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How to Troubleshoot an Overheating on a 1962 Ford Falcon

The most common cooling system problems associated with a 1962 Falcon are engine overheating and slow engine warm-up. The Falcon's radiator stores the coolant under pressure, which raises the point at which the coolant will boil. A cap is attached to the top of the radiator, which seals the radiator and allows the cooling system to build pressure. Once the engine warms, a thermostat opens and a number of drive belts cause the water pump to circulate the coolant throughout the engine. Troubleshooting an overheating 1962 Falcon's cooling system requires checking each of these components.

Tools Used: Screwdriver, Pressure test gauge, Tweezers

Troubleshoot an Overheating 

Remove the Falcon's radiator cap after allowing the engine to cool. Check the coolant level by peering through the radiator cap's opening. The coolant level should be about 1 inch below the top of the radiator.

Inspect each end of both radiator hoses and the area underneath the water pump for signs of leaks. Tighten the hose clamp with a screwdriver if either hose leaks. If the water pump leaks from the tip of the water pump, just behind the water pump pulley, replace the water pump, as its bearing is defective. If the water pump leaks from the seam between the pump and the timing chain cover, replace the water pump's gasket.

Attach a pressure test gauge to the radiator. Pressure gauges vary in design, so always follow the manufacturer's directions. If the gauge shows a pressure leak, the problem is likely a blown intake manifold or cylinder head gasket.

Attach the pressure test gauge to the radiator cap, again following the manufacturer's instructions to attach the gauge. The gauge must be able to withstand a minimum of 12 lbs. of pressure. Replace the radiator cap if it is defective.

Clear any obstructions from the radiator fins, using tweezers. Insects are the most common obstruction, and will inhibit air from passing through the radiator and reducing the temperature of the coolant.

Remove the thermostat. If the thermostat is in the open position (the spring on the back of the thermostat is compressed), replace the thermostat.

Immerse the thermostat in boiling water if it was in the closed position when you removed it. Replace the thermostat if it fails to open once immersed.

Check the tension on the drive belts. The drive belts wrap around a pulley at the front of the water pump. If these belts slip, they will not turn the water pump, and the engine's temperature will rise. Press downward on the center of each belt. Each belt should have any about 1/2 inch of play. Tighten the drive belts with a wrench if necessary.

Inspect the freeze plugs on both sides of the engine, below the cylinder heads, for signs of leaks. The freeze plugs are about 1 inch in diameter, and are designed to pop out of the engine if the coolant within the engine freezes, thereby preventing a cracked engine block. Replace any leaking freeze plug.

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