Trans fluid leaking into radiator 97 ranger 2.5 L 4 cyl


nadsab

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Hi,

We have trans fluid leaking into our radiator. I was told that this was probably due to the automatic transmission fluid cooler, which supposedly is built into the radiator, is leaking into the radiator, and that the radiator needs to be replaced. Also the thermostat and the block or housing that holds the thermostat is bad, and needs to be replaced as well and that the system needs to be flushed. Does this sound like a correct scenario?

Is it difficult to replace the thermostat? And is there really a separate housing for the thermostat? When I was young and did this on my own, the thermostat was just accessed by taking off the radiator hose from the top of the engine block and dropping in a new thermostat - it was pretty simple a five or ten dollar part. Is there now a separate housing for the thermostat that is somewhere inside or mounted on the outside of the engine block?

I am also assuming, if it is a leaky trans fluid cooler that is built into the radiator, that the transmission should be flushed once I install a new radiator, Is this correct?
 
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RonD

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Yes, radiator will need to be replaced.

Never ran into a T-stat that didn't live in a housing, but yes usually the t-stat is located(in a housing) on the engine end of a large rad hose.
two or three bolts and off it comes.

here is a picture of the t-stat housing on a 1998 2.5l
http://www.therangerstation.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57524

The t-stat itself is not expensive, make sure it is the correct temp, ford usually uses 192deg t-stats, adjusted for inflation $10-$15, :)

The t-stat housing can have other outlets and in this case temperature sensors, which can leak, so in some cases the housing needs to be replaced not the t-stat but because the t-stat is not expensive.......might as well replace it as well.
 
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nadsab

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I could prob. do this myself over the weekend. Don't have time to do it this week though.

We were quoted 625 bucks to replace the radiator, the hoses, the thermo housing, the thermo and a flush. Does this seem excessive?

I can buy a radiator for 150 bucks but am just wondering how long this would take me to do...

Also how long do you think it would be safe to drive it before we replace the radiator?

Thus far the engine is not over heating and the trans is shifting fine...
 

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If you don't want to replace the rad get a separate trans cooler of the correct size and use that. Just remember to plug the old tras fittings in the rad or you'll loose coolant. I wouldn't drive it all that much until it's fixed, coolant will wipe out the transmission pretty quickly. Change the transmission fluid and filter also when you are done.
 

nadsab

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I've heard two different stories now. The guy at the auto parts store tells me that it's possible for anti freeze to back fill into the transmission via the leaky trans fluid cooler. But a mechanic claims that there is currently no anti freeze in the transmission and that it's impossible for that to happen because the transmission is at higher pressure than the radiator.

But the guy at the auto parts store said when I shut the engine off, the pressure in the radiator is higher - and the transmission de pressurizes, and this could force anti freeze into the transmission, so now I don't know what to believe.

And you are agreeing with the NAPA parts auto guy - that anti freeze can end up in the trans?
 

88B2EB

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Where abouts in SE Michigan are you located? Happy to lend a hand if you're close enough to me (Farmington Hills). My vote's for a new radiator. I just put one in my '94 2.3L a year ago, very easy operation and only about $100 from Autozone.

Josh
 

nadsab

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Live in the SE suburbs, just don't have time to do it this week...

Did anti freeze leak into your transmission?

A mechanic said it would not, and an auto parts guy said it would...
 

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No. Mine's got a manual transmission so there aren't any lines running from the radiator to transmission. If you aren't sure if coolant got into your transmission or not it might be a good idea to replace the tranny fluid and filter just to be safe. That's not an overly difficult job either and if the fluids been in there a while it might be a good idea anyway. I'm not sure if there's any way to tell if coolant got in without dropping the tranny pan and then you're 90% there anyway. How close are you to Farmington Hills?
 

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I've heard two different stories now. The guy at the auto parts store tells me that it's possible for anti freeze to back fill into the transmission via the leaky trans fluid cooler. But a mechanic claims that there is currently no anti freeze in the transmission and that it's impossible for that to happen because the transmission is at higher pressure than the radiator.

But the guy at the auto parts store said when I shut the engine off, the pressure in the radiator is higher - and the transmission de pressurizes, and this could force anti freeze into the transmission, so now I don't know what to believe.

And you are agreeing with the NAPA parts auto guy - that anti freeze can end up in the trans?
I would think it was possible but not likely.
And if there is a leak in the t-stat housing the cooling system pressure would drop pretty quickly after shutdown.

I wouldn't worry about it too much at this point.

