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Old 03-16-2012, 08:52 PM
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Troubleshooting loss of coolant (evidence of white residue around cooling system components (Degas))

Troubleshooting loss of coolant, evidence of white residue around cooling system components (especially the Degas cap):
Determine if the belt, the tensioner, and the water pump pulley can sustain the load of the vdf (fan) at 100% duty cycle without slippage: Look at the water pump pulley. If you find where the belt rides to be no longer black, but shiny and polished, that means that the belt has been slipping and that replacement of the belt, tensioner, idler pulley, and water pump pulley are warranted.
If the degas bottle is leaking you will see a white residue as it dries. This white residue is from the coolant. There are 4 likely causes for this.
1. Leaks in the Degas bottle itself, weak cap or imperfections with sealing to bottle.
2. Leaks in the coolant recirculation system (when checking for leaks, check the radiator hoses, heater hoses, EGR hose, Degas bottle recirculation and vent hoses, and the coolant filter system if applicable. Also check for a leaking seal around the water pump, block drain plugs, etc.).
3. EGR cooler starting to leak. An EGR cooler leak can cause the Degas bottle to overpressure and blow coolant out the cap (venting). This is often times (but not always) accompanied by white smoke out the tailpipe, and coolant under the EGR valve when inspecting w/ the vehicle parked on a decline.
4. Leaking headgaskets, typically from overboost. Leaking headgaskets can cause the Degas bottle to overpressure and blow coolant out the cap (venting).
TROUBLESHOOTING:
Make sure that the hoses, degas bottle, and water pump gasket, block drains, etc. do not show obvious signs of leaking.
After driving the vehicle and getting it up to temp, park on a down slope (vehicle nose pointed down) and pull your EGR valve. Look for coolant under the valve in the intake. Maybe 25% of the EGR cooler leaks can be identified this way.
Look for evidence of white smoke in the exhaust, and try to determine from smell if it is coolant. Also, white smoke from fuel will tend to rise and dissipate, where white smoke from coolant will tend to linger close to the ground.
Check the Degas bottle for any imperfections or leaks. Sand (with an emery cloth) the top face of the degas bottle opening. Consider replacing the Degas bottle cap at this point (part # 9C3Z-8101-B). They are cheap. I recommend the OEM cap. It is a reliable component for the most part. If at any time the Degas bottle cap has relieved, Ford states that the spring could be weakened and it should be replaced.
Next, let the engine cool down (you want a cold system to do this test). Apply vacuum to the cooling system with the coolant at minimum level or 1/2 inch below minimum. Vacuum type cooling system fillers work well for this. Try Snap-on RADKITPLUSA 078-00592 or similar. You can also use an Actron CP7830 vacuum hand pump - get a good rubber stopper for plugging the degas bottle cap opening. A #9 rubber stopper will work just fine. You can tee into the hose that goes to the Degas bottle from the intake and apply at least 25" of Hg vacuum to the system. Let it sit like that. If the vacuum does not hold over 15 minutes (preferably 20 min) you then need to pull the EGR cooler and check it for pressure and vacuum - out of the vehicle. If you change the EGR cooler, change the oil cooler at the same time and flush the system thoroughly.
It is possible to force coolant into a cylinder and cause a hydrolock by adding pressure to the degas bottle. For this reason the vacuum leak test is recommended to be done first. If the vacuum test above shows a leak, then it is time to do pressure and vacuum leak tests on the EGR cooler after removing it from the vehicle. This testing can be done by submerging the EGR cooler in a water bath. Air pressure applied to the EGR cooler (coolant side) will pass through any cracks and bubble up through the water. If you decide to do the pressure test on the degas bottle next, then be sure to evacuate the cylinders before operating the vehicle.
My next suggestion (assuming the cold vacuum test passes) for diagnosis is this: Get yourself a good pressure tester (I understand that Autozone sells a kit that works well) and tee into the smaller lines going into the degas bottle from the intake, do not remove the cap. Pressure up the system, record the release pressure of the cap, and look for leaks in the degas bottle itself and around the cap. If you have any leaks at the cap before it reaches 16 psi, AGAIN check the bottle for imperfections and verify that the top face of the degas bottle opening is flat and smooth. You may be tempted to do this pressure test first, but remember, there is a small chance that a pressurization of the degas bottle could force coolant into a cylinder if you have a significant leak in the EGR cooler already. Even a new cap has a slight potential of being bad. If the cap leaks at 14 psig or below, replace it again with a new cap and repeat this test.
Keep the pressure testing system mentioned above installed on your system and make sure your coolant level is at minimum. Loosen the cap on your Degas bottle and leave it loose (one round on the threads is good). Drive it until it gets up to temperature. Pull over and tighten your Degas bottle cap. Begin driving and carefully perform some WOT runs getting the engine to reasonably high boost - but not over 28psig. If you are tuned and do not have head studs, you may want to just drive normally during this test and not push maximum power, unless you are OK with installing head studs sooner rather than later.
If the EGR cooler is good (or you have just replaced it) and you have seen pressure swings in the degas bottle as tested in the previous two tests, then it is likely that you have a leak in the head gasket(s).
When replacing the headgaskets have the turbo taken apart and checked. The unison ring will typically be worn where the actuator runs. Fix the turbo as required.
If you want to use aftermarket parts the BulletProofDiesel parts are good. The BPD EGR cooler is very durable and has a good reputation. The BPD air cooled oil cooler is great also, just expensive. Anytime you have a failed EGR cooler, you should seriously consider replacing the oil cooler. At a minimum - be sure your ECT/EOT deltas are 15 degrees F or less at WOT (fully warmed engine).
If you don't have the means to diagnose this yourself, take it to a dealership/repair shop you feel comfortable with and have them test it.


