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2002 Bird overheating help?!?

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  • 2002 Bird overheating help?!?

    Thank you for the add to this group. I love my 2002 thunderbird!! I have the teal color with the white hardtop. Iím wondering if anyone can give me some advice.

    The bird has a hydronic radiator fan motor. At irregular intervals the temp dial shoots up and the cylinders start to shut down and it shows that itís overheating and I have to pull over. After turning off for 5 or ten minutes it may do it again or it may not do it again. The ford service department changed the hydraulic fan motor, the fuel pump, head gasket, and finally when they couldn't resolve the issue we took it to another repair service. He thinks itís an airlock (air bubble) in the coolant system line that blocks the coolant from flowing. He says this is a continental engine with multiple bleed points and once he bleeds the coolant everything runs fine for a while. At least he can get it to where I can drive it for a while. Then it could be six months 9 mos a year later but then it happens again. This has been going on for several years. Has anyone else experienced this problem? Does anyone have any advice? Even with this issue I just canít let my car go but I canít enjoy it like I used to!
    Thanks for any advice!

  • #2
    Welcome, Becky! It sounds like air may be re-entering the system. You may have a tiny leak that doesnít show when the engine is cool. When things heat up, the leak expands allowing coolant out and air back in. Try to get the engine area clean as possible. Then you can check later for dried up residue in the engine bay. No guarantees but definitely worth considering. The system has several plastic crossover pipes that are prone to cracking along with the degas (overflow) bottle. These are common problem areas. Good luck finding the problem.
    .

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    • #3
      To add to Gene's diagnosis you should be checking the fluid level daily. If you are losing fluid there can be no doubt you have a leak and most likely at least one of the plastic parts Gene spoke about. The radiator fill area is a plastic bottle type thing in the engine compartment on the drivers side near the firewall.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by rclark View Post
        Thank you for the add to this group. I love my 2002 thunderbird!! I have the teal color with the white hardtop. Iím wondering if anyone can give me some advice.

        The bird has a hydronic radiator fan motor. At irregular intervals the temp dial shoots up and the cylinders start to shut down and it shows that itís overheating and I have to pull over. After turning off for 5 or ten minutes it may do it again or it may not do it again. The ford service department changed the hydraulic fan motor, the fuel pump, head gasket, and finally when they couldn't resolve the issue we took it to another repair service. He thinks itís an airlock (air bubble) in the coolant system line that blocks the coolant from flowing. He says this is a continental engine with multiple bleed points and once he bleeds the coolant everything runs fine for a while. At least he can get it to where I can drive it for a while. Then it could be six months 9 mos a year later but then it happens again. This has been going on for several years. Has anyone else experienced this problem? Does anyone have any advice? Even with this issue I just canít let my car go but I canít enjoy it like I used to!
        Thanks for any advice!
        Hey Becky ! Welcome to the Nest !
        i also have a 2002, and is the only year with this hydrolic system. I just finished swapping everything out to a electric fan system. The '03-'05 had the swap already done from factory. First, you need to determine if your problem is from the hydrolic side,, or the coolant side. First test, start the engine, leave it run a few minutes. Visually, your radiator fan should be spinning slowly. As the engine warms up, the fan should speed up. When you turn on the a/c, the fan should spin at its maximum speed. If all these proceedures work, skip to the coolant side., if not, you will need to fix the issues. The fan speed is controlled by a small valve called the actuator. It is screwed into the hydrolic pump. It has a wire hooked up to it. It is not voltage , but a pulse. Like i said, this system is not my favorite system, and is why after screwing arround to get it working, i gave in, and ripped it out and did the conversion. You can do a search on this site for my messages, and get an idea of the extend of work to do this.

        if your problem is on the coolant side, first start with the degas bottle. Its the cap and plastic white bottle with coolant overflow. They often crack and fail.
        if you thermostat is original, replace it with a factory one.there is a small purge valve by the degas bottle. Just open the screw and close it when coolant leaks out. Don't forget, only use the gold dealer coolant ( a red container) nothing else. Don't mix with prestone, it will eventually turn to gel in the hoses.
        monitor the level ( between the lines) of the coolant in the degas bottle.

        good luck, let us know if you need more info.

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        • #5
          Need to have the cooling system pressure tested with dye in order to find the leak that it introducing air in the system. It can be so tiny that it doesn't produce any visible leaking.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Thunderbird 22 View Post

            Hey Becky ! Welcome to the Nest !
            i also have a 2002, and is the only year with this hydrolic system. I just finished swapping everything out to a electric fan system. The '03-'05 had the swap already done from factory. .
            One of the many reasons I don't own an '02 and why the car got such a bad rap.I never understood why it took Ford so long to get it right when it was such a great idea.

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            • #7
              One simple solution is to 'burp' the system. Run the car to get the temperature up to normal, then open the degas bottle and let the car idle. It may take up to 10 minutes, but the air bubble, if there is one, should blow out the top. Make sure there is only the one air bubble, then top up the system with the proper coolent. You should be good to go.
              Unbelivable TBN trips including ALL of the lower 48 States plus 9 Canadian Provinces, 8 European Countries, 3 Caribbean Countries, Countless National Parks and have attended well over 100 TBN Events since 2001 and counting. Best of all ... fabulous friends.

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              • #8
                I've worked on a 2003 Lincoln LS where I couldn't get the temp to settle down. Finally gave up. Replaced the water pump and thermostat housings (was leaking coolant). Finally came to the conclusion that it had overheated enough previously that perhaps the head gaskets were causing some problems. Haven't had any problems "burping" my own TBird after doing water pump etc. Try the bleeding procedure exactly by the book and see what happens. Perhaps the coolant is just getting low after many months and that's why the problem occurs. Remember, the temp gauge is very "lazy" and won't show high temps unless it really is getting hot. Buy a cheap blue tooth obd2 adapter with your smartphone and monitor the water temp. Remember too, that this temp is cylinder head temp and not actually coolant temp (at least on the 2003 on up). I wouldn't own a 2002 as the cooling fan mess, etc.

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                • #9
                  When you have a leak in the system, the lost coolant is replaced by air and the overflow bottle can show full (due to the air). The system will overheat with only a gallon or less missing. (capacity is 12 gallons). I had a pinpoint hole in my radiator that produced no leaking on my garage floor whatsoever and my coolant always showed full. The pressurized dye test showed the radiator leak.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Brad View Post
                    capacity is 12 gallons
                    Surely not 12 gallons. I believe you meant quarts. It's 11.9 quarts. or 11.3 litres.

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