91 Merc tracer heat/lack of

My 91 Merc Tracer has not had sufficient heat out of the heater since we have owned it. (from the start). The heat out of the heater outlets is about 110 degrees after 15 miles of travel. My camry is
170 degrees as a comparison. My Buick is 180 degrees after a 15 mile run, again as a comparison. The tracer's 110 degrees is very cold about 6 inches from the panel duct. In Bostons temp today of 5 degrees F. the car is damn cold and never gets warm. Now what has been done. The system has been flushed, The heater core changed twice because of leaks (once by me once by mfg), The thermostat replaced 4 times, the radiator cap replaced 3 times, The system tested for leaks, The radiator replaced once. The car has about 70 k miles on it. The temp gauge always reads on the low side (on the N of normal). Can anyone give me a comparison of a heater temp out of the ducts when the car is warm? Maybe my Tracer will never provide enough heat.
Thanks, Dan
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|My 91 Merc Tracer has not had sufficient heat out of the heater since |we have owned it. (from the start). The heat out of the heater |outlets is about 110 degrees after 15 miles of travel. My camry is |170 degrees as a comparison. My Buick is 180 degrees after a 15 mile |run, again as a comparison. The tracer's 110 degrees is very cold |about 6 inches from the panel duct. In Bostons temp today of 5 |degrees F. the car is damn cold and never gets warm. Now what has |been done. The system has been flushed, The heater core changed |twice because of leaks (once by me once by mfg), The thermostat |replaced 4 times, the radiator cap replaced 3 times, The system |tested for leaks, The radiator replaced once. The car has about 70 k |miles on it. The temp gauge always reads on the low side (on the N of |normal). Can anyone give me a comparison of a heater temp out of the |ducts when the car is warm? Maybe my Tracer will never provide enough |heat. | |Thanks, Dan
I just traded in a 97 Tracer so I have an observation to make about this. If it is -really- cold outside, just the airflow over the engine is enough to keep it from warming up properly. The mass of the engine relative to the cold air flow is too small.
IOW, save your money. Should have asked me first. Short term solution is to put a small piece of cardboard in front of your radiator. Experiment. Start with covering up 1/3 radiator, or then go to 2/3.
This is *normal*
Many times you will see diesel trucks with radiator covers on outside, made out of tarp. Same Reason !
Good Luck.
Lg
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Well, Some more news after some experimentation.
The water temp going into the heater core never goes over 120 degrees F. I put a temp sensor on the heater hose coming from the thermostat housing.Taped the sensor on the hose and covered it with steam pipe insulation which was taped closed on the ends and at the seam. But I did find an interesting thing regarding the thermostat housing. The thermostat Cover/housing seems to have a coolant bypass in it so coolant can go directly to the radiator without going through the thermostat. The replacement cost of this part is $85 at the dealer. They could not tell me (or would not tell me) how or what or why the extra passages are in the housing. NOW, think about this. If the housing is somehow defective (made that way or became defective) and water is bypassing the thermostat; Then all the testing and replacement parts would not have fixed or solved my low heat problem.
Does anyone have any understanding of the extra passages in the thermostat housing which seem to allow the coolant to bypass the thermostat??
As a side conversation. The 1600 cc supercharged diesel school bus I drive has a radiator which I measured to be about 4 ft by 4 ft. In front of the radiator is a series of horizontal slats about 2 in wide running from top to bottom. They are electronically controlled to be closed when the engine is cold and slowly open as the engine heats up. The radiator fan is about 3 ft in diameter and has a built in thermostat to cause fastest rotation at higher temps. It seems as though the horizontal slats rarely open in the cold winter time of around zero degrees. For those that think reducing the radiator air flow is an issue, Well cummings does it.
p/s My school bus provides a lot more heat, much quicker than my Merc Tracer ever did.
