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  #1  
Old 01-10-2017, 10:44 PM
Harbor_Handed Harbor_Handed is offline
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Default Do I really need a new radiator?

Today at the Mazda dealership, I was telling them about how my temperature gauge is quite sluggish and never goes up past about 1/4 of the way up the gauge - even after installing a new Coolant Temp Sender Unit. The guy at the desk echoed some things I've read online and says his Ranger does the same thing - takes forever for the needle to move up and then basically stays around 1/4 up. So I thought, Great it's normal.

But then the master technician came in and told me that it's doing that because I have a clog in my radiator and I need a new one. He had me come out there and feel both sides. The passenger side of the radiator was hot but the driver's side of the radiator was just warm.

Do you think he's right, is that indicative of something wrong with the radiator? Or is that normal and he's just trying to upsell?

I would like my temperature gauge to stay at just just below the half-way mark, which is where the needle is supposed to rest. But it seems like a lot of Rangers do not. Not sure how to proceed on this. Any advice appreciated. Thanks!
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4 Cylinder
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Engine Oil: Mobil 1 5W-20

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  #2  
Old 01-11-2017, 12:11 AM
smokinAMD smokinAMD is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

Put a thermostat in it first and go from there. 2.3's are horrendous for the thermostats failing open.

Did you have a p0128 code which is why you replaced the sender? If so, you didn't need to. That code was telling you the thermostat was stuck open.

Can't tell you how many thermostats I've put in Fords and mazdas with the 2.3.
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  #3  
Old 01-11-2017, 01:00 AM
cowboybilly9mile cowboybilly9mile is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbor_Handed View Post
Today at the Mazda dealership, I was telling them about how my temperature gauge is quite sluggish and never goes up past about 1/4 of the way up the gauge - even after installing a new Coolant Temp Sender Unit. The guy at the desk echoed some things I've read online and says his Ranger does the same thing - takes forever for the needle to move up and then basically stays around 1/4 up. So I thought, Great it's normal.
Gauge on your dash is just an idiot gauge and at best would serve to set a baseline reading and if it deviates from that, the driver gets to figure out/guess why. No actual numbers are on it; if you want to know what your engine temp is you can a) use a scan tool such as Torque and pull reliable data b) install a real temperature gauge or c) use an IR thermometer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbor_Handed View Post
But then the master technician came in and told me that it's doing that because I have a clog in my radiator and I need a new one. He had me come out there and feel both sides. The passenger side of the radiator was hot but the driver's side of the radiator was just warm.

Do you think he's right, is that indicative of something wrong with the radiator? Or is that normal and he's just trying to upsell?
He's very full of rancid poop and IMO either trying to scam you or he's just another incompetent boob. The reason is, your radiator is crossflow meaning coolant passes from one side to the other. During the course of doing this, heat is rejected from the coolant. So naturally it will will be warmer on the side where the engine is pumping coolant into it than it will be on the side that the (now lower in temp) coolant is returning to the engine.

Based on what you said and I read about your experience with this master mechanic, he's a disgrace to the honest and trustworthy guys that work hard to earn peoples trust and make a living, not to mention him degrading the reputation of his employer. What a jerk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbor_Handed View Post

I would like my temperature gauge to stay at just just below the half-way mark, which is where the needle is supposed to rest. But it seems like a lot of Rangers do not. Not sure how to proceed on this. Any advice appreciated. Thanks!
Focus on the correct engine temp and not the needle position on an idiot gauge, although by design it probably should land midrange. And FWIW, if your engine temp was wayyy out of range, you'd surely have that check engine light glowing.

*Odds are, you have a thermostat problem. How to confirm was noted above.
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Life is far too short to be serious all the time. So if you can't stop and laugh at yourself along the way, give me a call and I'll do it for you.

Last edited by cowboybilly9mile; 01-11-2017 at 01:03 AM.
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  #4  
Old 01-11-2017, 07:09 AM
Harbor_Handed Harbor_Handed is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

Thanks guys.

I replaced the Temp Sending Unit because in reading online, replacing that fixed a lot of people's cold temp gauge issues. My needle works a lot better after replacing it. Before, the needle would stay near C most of the time, now it slowly creeps up to around 1/4 of the way up - sometimes ventures up to near the halfway mark if I've got the AC cranked. It fluctuates a lot though. On other vehicles I've owned, the needle gets to just below half-way and then never moves, just maintains that temp constantly. On this truck, it fluctuates a lot, takes forever to initially heat up, and likes to "rest" around 1/4 up the gauge.

