Ford Taurus/Sable 1986-1995 Repair Information

Cooling System


Never remove the radiator cap under any conditions while the engine is hot! Failure to follow these instructions could result in damage to the cooling system and engine, as well as personal injury. To avoid having scalding hot coolant or steam blow out of the radiator, use extreme care whenever you are removing the radiator cap. Wait until the engine has cooled, then wrap a thick cloth around the radiator cap and turn it slowly to the first stop. Step back while the pressure is released from the cooling system. When you are sure the pressure has been released, press down on the radiator cap (still holding the cloth in position), then turn and remove the radiator cap.

On vehicles equipped with a coolant recovery reservoir, removal of the radiator cap is normally not required, except for when draining the system or inspecting the radiator and cap.

Servicing the cooling system can be a dangerous matter unless the proper precautions are observed. It is best to check the coolant level in the radiator when the engine is cold. All vehicles covered by this information should be equipped with a coolant recovery reservoir. If the coolant level is at or near the FULL COLD line (engine cold) or the FULL HOT line (engine hot), the level is satisfactory. Always be certain that the filler caps on both the radiator and the recovery reservoir are closed tightly.

If the coolant level is found to be low, add a 50/50 mixture of coolant that meets Ford specifications, such as Ford Cooling System Fluid, Prestone® II or other approved coolant and clean water. Coolant may be added either through the filler neck on the radiator or directly into the recovery reservoir.

Never add coolant to a hot engine unless it is running. If the engine is not running, you run the risk of cracking the engine block.

It is wise to pressure check the cooling system at least once a year. If the coolant level is chronically low or rusty, the system should be thoroughly checked for leaks.

At least once every two years or 30,000 miles (48,000 km), the engine and radiator should be inspected, flushed and refilled with fresh coolant. If the coolant is left in the system too long, it loses its ability to prevent rust corrosion. If the coolant has too much water, it won't protect against freezing.

The pressure cap should be examined for signs of age or deterioration. The fan belt and other drive belts should be inspected and adjusted to the proper tension.

Hose clamps should be tightened, and soft or cracked hoses replaced. Damp spots, or accumulations of rust or dye near the hoses, water pump or other areas indicate possible leakage, which must be corrected before filling the system with fresh coolant.


This engine has an aluminum cylinder head and requires a corrosion inhibiting coolant formulation to avoid radiator damage. Use only a permanent type coolant that meets Ford Specifications such as Ford Cooling System Fluid, Prestone® II, or other approved coolants. Mix the coolant with clean water until a 50/50 solution is attained.


The cooling system of your car contains, among other items, a radiator and an expansion tank/recovery reservoir. When the engine is running heat is generated. The rise in temperature causes the coolant, in the radiator, to expand and builds up internal pressure. When a certain pressure is reached, a pressure relief valve in the radiator filler cap (pressure cap) is lifted from its seat and allows coolant to flow through the radiator filler neck, down a hose, and into the expansion reservoir.

When the system temperature and pressure are reduced in the radiator, the water in the expansion reservoir is siphoned back into the radiator.

On systems with a coolant recovery tank, maintain the coolant level between the marks on the recovery reservoir.

If, for some reason, the vehicle does not have a coolant recovery tank, maintain the coolant level 1-2 in. (25-51mm) below the bottom of the radiator filler neck when the engine is cold and 1 in. (25mm) below the bottom of the filler neck when the engine is hot.


For best protection against freezing and overheating, maintain an approximate 50% water and 50% ethylene glycol (or other suitable) antifreeze mixture in the cooling system. Do not mix different brands of antifreeze to avoid possible chemical damage to the cooling system.

Avoid using water that is known to have a high alkaline content or is very hard, except in emergency situations. Drain and flush the cooling system as soon as possible after using such water.

Cover the radiator cap with a thick cloth before removing it from a radiator in a vehicle that is hot. Turn the cap counterclockwise slowly until pressure can be heard escaping. Allow all pressure to escape from the radiator before completely removing the radiator cap. It is best to allow the engine to cool, if possible, before removing the radiator cap.

Never add cold water to an overheated engine while the engine is not running.

After filling the radiator, run the engine until it reaches normal operating temperature, to make sure that the thermostat has opened and all the air is bled from the system.

