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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Went to leave last night and noticed that my temp guage didn't move for quite awhile into the trip (couple of miles). When it did come up, it jumped up over where it normally runs, but not into the "hot" range, then fluctuated up and down the entire trip (about 40 miles), which is not normal. I had noticed recently that the overflow was empty, so I thought maybe the coolant was low. When I opened the hood, the overflow was full and you could see where it had actually overflowed a bit. The coolant was a milky rust color. I didn't open the radiator at that time since it was hot, and didn't have time to check it this morning (drove the wife's car to work), but I expect to find the radiator level will be low or that the coolant would have been drawn back into the radiator. I've done some searching and seen everything from thermostat, to radiator cap, to blown head gasket. The oil doesn't show any signs of contamination and I don't think it is burning coolant (at least I don't see any abnormal smoke or anything). So I thought I'd pick the brains of some of the car enthusiasts on this site for your opinion on what to look for.

Thanks in advance for all your help.
 

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Sound like you had a thermostat that was stuck, It finally opened and that is what caused your overflow. If this was it it should be running a little cooler now. What make, model, engine?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Overall, I would say it was running hotter than normal, but the dial was up and down every few seconds.

It is a 99 Ford Ranger 3.0L V6.
 

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Change coolant, thermostat and radiator cap. easy cheap first trouble shooting steps
 

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Grab the top hose when it is warm, engine runnning, WATCH THE FAN. and sqeeuze it repeatedly see if you just have a blockage it might knock it loose. Biggun is right if this won't fix it cheap and easy just don't overtighten the thermostat housing or you will be buying that (not cheaP)
 

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Could be that your water pump is starting to go.
 

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there are a few things that it could be.
1)thermostat stuck
2)collapsed radiator hose(common)
3)Water pump
4)headgasket
5)low coolant is possible but should see leaks or smell it burning
6)most likely in Ford 3.0s is the heater core clogged up from 96-about 2002 they just disintegrated from inside out. Ive seen it where they had to be flushed twice a year or just replace the heater core. Need anymore help just ask
 

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first thing i would do is drain/flush coolant and replace your thermostat might even wanna replace your radiator cap while your at it just for fun
 

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Twinsburg, OH (NE OH, northern edge of Summit Co.)
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im no expert but the first thing i would try is to change the thermostat. in my novice/hack opinion it sounds like its sticking closed and releasing every once in a while. that milky rusty color would concern me. have you ever put stop leak or anything in it? sounds like you should also give it a good flush and change the coolant.

but first i would just change the thermostat and go for a drive and see if it operates normally again.

better to have it happen in July rather than Febuary!
 
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