HOW TO PREVENT AND ELIMINATE COOLING SYSTEM FAILURES
PICTORIAL PROCEDURES FROM START TO FINISH
Our victim is a 2003 F-150 with 100174 miles. This truck has had multiple heater cores replaced one of them lasting only three weeks. The same type of problems will also occur with the radiator, intake manifold, timing cover, thermostat housing and any other aluminum, brass and copper cooling system components.
We first need to test the vehicle to evaluate the problem:
1. We are going to test for stray voltage.
Test for voltage with a Digital Volt-Ohm Meter (DVOM) one test lead hooked to negative terminal on the battery and dangle the other lead into the coolant.
Tool Tip: It even works better when you use a copper tube on the end of an alligator clip which will give you the most accurate readings.
Different probes different readings the differences between a copper tube and a standard test probe lead. The yellow meter has the copper tube attached to it and it shows a 1/10ths volt (0.10V) higher reading.
When you put the test lead into the coolant make sure that you do not touch the sides of the radiator, transmission oil cooler or anything on the end of the probe.
Before you start the vehicle look at the voltage reading and if it is higher than 0.30v it means the antifreeze is holding a charge and needs to be thoroughly flushed.
This vehicle has a reading of 0.40v that is 0.10v over the acceptable limit.
Next start the vehicle with all electrical accessories “off” and note the voltage. Bring the engine RPM up to approximately 1,500 to 2,000 and note the voltage again.
This vehicle has a reading of 0.81 when starting. It had a bad ground at the battery.
With the engine started hold the RPM about 2000. Turn on and off every electrical component in the entire vehicle and do not overlook anything. Examples: Heating and air-conditioning in all positions and all blower speeds, stereo (MP3 player, remote CD), electrical antenna, windows, door locks, seats, back-up alarm/lights, horn, headlights, taillights, turn signals, front and rear window defoggers, and any added additional electrical equipment, etc. If you see a voltage spike it is most likely improperly grounded. Note if any spike is higher than 0.30v then you have a severe problem.
2. Test the Alternator for overcharging.
Take the DVOM and check the alternator output for over-charging. Start the vehicle and hook up the test leads to the negative and positive posts of the battery and then check the voltage. Most manufacturers consider 14.7 volts is over-charging as anything over that the battery cannot accept and the stray voltage gets absorbed somewhere. If it is above the 14.7 volts you must repair either the alternator or voltage regulator or maybe both.
3. Test the coolant.
Find out as much information as you can about prior maintenance history of the cooling system.
You should simply look at the antifreeze to determine if it is clear and clean or if it is cloudy, dirty or rusty.
Tip: Pour a small amount into a clear container so you can see the clarity of it.
The best way for testing is to use coolant test strips which measures the coolant’s pH, Reserve Alkalinity and Freeze Point / Boiling Point coolant to water mixture.
Another way is to use a pH test strip which should test about 7.0 anything below that is considered acidic. We would like to see it a little higher than 7.0 please note that new antifreeze, depending on the brand, is about 7.0 pH.
It doesn’t appear that the coolant has ever been flushed; it is extremely dirty, it stinks and it failed in every category on the test strip.
So in conclusion we know that this truck has three separate and very destructive problems.
Chemical electrolysis * Stray voltage electrolysis * Erosion corrosion
Next we will fix this truck:
1. Reverse flush the cooling system. We must do a great job of flushing out the cooling system. To ensues that we remove all the old coolant, debris and small particles.
Add bottle of Inter-Ject Coolant Flusher directly into the cooling system by removing the radiator pressure cap. Please note the cooling system might have to be partially drained prior to adding the additive to ensure entire bottle will be used. (Be careful not to remove the cap when the vehicle is hot as it can spray hot coolant and cause severe burns). Start vehicle and run for a minimum of 20 minutes. If cooling system is extremely dirty you can leave it in the system overnight before flushing.
Remove the thermostat to ensure we get the proper flow through the entire engine and heater core. If the thermostat were left in it would most likely be closed and would not allow fluid to flush through it.
Once the thermostat is removed, reinstall the thermostat housing with no thermostat in it. The coolant hose that would normally attach to the housing needs to be left off and pointed downward because this is where the old fluid and flushed water will be coming out of.
Place a garden hose into the opening of the housing and position a rag around the hose to seal it. Turn the water on as high as possible (the higher the pressure and flow the better).
If you have an air compressor available, position an air blow gun between the garden hose and the rag and squeeze the handle on the tool to force compressed air behind the water to give it a high pressure flush. Don’t forget to flush out the coolant overflow bottle also.
Debris left on the ground after flushing. (This is what causes erosion. It is like having liquid sand paper flowing thru your cooling system)
Once the flush water comes out clean and clear turn the water off and drain out as much as possible. If you used the compressor then blow the air through the system to remove as much water as possible.
Install a new thermostat and gasket.
Remove the dash and replace the heater. On this truck it is about an eight hour job.
Ve-Labs Voltage Sponge will eliminate stray voltage and electrolysis
This can be attached to either the heater core or radiator. When attaching it to the heater core use the red clip that is supplied in the package and attach it to the red wire. Then connect the clip on to the heater pipe that sticks out of the firewall into the engine compartment in between the firewall and the hose and hose clamp.
The black wire needs to be attached to a good ground and then mount the metal housing securely.
Ve-labs Smart Ground Wire will eliminate stray voltage and electrolysis
This can be attached to either the heater core or the radiator. When attaching to the radiator attach the red wire to the radiator’s support channel. Most support channels already have holes in them so securely attach the red wire to an existing hole with a screw. The black wire needs to be attached to a good ground.
Ve-labs Coolant Filter and Inspection System will remove the debris in the coolant to prevent erosion. It will also reduce the pressure surge to the heater.
Install the inline coolant filter in the inlet hose to the heater core. The inlet hose is the hose that comes from the intake manifold or the side of the engine block. The return hose is the hose that goes to the water pump or to the radiator. Once you have determined what hose is the inlet you need to cut out a section of the hose the same length as the filter. There is a sticker on one end of the filter that says “inlet”; the coolant comes from the engine into the inlet of the filter and out to the heater. If the vehicle has duel heaters do not install the filter as it will not allow enough coolant for both heaters to work properly.
Add a bottle of Inter-Ject Electrolysis Arrester to the system. Then refill and bleed system to manufacturer’s specifications with new antifreeze and distilled water. Pre-mixed 50/50 antifreeze is best.
DO NOT USE TAP WATER AS IT CONTAINS MINERALS WHICH WILL PROMOTE ELECTROLYSIS!
Start vehicle and run until thermostat opens to ensure there is no trapped air in the system. Then pressure test system to ensure there are no leaks.
Now test the voltage again. This truck shows that it is a complete success as it is way below the accessible limit.
Sometimes you will not see immediate voltage reduction as it might take several weeks to absorb the electrolysis out of the cooling system.
The last step is to install the Ve-labs Rad Cap to finish the job.
Make sure the cap is securely tightened. Occasionally the cap should be removed to inspect the anode as it will disintegrate over time, which is normal as it is absorbing the electrolysis instead of the aluminum components in the cooling system.