96 Taurus Overheating

Problem was very intermittant and hard to diagnose for many months - took it to shop and they couldn't duplicate the problem. Now the problem is repeatable but I'm getting widely varying diagnoses and
costs. Maybe someone here can help...
96 Taurus, 3.0 liter V6, VIN U...In stop and go traffic the car starts to overheat (this was intermittent for a while but now happens regularly). On interstate the temperature is about normal but heats up rapidly when I hit the exit ramp and slow down to 25 MPH or pull into the rest area. Some said thermistat so I replaced that - no help. Some said clean and flush cooling system and add fresh coolant - did that (it was time anyway) and no help. One shop is now recommending radiator replacement at $690 (labor intensive because front bumper/grille/headlights must be removed). One shop says water pump but another says no because the pump isn't making any strange noises. All have done a pressure test and say that is fine. This model Taurus uses coolant reservior so their's no radiator cap on the radiator to be able to visually look inside the radiator.
Here's some things I've noticed - 1) upper radiator hose from thermistat to radiator is hot and pressurized at normal or elevated operating temp 2) according to one mechanic the lower radiator hose from radiator to water pump seems significantly cooler than it should be (I can't reach it) at normal or elevated operating temp. This suggests restricted flow through the radiator. 3) heater hose is hot near water pump but cools rapidly as it approaches the firewall 4) if I turn on the heater after the car warms up it starts blowing warm air, but usually cools down to approximately 80 degrees within about 2-3 minutes - the faster the car is moving the faster it cools off. If I turn off heater and adjust temp back to low for a while, then turn heater back on and adjust temp to high, it starts blowing warm air and cools rapidly again. 5) this car uses 2 electric fans on radiator and both "appear" to be functioning normally.
Thanks in advance for your help,
Phil
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Phil Nospam wrote:

It's an airflow or liquid flow problem. Since it runs at normal temp on highway, but heats up when slowing down, I'm betting on the fan controller or the condenser fins are mashed down, impeding normal airflow. You might also try a new pressure cap on the coolant reservoir.
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95% certainty: Water pump
Wait till you see what it looks like when you remove it!
;)
then take it to the shop that said it couldnt be because it aint making "noises"

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OK, I've had a good amount of experience with Taurus's and have never seen a water pump just quit for no reason...You've got to clue us in on what you think it is....
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Shoe Salesman wrote:

3.0L Tauri of that era suffered from water pump impeller erosion. There are probably no fins on the water pump impeller left to move the water. Unless flushed recently, I'll bet the coolasnt is brown also.
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Oh that's why I haven't seen it. My experience has been with cars that were taken care of..... Oh well, the bearing is probably ready to let go anyway. It sure won't hurt it to put a water pump on it even if the impeller is good.
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That's because the stuff you work on has your name on the title, the rest of us have to deal with what's out in the real world.

It [the impeller] won't be.
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Yea, and be sure to inspect the replacement one too. I have seen rebuilt pumps with very suspect impellers being recycled. A new pump would be best.
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Shoe Salesman wrote:

It wasn't just on poorly maintained cars. It was a combination of aeration at the impeller, casting sand in the block, and something with water flow. There was a slightly effective recall to flush the cooling system with some nasty chemicals and rerouting some heater\transfer hoses on the rear of the motor. Do a search for "Ford Brown Coolant Recall" for details. I've seen the impeller go at as low as 20K miles.
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that were

go anyway.

impeller is

aeration at the

There was a

nasty chemicals and

search for "Ford

low as 20K miles.
From memory, a 3mm restrictor was added in the degas line. A new, shrouded impeller design was introduced to correct a flow balance problem caused by casting variations in the front cover. Earlier models had a bypass loop in addition to the heater core loop. That was eliminated. Not sure if the TSB involved adding one-I'd have to look that up....
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seen a

you
are probably

recently,
Thank you everyone for your responses.
I like the thought of the impeller erosion. Well I don't LIKE it, but it makes some sense. About 2 years ago I had to replace one of the freeze plugs because it corroded (eroded). About six months later a second one suffered the same fate, and I believe that one was located on the same side of the engine as the water pump. If the freeze plugs are corroding from the inside, then it makes sense that other light/thin components in the cooling system could suffer the same problem.
Further searching online led me to stories about recalls and/or TSB's about this problem. Alldata.com has info on this but it's a paid service. Anyone know of any FREE sites that list all the recalls and TSB's?
Thanks again,
Phil
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Hey, Phil
Did you see the post on the 97 sable "no-heat" below? Check out his picture-link! http://blizzard.zmm.com/waterpump / ;)

There
flushed
side
the
cooling
about
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Backyard Mechanic wrote:

Bingo.
Rob
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