On Wed, 28 Jan 2004 23:43:23 -0600, Lawrence Glickman

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|Well, Some more news after some experimentation. | |The water temp going into the heater core never goes over 120 degrees
That means your ENGINE COOLANT never goes over 120 degrees, because there is no check valve ( except the manual one on your dashboard ) to prevent coolant coming from the block into the heater core.
Here is the test -I- did with only 50,400 miles on my Tracer with a _new_ Tstat.
I let the engine idle. The temp gauge went up to 1/3rd scale. This is good.
As soon as I began driving, and cold air was flowing over the engine, the coolant temp indicator began to immediately fall until it reached the Cold zone. This is not good.
|F. I put a temp sensor on the heater hose coming from the thermostat |housing.Taped the sensor on the hose and covered it with steam pipe |insulation which was taped closed on the ends and at the seam. But I |did find an interesting thing regarding the thermostat housing. The |thermostat Cover/housing seems to have a coolant bypass in it so |coolant can go directly to the radiator without going through the |thermostat. The replacement cost of this part is $85 at the dealer. |They could not tell me (or would not tell me) how or what or why the |extra passages are in the housing. NOW, think about this. If the |housing is somehow defective (made that way or became defective) and |water is bypassing the thermostat; Then all the testing and |replacement parts would not have fixed or solved my low heat problem. | |Does anyone have any understanding of the extra passages in the |thermostat housing which seem to allow the coolant to bypass the |thermostat??
Bypass the thermostat? Only if the coolant passages of your engine are corroded out. By then, you have oil in your antifreeze, and your engine is F.U.B.A.R.
|As a side conversation. |The 1600 cc supercharged diesel school bus I drive has a radiator |which I measured to be about 4 ft by 4 ft. In front of the radiator |is a series of horizontal slats about 2 in wide running from top to |bottom. They are electronically controlled to be closed when the |engine is cold and slowly open as the engine heats up. The radiator |fan is about 3 ft in diameter and has a built in thermostat to cause |fastest rotation at higher temps. It seems as though the horizontal |slats rarely open in the cold winter time of around zero degrees. For |those that think reducing the radiator air flow is an issue, Well |cummings does it. | |p/s My school bus provides a lot more heat, much quicker than my Merc |Tracer ever did.
Mass of Tracer engine is too small. Block airflow to it, and you should warm up faster. MAF intake is on drivers side, lower left ( follow the air filter container ). So blocking your -grill- will do no damage. Just don't forget to remove the cardboard when the weather warms up 8-)
Lg
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 20:53:59 -0600, Lawrence Glickman
BTW, you can't bypass the thermostat. It is directly in line with the Return Host to the Radiator from the engine block. IOW, coolant can only get back to the radiator by going _through_ the thermostat's orifice.
Yes, if the Tstat is stuck OPEN this is no good. But didn't you say you replaced it ?
Lg
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Some additional thoughts and comments:
The engine mass is to small: It would seem to me that putting cardboard in front of the radiator for additional heat in the wintertime would work. But it works because something else is wrong and not repaired yet. Otherwise Ford would have complaints from everyone in a cold climate saying that the car will not supply enough heat. Think about it. If they sold 100,000 tracers (my guess) and .01% had defective housings, then 100 cars would not give enough heat. Maybe 50 cars would be sold in climates which were cold enough where people would complain. Maybe 5 would complain and the issue would be fixed in or out of warranty. Hell that ratio is just a cost of doing business. I doubt it if Ford would do anything; just ignore it. Just look at how long it took Ford to do anything about the explorer. Oh well, enough of my bitching about lack of heat when the temp hits the single digits. It will get warm soon and then it won't matter until next year. Like all of us, I will forget.
You can't bypass the thermostat: I would agree with you on my 99 camry, my 94 camry, my 92 roadmaster, my 90 Stanza and all the other cars I have owned. However I would not agree with you on my 91 merc tracer. Have you ever had the housing in the palm of your hand and wonder why all the extra plugs and holes are in it? Why is it so damn big? How come it rattles when you shake it? What is inside to make it rattle? What was Ford thinking when they designed it? Why is it $85 for a replacement?