Are those symptoms of a thermostat that's malfunctioning? (stuck open?)
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2003 Mazda B2300
2.3 L
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Automatic Transmission
Approx 145,000 miles on Odometer
Engine Oil: Mobil 1 5W-20

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  #5  
Old 01-11-2017, 09:41 AM
cowboybilly9mile cowboybilly9mile is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

IMO, what matters more than anything concerning where the gauge points is (unless it's obviously broken and for example, pegged on hot or bottomed out on cold when it clearly shouldn't be), does the engine warm up to and run at the temp rating of the thermostat. By design, the engine is designed to run at that temp, the PCM ('puter) is therefore counting on and expecting this to happen. The wandering needle, the usual first suspicion on that is low on coolant/air in system. This because, the sender is designed to sample the temp of a liquid, not air.

My 2 cents on the matter.
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2004 Ranger FX4 Level II, 5R55E, Sonic Blue Pearl


Life is far too short to be serious all the time. So if you can't stop and laugh at yourself along the way, give me a call and I'll do it for you.
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  #6  
Old 01-11-2017, 10:34 AM
bjurke bjurke is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

the previous truck had a 2.3 in it and it always ran temps like yours. i just blocked off the rad to slow down air flow down. only did this december to march. temps were normal then. only vehicle i ever had to this. other possibility though unlikely is thermostat or fan clutch
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  #7  
Old 01-11-2017, 01:54 PM
Soledad Soledad is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

I agree with cowboy and smokin on this one.

These Duratec 2.3's have a very odd cooling system on them. By that I mean the temp of the large, upper coolant hose will be incredibly hot but the lower or bottom large cooling hose will be luke warm to almost cold. It's just the nature of the beast on these engines.

To test for a blockage in the radiator you would drain all of the coolant. Then disconnect the top and bottom radiator hoses. Then put your garden hose (with no sprayer attached to it) in the top port of the radiator and turn it on full blast. If you get a really good flow from the bottom port on the radiator then it's probably not blocked. If it's just a trickle then it's blocked. BUT, a blocked radiator usually leads to a very hot engine.

To be honest though , like cowboy noted above, if you are going to keep this truck for quite some time I would invest in some sort of monitoring/scanning software. For example there is Torque Pro like cowboy stated. That will run on almost any Android device. All you'll need is a bluetooth OBD2 adapter. Torque Pro even has recommendations for those. There is also Forscan from forscan.org. This is free software and all you'll need to purchase is a USB-OBD2 cable and have a laptop although I believe they have branched out into Android also. There is also AutoEnginuity but that is quite a bit more expensive but capable of more. For iOS devices I believe there is DashBoss but I'm not very familiar with it.

Using one of those above you should be able to determine if the problem is a sensor, air in the system or your thermostat. But, as has already been said, these 2.3 thermostats are pretty well known for failing open. Barring any air trapped in the system or a bad wire on the sender/sensor my bet would be on the thermostat. Unfortunately a 2003 2.3L thermostat is quite a bit more expensive as compared to a 2004+ thermostat.

So, it comes down to how much money do you want to throw at the problem?

Here are some things that can make the truck run cool or the gauge read cool:

1. Bad ground wire
2. Thermostat stuck open
3. Air trapped in the system - although this can cause the needle to fluctuate
4. Bad sender or sensor or bad wiring on the sender or sensor
5. Fan clutch worn out and stuck in an always on state - The engine would Roar loudly during acceleration if this were the case.
6. Electric fan always running
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2003 Ranger XL | 2.3L | 2wd | 5spd manual | standard cab | short bed | 112" wheel base | 3.73 rear (open diff) | no power windows or locks but at least it's got A/C!

Last edited by Soledad; 01-11-2017 at 02:22 PM.
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  #8  
Old 01-11-2017, 02:24 PM
Harbor_Handed Harbor_Handed is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

Thanks for the responses.

I changed my oil & filter today - now using Motorcraft filter, and regular Mobil 1 5W-20.

Afterward, I turned the truck on. I noticed a couple things I'd like to share because it might help diagnose my issue:

1. The coolant looked very green & clean in the plastic reservoir and the level was 2/3 of the way up between the Min & Max level. When the truck was running, I noticed the coolant was "trembling" in the reservoir i.e. slightly bubbling a little bit. Is that normal?

