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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started a thread awhile back and received helpful advice from the community. However, I have new issues with my 2004 E350 powerstroke van and I am curious if anyone else has experienced similar symptoms.

During acceleration, I'm experiencing what appears to be blue smoke. It smells like rich diesel, it does not have a coolant smell. When I let the van idle for about a minute or so, the smoke completely goes away. Today, while trying to induce smoke by putting a load on my engine for about 3 minutes, I had a boil-over of the expansion tank. Does this sound like a bad egr cooler, plugged oil cooler, (hopefully not) bad head gaskets or a combination of the three? If so, has anyone in the community replaced head gaskets on a van? What was the final cost? I do have a check engine light on, I ordered a Scan Gauge II so that I can retrieve codes but it has yet to arrive. Prior to the boil-over, it never consumed coolant. Thanks to all that contribute information, I own a small business and I'm a law student...I don't have a huge surplus of money and I'm hoping this won't cost an insane amount of money to remedy. Thanks!
 

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boil over?????

Sound like you had a EGR cooler issue that wiped out your coolant than you overheated. Classic 6.0.

You are in the EGR cooler replacement at the very least. You just have to figure out if you want to stop there or just bulletproof it so you dont waste shop/labor time.
 

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I don't know that the boil over and the blue smoke are related. I would peg the turbo oil seals for the blue smoke. A Diesel will burn engine oil just like fuel, and without blue smoke. So I can only conclude that the oil is entering the system downstream of the engine, which would be where the exhaust exits the turbine housing. It only happens under load because the oil pressure rises with engine RPM, and likely it seals fine at idle, but starts to push past the seals as RPM increases.

Now, the boil over. Let's not get carried away all at once. First off, try a new cap for the coolant reservoir. Many a bad cap has sent people off to doing HGs without cause. Now if that doesn't fix it, then I would start doing your pressure tests, etc. to see where the problem is occurring.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the input. I have a hypothesis as to why my van's coolant boiled over, please let me know if my hypothesis sounds logical/possible. I think a plugged or slow flowing egr cooler prevented coolant from flowing freely. This caused super heated coolant steam that was trapped in the egr cooler. Once pressure reached a certain point, the super heated steam was forced back into the cooling system. Because steam expands rapidly, the steam displaced coolant in the system which led to the boil over. Interestingly enough, my coolant temperature gauge never registered that the van was running hot, all temps were well within the operating range even during boil over. As soon as I noticed steam from the hood, I turned the engine off to prevent any further damage.
 

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You have to keep in mind that the temperature gauge is only going to read temperature at the point where it is in the system. There are always places in the system where the temperature is 50 or even 100 degrees higher than what the gauge reads. These are typically small isolated areas, but they occur even in a system where everything is working properly.

Also, the stock temperature gauge is basically an idiot light. More or less its got three positions: cold, normal, & hot.

Its possible that its EGR cooler related, but the early style EGR coolers were actually a lot less prone to failure than the later ones. Do you know if you have the round (early) or square (later) cooler? Being an '04 it could be either depending on the build date.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm pretty sure it's a square egr cooler. From what I've read, they changed the design on vehicles manufactured after 12/03. My van was manufactured 05/04.
 

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The square coolers are definitely more prone to clogging. In the interest of preventing future issues, make sure you run a coolant filter on the van. The real issue with the 6.0 is the Ford gold coolant combined with casting sand that falls out of the cooling jackets. As the coolant oxidizes it precipitates out this silicate goo, which combines with the casting sand to form goo and little BB like balls that love to clog EGR and oil coolers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you so much! You have been extremely helpful and I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to give me your honest answer. I asked this question on powerstroke.org and have received noting but condescension and bitterness. It's nice when someone gives you their .02 without personal attacks.
 

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Wow, glad I don't belong to that forum!
 

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TKO is definitely a HUGE asset to this forum and a gentlemen when he replies, he has helped me more than he knows as have a few other guys on here. Good luck with you issues!
 

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Also don't forget that the oil cooler can clog and starve the EGR cooler of coolant. You ought to replace both if one is clogged.
 

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If the coolant side of your oil cooler is restricting coolant flow than it can cause flash steam in the EGR cooler when you are putting a load on the motor.
 

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And then the EGR cooler fails and lets coolant into the cylinders which flashes to steam and takes out the headgasket. Classic cascading failure. I am not saying you are at that point though!
 

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Thanks for the input. I have a hypothesis as to why my van's coolant boiled over, please let me know if my hypothesis sounds logical/possible. I think a plugged or slow flowing egr cooler prevented coolant from flowing freely. This caused super heated coolant steam that was trapped in the egr cooler. Once pressure reached a certain point, the super heated steam was forced back into the cooling system. Because steam expands rapidly, the steam displaced coolant in the system which led to the boil over. Interestingly enough, my coolant temperature gauge never registered that the van was running hot, all temps were well within the operating range even during boil over. As soon as I noticed steam from the hood, I turned the engine off to prevent any further damage.
Your hypothesis is mostly correct except that the real plug is in your oil cooler. That thing is the best filter on your vehicle, bar none. I see you have a new oil cooler coming in addition to your EGR cooler. That is a good plan. Unless you are beating on that van, you most likely fix this issue by replacing those parts.

But I would caution you to flush your system really well before you install those new parts and recommend you don't go back with the Ford Gold coolant. Go to your local big rig (International, Peterbilt, Kenworth) or truck stop and pick up some coolant that meets the CAT EC-1 spec. (Rotella and Fleetrite are the most common brand names for this stuff but there are others as well). International used that coolant in their version of this engine (VT365). It doesn't have the silicates in it to fall out of suspension and so it won't clog your new oil cooler.
 

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If you check for the spec you'll find CAT EC-1 rated coolant at many places. I buy mine at the local NAPA under the Fleetcharge name. Make sure you get the full strength. I prefer to mix my own with distilled water purchased from the local grocery store.
 

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I use the premix for topping off my EC-1 after all of the air has burped out of the system and when I lose some coolant doing maintenance. When you do a flush use the full strength in the proper quantity followed by the distilled water, as some of the water from the flush will still be in the block and will mess up your dilution strength if you use the premix.
 

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Correct. Remember that the 6.0 holds about 7 gallons of coolant, yet you usually only get about 3-4 when you drain the system, even if you pull the block drains. The RH block drain is a PITA to remove, so most guys flush draining only the radiator and the LH block drain. Expect about 3.5 gallons to come out doing that.
 
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