Ford 3.0L Engine Problems

by Shane Scollins

The Ford 3.0L V6 engine is one of the most widely used engines in the Ford lineup. There have been various forms of this basic design through the years. When the Ford Taurus made its debut in 1986, it had a newly designed V6 nestled under hood. That V6 was the 3.0L Vulcan. A basic push-rod OHV design, the engine quickly became known for its reliability. Ford took this to heart and started using the 3.0L in any car or truck it would fit into.

Ford 3.0L V6 Problems

A few common problems were associated with the 3.0L Ford V6. In its early years the engine was known to have leaking head gaskets. The normal heating and cooling of the engine block would cause the gaskets to fail, which would in turn cause coolant to be sucked into the combustion chambers. This condition would cause severe engine failure if it was not caught immediately. The problem was addressed and corrected by the time the 1989 models were hitting the showroom floors, and it did not return.

Also known to be common with the 3.0L, was a failure of the cooling fan switch. The radiator cooling fan was fitted with an electronic switch that turned it on when it was needed. But that switch would fail and cause the engine to overheat. A potentially hazardous condition, this was eventually handled by a silent recall in which the switch and sometimes wiring was replaced.

Perhaps the most dangerous problem related to the Ford 3.0L V6, was failure of the water pump. The problem was known as a silent killer because there were few outward signs that any problem was lurking. The issue revolved around the impellers on the water pump, and their eventual failure. The impellers would become rusted, corroded and would eventually deteriorate to the point that they could no longer circulate the coolant correctly. The coolant would become heavy with metal, stagnate and eventually boil over when the engine got hot. Often times the temperature gauge would not respond because the coolant would boil out the system too quickly for the temperature sensor to read. Catastrophic engine failure was the eventual result of this condition.

The only outward sign that something might be wrong with the water pump is rust colored coolant. The normally green liquid would become brown. This is an indication that the water pump impellers are breaking down. Those metal pieces will also eventually clog the heater core, causing a lack of heat in the cabin, and a potentially costly heater core replacement. It is recommended that if the coolant is brown in color that it be changed promptly. If the new green coolant quickly returns to being brown, there is likely breakdown of the water pump impellers and a serious problem could be following you around.

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