Hi all - I've just signed up, having a Focus and a Fiesta on the driveway. Wish I had found you beforehand. I hope that you don't mind me jumping straight in with a plea for help. Bad news today - the old Focus 1.8 zetec went in again to investigate a coolant leak that seems to have become a long standing problem, of one cause or another. 190k miles on the clock, so a good innings. Later years seem to have been dogged by leaking coolant - two water pumps in as many years. But for a good few weeks now I recall that the engine temperature has been quick to rise to 'normal' (the gauge doesn't go far above the normal temperature) but with a need for a regular top-up of coolant and a tell tale dribble under the car in the mornings. It has also started to have idle-run problems, with the engine stopping regularly at traffic lights on tick-over.
Last night, I had to charge the battery becaus of this (car hasn't been used for four weeks) and noted the coolant header bottle was empty. As fast as I put water in, it ran out, which was quite a shock! Seemed to be coming from the thermostat housing area and the leak had become clearly quite serious. Anyway, limped it down to local garage today and they reckon that the head gasket has gone, as there are traces of oil in the coolant (special detecting fluid used or some highly technical test....). I have a lot of confidence in these guys as they do take good care and have kept the old motor going for many a mile. I wasn't 't too pleased to hear this news though....
Resigned now to a sale for spares, I decided to have a closer look before the terminal decision. Here we go.... Have managed to remove the top two bolts of the t-stat housing but the lower one will not shift (now rounded head). I'll go to get some of those nice looking Irwin bolt grip extractors tomorrow and try to get the housing off. I just have an idea that if it was the head gasket, would the water run out so quickly? Would there be evidence of emulsified oil? (I can't see any). Could I be lucky enough to get away with a t-stat assembly? I know that there are no easy ways to diagnose these problems but would be grateful of your experiences! Maybe we can see 200k on the clock yet!
Thanks, in anticipation of a glimmer of hope.