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Old 02-01-2012, 10:21 AM   #16
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Price shopping

For those of you price shopping give a try. I bought a thermostat housing, gaskets and thermostat for a Sport Trac came to about $49 with shipping. housing was genuine Ford parts. The dealer was $200 plus. I ordered my parts sta. afternoon and got them Monday night FedEx Ground.


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Old 04-15-2014, 09:13 AM   #17
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Ford Ranger '96 brown sludge in the radiator

I know this is an old post, but am looking for some insight into the Ranger cooling system.

Like an older post, I've noticed the temperature gauge doesn't get much higher than the very lowest level on the gauge. When I sit and idle in traffic, the gauge begins to slowly creep up - nowhere near overheating. And even if the engine is hot, I can turn the cab heat on, and it will blow cool.

Adding coolant makes a world of difference when adding coolant I noticed there is thick brown sludge near the cap, and I'm assuming in the radiator in other places too.

What causes this sludge ? Last November I had the thermostat housing & thermostat changed because it was leaking. They told me at the time, that the housing is caste aluminum and if there is any imperfection it will begin to leak over time. The leak, or letting air into the system causes the sludge. But I don't know - is that just another line in the mechanics vast repetoire of bs lines ??

It is a 1996 with 209k on it - before changing the thermostat housing, & thermostat, there was never a problem with the cooling system or internal heat. It was extremely reliable, always predictable on the engine temperature gauge. Plenty of defrost and cab heat.

Also, the same mechanics said all the hoses were getting old and would soon need replacement. They said it would be expensive to replace the hoses. really!?!?! Hoses are that expensive ???

What causes the sludge ? any other pointers ?
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:50 AM   #18
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Oil mixing with coolant. Bad intake manifold gasket and/or head gasket.
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Old 04-15-2014, 12:40 PM   #19
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Wouldn't the oil also look strange ? It looks perfectly normal. Like the day it was filled.

thanks .
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Old 04-15-2014, 12:45 PM   #20
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Did they put leak stop in with the repair that will turn the coolant brown and plug the Heater core
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Old 04-15-2014, 12:56 PM   #21
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When you replaced the thermostat, did you flush the cooling system and replace the coolant with fresh stuff? The corrosion inhibitors in anti-freeze don't last forever. And if you buy the cheapest anti-freeze you can find, it's a good bet that the one place they'll skimp is in the corrosion inhibitors. Drain the coolant, give it a good flush and refill with some decent quality anti-freeze mixed properly and see if the brown stuff doesn't go away. Oil getting into the cooling system would show up as milky white oily deposits floating in the coolant. Brown sludge is rust and corrosion from the iron parts of the engine. It's also hard on an engine operating it in a cold condition. If the thermostat is stuck open, you need to get it fixed as soon as you can.

Last edited by Maintenance 6; 04-15-2014 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 04-18-2014, 10:54 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by suzikg View Post
so it could be as simple as the coolant? i'm going to borrow a tester today and check it out. i had the water pump go out a couple of years ago and that's the last time the system was serviced.

i found this blurb on the net while researching the problem...

"The heater core draws its hot coolant from the cylinder head and returns it to the pump -- so the heater works regardless of whether the thermostat is open or closed."

is that true? if so, it sounds like it would not be the thermostat. i am going to deal with this tomorrow but what are the consequences/damages of driving around like this for the past 2 weeks. i know that overheating is serious but how about underheating? other than the fluid freezing while sitting overnight, expanding & YIKES...not cold enough for that right now.

thanks so much,

suzi g
Just a quick reminder having been a mechanic for 27 years. If your temperature gauge is not getting above cold, check the engine coolant level NOW. I do not mean just the overflow jug. The coolant level needs to be checked in the radiator itself. It may be a faulty thermostat, but it may also be an extremely low coolant level, in which case the gauge will not register properly and could lead to overheating, damaging an engine beyond repair before you know it. Just because the temperature gauge isn't showing an overheat doesn't mean the engine isn't cooking. Gauge will not register if there is no water there for it to sense.


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