View Full Version : mayday mayday

10-14-2015, 09:29 AM
Hey everyone,

Well I'm new to this forum and a first time sc owner as well. I tried to post in the new owners section and had a nice detailed description of the car I bought and all the pros and cons that I can see so far of what I purchased but when i finished the very long winded post and went to post it I guess the page had expired and the thing told me to refresh and voila no more post, so I gave up. Anyway I'll give that another shot at a later time.

My main issue right now is the weather is changing quickly in new england and I need to get this car to it's resting place for the winter but I think I've stumbled upon a major issue at the worst time.
I bought the car, 91 5spd stock stock stock. 142 clicks and well cared for, so says previous owner. Said the car was never red lined:rolleyes: I've had it for about a month and due to not having time to register and busy work schedule I've put about 75 miles on it total. Drove fine on test drive and up till now.

Noticed that the oil was a little low which it was at the low mark at time of purchase. No biggie. Mobil 1 all its life, documented
Noticed a coolant leak last week under front passanger side after driving and then letting sit. coolant pooling up on either sub frame cross member I think. Not a mechanic
No coolant in resevoir and there is a black somewhat chunky but malleable almost greasy sludge in res.
Popped rad cap and ran finger along inside of filler neck and the same substance (oil? :() was in there.

What I've also noticed is that the car takes a few more cranks to fire, like five or six, vs. like on the first or second when i bought it.
Temp doesn't get up to operating temp like it should and stays low. ( Low coolant )
Oil pressure is low, just getting to the N on start which I would think would be higher at start and then drop as the engine warmed?

So I'm assuming the worst and hoping for the best but I guess the writing is on the wall right? HEADGASKET? CRACKED HEAD?
I really haven't drove it hard due to a really bad exhaust leak but there was one night at work where the freakin throttle stuck wide open and when i put the clutch in to stop from taking out my coworkers cars and killing myself it did probably redline:mad: Was going to address that issue and the exhaust first but now I'm thinking what's the point.

I guess my only saving grace could be that there is a leak in the oil cooler but I don't know where it is. I don't know if it's on the side where the coolant is but I plan on filling the coolant and driving a bit( just to get up to temp) and checking for leaks.
I have the ford manual, first thing I bought for the car, but don't see any mention of the oil cooler but that was just a quick table of contents and index scan so I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

So did I get a knock on the door from the head gasket monster for Halloween?
Was going to rent coolant pressure tester from parts place but they wanted a stupid deposit like two hundred bucks and my debit card is being changed to the chip type card so I'm not giving them cash. Plus I'm not sure if they even have the adapter for the small filler neck.

Also thinking about getting a block tester kit, but I'm really hoping it's not a head gasket and I can visually spot the problem and it's not visually coming from the motor.

So I'll stop pontificating and hypothesizing because I'm no mechanic but I bought this as a project car to learn on and enjoy for a long time so what ever the issue is I guess it will be fixed with the two constants to fixing any problem, time and money:D

Any help would be much appreciated, hope I gave enough info, hehe.

10-14-2015, 09:42 AM
If the oil cooler is rusted and leaking it is possible that you are getting cross contamination there.

Otherwise if the car still has stock head gaskets its very possible they need to be replaced.

10-14-2015, 10:05 AM

10-14-2015, 10:07 AM
Thanks for the quick reply. I'll hopefully get to checking it out today if time permits. I've been following your posts and didn't even realize you were from East Hartford. Might be picking your brain in the future for local shops that can do some work on these cars. I was hoping to get the trans rebuilt this winter as it's starting to block out and the syncro on first and sometimes second are gone for sure. Was thinking about capital in Hartford? Also need a good custom exhaust shop. I'm in South Windsor. Also would like to get a late model tank before doing exhaust and tranny. Anyway this is probably not the place to ask these questions but I'm short on time as usual. I'll learn.

10-14-2015, 12:19 PM
Your low readings on engine temp and oil pressure might be corroded connections at the sending units. I just fixed my gauge readings by cleaning the Oil Pressure sensor connection and replacing the engine coolant temp sensor because the fitting was so corroded, I broke it off trying to remove it for cleaning. My gauges now read in the normal ranges instead of below the 'N'.

The black gunk in the overflow and radiator could be Stop Leak that was added to mask a leaking radiator or blown head gasket. As was mentioned, have it pressure checked to be sure.

10-14-2015, 05:15 PM
Your low readings on engine temp and oil pressure might be corroded connections at the sending units. I just fixed my gauge readings by cleaning the Oil Pressure sensor connection and replacing the engine coolant temp sensor because the fitting was so corroded, I broke it off trying to remove it for cleaning. My gauges now read in the normal ranges instead of below the 'N'.

The black gunk in the overflow and radiator could be Stop Leak that was added to mask a leaking radiator or blown head gasket. As was mentioned, have it pressure checked to be sure.

okay so I'm hoping I freaked out a little over the gunk in the overflow reservoir. I mean it is twenty five years old.

