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Full Version: 2000 Focus 2.0l Ghia - Coolant leak, but where?
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radmarsh
Hi all,

Looking for some advice on a coolant leak I have but can't find.

There are no pools of coolant on the floor nor is there any signs of white scale in the engine bay, but Iíve definitely got a leak...topping up around 1l of coolant a week. Engine runs fine and shows no sign of head gasket issues, aside from the coolant loss.

I got the car this summer and didn't notice any problems but when the winter came along and I started using the heating I noticed my temp creeping up and realized my coolant was low. Topped it up and all was fine until I realized I had to keep topping it up. This makes me think itís a problem with the heater matrix, that and the faint coolant smell I get in the cabin, but ...I don't seem to be getting any coolant in the cabin...if itís the heater matrix where is all the coolant going?

I was going to have a look it at the heater matrix until I realized I had to take the whole front facia off along with the steering column (according to Haynes anyway) so I really want to be sure the problem is there before I tackle it.

I guess I could get the system pressure tested but Iím concerned that if the problem is the heater matrix then pressure testing it is going to break it further and I could end up with coolant all over my interior and car that canít be driven until it gets fixed.
Is there anywhere else in the engine bay I should check for leaks before looking at the heater matrix? Iíve had a good scout around already but canít see any obvious signs.

Is there the potential for the water to be entering the exhaust system somehow ? Could explain why I canít find my leaked coolant anywhere?

Finally, does anyone know how hard a job getting to the heater matrix actually is? Any ideas on how long it may take? Reading through the Haynes manual indicates (to me anyway) that it could be a whole weekender!

Any thoughts or advice anyone may have would be much appreciated

Thanks
stejan1965
[quote name='radmarsh' post='49046' date='Nov 12 2009, 02:45 PM']Hi all,

Looking for some advice on a coolant leak I have but can't find.

There are no pools of coolant on the floor nor is there any signs of white scale in the engine bay, but Iíve definitely got a leak...topping up around 1l of coolant a week. Engine runs fine and shows no sign of head gasket issues, aside from the coolant loss.

I got the car this summer and didn't notice any problems but when the winter came along and I started using the heating I noticed my temp creeping up and realized my coolant was low. Topped it up and all was fine until I realized I had to keep topping it up. This makes me think itís a problem with the heater matrix, that and the faint coolant smell I get in the cabin, but ...I don't seem to be getting any coolant in the cabin...if itís the heater matrix where is all the coolant going?

I was going to have a look it at the heater matrix until I realized I had to take the whole front facia off along with the steering column (according to Haynes anyway) so I really want to be sure the problem is there before I tackle it.

I guess I could get the system pressure tested but Iím concerned that if the problem is the heater matrix then pressure testing it is going to break it further and I could end up with coolant all over my interior and car that canít be driven until it gets fixed.
Is there anywhere else in the engine bay I should check for leaks before looking at the heater matrix? Iíve had a good scout around already but canít see any obvious signs.

Is there the potential for the water to be entering the exhaust system somehow ? Could explain why I canít find my leaked coolant anywhere?

Finally, does anyone know how hard a job getting to the heater matrix actually is? Any ideas on how long it may take? Reading through the Haynes manual indicates (to me anyway) that it could be a whole weekender!

Any thoughts or advice anyone may have would be much appreciated

Thanks[/quote]
stejan1965
[quote name='radmarsh' post='49046' date='Nov 12 2009, 02:45 PM']Hi all,

Looking for some advice on a coolant leak I have but can't find.

There are no pools of coolant on the floor nor is there any signs of white scale in the engine bay, but Iíve definitely got a leak...topping up around 1l of coolant a week. Engine runs fine and shows no sign of head gasket issues, aside from the coolant loss.

I got the car this summer and didn't notice any problems but when the winter came along and I started using the heating I noticed my temp creeping up and realized my coolant was low. Topped it up and all was fine until I realized I had to keep topping it up. This makes me think itís a problem with the heater matrix, that and the faint coolant smell I get in the cabin, but ...I don't seem to be getting any coolant in the cabin...if itís the heater matrix where is all the coolant going?

I was going to have a look it at the heater matrix until I realized I had to take the whole front facia off along with the steering column (according to Haynes anyway) so I really want to be sure the problem is there before I tackle it.

I guess I could get the system pressure tested but Iím concerned that if the problem is the heater matrix then pressure testing it is going to break it further and I could end up with coolant all over my interior and car that canít be driven until it gets fixed.
Is there anywhere else in the engine bay I should check for leaks before looking at the heater matrix? Iíve had a good scout around already but canít see any obvious signs.

