CAR question. Mike you in the house??

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by odie, Jan 17, 2004.

  1. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Well we are driving a Mecury Villager...I know it is very domestic!!

    Well we had it in to our mechanic a couple weeks ago for a look over and oil change etc. They said we had a hose/clamp or heater block(??) leaking. Said it could be $5 dollar part or a $500 part and job. Said they couldnt tell unless they tore into it alittle.

    The Mrs. is the one who talked to them so it is alittle vague.

    Well I noticed the last week or so that we are putting out alot more white exhaust. Similiar to what you see when its rainy and cold and the car is warm. It also has seemed to worsen as the week went on. It is white not dark.

    Could this be related??? Any ideas??

    Engine is running fine and the heater is putting out heat. I havent been able to compare and monitor the antifreeze as of yet.

    This was a new used car we have had for a month or so.:(
  2. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    Take it to the dealer quickly. The generic issue here is that you have a leak. What your mechanic was telling you is that he can't tell you where the leak is without going deeper into it. It could be as simple as a loose or missing hose clamp that would cost ya $5 or so. Or it could be as serious as a cracked engine block which would cost you, in my opinion, a lot more than the $500 plus parts your mechanic suggested.

    An analogy would be if you went to your doctor complaining of a cough. That's your van's white smoke. It could be as simple as a cold (clamp), or it could be a symptom of emphysema (cracked block). A few simple tests will give you the correct answer.

    A Ford or Mercury dealer or an ASE certified shop should have the appropriate scan tools and equipment to be able to diagnose it for you.


  3. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    One other thing....An advantage of taking it to a Ford or Mercury dealer is that they have immediate access to any service bulletins that may have been issued that apply to your vehicle. Third party shops have access, in that they can subscribe to receive all Ford's bulletins, but they don't necessarily do so. They also will have records of any recall procedures that your vehicle was subject to. Whatever is troubling your vehicle could be tied to a recall. In that case, you would not be responsible for paying for the recall procedure. Sometimes you'll find that previous owners of vehicles have not responded to all recall notifications for their cars, especially if they don't think their vehicle has the symptom that they are recalling for. I used to be responsible for the group that wrote engine & transmission service bulletins and recall notices for one of the major automakers. You'd be surprised at how many I ignored because I knew it didn't apply to my vehicle. When you take your vehicle in to the dealer, they usually do a VIN (serial number) check to see if there are any outstanding procedures to be performed on the vehicle. Think of it as a Microsoft Windows patch. In fact, many times it is as simple as flashing a new algorhythm to the car's computer.

    Hope that helps


  4. Sounds like a blown head gasket. Coolant is leaking into the engine, probably into the exhaust manifold, causing the white exhaust vapour.

    You'll run out of coolant in the end, the engine will overheat and you'll be in more trouble than you are now.

    Take a look in the coolant overrun tank with the (cold!) engine running. If the level is below minimum, or you see oil traces, foam, or the coolant starts boiling right away: bad news.
  5. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Thanx James and Joris.

    James: I always thought the a dealer mechanc was a no no?? More costly and sometimes not the best work. Is this true or jusr disgruntled customers that have rubbed off on consumer folk-lore??:)

    The mechanic that loked at it is a fairly large place and does warranty type work.

    But if you feel a dealership mechanic is best I will go that route.

    Thanx again and dear God I cant afford a big bill!!!!!

    This is the reason why I love TB. Its the diversity of people and their expertise and the help mingling that happens. Very cool.
  6. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Also overflow was just under max. Antifreeze looked a little dark. But isnt that normal?? No obvious oil swirls etc.

    This a good sign?
  7. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    Did the shop you went to see a coolant leak or did they notice the exhaust looked/smelled funny? Are you seeing spots on the ground? Waterpump leaks are fairly common on those, but if you suspect youre burning antifreeze, then (like James said), get it to a shop asap, and I would second the recommendation of a Merc dealer, since they see that model on a daily basis.

    Have you noticed the exhaust smells funny? Burning antifreeze has a strong odor that will tear your eyes if you get too big a whiff of it.

    Dark coolant doesnt really mean much other than its dirty. Did you pull the radiator cap off and see how low that is?

    Could be a head gasket like Joris suggested (the Villager engine is very similar to a Caravan 3.0), but I would want a second opinion before I got too nervous.

