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2001 Focus 1.6 Zetec - Slow Coolant Loss


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#1 blue51

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 03:48 PM

Since last summer, car's needed the occasional top up - maybe an inch in the expansion tank every three/four weeks. Rather stupidly I was topping it up with just water. The car has always driven perfectly and never had any problems, driving an hour each way to work and back etc.

Two weeks ago on an extremely icy morning, half way to work after half an hour of driving the temp needle went right up into the red all of a sudden (it always normally moves up to the centre and stays there), so I stopped immediately and switched it off. I waited 10 mins and carefully took the expansion cap off and it all came spewing out. Filled up with water (about 1L had come out) and drove home same distance, no problems at all.

Had a look last weekend and could see nothing wrong. Engine warmed up ok, thermostat opened etc. Couldn't get it hot enough for fans to come on - though they do come on with AC on.

Can only guess it was a one-off stuck thermostat.

Drained some of the coolant and replaced with new at 50/50.

Car runs fine again, temp gauge always dead centre etc, and didn't seem to be any coolant loss for over a week (still driving 350 miles+ a week), though usually notice a bubbling sound after switching off warm engine.

Yesterday however, coolant level had dropped again, and needed about another 750ml to top up.

And again today it needed another 1/4L to top up!

No obvious sign of leak (though ground is wet anyway) and no water/scale marks visible on engine. Mentioned slight water loss to ford at last service (Nov) and they couldn't see anything.

Could it be that there was still a lot of air in the system which has slowly found its way to the expansion tank? (therefore looking like water loss)

if there's still more air in there, how do I get it out?

...or am I barking up the wrong tree?

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#2 mintalkin

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 05:40 PM

the best thing you can do it get the system pressure tested this should eliminate any external leaks and enable you to look elseware if necessary.

#3 tatt169

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:26 PM

Since last summer, car's needed the occasional top up - maybe an inch in the expansion tank every three/four weeks. Rather stupidly I was topping it up with just water. The car has always driven perfectly and never had any problems, driving an hour each way to work and back etc.

Two weeks ago on an extremely icy morning, half way to work after half an hour of driving the temp needle went right up into the red all of a sudden (it always normally moves up to the centre and stays there), so I stopped immediately and switched it off. I waited 10 mins and carefully took the expansion cap off and it all came spewing out. Filled up with water (about 1L had come out) and drove home same distance, no problems at all.

Had a look last weekend and could see nothing wrong. Engine warmed up ok, thermostat opened etc. Couldn't get it hot enough for fans to come on - though they do come on with AC on.

Can only guess it was a one-off stuck thermostat.

Drained some of the coolant and replaced with new at 50/50.

Car runs fine again, temp gauge always dead centre etc, and didn't seem to be any coolant loss for over a week (still driving 350 miles+ a week), though usually notice a bubbling sound after switching off warm engine.

Yesterday however, coolant level had dropped again, and needed about another 750ml to top up.

And again today it needed another 1/4L to top up!

No obvious sign of leak (though ground is wet anyway) and no water/scale marks visible on engine. Mentioned slight water loss to ford at last service (Nov) and they couldn't see anything.

Could it be that there was still a lot of air in the system which has slowly found its way to the expansion tank? (therefore looking like water loss)

if there's still more air in there, how do I get it out?

...or am I barking up the wrong tree?

i had exactly same problem with my 2000 1.6 focus, i had the bubblin header tank,kept jumpin to red halfway into a journey,(not enough antifreeze) changed thermostat valve and was fine for month but happened again on first real test on motorway-following day i flushed the whole coolent system through. alot better now although it does creep up on motorway speeds but quickly springs back to center. its most prob an air lock,i think the post 2000 models have an air valve screw near engine,something mine is sadly missing,a good flush through the coolent system would be first point of call fella taking it slow refilling the system to eliminate air in system.keep us posted on how ya get on as its still a nigglin problem i want rid off.

#4 blue51

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 01:58 PM

Thanks guys.

Any idea how much Ford would charge to pressure test the system?

Do I need to go to Ford for this?

#5 mintalkin

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 03:46 PM

any decent garage will be able to test the system.

#6 blue51

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 12:39 PM

A friend recommended a good local garage and I took it in this morning for a pressure test.

Found a leak Its a plastic housing where two hoses meet the front of the block, which will need replacing

#7 blue51

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 10:34 AM

It was the thermostat housing. Replaced the thermostat, housing, and both seals.

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