Just slapped a new radiator in my trusty steed -- a ford e150 1998 with a 5.4 in it.

I drained the old radiator slop out like your'e supposed to... but half the old stuff is still sittin in the engine behind the thermostat (right?).

( By the way, nobody told me I was gone get transmission fluid all over the dang place... there outta be a way to remove those hoses without it 'splodin all over damn near blinded myself. )

Thing is... now I'm head scratchin' on what type o coolant to put back in it. Cuz I dont even know what kind is in there right now... and I heard if you put the wrong kind of coolant in there, it's likely to cause deadly consequences.

The last time coolant was put in it, a professional did it, but afterwards they were sayin all this confusing stuff to me about how they didn't expect it to be orange (that they didn't use orange stuff... I think they said they put yellow stuff in it) but they said "now after the coolant flush, it's surprisingly back to orange, again, anyhow." ... and that they didn't understand why that is... and that we need to "keep an eye on it." I'm thinkin the previous owner might a used some nasty head gasket sealer or done flood rusted the whole vehicle out and swapped a new engine into it.

When I swapped the radiator, my detective eye noticed there was a orange kinda filmy slimy rusty slop all up in the surfaces of the hoses.

Then to confuse matters, the sticker on the reservoir has a lil picture with orange coolant with a big ol' "X" over it like they're sayin it's bad to use orange. The yellow picture doesn't have a "X" on it. There ain't no green picture. Just orange bad, yellow good. But the reservoir ain't original and ford done changed the requirements in 2003 so whose to say.

God dammit this is so confusing. I bout had it with automobiles altogether.

Anyway... I looked in the Haynes manual for my van and it says only use "Ford Dex Cool" otherwise mutant species will be born in your engine and cause it to spontaneously combust. But at the auto store the damn "dex cool" says "GM dex cool" ! it don't say Ford dex cool. And I'm sittin there readin this and they're playing the worst music. I about lost it.

But then I'm asking myself... even if I get the right stuff, what if the mechanic before dun did NOT use the recommended stuff, and then I go ahead and use the recommended stuff, and the mixture causes an explosion?

So it occured to me... maybe there is some type o actually legit "universal" coolant that can mix with any god damn thang that happens to be in the engine already.

I asked the folks at autozone that question and they couldn't give a straight answer to that. They just started askin' ME questions like "what vehicle you got." I hate that.

What should I do?

I guess I could just put a few gallons of distilled water in there and then take 'er back into the certified mechanic and get a flush done and have them figure it out.

But part of me would be sad... and I would feel embarrassed that I went behind their back and tried to save money by doin the radiator... all just to show back up there and have them bail me out... I wanna finish this damn radiator job myself.

some reasonable person out there 'splain it to me.

  • It you disconnected the bottom hose off the radiator, the engine will totally empty of coolant. You should also be able to tell by the quantity that came out, you should have the same quantity come out as the owners manual says should be the quantity of coolant you should put in.
    – HandyHowie
    Jun 15, 2020 at 7:38
  • Why is there drain plugs on the engine then?
    – Bubba
    Jun 18, 2020 at 5:44

1 Answer 1


Dexcool is a GM product, and it comes out orange. Ford came out with an orange coolant (Motorcraft Orange) which is similar to Dexcool, and probably interchangeable, but there's no consensus. It's hard to say which was used from the color.

But, it wasn't right anyway. This chart shows which coolant to use for most Ford vehicles depending on the model year, and what it says to use for a 1998 Econoline is Motorcraft Green. This shouldn't be hard to find, any auto store should have it or a generic version.

  • There are many vehicles with radiators that have an auto transmission cooling section or mini radiator built into the "normal" radiator. Used one like that once to heat diesel fuel...
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 15, 2020 at 8:41
  • I'm pretty sure the econolines from that area have separate transmission oil coolers @SolarMike.
    – GdD
    Jun 15, 2020 at 8:48
  • @GdD - Nope. It has the transmission cooler in the bottom tank (radiator tanks are top/bottom). You can see it in this image. Jun 15, 2020 at 10:37
  • I've deleted that part from my answer @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2, there's no point in adding to the answer as it wasn't part of the question.
    – GdD
    Jun 15, 2020 at 14:35
  • Thanks... I just got the green stuff, yup. I got a new question up though, things got a little sideways.
    – Bubba
    Jun 15, 2020 at 20:14

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