Ref a dash mounted control of coolant into the heater core. My 91 tracer does NOT have a dash control for controlling the coolant into the heater core. There are no dash controls from heater core inlet or outlet to the block which would limit the collect flow. The dash control closes a door inside the heater box which directs cold air to the heater core or bypasses the heater core. Having replaced the leaking heater core I know this is true. I also made sure the door was not sticking in a partially open position which would allow cold air to bypass the heater core and give me colder air at the dashboard heater outlets. By the way, I took me about 50 hours of work to complete the job. Luckily my daughter was doing a semester overseas for 4 months and I could disable the car for a couple of months. Mfg wanted $1400 to replace the heater core.
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Actually, it is a very common complaint.

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|Some additional thoughts and comments: | |The engine mass is to small: |It would seem to me that putting cardboard in front of the radiator |for additional heat in the wintertime would work. But it works |because something else is wrong and not repaired yet.
Dan, In comparison ( in my own defense ), I must say my 2003 Sable warms up and -stays- that way, even at highway speeds and Zero and below outside. Why is that ?
I did describe to you in some detail my *experiment* with a new Tstat in my 97 Tracer. That if left at idle, I could in time, maybe 15 to 20 minutes of idle, get 1/3rd scale in the Temperature Gauge. But the second I blew cold air over the engine by moving the car in gear, the needle would drop to dead cold and remain there. Why ?
I guess it is because it is such a small engine, it doesn't generate enough internal heat from combustion to over-ride the cooling effect of the cold air flow. You know, take a 25 watt soldering iron outside in Zero degree weather, and -try- to solder something with it. Just isn't enough heat there. It is carried away faster than it is generated. That is my theory, and I haven't seen anything come along yet to convince me it is incorrect, using my own vehicle as a *control.*
| Otherwise Ford |would have complaints from everyone in a cold climate saying that the |car will not supply enough heat.
How do we know they don't? I have no idea one way or the other. I never complained to the dealer about it, but it did Pi$$ me off enough to trade in the car for something with a bigger engine.
| Think about it. If they sold |100,000 tracers (my guess) and .01% had defective housings, then 100 |cars would not give enough heat. Maybe 50 cars would be sold in |climates which were cold enough where people would complain. Maybe 5 |would complain and the issue would be fixed in or out of warranty. |Hell that ratio is just a cost of doing business. I doubt it if Ford |would do anything; just ignore it.
Yep, I agree, they would probably ignore it. However, I am sure they know about it. I can't believe they don't know about this *problem.* But since it isn't a Safety Issue, they aren't going to the expense of a recall. My advice for now is go to a hi-temp thermostat. Something around 180 degrees F. However, even then, it probably won't open. Engine is too small relative to airflow in Sub-Arctic temperatures. Unless you idle. But you don't buy a car to idle. You buy a car to drive. So the next best idea I can come up with is to restrict the airflow with cardboard or similar. Maybe even styrofoam.
| Just look at how long it took Ford |to do anything about the explorer. Oh well, enough of my bitching |about lack of heat when the temp hits the single digits. It will get |warm soon and then it won't matter until next year. Like all of us, I |will forget. | | | |You can't bypass the thermostat:
To my knowledge, which is limited to my anecdotal experinces.
|I would agree with you on my 99 camry, my 94 camry, my 92 roadmaster, |my 90 Stanza and all the other cars I have owned. However I would not |agree with you on my 91 merc tracer.
Mine was a 97, so I guess I can't argue this.
| Have you ever had the housing in |the palm of your hand and wonder why all the extra plugs and holes are |in it? Why is it so damn big? How come it rattles when you shake it? |What is inside to make it rattle? What was Ford thinking when they |designed it? Why is it $85 for a replacement?