Is there the potential for the water to be entering the exhaust system somehow ? Could explain why I canít find my leaked coolant anywhere?

Finally, does anyone know how hard a job getting to the heater matrix actually is? Any ideas on how long it may take? Reading through the Haynes manual indicates (to me anyway) that it could be a whole weekender!

Any thoughts or advice anyone may have would be much appreciated

Thanks[/quote]


It is possible that the problem is related to you using the heater but another possibility is simply that you picked up a stone hole in the radiator. This could result in the leakage rate you describe. I would start by dropping a tin of RADWELD from Halfords (into the expansion tank. It's worth a fiver to try this first - it worked for me and is fine a year later.

[url="http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchCmd?srch=radweld&x=0&y=0&action=search&storeId=10001&catalogId=10151&langId=-1"]http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/...1&langId=-1[/url]
jamboken77
I had a very similar problem, it turned out to be the thermostat housing, so there was no obvious leakage. It seems to be a common fault with the Focus according to the garage and it only cost just over £100 to replace. Be careful though, if you leave it too long, it could move to the head gasket.
radmarsh
[quote name='stejan1965' post='49154' date='Nov 13 2009, 03:23 PM']It is possible that the problem is related to you using the heater but another possibility is simply that you picked up a stone hole in the radiator. This could result in the leakage rate you describe. I would start by dropping a tin of RADWELD from Halfords (into the expansion tank. It's worth a fiver to try this first - it worked for me and is fine a year later.

[url="http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchCmd?srch=radweld&x=0&y=0&action=search&storeId=10001&catalogId=10151&langId=-1"]http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/...1&langId=-1[/url][/quote]

I thought about a sealant like radweld but am kinda of nervous about putting something like that in the coolant system, once its in its in for good! Although... your success story is making me think twice.

Was your leak a visible one? did it leave pools of water?

cheers for the advice.
radmarsh
[quote name='jamboken77' post='49175' date='Nov 13 2009, 06:19 PM']I had a very similar problem, it turned out to be the thermostat housing, so there was no obvious leakage. It seems to be a common fault with the Focus according to the garage and it only cost just over £100 to replace. Be careful though, if you leave it too long, it could move to the head gasket.[/quote]

Yeah, I've read a lot of posts with the thermostat being the problem, Iíve had a closer inspection around the thermostat and there is a small amount of white scale so good shout it could indeed be the culprit. :D

Will get the system pressure tested tomorrow to confirm it (fingers crossed it doesnít blow the heater matrix!), and get it sorted this weekendÖIK lost my last car to a head gasket!!! :angry:

Did you get the whole housing replaced or just the seals?
cheers
jamboken77
[quote name='radmarsh' post='49213' date='Nov 13 2009, 10:34 PM']Yeah, I've read a lot of posts with the thermostat being the problem, Iíve had a closer inspection around the thermostat and there is a small amount of white scale so good shout it could indeed be the culprit. :D

Will get the system pressure tested tomorrow to confirm it (fingers crossed it doesnít blow the heater matrix!), and get it sorted this weekendÖIK lost my last car to a head gasket!!! :angry:

Did you get the whole housing replaced or just the seals?
cheers[/quote]

Sounds like the problem then. I got the whole housing and seals replaced, it was pretty rotten!
It's not too much damage and better than head gasket problem ;-).
Good luck
radmarsh
Changed the thermostat housing yesterday and so far so good...

Although the thermostat housing was still intact with no plastic bits broken off the seal was shot. Was a pretty easy job to change just three bolts and a couple of hoses, cleaning the matting surfaces was a bit of a pain though. The part cost just over £70 so not too expensive...as long as it fixes it!

Heres a picture of the old housing and seal for those who may be interested:

jamboken77
[quote name='radmarsh' post='49346' date='Nov 15 2009, 02:41 PM']Changed the thermostat housing yesterday and so far so good...

Although the thermostat housing was still intact with no plastic bits broken off the seal was shot. Was a pretty easy job to change just three bolts and a couple of hoses, cleaning the matting surfaces was a bit of a pain though. The part cost just over £70 so not too expensive...as long as it fixes it!

Heres a picture of the old housing and seal for those who may be interested:

[/quote]

Nice one, sounds like it's sorted, I'm not very good with my hands, but understand the theory, hence getting the garage to do it ;-).
It cost me about £100 with the labour and the £70 part, so not too bad and better than the head gasket blown!!


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