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yea i have seen a thermostat fall apart, mostly on 3.0 taurus and rangers where they tend to get the coolant very dirty due to pieces in the block casting coming off in the coolant passages. this gives the coolant a rusty look and when you dont do the coolant flushes in the regular scheduled maintainence, then over time, everything gets gunked up. put a new thermostat and flush out as much of the old coolant as possible. oh yea and broken thermostats can break the water pump impeller, but if you dont hear any noise from the water pump then you are ok.
 
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