp or a spring clamp. I personally like BMWs design of their hoses (at least on the E46 I have). I find those to be snug and theres no need for a screw.
  6. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    Question. If the leak happened a couple of days ago, will the residue have disappeared? I havent jacked the car up yet (cant in my apartment garage) but I did get on my back and I can't see where it's at.

    Under the hood everything visible is dry. Checked under the thermostat housing, pressed the upper rad hose, looked behind the intake and they are all dry. The engine support brace by the bell housing has some sort of residue by the motor mount. The area by the transmission motor mount is dry though.

    The radiator was not filled to the top. Filled the reservoir, turned on the car, and when the car was off, it was up to the top again. I ran the car for about 3-5 minutes and no leak.

    Any ideas?
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  7. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    [​IMG]
  8. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    The leak is on the driver side. How would that happen if the water pump is on the passenger side.

    I do have a water pump coming with a timing belt coming in my order.
  9. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I was thinking it was running from the water pump onto the mount. My reasoning being that since your inspection seems to have ruled out stuff on the drivers side or radiator related stuff that is was the next most logical place to suggest.

    But now that I have thought about it some more, remove the radiator fan so that you can inspect the back of the radiator properly and report back. You can also see the lower radiator hose better with it out as well, and it's not that difficult to get the radiator fan out, except for this one bolt that holds it in that you have to get at from under the car and mostly be feel.

    I would also remove the coil and coil bracket to more thoroughly inspect the thermostat area.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  10. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    I ended up changing the thermostat and the upper radiator hose. Removing the radiator fan will open up a lot of space. Also take off the air intake.

    1. Drained the radiator via the pet cock that is on the driver's side. Had to remove two of the splash shields to gain access. Since I did not remove the lower radiator hose, I simply squeezed the upper radiator hose to push out as much as possible.

    2. Unplugged spark plug wires from the Ignition Coil Pack and removed the Ignition Coil Pack (changing it out to a new one). If you take out the spark plug wires remember which wire goes where. Each wire must be placed in the corresponding socket on the coil pack.

    3. Removed the Ignition Coil Pack harness. In order to remove the last bolt that is connect to the block, I had to remove the clamp that connects the heater hose to the thermostat housing as it is blocking that area. My clamp was so old and rusted that I couldn't grab it with anything. Luckily I bought flexible cable hose clamp pliers a while back and this did the trick. Without it there was no way that clamp was coming off.

    4. Removed the upper radiator hose from the thermostat and radiator.

    5. Removed the three bolts holding the thermostat housing into the block. The bolts are not in tight. Removed the thermostat and o-ring from the housing.

    6. Cleaned the housing with Brakleen Brake Cleaner.

    7. Verified that the housing was still good. Shake it around and you should hear a ball-like sound bouncing around. If you don't then it may be time for a new housing.

    8. Put the new thermostat and new o-ring in the housing.

    9. Put a thin but even layer of Permatex #2 Form-a-Gasket on both sides of the new gasket. Don't cover the coolant passage hole on the gasket with the Permatex.

    10. Secure the thermostat to the block. Hand tighten. Torque is similar to an oil pan drain plug, do not over tighten. Don't cover the coolant passage hole on the gasket.

    11. Put everything back together.

    12. Flush the engine with distilled water. Drain

    13. Fill with new coolant in the radiator and also fill the expansion tank.

    The radiator is slanted in such a way that it is hard to fill it with coolant. I used a turkey baster tube without the suction grip and placed it in the radiator. I then put a funnel on the top of that. Have to move it around at times so that it doesn't block the liquid from going down into the radiator.

    The car apparently takes 1.4-1.5 quarts of coolant but you won't be able to put all of that in at once. You have to massage the upper radiator hose so that it can suck in more coolant.

    14. Bleed the system.

    Turn on the car and place the heater on full blast. Let the car idle for 5-10 minutes and monitor the temperature gauge. Should be no abnormalities. If heater blows cold air then that means there is still air in the system. Having air in the system means that the car can potentially overheat.

    Drive around while constantly monitoring the temperature gauge. If it starts to go higher than normal, pull to the side and turn off the car. Systems must be bled.

    Since then I have not had any new leaks. I don't think the issue was the thermostat as there was no residue around/below it nor on the block. I don't know what the problem was but it is solved now.

    I will do the timing belt/water pump and lower radiator hose when I change out the coolant next time.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
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  11. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    Strongly suggest:

    9a. Put a little antiseize on the threads and shaft of the 3 thermostat bolts. Bolts are steel, head and housing are aluminum. Corrosion is inevitable.
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  12. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I dread changing the lower radiator hose. Its beyond my skills to get a new hose onto the water pump inlet, let alone to get a clamp on it.
    So I remove the engine accessory bracket to have access to the inlet tube of the water pump. This means removing the alternator, the power steering pump, and unbolting the a.c. Compressor. Then the bolts holding the acc. Bracket to the block/head. I insist on getting the new hose fully onto the water pump, and the clamp on squarely. I much prefer the OEM spring clamps, since I dont need to get to them afterward to cure small leaks; like I do with the screw clamps. This isnt hard for me; Im retired, have lots of time.

    I also run a thread tap into each threaded hole in the aluminum head, to clean up any corrosion, and often use a thread die on the bolts too. Then antiseize on the threads.
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  13. pcordes1979

    pcordes1979 FEOA Member

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    I would like to share a protip I figured out for changing the lower radiator hose: take it out as an assembly with the water pump, install the new lower radiator hose onto the new water pump in the exact same orientation, then install the pump-hose assembly working the hose through the gap between the accessory bracket and engine block while doing so.

    That is what I did on my 98 wagon when I changed the pump while changing the cylinder head. Made for a relatively easy swap.

    Also another protip: For 98+ vehicles use the heater hoses for a 97 to bypass the hoses that go from the heater hoses to the intake manifold. Saves a ton of money on the hoses that way and eliminates a source of leaks. I remember one other FEOA member had the vacuum-water jacket fitting on the intake manifold rot through developing running issues with both a vacuum leak and coolant getting into the engine.
    rbailin, denisond3 and devonhiee like this.
  14. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    How is your fix working out? I seem to have run into the same problem and done essentially the same thing, but still have a leak somewhere (probably more like another leak somewhere in the area).
    Also, I did not remove the radiator fan, removing the air intake box in it's entirety (yes even the bottom part) helped quite a bit. Emphasis on removing the whole air box and not just the top part. It makes getting the radiator hose and hose clamp on the thermostat end much easier.
  15. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    Wow it's been two years already?

    Still no leaks. Wish could say the same for my steering rack.

    Perhaps it would be best to pressurize the system and look for the leak that way. Believe Harbor Freight sells a kit for around $20-30.

    Could the leak be from a heater hose?

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  16. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Could the leak be from a heater hose?

    I'm going to post a picture of that and let everybody look at that. I've been seeing some pics on the internet of that some other people's T connectors (where the sensors are) look like, and they look a lot nicer (cleaner) than mine and I am suspicious of there being a leak there.
  17. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    Any update?

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  18. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I'm driving the car today. Repaired the T sensor thing and replaced both heater hoses. Just started driving it today. It didn't leak for one day both times before, so I am waiting to drive it some more before really posting a complete update. Will post some pics soon of repaired sensor T and new hoses, along with commentary on the hoses (probably a part reference on these things since there seems to be multiple lengths on some of these hoses).
  19. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Nope. Not fixed. Leaking worse than ever now.
  20. devonhiee

    devonhiee FEOA Member

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    Try the pressurized method and if you want to be certain use the UV dye. That will narrowing down.

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