When car is driven it dies and won't start, I believe it's either the water pump or thermostat. I don't see any leaks.

Asked by Jun 13, 2015 at 04:30 AM about the 1990 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 Convertible

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My daughter received a 1990 Mustang Convertible 5.0 with 88,000 miles for graduation a couple weeks ago.  Today while driving it died and would not start so she parked.  When I checked it out it smelled like radiator fluid, but it started right up.  I drove around a couple blocks and it died again.  The temp gauge was going up and down but I don't see a leak from hoses or water pump.  I opened radiator and started and fluid never went down and the reservoir was almost empty.  I figure its either the water pump or thermostat.  Any thoughts???

2 Answers

285,375

If the radiator overflow reservoir is empty and you smell coolant, I suspect a leak. A bouncing temp gauge tells me you have air in the system, that is from the low coolant. If the thermostat was stuck open, it would take a long time to get hot, over 30min of driving, if it was stuck closed it would sprew out the reservior. So I think your thermo is fine. I only replace my water pumps when they start to leak. Yours might. Look around the pump for signs, there is even a weep hole on the bottom of the pump that coolant leaks out when the bearing is bad. I think the starting issue is a totally different issue. Clean the throttle body and Idle air solenoid and MAF. How are the plugs and wires? Change the distributor cap and rotor?

113,495

I would replace both the water pump and thermostat at this mileage anyway, but it don't think that it is your actual stalling problem, I think you are having the typical thermal breakdown of the ignition module and or distributor stator, if you know how to pull Fords OBD1 codes see if there is a IDM code then you know for sure that there is your problem. Or just replace the parts as they are known failures any time after 30 K miles.

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