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Old 04-15-2013
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'03 2.3L Problem

Sorry for being so long-winded, but I wanted to include as much info as I could and thanks in advance for any help given.

The short version is that I heard a grinding/growling noise while I was driving my truck right before it stalled. I then cranked the motor and it started right up. Then I parked it, and saw coolant dumping out underneath. For more details, look below...


The truck:

2003 Ranger 2.3L DOHC 5-spd 2wd 157k-miles. I have had the truck for ~1yr and have driven it ~15k-miles (mostly as an errand-runner or grocery-getter). I have maintained it pretty well, but the previous owner didn't. I knew this before I bought it, but he gave it to me for a very low price. When I first drove it, it had the most badly warped brake rotors I have ever experienced. He also did semi-regular (probably every 6k-miles) motor oil changes with 20W oil. On these small/tight motors, the manufacturer recommends using 5W20. It says it right on the motor oil filler cap. It has 157k-miles, but as far as the previous owner knew, the timing chain had never been replaced. I have been meaning to replace it, but haven't. There is also a pretty bad exhaust leak and it sounds like it is in the worst place to fix: near the exhaust manifold/gasket.


The Problem:

Yesterday (Sunday, 4/15), I drove ~2.5miles from my home to the grocery store. I was ~1/8-mi away from the store driving at ~20mph when I heard a low grinding/growling noise (I thought it was the transmission) before my engine stalled a few moments later. I cranked the engine and it started right up. It seemed to be running alright, but I noticed right away that the coolant temp gauge wasn't working (it read dead cold when it was reading warm moments previously) I drove it the 1/8-mi to the grocery store, parked it, then shut it off. I jumped out, looked underneath the truck, and saw coolant pouring out. There was no white smoke/steam, so hopefully the motor didn't overheat too bad. The way I understand it, overheating with this motor can lead to serious warping/cracking because the head and block are aluminum.

I also think it's about time to replace the clutch/pressure plate/throwout bearing because at times shifting is problematic and I noticed recently that while the transmission is in 1st gear, it can be changed to neutral without using the clutch.

After I saw the coolant leak, I popped the hood. It looked like the coolant was leaking towards the front/middle of the motor, maybe around the water pump. It was leaking at a pretty steady stream, like out of a 1/4" hose. Threre are a few coolant hoses near where it looked like it was leaking.


I'm hoping that the leak is just due to a blown hose, but that wouldn't explain the grinding/growling noise I heard right before the engine stalled. I'm not even close to being a mechanic. I can do routine maintenance alright, but the most intensive thing I've ever done as far as automotive work is concerned is to replace a timing chain on an '84 351W motor.


After I shut off the motor in the grocery store parking lot yesterday, I had it towed back home. I haven't tried to crank the motor yet. I know I could fill it back up with water and try to find the leak, but I'd like to hear from someone who knows what they are talking about before I do. My biggest fear is that the head or block is cracked/warped or that there is serious damage to the bottom end. How can you tell if you've thrown a rod?
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Old 04-15-2013
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Originally Posted by tjw11235 View Post
Sorry for being so long-winded, but I wanted to include as much info as I could and thanks in advance for any help given.




The truck:

2003 Ranger 2.3L DOHC 5-spd 2wd 157k-miles. I have had the truck for ~1yr and have driven it ~15k-miles (mostly as an errand-runner or grocery-getter). I have maintained it pretty well, but the previous owner didn't. I knew this before I bought it, but he gave it to me for a very low price. When I first drove it, it had the most badly warped brake rotors I have ever experienced. He also did semi-regular (probably every 6k-miles) motor oil changes with 20W oil. On these small/tight motors, the manufacturer recommends using 5W20. It says it right on the motor oil filler cap. It has 157k-miles, but as far as the previous owner knew, the timing chain had never been replaced. I have been meaning to replace it, but haven't. There is also a pretty bad exhaust leak and it sounds like it is in the worst place to fix: near the exhaust manifold/gasket.

As litlle as I know about it, oil viscosity choosen change as the environment. For example, I live in a tropical island and the temp never goes under 20 degree so I use a 10W40 motor oil. So it really depends on the variation of temperature you experience. The exhaust leak could be coming from anywhere in the exhaust system like the muffler, the catalytic converter as well, or the header too etc. The best thing to do since its an aged ford is to change the complete system. By doing that you'll be sure to have no more leaks.


The Problem:

Yesterday (Sunday, 4/15), I drove ~2.5miles from my home to the grocery store. I was ~1/8-mi away from the store driving at ~20mph when I heard a low grinding/growling noise (I thought it was the transmission) before my engine stalled a few moments later. I cranked the engine and it started right up. It seemed to be running alright, but I noticed right away that the coolant temp gauge wasn't working (it read dead cold when it was reading warm moments previously) I drove it the 1/8-mi to the grocery store, parked it, then shut it off. I jumped out, looked underneath the truck, and saw coolant pouring out. There was no white smoke/steam, so hopefully the motor didn't overheat too bad. The way I understand it, overheating with this motor can lead to serious warping/cracking because the head and block are aluminum.



I also think it's about time to replace the clutch/pressure plate/throwout bearing because at times shifting is problematic and I noticed recently that while the transmission is in 1st gear, it can be changed to neutral without using the clutch.

After I saw the coolant leak, I popped the hood. It looked like the coolant was leaking towards the front/middle of the motor, maybe around the water pump. It was leaking at a pretty steady stream, like out of a 1/4" hose. Threre are a few coolant hoses near where it looked like it was leaking.

Since the coolant seems to pour out towards the front/middle motor. It could be the water pump. If it is then you have to hurry and change this part along with some other parts too. The water pump is one of the heart of the cooling system. The damages could be irreversible if you don't act now. I changed mine a year ago as I noticed some particle in the expansion box all the time, the coolant as well didn't last 6 month too.

I'm hoping that the leak is just due to a blown hose, but that wouldn't explain the grinding/growling noise I heard right before the engine stalled. I'm not even close to being a mechanic. I can do routine maintenance alright, but the most intensive thing I've ever done as far as automotive work is concerned is to replace a timing chain on an '84 351W motor.

If the previous owner never change the timing chain, I advised you to do it along with the serpentine belt too. Cannot hurt to change both belt.

After I shut off the motor in the grocery store parking lot yesterday, I had it towed back home. I haven't tried to crank the motor yet. I know I could fill it back up with water and try to find the leak, but I'd like to hear from someone who knows what they are talking about before I do. My biggest fear is that the head or block is cracked/warped or that there is serious damage to the bottom end. How can you tell if you've thrown a rod?
Never fill with water the cooling system. You must always use a mixture of 50% coolant and 50% distilled water.

Anyway, you have some repairs to make before dringin again your car.
Hope this help a litlle.
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