Gasket and Freeze Plug issues...

Hi all,
This past weekend I took my car in to get its regular checkup. I have a '94 Ford Explorer Sport, 4.0 liter engine, 6 cylinder (I think),
stick shift, and over 150,000 miles.
Everything went fine, except when the mechanic showed me the car as it was hoisted up. He shined a flashlight on two circular indentations that looked like they were leaking and told me that the gasket (I assume he meant the head gasket) and a freeze plug needed to be fixed. He said 3 days and $900.00. He told me I could probably drive around for a little bit, but don't get into any big road trips or the heat would cause my gasket to break, potentially damaging the rest of the engine.
Just to be safe I took my car into another shop today and told them what I was looking for. They hoisted the car up and took a look around, and came back saying that they couldn't find a gasket issue, but I have two freeze plugs leaking and that they could fix it for around $170.
That's a big difference. I'm thinking of going to a third location to see what they say. I also wanted to get the opinions of this group. What do you think? How hard is a gasket issue to find?
Much thanks, Erik
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The head gasket issue is up for grabs.. I will not comment on that at this point in time.....
However... your motor has two frost plugs that are leaking.... Two out of many... The 94 Explorer isn't something I work on every day.... but I'd guess at least 10 frost plugs. If two are leaking... how long before others are leaking? Read my lips "I DON'T KNOW"... and neither do you... nor anyone else...
Would I be far wrong in assuming you don't know the last time the cooling system had a service performed?
This is top posted... If you do not like this format, pretend that there is a lot of shit above it.... Pretend that there is nothing below it.... Pretend that you actually know people in a sense that you an actually touch them.... Chat rooms... text messaging... what next? Whew... that was close.

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That's a critical point, however. For example, if the mechanic that wants $900 spotted something that the mechanic that quoted $170 did not, then that would suggest gasket issues are difficult to spot. If such an issue is relatively easy to spot (to a trained eye), then the first mechanic may be trying to fleece me. In any case, I think I may try to get a third mechanic to take a look at the vehicle. That should (hopefully) put an end to the question.

I wasn't asking about when the plugs would start leaking. Based on the fact that the two leaking plugs were found easily, I would think that plugs are easy to spot to a trained eye. In either case, the gasket issue is still the one that needs to be determined.

No, you wouldn't be wrong, although my car was looked at due to overheating issues a couple of years ago. I don't remember the exact parts that were replaced, but it didn't amount to more than a few hundred dollars. Certainly not the $900 the above mentioned mechanic wants. I was assured at the time that there was no significant damage to the engine and its constituent parts. I think it largely came down to the thermostat, but I don't remember exactly.
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Never indicated that it was. That's why I posted to this board.

I'm not looking for cheaper, I'm trying to make sure I don't get swindled. Why would I pay for an expensive part that doesn't need repair at this time? That's why I asked. If it needs to be replaced, so be it. It was a simple question on how easy it was to spot gasket issues.

It gives you a feeling of power and a chance to vent, apparently.
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Erik wrote:

It's not hard for a mechanic to diagnose a bad head gasket even if he isn't a super master god like mechanic with a million dollar machine (that customers should be glad to pay for) like Jim. Jim dispenses good answers when his panties aren't all bunched up in his ass because you've got poor grammar or you bottom post. When he chooses to answer his expertise is worth putting up with his grouchy superior nature. sometimes.
You maybe a rocket scientist but to Jim you are a dumbass because you can't diagnose a bad head gasket.
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Just curious; who is this obnoxious "mechanic."..? Appears as though his name is "Jim", but the only Jim that I know that posts with some knowledge is "Warman" ! Having been on this NG for over five years, that Gent would never have responded to anyone in such a crude manner. Warman can "cut ya" but does it with more finesse.... Did a little back checking and Mr "mechanic" seems to be a fairly new responder whose almost every response is of the same nature; Holier than thou (at least in his opinion) . Bill
BTW: I also am a top poster. Makes more sense to me <G>
wrote:

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wrote:

Never indicated that it was. That's why I posted to this board.

who
I'm not looking for cheaper, I'm trying to make sure I don't get swindled. Why would I pay for an expensive part that doesn't need repair at this time? That's why I asked. If it needs to be replaced, so be it. It was a simple question on how easy it was to spot gasket issues.
When my '91 Explorer needed a new/rebuilt transmission I shopped around for the best price. Bad idea. The place I took it to said it would cost $750 but when they were done it was more like $1800. Plus they put in a bad rebuilt the first time and had to tow it back to the shop. Plus a bunch of other crap I won't even go into. Bottom line: try to find a reputable mechanic. Sometimes it costs less to pay more.
OK, so we are pretty sure your freeze plugs are leaking. But we are not quite sure about which gasket Mechanic #1 was refering to. It it's a head gasket this can be tested by checking the cylinder compression. Usually one (or two adjoining) cylinders will have low compression if the head is leaking. There may also be bubbles in the coolant and there are suppposedly tests strips to check for exhuast gases in the coolant. Any decent mechanic should know this. Someone at Jiffy Lube or such a place might not. Replacing both head gaskets and checking the heads for cracks etc could account for the other $700 or so. I think that is high for only one head.
Now, if the gasket Mechanic #1 was refering to was the oil pan gasket then the engine has to be hoisted up to get it out of there. That could cost some $$$. But I have a hard time imaging an oil pan gasket suddenly blowing out so that probably is not what he meant. There is also the intake manifold gasket (mainly the lower) that could very well be the problem. Since we are already pretty sure your cooling system needs some maintenance I would say this is likely and it can blow suddenly spewing coolant all over the place and the engine could overheat quickly and you would be stuck. Replacing this gasket requires removing a lot of stuff and scraping off the old gasket etc and I think it would probably cost around $500-$700 to have someone do it. I also think $700 is a bit high but you may be paying the extra for someone who is going to take their time and do a thorough job and guarantee their work. Plus they seem to be professional enough to look for other potential problems. You might even ask to have the thermostat and thermostat gasket replaced while he's in there. It's probably due too. Maybe some new spark plugs, wires, and serpentine belt are needed about now also. And perhaps new radiator and heater hoses. So don't be surprised if he finds a lot of other stuff. You may very well need it. This is also why there are many used Explorers for sale. After the last trip to the mechanic with an estimate of over $4000 for a car that's worth $2000, well, time for a trade-in unless you can do the work yourself.
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900 bucks? Sounds like a good profit from a head gasket replacement and a couple a freeze plugs.How about a complete valve job and both heads done correctly?couldnt be that much more money could it?I would also try the expanding rubber freeze plugs in the meantime , and consider a complete rebuild for that kind of investment. Sometimes it isnt that much more work to do everything over ,such as a rebuild.

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