2. The upper coolant hose quickly got very hot near the cylinder head, it was much less hot close to the radiator.

Are those things normal?
Thanks, I really appreciate the info & guidance.
__________________
2003 Mazda B2300
2.3 L
4 Cylinder
Automatic Transmission
Approx 145,000 miles on Odometer
Engine Oil: Mobil 1 5W-20


Last edited by Harbor_Handed; 01-12-2017 at 07:27 AM.
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  #9  
Old 01-11-2017, 03:35 PM
RoberticusMaximus RoberticusMaximus is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

another say for investing in some type of obdII monitor. you would be instantly able to diagnose a typical 'open-failing' t-stat just by watching the water temperature once you've reached (or while reaching) operating temperature.

ayway, number 1, the cooling system shoudl pressurize to about 16psi, or whatever the reservoir cap is rated at (should say on it). bubbles? if it's clean and green, i bet the bubbles are nothing to worry about. post up a video, i'm kinda curious now lol!

and 2, sounds fine to me. probably water seeping past the t-stat. the tstat on my ranger has a tiny hole that lets water by, a jiggle valve i think is what its called? also, if you let it sit and heat up, you should feel the whole hose get hot, like 192f hot, right when the t-stat opens up. ... or in your case, probably a little bit cooler if its failing

Last edited by RoberticusMaximus; 01-11-2017 at 03:38 PM.
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  #10  
Old 01-11-2017, 04:41 PM
cowboybilly9mile cowboybilly9mile is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbor_Handed View Post
1. The coolant looked very green & clean in the plastic reservoir and the level was 2/3 of the way up between the low & high level. When the truck was running, I noticed the coolant was "shaking" in the reservoir i.e. slightly bubbling, as though pressurized. Is that normal?
On a sound engine, bubbles showing in the burp tank as the engine is warming up usually means there is air in the (closed) cooling system. As the engine warms up this air is being forced into the burp tank, when the engine cools liquid from the tank will be drawn back into the engine.

A really good time to see if the closed system is full of coolant is when the engine is cold, as is this being a great time to top it off. Remove the radiator cap and it should be full right up to the very top. If not, then there is air in the system, and we talked about that and the consequences in an earlier post. Regardless, if there is air and you repeat what I just said, and if there isn't a large quantity of ar, after a few times the radiator will be full and you can finalize the amount of coolant in the burp tank.
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2004 Ranger FX4 Level II, 5R55E, Sonic Blue Pearl


Life is far too short to be serious all the time. So if you can't stop and laugh at yourself along the way, give me a call and I'll do it for you.
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  #11  
Old 01-12-2017, 07:03 AM
Harbor_Handed Harbor_Handed is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

Thank you very much, guys, lots of food for thought here.

Regarding scanning software, I don't have any console lights on at all. Don't codes only come up when there's a light on (check engine, etc.) that you're supposed to investigate by scanning?

Cowboybilly9Mile: My ranger doesn't have a metal radiator cap like that. It's totally missing from this model. It only has a plastic reservoir with a Min & Max line. My coolant level was 2/3 between Min & Max. Does anyone feel that my gauge issue might simply be solved by filling to the Max line? I guess I'll buy some 50/50 mix and try that filling it to Max before anything else, and see if anything changes.

In researching this issue, it seems like it's extremely common for the gauge on this vehicle to stay low. Some posts I've read, people have talked about driving it for many years this way, and they just accept it. The vehicle drives great. God, I hope those little bubbles in the coolant are not indicative of a head gasket leak. Ugh...

Also found out that on my vehicle, the thermostat is located where the lower hose connects - not the upper hose, as in many others. If filling to max line w/ 50/50 coolant doesn't change anything, I think I'll take it to a local radiator specialist shop and just see what they can tell me.
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2003 Mazda B2300
2.3 L
4 Cylinder
Automatic Transmission
Approx 145,000 miles on Odometer
Engine Oil: Mobil 1 5W-20

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  #12  
Old 01-12-2017, 08:26 AM
RoberticusMaximus RoberticusMaximus is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

i'm guessing that if the coolant is crystal clear, then you don't have a head gasket issue. i could be wrong!