65 dollars of replacement is LABOR CHARGE. rest is thermostat, about $12
Now if you are telling me the part price is $85, then we have a serious discrpancy here, as the Tstat for my 97 was $12 for the part.
|Ref a dash mounted control of coolant into the heater core. |My 91 tracer does NOT have a dash control for controlling the coolant |into the heater core.
Again, this is not the same as the 97 IIRC. As I no longer have the 97 or manuals for it, and have never even looked at a 91, there is no way for me to research this.
| There are no dash controls from heater core |inlet or outlet to the block which would limit the collect flow. The |dash control closes a door inside the heater box which directs cold |air to the heater core or bypasses the heater core.
It may be so. I just am not aware of it. No experience with 91.
| Having replaced |the leaking heater core I know this is true. I also made sure the |door was not sticking in a partially open position which would allow |cold air to bypass the heater core and give me colder air at the |dashboard heater outlets. By the way, I took me about 50 hours of work |to complete the job. Luckily my daughter was doing a semester |overseas for 4 months and I could disable the car for a couple of |months. Mfg wanted $1400 to replace the heater core.
That is where you have to make a decision, because the Kelley Blue Book value for the entire car is less than that.
Sorry about your problems. Just trying to help.
Lg
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Heck, You guys have me really interested now.
Thermostat Housing: I hate when you say things without checking. The THERMOSTAT HOUSING is $85 dollars at the Local Lincoln/Mercury dealership as of 1/27/04. This does NOT include installation which is a min of 1 hr at $85 dollars per hour. Now to add in the cost of the thermostat itself and the $8 per gallon for the antifreeze (normally $4 per gallon at walmart). Give one of the dealers a call and see what you are told.
The bypass for circulating the coolant around the engine. I am very much aware of the bypass house and it's connection. The hose failed on my Dodge caravan when my wife and young daughters (ages 10 and 12 at that time) were on their way to Pennsylvania for my fathers funeral. I had arrived a couple days earlier and been with him the night he died. That one 5 inch hose cost be about 2000 dollars after the engine was replaced because it froze. My wife didn't stop until the engine did freeze. She and the girls were driving at 10 pm on a barren section of interstate 84 in northeastern Pa. The extra costs were towing for 76 miles, overnight stay, extra days in PA, etc etc. The engine replacement was $1585 back then. I am also sure the mfg reliability cost estimates do not include secondary costs. Dodge only said, bypass hose $5.40 (actual cost).
Now, the merc thermostat housing has a pypass section which allows the coolant to flow around the thermostat directly to the heater core and back into the engine entering at the waterpump. Therefore circulating the coolant for even heat distribution in the engine when the thermostat it closed.
THe Merc Housing also has a bore hole from the bypass passage (about 2 inches inside the bypass hole) to someplace. My testing is to blow air (from my mouth) into the small passage by blocking the various other passages. I believe I can feel some air coming out of the big thermostat outlet passage which goes directly to the radiator. This implies that the smaller passages (approx 1/2 in diameter) are somehow bypassing the thermostat for some reason.
The current (Third) thermostat is a 195 degree unit by stant, the previous (second) unit was a 195 degree unit by Robinson. The first was the original unit.
Yes I know I could use cardboard to block the radiator.
My merc also lowers its coolant temp when I take it on the road. In fact it drops from 134 degrees to 110 degrees. I believe the drop is because of the water bypassing the thermostat. You believe the mass of the engine is to small to generate enough heat to bring the temp up when moving.
Thank You all for letting me rant and rave about my lack of heat. Next week the local Boston temp will be above freezing and the issue goes away. I just may spend the $85 for the housing just to see if it does provide me with more heat. I wish some Ford engineers would read this newsgroup.
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I have a 95 tracer, and even at -20 F, going 40 miles per hour, without cardboard, it is reasonably comfortable, the gauge maintains 1/4 on the heat. During warmer temperatures, it maintains 1/3. I haven't actually checked temps of air in/out, but I could if you would like.
What mixture are you using with your antifreeze?
Steve

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