Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Fix a Ford 4.6 (Mustang/Crown Victoria/F-150) Thermostat Housing Leak... for 20 cents

Thermostat housing and water outlet on a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria police interceptor- other years similar

Last weekend, I set out to replace the thermostat in a Crown Victoria as part of a routine cooling system service. This should have taken me about five minutes, tops: I've owned more than five Crown Vics in the past few years and have done fairly extensive work on Panther-platform cars. Plus, they aren't exactly mechanically complex machines.

At first, everything went smoothly: I unbolted the water outlet from the intake manifold, replaced the thermostat and gasket, and bolted the outlet back onto the manifold at the Ford spec of 18 ft-lbs. Fired up the car, bled the system, and.... a leak! Coolant was pouring pretty steadily out from the thermostat housing on the intake manifold. Puzzled, I checked the following, which would be the usual suspects for such a leak:
  • The O-ring inside the housing was properly positioned on top of the thermostat.
  • The hose connected to the water outlet was not leaking coolant. This is something to check, because if the hose wears out, it can leak coolant and it will run down the water outlet, simulating a leak from the thermostat housing.
  • The thermostat housing was in great shape, with no pitting, cracks, or defects of any kind. I checked this thoroughly, because the Ford manifolds are well known to crack in various locations.
  • The bolts were indeed torqued down to the proper amount, and they were torqued in equal increments.
Swapping the O-ring for a different one didn't help. Nor did replacing the thermostat again, which I tried out of desperation. I even tried soaking the water outlet in brake cleaner to no avail. By this point, I was very frustrated and about to give up and just RTV the sucker to death (a cardinal sin, in my book).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gas Prices: "It's the 'S' word, stupid!"

Editor's Note: This post was written by Cliff, who has guest-written for this blog before. Cliff is a fellow automotive enthusiast and has spent time employed in the automotive industry.

I know we all have been experiencing the recent “pain at the pump”. We have been told that this sudden and unexplained rise in gas prices represents a “war premium”. Another explanation is it is as a result of Iran shutting off oil shipments to France and the UK. Another, was a rumor that a major explosion of a pipeline in Saudi Arabia had occurred which was later proven false. And the most recent and most plausible of all of these explanations in my book, the fact that Peyton Manning will no longer will be playing Quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. It’s as good as any I listed above.

Our President has stated quite clearly that there is nothing he can do about it in the short term and that it is a very long term problem. Shortly before this announcement, he shot down a major pipeline project from Canada to the heart of America’s refinery operations in the Houston, Texas region that would have had a significant impact on supply of oil in the US in the next several years. So I guess he was right. That pretty much put a lock on not solving the problem for a very long time, didn’t it?

Just yesterday, his fellow Democrats stopped an end run by a group of Republicans that would have reversed the president’s decision and given the go ahead to build the pipeline. The democrats argued that because the oil is from Canada’s tar sands it is “dirty” and not fit for US consumption. Clearly, the President and his fellow democrats must have been recovering from late night benders when they failed to show for their 7:45 AM class where what a “refinery” does was discussed. So as a result, China who now owns debt, will soon own our oil. Nice. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2007 GMC Acadia: Long Term Test, Part I

Written by Ben Aghajanian, Contributing Editor

Part I: On the Road Impressions

We purchased our 2007 GMC Acadia Certified Pre-owned in July 2010 coming off a lease. It had been so well-kept by the previous owner that the dealer had it in the showroom alongside brand new cars. It looked new. We looked at new ones, and while very nice, they did not seem worth upwards of $43K. Our used one came in around $27K- a fully loaded, Carbon Black SLT AWD model.

Initially, we were very impressed with the car. Very smooth ride, good road/noise isolation even at high speeds, a decent-looking interior, and loads of space (which was one of the main reasons we bought it). We took it on a 3 week, 6,000 mile road trip from Ohio to Colorado, through Wyoming, and back and averaged 20.5mpg according to the onboard computer, which is quite accurate if not slightly under-optimistic: hand calculations usually yielded slightly higher results. Close to 21mpg is pretty good given the Acadia’s size, the fact that it was fully loaded with gear, was oftentimes cruising at 80+ on the wide open highways out west, and included lots of mountain driving.

Click "read more" after the jump to continue reading.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

10 US-Market Diesel Cars You Forgot About

1985 Volvo 740 Turbodiesel (VW I-6 power)

Now that gas is again approaching prices close to $4/gallon, it seems appropriate to post this list of ten diesel cars which were sold in the US that you probably have long forgotten - or never knew about in the first place. Some of these cars are incredibly cool from a novelty sense. And some... well, let's just say they're better left forgotten.

1. 1984-1987 Ford Escort Diesel - EPA Rated 41 city/53 highway

Powered by a 2-liter Mazda diesel engine, the Escort Diesel was EPA rated for 41 city and 53 highway mpg, which is pretty impressive. What wasn't so impressive was the acceleration: with 52 horsepower and 67 torques, sales were as slow as the Escort's 0-60 time. Nail in the coffin: Interference engine design meant that an owner who neglected to replace the timing belt would experience total engine failure soon after.

Fun Fact: The Tempo was also available with the same diesel engine, but sales were even worse.

Click "read more" after the jump to keep reading.