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engine problems on 89' 7.3

Discussion in 'Ford Trucks' started by paul soccodato, Aug 19, 2003.

  1. paul soccodato

    paul soccodato Senior Member
    Messages: 430

    i was wondering if anyone has had a similar problem.

    awhile back, i noticed the temperature gauge on my 89 f-350 was running a little higher than normal. i kept an eye on it, but kept driving for about 15 miles. after making a stop, shutting the engine off, and restarting, the gauge pinned and the engine overheated. i shut it off immediately and opened the radiator. i put in 2 gallons of water, and preceded home with no problems.

    i used the truck for a day or so after, and noticed a little white smoke out of the tailpipe, i figured maybe a head gasket was going. the next day, while trying to start the engine (to bring the truck down to my buddies shop to tear into it) the motor wouldn't turn over, hydraulic'ed. i pulled the dipstick, to find the crankcase full of antifreeze/oil.

    from what I've seen and read of the cavitation problems with these engines, this case doesn't sound like it. i will be tearing into it this weekend to see whats up.

    anyone have any idea on what went south?
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2003
  2. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Sounds like a head gasket to me too!
  3. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Paul,sounds like a pinhole in the block due to cavitation.I got fooled by a few that looked exactly like head gaskets,but it was a hole in the block.Ford never really had problems with the late 80's 7.3L and head gaskets.

    I'd still pull the heads just to take a look at the gaskets.If you see no hard evidence of a blown gasket,then it's most likely the block.

    If you want to try a few simple tests,you may be able to narrow it down.Yank the glow plugs until you find the "clean" one.It will be this cylinder that is burning the coolant.You can pressurize the cylinder through the glow plug hole,and you should see it puke coolant,or bubbles out of the rad.Now remove the air,and turn the engine over by hand to bring that cyl to TDC,and if the problem goes away,it's the block.It should almost stop leaking when the piston gets near TDC,and covers the pinhole.

    The block can be easily sleeved to repair the bad cylinder.Wouldn't hurt to sonic check the block to look for other weak areas first,before dumping money on the sleeving.
  4. paul soccodato

    paul soccodato Senior Member
    Messages: 430


    after draining the oil/antifreeze from the crankcase, i was able to get the truck to run today. my question is this,

    if their is a hole in the cylinder wall, wouldn't the cylinder pressure, pressurize the cooling system, and push the water out of the radiator (rad cap off), or out of the expansion tank (rad cap on)?

    (unless the hole is below the piston rings at bdc)
  5. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    The hole is usually down quite low,almost below the rings.Some coolant may get up past the rings,and blow some white smoke.The white smoke will also come from the crankcase blowby being burnt,and some of that being coolant.

    Because the hole is only exposed near BDC,there is not much cylinder pressure at that point.What little pressure is built up,is relieved when the rings get past the holes,and the pressure,and coolant is dumped into the crankcase.When a head gasket goes,the pressure is quite high,and has no where to bleed off as much,resulting in overpressurization of the cooling system.

    Do the test I described earlier,and you should find out what is causing the problem.
  6. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    What did you ever do with the problem Paul ? Any news ?