The cooling fan motor is controlled by a temperature switch. The fan may come on and run even when the engine is off and will continue to run until the engine has cooled to a predetermined level. Take care not to get your fingers, etc. close to the fan blades.

Draining Coolant

See Figures 1 and 2

When draining the coolant, keep in mind that cats and dogs are attracted by ethylene glycol antifreeze, and are quite likely to drink any that is left in an uncovered container or in puddles on the ground. This will prove fatal in sufficient quantity. Always drain the coolant into a sealable container. Coolant should be reused unless it is contaminated or several years old.

To drain the coolant, connect a hose approximately 18 in. (46cm) long, with an inside diameter of 3 / 8 in. (9.5mm), to the nipple on the drain valve located on the bottom of the radiator. With the engine cool, set the heater control to the maximum heat position. Remove the radiator cap and open the drain valve or loosen the Allen head plug 3 / 16 in. (5mm), allowing the coolant to drain into a suitable container. When all of the coolant is drained, remove the hose and close the drain valve or Allen head plug.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Open the drain valve located on the bottom of the radiator

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Fig. Fig. 2: Attaching a small hose to the draincock will help direct the flow of coolant into the drain pan, thereby reducing the mess

Replacing Coolant

See Figures 3, 4 and 5

If there is any evidence of rust or scaling in the cooling system, the system should be flushed thoroughly before refilling. Refer to the flushing/cleaning procedure, later in this section. With the engine OFF and COOL:

  1. Using a funnel, add the designated quantity of a 50% coolant and 50% water solution to the radiator.
  3. Reinstall the radiator cap to the fully installed position, then back it off to the first stop.
  5. Start and idle the engine until the upper radiator hose is warm.
  7. Immediately shut off the engine. Cautiously remove the radiator cap and add water until the radiator is full. Reinstall the radiator cap securely.

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Fig. Fig. 3: All vehicles covered by this information should be equipped with a coolant reservoir

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Fig. Fig. 4: Add coolant to the correct marks on the reservoir

  1. Add coolant to the ADD mark on the reservoir, then fill to the FULL HOT mark with water.

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Fig. Fig. 5: Check the coolant level to make sure it is sufficient

  1. Check the system for leaks and return the heater temperature control to its normal position.


See Figures 6 and 7

Allow the engine to cool sufficiently before attempting to remove the radiator cap. Use a rag to cover the cap, then remove by pressing down and turning counterclockwise to the first stop. If any hissing is noted (indicating the release of pressure), wait until the hissing stops completely, then press down again and turn counterclockwise until the cap can be removed.

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Fig. Fig. 6: Allow the engine to cool before attempting to remove the radiator cap. DO NOT remove the cap while the engine is hot!

DO NOT attempt to remove the radiator cap while the engine is hot. Severe personal injury from steam burns can result.

Check the condition of the radiator cap gasket and seal inside the cap. The radiator cap is designed to seal the cooling system under normal operating conditions which allow the buildup of a certain amount of pressure (this pressure rating is stamped or printed on the cap). The pressure in the system raises the boiling point of the coolant to help prevent overheating. If the radiator cap does not seal properly, the boiling point of the coolant is lowered and overheating will likely occur. If the cap must be replaced, purchase a new cap according to the pressure rating which is specified for your vehicle.

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Fig. Fig. 7: Check the condition of the radiator cap gasket, and the seal inside of the cap

Prior to installing the radiator cap, inspect and clean the filler neck. If you are reusing the old cap, clean it thoroughly with clear water. After installing the cap, make sure the arrows align with the overflow hose.


  1. Drain the cooling system, including the radiator and engine block. Close the drain valve/plugs, then refill the system with water at the radiator fill neck.
  3. Allow the engine to idle for about 5 minutes. Turn the engine off. Drain the cooling system again.
  5. Repeat the above steps until nearly clear water is drained from the radiator. Allow the remaining water to drain and then close the draincock.
  7. Disconnect the overflow hose from the radiator filler neck. Remove the coolant recovery reservoir from the fender apron and empty the fluid.
  9. Flush the reservoir with clean water. Reinstall the reservoir.
  11. Fill the radiator and cooling system with the proper concentration of coolant and water. Don't forget to also fill the reservoir to its proper level.