$625 seems about right for a shop.
You have to remember shops have to use OEM parts for the most part, but no "off-brands" for sure, because they have to warranty any repairs.
Nothing worse for a shop than having to redo new repairs, for cost and reputation.
And they have to mark up the parts....or why be in business in the first place, lol.
So all in you probably have $425 in parts, $200 labor.

Yes, you can do this yourself.
T-stat housing bolts look tricky but with the right tools you can do it.
Rad remove/replace and flushing are very straight forward.

Do you know the t-stat housing is leaking?
Have you been losing coolant?
 
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nadsab

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Thanks Ron.

Not sure abourt the t stat housing leaking don't have the truck in front of me. the coolant I think there is a slow anti freeze leak, don't know where it is though.

Think it's safe to drive it for a week before I fix it then?
 
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Earl43P

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That T-stat housing comes completely off to replace the thermostat, minus the hose.
I bet it's just its seal leaking. It isn't a hard job, just tight quarters and difficult to see the bolts (actually might be screws, can't remember). Could easily be the source of the coolant leak.

Might also be saving your transmission!

And no, I wouldn't keep driving that truck, as is. Here's why.

True, the trans operates at higher pressure than the <18 psi the coolant operates at.
But the trans pressure goes completely away once you shut off the engine. Zero.
Coolant pressure typically remains, especially until the temp drops down to ambient. That's why you don't remove a radiator cap when it's hot; it'll SPEW from the pressure.

So, having a leak in the T-stat housing is allowing the coolant pressure to drop, KEEPING the coolant from being forced under residual pressure into the trans cooler.

If you absolutely have to drive it, BYPASS the cooler completely. This time of year up there, it's not cooling it! Run a week or so on a $2 couple of clamps and a section of rubber tube.

Simply not worth ruining your transmission!
 

nadsab

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....Could easily be the source of the coolant leak....

Might also be saving your transmission!

And no, I wouldn't keep driving that truck, as is. Here's why............

True, the trans operates at higher pressure than the <18 psi the coolant operates at.
But the trans pressure goes completely away once you shut off the engine. Zero.
Coolant pressure typically remains, especially until the temp drops down to ambient. That's why you don't remove a radiator cap when it's hot; it'll SPEW from the pressure.

So, having a leak in the T-stat housing is allowing the coolant pressure to drop, KEEPING the coolant from being forced under residual pressure into the trans cooler.

If you absolutely have to drive it, BYPASS the cooler completely. This time of year up there, it's not cooling it! Run a week or so on a $2 couple of clamps and a section of rubber tube.

Simply not worth ruining your transmission!
I do know that when I took off the radiator cap over the weekend almost no pressure in the radiator - very little spew of anti freeze, so maybe that's a good thing in the short term...anti freeze was also low...
 

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Not at all worth the gamble. Replace the radiator and thermostat and new radiator hoses wouldnt hurt either. Change the oil in the tranny also with a new filter and hopefully be done with it for a while. When you drop the pan carefully pour the oil out of it if no water is in the bottom of the pan you should be fine. If there is alot of water see if you have a drain on the torque converter and drain it also. Small amounts of water wont hurt anything and will evaporate and vent out eventually. I would think the ATF would get milky is water was present IDK.
 

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What kinda shape is the water pump in? :D
 

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That T-stat housing comes completely off to replace the thermostat, minus the hose.
I bet it's just its seal leaking. It isn't a hard job, just tight quarters and difficult to see the bolts (actually might be screws, can't remember). Could easily be the source of the coolant leak.

Might also be saving your transmission!

And no, I wouldn't keep driving that truck, as is. Here's why.

True, the trans operates at higher pressure than the <18 psi the coolant operates at.
But the trans pressure goes completely away once you shut off the engine. Zero.
Coolant pressure typically remains, especially until the temp drops down to ambient. That's why you don't remove a radiator cap when it's hot; it'll SPEW from the pressure.

So, having a leak in the T-stat housing is allowing the coolant pressure to drop, KEEPING the coolant from being forced under residual pressure into the trans cooler.

If you absolutely have to drive it, BYPASS the cooler completely. This time of year up there, it's not cooling it! Run a week or so on a $2 couple of clamps and a section of rubber tube.

Simply not worth ruining your transmission!
This/\ /\ /\ Don't ruin your tranny when a simple flush could save it. Takes a few hours at most to swap out a radiator and thermostat. Another hour to flush your trans. And yes it all needs doing. Don't do one without doing both.
 


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