Mechanics

HEAD GASKET REPLACE?

1995 Ford Windstar

The full and lengthy details of this are here: http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=4999536&posted=1#post4999536

Short version:
I was in a my Windstar towing 3000lbs. At about 80 miles down the road my A/C started blowing hot. Immediately I thought it was the A/C. Then a minute or so later I noticed loud squeaking from the engine bay and the water temp was climbing to the "H" on the gauge. Got off interstate as soon as could. Had to drive about a mile further up and down small grades to a truck stop to let it cool off. By the time I was there the engine was making sort of a dieseling sound when I pushed the accel and I would feather it along easily. Blew the water pump, cracked radiator; replaced those and thermostat and $1000 later I'm going down the road 20 miles towing (Ford and I thought the engine was ok cause it sounded so smooth and felt so smooth; though we suspected warped heads and/or blown head gasket) and I stop to check tires for pressure. WITHIN 1 MINUTE (NO MORE) of stopping the radiator fans kicked on HIGH and I immediately ran in the vehicle to cut it off and noticed it was again overheating though I stopped it before it got to the H. All the coolant was in the expansion reservoir and not in the radiator and the temp level on the road was extremely COOL for running on the interstate while towing. I have a tranny cooler too if that makes any difference. Let it cool off and drove it back to Ford. They suspect blown head gasket and this model/year is highly susceptible for it though I thought I was out of the park with this a long time ago. After FORD inspected it by revving it for about 10 or 15 minutes between 3500 and 4000 RPMs (which I don't even drive that hard on the road) the engine developed a Misfire on Cylinder 3 (computer code checked) and began to run like absolute crap, shaking, idling rough, etc... I left my trailer at Ford and they said I could make it back home the 88 miles without towing. I did so feathering the gas pedal the entire way and only pushing just enough to maintain 55 - 60 mph speed. There was definitely sounds of metal hitting metal and violent shaking at times especially UP grades, but would go away as I'd ease off the gas... and for some reason over the course of the 88 miles back home the van gradually started pulling harder to the LEFT (ODD). When I got home the rear bank precat (right off the headers) was GLOWING RED. I checked coolant and oil after cool down next morning. I do not see MILKLY oil. It was only changed 3 weeks prior.... but over the last 100 miles definitely changed color to a DARKER oil color. The coolant is ALL in the expansion reservoir still. Being that the thermostat is new and rad cap LOOKS FINE (but could be original) Ford and my trusted shop think head gasket is cause but I'm trying to get as much info as I can before deciding to get a new engine vs resurfacing heads and replacing head gaskets..... I mean is an engine at 157k mile worth resurfacing heads and fixing head gaskets or would you go with a whole new/used engine? If I go used I already know I'm replacing the head gaskets before its installed. Just would like some sound advice here. Also - plugs/wires are new within the past 2-3 years.
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Searcherrr
October 27, 2007.




At 157k normallly I would say go for the head gaskets, but it sounds like this one got real hot several times. When an engine gets overheated it takes the temper out of the piston rings and valve springs, that is one reason why sometimes if they have been hot many times they will start burning oil after a top end work (head gaskets). If you want to keep th e van I would install a engine from Ford, dont have to have them install it, but their engines come with good warranties that are honored at all Ford dealers.

Tiny
Jack42
Oct 27, 2007.
Ford pretty much outright admitted that the 95 Windstar 3.8L engine was a big screw up. It is a 1 year engine and they started from scratch with it in 96 with a complete redesign. I am not sure if getting one from Ford would be a good thing because of this unless they retrofitted old stock engines to fix the known head gasket problem and redesigned intake and coolant passages

As far as overheating goes this van has only truly overheated (which I define by going OVER the H on the temp gauge) 1 time. Other times it got up to or near H, but I immediately saw it and immediately shut it down. But still probably head gasket?

Tiny
Searcherrr
Oct 27, 2007.
Yes.
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Tiny
Jack42
Oct 28, 2007.
Thank you.

Last question though and I'll let this rest for good - HA! If the oil and/or coolant is tested with a machine to see if they are intermixing and it is found that they both DO NOT have traces of oil in coolant or coolant in oil intermixed would you still bank on the head gasket(s)?

Tiny
Searcherrr
Oct 28, 2007.
I dont recall ever seeing one of those crack a block, but I have seen the heads broken from one end to the other. If you want to roll the dice and just do heads, I would go for it, but that is me.

Tiny
Jack42
Oct 29, 2007.
Are there any labor calculators for this type of stuff online? I wouldn't hold you to a guess if you don't mind shooting a number or range at me for what it would cost to replace both head gaskets, recondition the heads, and possibly remachine them from being warped in my 95 3.8L Windstar huh?

Tiny
Searcherrr
Oct 29, 2007.
Head gaskets- 9.1 hrs of labor @ your shop rate
First pressure test heads to see if they are any good- If good a valve job and surface on both will run about 150-200 including the pressure test, which must be done

Tiny
Jack42
Oct 29, 2007.
Well this morning I went over to the shop where my van is and they hadn't called me yet. I'd bought an OEM spec thermostat, OEM spec radiator cap, and OEM spec iridium plugs before I went over hoping I could try this and it would solve my woes. Again they had not called me yet and I get there and they tell me they cylinder pressure tested it this morning and confirmed that its leaking and they think either head gasket or cracked/warped head/cylinder. It is my " trusted shop", but what bothers me is that they didn't call me and I stumbled in onto the news. Though I do have a lax relationship with them and know them pretty well so maybe I'm just paranoid like everyone else is about tech shops wanting big money jobs. After all YOU, another forum, and the Ford place that initially got me back on the road all said the same thing. HEAD GASKET. So I will rest.

Tiny
Searcherrr
Oct 29, 2007.
Hi I don't know if you already replaced your head gasget yet but I had mine done on our van about 5 years ago and it was done under a ford Recall for that item

help this works

Tiny
Mikemcmale
Jan 10, 2008.

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