Where There's Smoke

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Hi Bob,
I have a '94 Ford Explorer. When I was driving the other day, the heat went out. Soon after, I started to overheat. When accelerating, I heard a flapping click sound. I wasn't too far from home, so I made it back to the driveway.

We realized that the bottom radiator hose was disconnected and it threw antifreeze all over the bottom half of the engine. After reconnecting that and filling it back up with coolant, the problem remained the same. Because the heater was blowing cold air, I assumed that it was the thermostat, so I replaced it. However, the thermostat did not solve the problem.

My radiator is only two months old, the fan seems to be fine, and the serpentine belt is new and seems fine. It could possibly be the water pump or a blown head gasket. I hope that it's not a head gasket and I would also bet against it because the truck still runs and there is not a cloud of white smoke coming from the exhaust. However, there is thin gray smoke coming from the block near the spark plugs. I can't tell if it's coming from inside or just burning off the antifreeze that sprayed the engine earlier in the story.

If you can offer me some guidance, I would appreciate it greatly. I really don't want to spend all the money to replace parts that aren't broken.

Hi Jeff,
My guess is that the gray smoke is just the residual burning off. Now, you have no heat. Did you bleed the system? I bet you have an air pocket that is not allowing sufficient flow. Look for the highest point of the cooling system. Sometimes the radiator cap is not at the highest point. There might be a bleed screw at the thermostat housing.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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