FYI - The Lisle LIS20300 pressure/vacuum gauge will work (I believe it only goes to 14 or 15 psig though). O'Reilley's sells it.

Also - OTC 5613 Vacuum / Pressure Gauge Kit (0-15 psig)

Mityvac sells a 0-30 psig gauge and also does vacuum. It would be ideal: MVA6181
Mityvac
Mityvac MVA6181 MVA6181 - Compound Vacuum/Pressure Gauge

Lastly: KD Tools (0-15 psig) Model# KDS2521 and Actron CP7802 (0-15 psig)
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:24 PM
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Very detailed, yet simple enough for the average 7.3 owner to follow! (Just a joke, relax)

I like it.
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Old 03-17-2012, 05:14 AM
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Great write up Mark ,very easy to understand . And reps to you if i can.
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:46 PM
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bump .
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Old 03-27-2012, 08:06 PM
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Great step by step information.. But your right ups always are.
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:09 PM
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Good info bismic! learned more stuff frome your post (as usuial). Sanding the sealing area of the degas bottle, doing a cold vac test FIRST, and releasing the pressure before the pressure test just to name a few. Thanks again for taking the time to help us rookies out!
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:22 PM
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Thanks all - a lot comes from the WSM and I also try to get folks like cheezit, m-chan68, or npccpartsman to tell me if it sounds stupid or not before I post it - lol.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:13 AM
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If the problem is the EGR cooler leaking would a EGR delete be a solution?
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:35 AM
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Sure. That would fix the leak. Oil cooler change is highly recommended also. It's very likely clogged an is the cause of the EGR cooler failure. A thorough flush of the cooling system is needed also and should be done BEFORE taking the truck apart. Be sure to check emission testing in your area or where you might want to sell the truck. EGR deletes are illegal on a street driven vehicle everywhere. Just a matter of if you get caught. Bullet Proof Diesel offers a upgraded EGR cooler with a lifetime warranty that's a good option if you have concerns.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:30 PM
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What about an EGR delete via tuner? (computer shuts it off) would that be a solution? I do a good bit of
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:31 PM
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Pulling and was told by several guys to do the delete and get a EGT gauge.
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Old 05-25-2012, 09:42 PM
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Sure. That would keep the exhaust gasses out of the intake air. You still have coolant in the EGR cooler though. You could reflash to stock for emission testing if necessary.
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:30 PM
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just what i needed

Thanks for putting this together. Will do testing tomorrow, too late for me to start on this kind of thing tonight.

After a drive through the mountains this past weekend, I noticed my coolant was a little low on Monday morning. The level was probably 1/2 to 3/4 inch below the Minimum line when cold. I've been really watching the coolant level and it was right at the Minimum line cold before my trip. Not much of a loss but hard for me to ignore.

My EOT/ECT deltas have been OK. They stay right around 10 degrees on the highway and have not changed since I began monitoring them.

It has been suggested that I could have a very small leak in the EGR cooler in the past. I've done the nose down parking test and found no evidence of coolant in the intake. I understand from bismic's info that this test may only work 1/4 of the time so that may not mean a whole lot.

I have noticed recently there has been some white residue on the inside of the degas bottle cap. Haven't seen any evidence of puking on top of the cap/bottle or anywhere else around that part of the engine. I'm hoping that is test shows my cap is weak and that's what's caused the coolant loss. I am due for a new cap anyway so regardless I'll go ahead and replace it, I just really want to get to the bottom of my coolant loss.

Thanks again,

Bill
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:40 AM
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Just has the coolant issue happen to me.

~66k on the odo. Monitoring the oil, trans and coolant temp and yesterday was the first day the coolant and oil bounced outside of +/- 15. Oil temp hit 202 at its highest and the coolant stays between 188 - 196. The only time I am out of bounds is at WOT.

Reservoir still sits a the MIN level, still smell the coolant burning. Apparently the AFE intake install requires removal of a coolant line so it had to be topped of.

My current mods are minor so I am leaning towards the cap but I do have a Sinister cooler in case and have not yet bought the head gaskets and ARP studs.

I bought the "Space Shuttle" about three months ago (out of Tejas) and just had the suspension + exhaust and minor mods updated. Anyone think that flushing all of the fluids would adjust the out-of-bounds error and possible the overflow?

Also, I assume we have to warm up out sweet little diesels before putting off in the morning/evening…at what temp, or how long do I wait, to drive off?
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Disament View Post
Just has the coolant issue happen to me.

~66k on the odo. Monitoring the oil, trans and coolant temp and yesterday was the first day the coolant and oil bounced outside of +/- 15. Oil temp hit 202 at its highest and the coolant stays between 188 - 196. The only time I am out of bounds is at WOT.

Reservoir still sits a the MIN level, still smell the coolant burning. Apparently the AFE intake install requires removal of a coolant line so it had to be topped of.

My current mods are minor so I am leaning towards the cap but I do have a Sinister cooler in case and have not yet bought the head gaskets and ARP studs.

I bought the "Space Shuttle" about three months ago (out of Tejas) and just had the suspension + exhaust and minor mods updated. Anyone think that flushing all of the fluids would adjust the out-of-bounds error and possible the overflow?

Also, I assume we have to warm up out sweet little diesels before putting off in the morning/evening…at what temp, or how long do I wait, to drive off?
Being that your temp spread occurs at WOT you do not have an oil cooler problem. You might have a bad cap and that's the first thing I'd change. I'd also do a pressure test on the cooling system. You may have an EGR cooler leaking but with your coolant temps staying in the range they are I'd not be willing to scream headgaskets yet.

What's your temp spread after the truck is well up to operating temperature and a 5-10 mile 65mph steady cruise on level ground? If it's more than 15* doing that then you have an oil cooler problem.
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