    Did you buy the van from a dealer or a private party? You may have a basic warranty from a dealer if thats where you got it from.

    Good luck, keep me posted. :cool:
  8. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Got it from a used lot for a decent price. Their isnt a very strong odor. Smells musty and humid but no real bad smell. I popped the radiator cap off and saw that there was some antifreeze around the top but couldnt see down to see how low it was.

    Havent noticed any real pooling of antifreeze. But of course it is Minnesota and it is wet and rainy almost everyday.

    The mechanic said it looked like there was coolant leaking where the hose goes into the heater. Around a clamp. But couldnt tell if it was the heater or just the clamp/hose.

    Im hoping it isnt a gasket. We bought this car after our car was totaled less than a month ago.
  9. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I would say that it used to be true. As cars have gotten to be more complicated (ex.:computer controlled fuel injection and variable valve timing as opposed to mechanical carburators and adjustable lash heads) the amount of training required to be a good mechanic and the amount of shop investment required to provide customers with excellent service has increased dramatically. A drawer full of Craftsman tools and common sense won't cut it anymore. Check the hourly mechanic's rate at dealerships and compare to GOOD independent shops. Not a lot of difference.


  10. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    You're right about the possibility of a blown head gasket, but I would hope that if that were the case, Odie's mechanic could have diagnosed that on the spot. A simple pressure tap on the heads would identify a leak in the head / block sealing joint. That and leak witness marks / staining at the joint. Not as obvious if it's a waterpump gasket or crack, and definitely not obvious if it is a cracked block or cylinder head. The fact that there is white smoke out the tailpipe does kinda reduce the likelihood that it's a hose clamp. Obviously coolant is getting into the combustion cycle. A loose or missing clamp would dump it on the ground or cause it to burn off underhood (white smoke under the car as opposed to out the tailpipe.)

    Let me stop before I start to sound like a Chilton's manual.


  11. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Wouldnt the car be acting or running rough if it was a cracked engine block?? Wouldnt they notice antifreeze in the oil when they changed it??
  12. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Also anyone have any ideas on the costs of a head gasker, cracked head??
  13. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    What year is your Villager?

    Those have the Nissan 3.0L V6. I worked for nissan for 9 and a half years. Those engines don't typically blow head gaskets-unlike the Toyota 3.0L V6.

    It one of them could be blown though, if there's a lot of white smoke coming from the tailpipe. But like Mike said, burning antifreeze has a distinct odor, one you wouldn't miss.

    Pull out your oil dipstick, and look at the oil on it. If it looks milky, you've got a cracked block. However, that was almost non-existent with most Nissan V6 engines I saw-the 3.0's anyway.

    A heater pipe could be leaking. That engine is pretty much shoe horned in there, so it would take a bit of digging to find it. The water pump could be leaking too. Those should be changed every 60,000 miles on those, along with the timing belt.

    If it runs good however, I wouldn't get into panic mode just yet. Take it to a good tech, and have him check it out. Most good shops nowadays have the bulletins, and scan tools the dealers use, so unless it's a brand new-or almost brand new-vehicle, you can go that route.

    Hope that helps. Let us know what you find out.
  14. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I don't know much about cars, but I do know that he's not exagerating. I thought it was gonna burn the hairs off my nostrils.
  15. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    A faulty heater pipe or water pump could make white smoke like that??

    I had cracked a head before and lost an engine shortly after it and this smoke is alot less. But it is significant. It has been running smooth and doesnt seem weak. It seems like I notice the smoke more at idle or slow speeds. Once I get up 30 mph I dont notice a cloud following behind me :)

    Im going to go check the dipstick real quick.
  16. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Well I let it run for a minute to let the radiator fill and to get a good look at the fluid. Looks nice and green. The overflow is about 1-3 inches below max.

    Oil looked good and thick!! It is about -1 without windchill!!

    So I am hopeing it will be a small bill!!!

    My record so far is a new trani 2 years ago, new engine(both in dodge caravan), total in a car wreck a month ago. One ditch accident resulting in broken rear shocks 3 weeks ago on our way from buying the Mercury.

    Also Im not sure if I mentioned this but it is a 97' with 77,000 miles.

    Thanx again everyone!!