I rented the pressure tester from auto zone and I knew it wasn't going to work as it didn't have an adapter on it for the size filler neck on the stock radiator but it did have the adapter to fit the cap, unless i didn't see a configuration that worked but I tried them all and no hooking it up to the radiator fill. Ford manual shows pressure testing being done with the rotunda tester that hooks up to some filler neck adapter with a quick connect fitting. Anyway I tested my cap and I think it needs replacing but i'll clean it and try again.

next step was to block test for combustion leak which i did. Picked up the kit from napa on sale for thirty bucks. started car and let warm up. took out coolant with a turkey baster to lower coolant level as to not suck it up into the test fluid. stayed blue purple the whole time until right at the end of like the third rinse and fill of tester fluid. I know the thermostat was open for the second fresh fluid test as I watched the coolant drop and did the test and it stayed blue for like two minutes. The third time it started to turn yellow instantly but I'm not sure if that was from the coolant shooting up into the tester and me pulling up into the engine bay air with a leaky exhaust and the apirator half depressed or what. I'll try it again when i can get somewhere I can actually drain some coolant and not try and wait for it to rise in the 1/4 inch hole and suck it out with a turkey baster a little at a time.

So I don't think I'm out of the woods yet with the head gasket as I'm sure something is amiss there. I rechecked the oil level and I think, I know, I misread the dipstick initially. I'm well above the add line and it looks normal. The coolant that I sucked out looked really clean other than the grey filmy residue around the filler neck and the junk in the reservoir. Water pump was just replaced like less than three thousand miles ago. After warm up it doesn't leak coolant until it cools down and I come back and it's gone from the resevoir? Bad gasket on water pump?
Drove to car wash to rinse down after coolant explosion and coolant temp was perfect. Oil pressure was between the N and O the whole time. Engine idles really nice and quiet except for the exhaust leak.
I really wish I wasn't so rushed and could get it on jacks and look under it but time just doesn't allow. I have a condo with my tools and stuff being at my folks two towns over so it will sit till next week when the day off roles around and maybe then I can approach it more intelligently.
Like I said earlier I'm a total novice when it comes to cars so If I'm sounding like I'm green it's because I am but I love this car and want to learn so I appreciate your advice and most importantly your patience.

10-14-2015, 11:39 PM
One thing to keep in mind - there's a TSB on the gauge sending unit failing low on the 1990 Ford cars due to a bad crimp.

I'd swap the sending unit THEN worry about how cool or hot it's running.

(BTW - You may have THREE sending units. You're looking for the one-wire one that's not in the engine coolant bypass tube ... there's drawings here and on TCCoA showing where that is.)


sam jones
10-15-2015, 06:14 AM
Good morning

The block tester is the sure go/no-go test. Test until you are satisfied with the results. Here are some observation/"test" I have performed to confirm troubleshooting.

Bubbles in the recovery tank. You may have to remove the coolant in the tank and replace it with water for a clear look. Start car and idle normal temperature. Check the tank for constant bubbles. If so pressures is escaping the combustion through the radiator. Suspect bad head gasket.

with engine off check the passenger oil fill cap/valve cover fill tube for heavy moisture/anti-freeze smell. If condition exist suspect bad head and or intake manifold gasket.

Drive car for 20 to 30 minutes. Park car. Do not shut off. Go the the exhaust pipes. Use you finger and check for moisture/anti-freeze smell. Suspect intake manifold/head gasket.

Remove fan. Jack up front and install jack stands. This is the best way to perform this inspection. Inspect the radiator especially the tank bottom/top wield corners for evidence of leaks. Repair radiator if leaks are found.

Check the dipstick for a "milky", "watery"" and or diluted" color. If found suspect bad head gasket. Immediately take a oil sample. Take a small cup of oil (oil pan drain and or oil filter). Stir sample. If a silver metal "sparkles" raise to the top the engine bearing are damaged. Engine rebuild is required.

Good luck.

10-21-2015, 11:43 AM
don't know why or how but after the little scare it hasn't show any signs of leaking. After the block test I refilled radiator, capped it and filled coolant reservoir. I didn't crack the bleed off on the top of the motor when filling though. I saw some bubbling in the reservoir but that subsided and has stopped completely so I'm assuming it was air in the system. I've been keeping an eye on it and after some round town driving it gets up to the hot line on the res and drops to the cool line at night with no noticeable leaks to be seen. I'm sure there is an issue there but I'm thinking it might be okay to go ahead with the exhaust before winter and revisit this issue in the spring. If it's a head gasket or intake gasket it's not something I'm equipped to tackle at this time anyway, but with a winter to study up and get some of the necessary tools I'd probably go for it in the spring. I'm thinking it should be done regardless in the spring.
I will take the advice above and check the oil pressure sensor and coolant sensor.
My plan now is to baby it for the next couple of weeks and till it makes it to the garage. I was a little hesitant about putting an exhaust on it before putting it up for the winter but I think I might just do it. I was worried if it was a going head gasket that it would blow and foul the sensors and screw with the new cats and stuff but I'm just going to do it I think. Unless it's seen as being foolish and then I'll hold off till spring and address the issue at hand first?