Yep, with blown head gaskets and trashed bottom ends they are real cheap and
plentiful. They can be had for scrap weight. "Good" used ones are kinda hard to
though. The price is coming down as the vehicles needing them age. FWD engines
(ie:Windstar) are still pricy. About $600-700 in northern Ohio. RWD are a bit
The 3.8s newer sibling, the 4.2, is going at a premium also. This is due to
manifold gasket failures causing hydro lock and piston destruction. A running,
4.2 with less than 100K is about $1500 or better in my area.
The sad part is, those engines were good engines. Prior to the government
ban on asbestos 300K was common on the 3.8. in the fleet cars we serviced.
Equally sad is the fact if owners had properly maintained their vehicle they
would have discovered the gasket was starting to weep coolant and changed
the gasket long before any damage occurred in the engine.
Except less than an ounce of glycol in the oil can scrub the bearings
out of those engines. Ford apparently now has replacement bearings
available that stand up to glycol better than the crappy factory
Every 3.8 RWD I'm personally familiar with started running hot at around 75k
miles, no head gasket issues
This was on a Fairmont body Granada, LTD II, LTD II Wagon, 85 T-Bird. Good
engines but they had their share of issues
Mine never overheated, but a lifter got stuck and damaged the camshaft
around 100K -- previous owner rarely changed oil, if at all. Put 66K more on
it after replacing the timing set. Heavy oil consumption finally doomed it.
I replaced it with a reman long block from ATK (in the Bay Area) several
years ago. They sent me crappy manifold gaskets and the stud for the pickup
tube was on the wrong side, requiring retorquing the main bearings after I
moved it , but otherwise no complaints (it's at 30K now). See them listing
it for $1655+ freight with a 3 year, unlimited mileage warranty . May not be
such a bad deal.
The EGR valve on these engines gets clogged with carbon frequently - nothing
that some good scraping can't fix. Otherwise no problems.
On Sun, 21 May 2006 19:36:54 -0700, "Happy Traveler"
My brotherinlaw had a 3.8 T-Bird. The original engine developed a
knock under warranty - the block had warped, putting the main bearing
bores out of line. The dealer put a new set of bearings in it, which
lasted untill it was out of warranty, when both the mains and cam
bearings went out. It was at this point they found out the block was
warped, and HE ended up paying to put another engine in. It lasted
another 40 some thousand miles, when it took out a crank. When the
block was checked, it was bad too. Something about the castings being
green when they were machined (1983, I think).
Funny thing was, brother-in-law worked at the ford casting plant at
That may well be your experience but we all well aware of the fact not all
owners proved the proper preventive maintenance required of their individual
My experience servicing thousands of Ford fleet vehicles, with all four of
the various 3.8 V6s, shows no such problem
however, prior to and after the those that were equipped with the
problematic non asbestos gaskets..
Obviously if the own did not properly maintain the cooling system, and the
oil became contaminated, there would be damage to the engine from lack of
proper lubrication not matter what the composition of the bearings.
<clare at snyder.on.ca> wrote in message
My ;93 Cougar with almost 120k on it just needed head gaskets. This was
susposedly the year just before the change in gasket material. It has been
well maintained since new and we caught the problem right away. It runs
like new, now. The car has required almost nothing in repairs until now
except for routine maintenance stuff. I plan to keep it a long time yet and
highly recommend them, V6 or V8.
Without ever being overheated, and on engines that have been
METICULOUSLY MAINTAINED, this has been a problem. Not only head
gaskets (actually quite rare, comparitively) but intake gaskets and
timing cover gaskets allow minute amounts of glycol into the oil.
Before the leakage is enough for you to realize you even have a leak
(remember - as little as ONE OUNCE) the engine starts it's death
rattle. Sometimes you get lucky and catch it before the damage is
severe, and the engine lives for another couple years after replacing
the bad gaskets and flushing the glycol out of the system - but I
would NEVER count on it. Replacing rod and main bearings usually is
not enough to fix them either. Cam bearings go as well.
Overheat these engines, and you REALLY have problems.
Ones observation of any coolant loss is pretty basic stuff. When an owner
is properly maintaining their vehicle they will quickly become aware of any
loss of coolant. At that point they should perform a pressure check to
easily discover the cause of the coolant loss and repair it long before any
further damaged can occur to the engine.
<clare at snyder.on.ca> wrote in message
Ford had a run of bad heater hoses on the 3.8 in the 1980's. They would
developed pinhole leaks under pressure, which would bleed coolant onto the
block. You would see miniscule traces of coolant on the block after a long
run and never realize it was the heater hoses.
Ford also had a recall on catalytic converters on my 1985 3.8 T-Bird. Not
sure if this was for heat shields or something else.
What is your point? If one did the proper preventive maintenance the loss
of coolant, no mater the cause, would be apparent.
A proper test to fined the loss would have revealed a leaking hose
You can also get rebuilt engines pretty cheap. I was looking at them out of
curiosity for the 2.5 L Contour engine. They were under $2k. I think some
are rebuilt in Mexico and come with a warranty. They claim all the main
parts (bearings, pistons, etc.) are new.
You should be able to find them on Google.
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