& there can be codes pop up that we call soft or pending codes. eventually they can becode hard codes & cause the CEL to light up. that's why having a monitor or scanner is really nice! that's just some more general info for you...

also, if it's the t-stat that i am thinking about, its a pretty expensive part. you might look up the part info before you let a shop fill you full of bull.
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  #13  
Old 01-12-2017, 09:41 AM
Harbor_Handed Harbor_Handed is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

The Motorcraft thermostat is around $130 shipped. That is certainly at the top of my list for what the problem could be at this point. But I don't want to spend all that money until I'm more certain that it's that. So I'll see what the people at the radiator shop can offer about it tomorrow. Maybe they can scan it for me or do some sort of diagnostic.
I will mention to them what I've learned in this thread about thermostat problem, possible air in the system, etc.
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2003 Mazda B2300
2.3 L
4 Cylinder
Automatic Transmission
Approx 145,000 miles on Odometer
Engine Oil: Mobil 1 5W-20

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  #14  
Old 01-12-2017, 10:58 AM
RoberticusMaximus RoberticusMaximus is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

yep, that's the part i was thinking of... iirc there is a sensor built into the tstat housing? maybe fiddle with it first. see if there's a problem with the pigtail? lol anything to keep you from spending that kind of money
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  #15  
Old 01-12-2017, 03:23 PM
Soledad Soledad is offline
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Default Re: Do I really need a new radiator?

Ok, more long winded info from me. I say this because I ended up replacing nearly all of my cooling system components (except for the octopus hose) after the recovery tank rotted out and started leaking at the same time the radiator end cap started leaking which was right after I bought the truck used. And, they had the green coolant in it when it should have had the Ford Gold coolant. I replaced the radiator, both large hoses, recovery tank and cap, thermostat (twice), water pump, the long metal hose that connects to the top radiator hose (mine was full of rust), fan clutch and did a full clean and flush and refilled with Zerex G-05 (Ford Gold identical).

Anyway...wall 'o text.

1. The cap on the recovery tank is rated to 16-psi and they are known to get weak with age. I want to say the system runs anywhere between 4psi - 10psi but I'm not 100% sure on that.

2. Bubbles in the recovery tank are not good. It means there is air in the system which can come from any leaky hose or connection point, system not burped after a cooling system part was replaced, a leaky heater core or.....the head gasket. The bubbles I was experiencing were coming from a bad "Tee" in the octopus hose (can't remember the name of this hose) that is right above the starter. I replace the cheap, soft plastic "Tee" that someone had replaced the original with, with a brass unit and no more bubbles.

3. On the recovery tank there is a very small hose attached to it on the side. The flow out of that hose is directly proportional to the engine speed. At idle the flow out of that hose and into the tank should be smooth and laminar on a cooling system in good shape. The faster you rev the engine the faster the flow out of that small hose. If it's bubbly or spitting or burpy then there's air in the system. But, in a good system there will be movement in that tank because that small hose is always flowing coolant.

4. I find that running the coolant between the MIN and MAX lines is about perfect as it allows for coolant expansion without it burping out the recovery tank cap under extreme load.

5. The thermostat on the 2001.5-2003 2.3L's has a small heater element in it. The PCM will activate the heating element in it to open the thermostat earlier in situations where the engine is under extreme load. There's more to it than that but that's the gist of it. Some of us swapped out our electric thermostat and are running a non-electric thermostat. Engine runs the same but you do get a code. Have to install a resistor at the thermostat connector to get rid of the code.

6. This Ford Motorcraft .pdf file shows exactly what type of coolant the engine should have and is the reason I'm running the gold coolant: https://www.fcsdchemicalsandlubrican...coolantsEN.pdf

7. And regarding the scanning software. It's not just for reading trouble codes that pop up. It allows you to monitor a lot of your engine vitals and sensors in real time to see exactly what they are doing. I like using it (them) because it can help you catch something before it becomes a much larger and more expensive problem. The software on forscan.org was free and all it cost me was $20 for a USB-OBD2 cable to connect to my old Windows XP laptop. I also use Torque Pro which cost me $5 (I bought it when it first hit the scene many years ago) and another $20 for the bluetooth OBD2 adapter. I've used Torque Pro on a lot of my friends and family vehicles. I actually run a ScanGague2 in my truck (habit from owning a 2006 Ford F350 6.0 diesel) all the time just to keep an eye on the vitals.
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2003 Ranger XL | 2.3L | 2wd | 5spd manual | standard cab | short bed | 112" wheel base | 3.73 rear (open diff) | no power windows or locks but at least it's got A/C!

Last edited by Soledad; 01-12-2017 at 04:15 PM.
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