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Letting the internet get you all freaked out about cracked heads

TomB1269

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If your temp gauge is fluctuating mid to high, particularly with respect to driving style (stop and Go vs Hiway) The most likely scenero is the you have an air pocket in the return to radiator hose. If you look closely you will see that the return hose is higher than the cap as it goes over the alternator. You need to purge this air. Queezing the hose can help burpe some out but the only way is to run the engine until the T-stat opens and you have soild coolant flow (hose is firm when squeezed) with the cap off the radiator.
Been there done it bought the shirt..........
 


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barrys

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My temp guage is fluctuating from low to mid no matter what kind of driving I'm doing. Sits at "N". Jumps up to "O"+. Sits there for a minute or two. Drops back to "N". Wash, rinse, repeat...

I don't really understand what you said about purging the air. Could you give really specific instructions on what to do?

I think I'm hearing:
Remove cap.
Run until tstat opens (hose is hard to squeeze).
Squeeze hose repeatedly.

Is that it?
 

barrys

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Well, that didn't work...
I started the car and cracked the cap open and coolant started pouring out all over the place. Maybe I need to wait for the thermostat to open _before_ opening the cap.
 

jhammel85

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Was it hot?? Whatever you do, dont shut it off with the cap off..It sucks down air.
 

barrys

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It was not hot. I squeezed the top hose a little bit. More coolant came out. I closed the cap. Then I shut it off. I'm guessing and hoping that if it wants more coolant, it will draw it from the reservior. I'll be driving home with a bottle of water just in case.
 

barrys

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Well, nothing in the coolant. But, seems to be a little coolant in the oil...
I sent the oil off to Blackstone Labs. Came back with high numbers on Sodium (could be an additive in the Castrol GTX) 241 -- avg. 20, Potassium 54 -- avg. 2, Silicon 23 -- avg. 15. Also showing copper a little high at 8 Vs. 4 on average which could hint at low end trouble I guess.

So, indeed it could need new heads. Anyone wanna buy a very clean Ranger that needs some TLC? :)

I love that truck, but I'm not sure if I want to throw a bunch of money at it and I don't have the time or the necessary skills to do heads or even head gaskets myself. An alternative is to hope it passes smog and then run it till she blows. The blue book on it is sad. I've kept it like a new Beemer -- even did a bunch of work on the interior. So, this is a confusing one for me.
 

jhammel85

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Sorry to hear it...I wouldn't give up on it though.

Best bet is to have it checked out by a reputable mechanic who can diagnose the headgasket or head problem. Don't drive it at all. Each time it runs, you're on borrowed time.

If I were you, I wouldn't sell it...If you stop driving it and have it fixed ASAP, you could have a nice reliable truck again. As opposed to buying another car that you dont know the history of.

Just my 2 Cents.
 

barrys

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I have a great mechanic. They did a cursory analysis and found no issues. Specifically, they used an exhaust gas analyzer on the coolant and found nothing. They also looked for leaks and found nothing there either. The "don't drive it" is a non-starter since it's my daily driver. Also, whatever's going on has been going on for at least a couple of years and nothing has really changed. So, I'm guessing that any issue with the head gasket or cracked heads is not severe. However, the "copper in the oil" part might be indicative of it wanting a new motor. I don't think the wife's going to let me get away with that "repair." My shop will put in new heads for 1400 installed. That's new, not rebuilt and they'll guarantee it for a year. I know I could put in new heads for about 3-4 hundred in parts. But, after reading the manuals and watching some youtube vids on that, I envision me spening 30+ hours on the job and possibly screwing up all kinds of stuff. So, I'm on the fence on replacing the heads. The truck is straight and very clean. I'm happy to drive it but it might be time to upgrade...

Also, there are great rebates on the new 2010 Rangers now -- 6-7K off. That's tempting. I love the color I have and they don't make that anymore. I also love the 3.0 which is also no longer available.

My big, rhetorical question is...
Why the f#$k did the heads or head gaskets go at 128K on a meticulously maintained car that has never come even close to overheating? The mechanic said he's almost never seen that happen with the 3.0 -- happens with the 4.0 quite commonly. And, whenever he has seen cracked heads, he's seen major failures with the bottom of the engine too. The next question is: What's next? :)

If I got rid of it, two of the things I'd miss the most are my mechanic and asking stupid questions on TRS.
 

jhammel85

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When you said you found coolant in the oil, are you 100% sure of this? Did the mechanics verify this? It looks like chocolate milk.
 

barrys

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The oil looks fine. The coolant looks fine. The truck runs fine. There are no classic signs of a head or head gasket failure. The only issue is the oil analysis report showing high sodium, potassium, and silicon and the Blackstone Labs analyst's opinion that that might be indicative of coolant in the oil. Maybe those are just the tell-tale signs of a problem that's starting.

Maybe I should have kept my head in the sand and not done the stupid oil analysis.
 

barrys

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Just figured I'd follow up with a copy of the oil report:


Those folks at Blackstone are very nice and responsive. I emailed with them a few times and got this for whatever it's worth:
Yes, based on the potassium level, it looks like a little anti-freeze is getting into the oil, epically since you are losing coolant. The good news is that this level isn't really all that much, so it's not something you need to address at the present time if you don't want to. I would just keep an eye on it by checking back at the next oil change. We've seen engines run a long time with a little coolant getting into the oil.

At this point, I'm inclined to wait on it a bit and start perhaps shopping around for a good engine rebuilder. In the meantime, I don't drive that much so I can do oil tests every 6 months and just watch it. Unfortuneately, the truck is worth about 2/3 the cost of an installed, rebuilt engine on the books. It's worth more than that to me and less than $0.00 to my wife who would love to see it go and get replaced with a fine Honda Accord with lots of airbags and an MP3 plug.
 
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barrys

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Just got a new Ranger

Well, the wife wanted airbags and the daughter wanted black (she got charcoal)...

The interior is drab compared to my 94 in Mocha which I really loved. All those pinstripes and stuff. :) Maybe I'll redo the interior but the seats have airbags now.

They haven't done too much to evolve the car which is good and bad. The 3.0 is no longer available so I got the 4.0 gas guzzler. But, I must say that it is smooth and solid. It's got some fun stuff like those back doors and power windows (the lap of luxury for me). It's got all the window tinting and nice enough wheels. The rear disc brakes are a nice upgrade and my daughter loves the stereo. One thing they really did work on is making it a much quieter ride. It's in the neighborhood of a VW now. The Honda we got last year is ridiculous. When you hit a big bump in the road, it's like you took a deer slug in the door.

I'll miss the old one when it's gone.

On thing that was amazing was the change in price over the years. I bought my old one from my best friend and got all the paperwork. It went out for about 15K 15 years ago -- he probably paid a bit less. This one was 18 plus tax and tip. The Toyota Tocoma, by comparison has gone up 7K on 20 over the past 3 years.

The Ranger will supposedly be discontinued after next year and replaced by the pricey and funky new Aussie Mazda as far as I can tell. I just love the look of this vintage of Ranger and the price seemed right so I jumped on it.

Anyway, I'm sure someone will get some good years out of my old one and then have to do some work on the heads or even an engine rebuild. But, that truck is super clean and straight so I hope some true Ranger lover helps it live on for a long time.
 

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