Got a 97 Taurus [270K] and I,m pretty sure this is a head gasket.
-Runs a bit hot [high side of normal]
-coolant level keeps droping [no obvious leaks]
-small trail of bubbles in the coolant resevoir when running.
-Would rad sealant [add to coolant] fix this
or is this just for small leaks in the rad?
-How would I know which head has the leak? Or do I just have to replace
-Anyone know the approximate labor cost to replace? [# of hrs]
Thanks in Advance
Sealant will not help your situation. It doesn't matter which head is leaking,
ALWAYS replace BOTH head gakets. Approx. cost at an indy shop is at least $900
more in my area. Lots of labor involved along with cylinder head
inspection\recondition in addition to gaskets and parts. Warrantying the repair
also expensive, thus non existant, just in case the engine bearings were
coolant in the oil.(engine failure usually occurs shortly after) There's no
way to verify bearing wash before or during a head gasket repair, much less
Well, i'm gonna step in it and take the heat, again.
If you have a blown head gasket, there's NO fix other than to replace
them both, as Tom points out. And the heads MUST be tested for warp and
But you CAN measure the coolant found when you drain the oil as it will
separate. If there's no coolant in oil, then you are pretty safe.
If there IS coolant of any volume over a few tablespoons then you might
have had 'bearing wash' which is the wearing away of the finish surface
of the bearing.
But it's still not all lost.
The engine failure Tom refers to is when the bearings SEIZE after the
smooth surface is eroded way. That is due to high ridges in the bearings
overheating due to load stresses, this causes the oil next to them to
overheat and 'coke'. Like cooking oil does in an overheated frying pan
Once that 'coking' builds to a certain point it breaks free, sliding
around until it jams the bearing, which then spins and seizes.
So what's the fix?
Use Mobil 1 or a FULL synthetic that has a significantly higher coking
While it cant be guaranteed there wont be subsequent failure, there
certainly wont be the same degree of coking buildup as with a standard
Take it or leave it, that's my hypothesis, and I'm sticking to it...
because I put over 70,000 miles on a 3.8 that had blown HG and had washed
bearings. And becuase it makes sense!
Dont skimp on a cheaper synth! and your mileage may vary, but I'd go for
it, if I were you.
And after the first oil change you can extend the change mileage some,
unless you only use the car on short trips.
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
Coolant in the oil is a definite problem and if not corrected very soon will
destroy an engine. But I would rather change the oil and filter 2 or 3
times getting the engine to operating temp for 5 or 10 minutes between
changes to make sure all the coolant is flushed from the crankcase. In
extreme cases I'll tell the customer to change oil again in 50 miles or so.
Getting ALL the coolant out of the crankcase is what's really important.
There was a TSB #01-11-6 that mentions these similar symptoms. Link:
I'd check to make sure that service was done previously. That could
account for the running hot and the bubbles in the coolant reservoir.
On a 3.8 Ford with original bearings, the chances of survival after
coolant has gotten into the oil are quite low, and they decrease
logarithmically with the amount of time the coolant has been in the
crankcase. A good flush to remove ALL traces of glycol MAY prevent the
"death rattle", but no guarantees. I know one guy swears by flushing
(filling and draining several times) the engine thoroughly with HOT
SOAPY WATER, then filling with cheap oil and an additive like Bardahl
1 or rislone or MMO, running the engine until warmed up, draining and
refilling with good oil and Lucas oil stabilizer.He claims it is the
only way to migrate the glycol out of the bearings as glycol has a
VERY low soluability in oil.When heated and rubbed, it has very poor
Given the high mileage on this engine, you would be better off to have a
remanufactured engine installed- the other posters have a valid point about
bearing damage, but with this mileage, you probably do not have any bearings
left anyway. By the way, it is the water in the coolant that damages the
bearings, not the glycol, which makes the claim of "washing" the engine out
with soap and water pure BS. Hope this helps.
I'd disagree, with the relatively LOW mileage of this engine, and with
no signs of intermix, head gaskets will probably extend the the life at
least another 160K. Have a competent tech do a pressure test &
leak-down test to pinpoint the issue and git 'r done.
Are you 100% sure it is the water? I've been told running pure water
instead of glycol reduces the chance of damage when the head gasket
goes.Also been told glycol without silica does less damage.
Nobody has adequately explained why this is a relatively recent
phenomenon - blown head gaskets did not cause bearing damage in years
Also, Ford has changed the bearing composition on their replacement
bearings, supposedly to reduce/eliminate the problem.
Interesting observation - replacing all rod and crank bearings on an
engine so damaged does not , very often, totally get rid of the "death
rattle". Is piston damage also involved?
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