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1968-2013 Full Size Vans Econolines. E150, E250, E350, E450 and E550

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  #1  
Old 11-09-2011, 01:12 AM
Club Wagon Club Wagon is offline
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When did FORD improve 4.6/5.4 heads?

Was it '01 model year that FORD improved cylinder heads on Econoline 4.6/5.4 motors in response to complaints about spark plugs blowing out?

Tried Search, but results didn't seem to have anything in common w/my key words or each other. Didn't have patience to pour thru all the pages. Don't know how to restrict Search to 1968 - Present Full Size Vans.
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  #2  
Old 11-09-2011, 02:46 AM
joshofalltrades joshofalltrades is offline
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first, there's no reason to restrict your search to vans, as all of these engines (in a given year/time period) were teh same across the board of body styles.
that said, you have to ask whats really improved, a 99 i worked on blew a plug, an 03 i worked on had 2 plugs break off in the head (infamous 2-piece design), required $150 of special tool to extract them, and over $20 per plug to get champion's one-piece design to correct the poor design.
IMHO, neither head is really a good design. i'm not exactly sure about 01 being the year, but its at least close. you might be able to study a parts-store website to see if you can find when they changed spark plug styles
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:54 AM
Club Wagon Club Wagon is offline
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IMO it would be very helpful to be able to Search 1968 - Present Full Size Vans only. Searches I tried suggest FORD improved heads on different vehicles in different years. Some suggest Econoline lagged a year behind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshofalltrades View Post
first, there's no reason to restrict your search to vans
Thought the "infamous 2-piece design...over $20 per plug...champions" came in later in 3 valve motors?

Didn't FORD put heads, improved w/more threads to avoid them blowing out, in Econolines that used standard Autolite plugs?
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  #4  
Old 11-09-2011, 11:34 AM
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It might not be very helpful but I recall seeing a thread in the V8 or v10 forums concerning this very issue, including model years and build dates too, E vans were specifically mentioned. If I can find it in my subscribed threads I'll be happy to post a link here to save all that searching. I do know this thread was posted in the last year------a long time I know but certainly narrows it down------just a bit!

The "search this thread" link at the top of this thread works very well, can use the Forum Jump drop down box to quickly navigate the different Modular Motor threads.

I'll keep looking through my own list in the meantime..........
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:20 AM
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This was discussed on a thread here a few months ago. I believe it was YoGeorge that said the PI heads showed up in 2001 along with more plug threads.

As far as the 2 piece plugs go, it seems that it was isolated to 3 valve motors which the vans never got.
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:13 AM
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Yes, I'm also confident that it's been discussed here on FTE. However since I've read threads in several different sections & lack perfect recall, the date when FORD introduced improved heads in Econoline eludes me.

Anybody think PI (Power Improved) heads, which have substantially more spark plug threads to combat blown plugs, were not installed beginning with '01 Econoline? What year then?

Thanks for offers trying to find far flung threads on this topic & good luck searching.
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:15 AM
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Couple different issues: all 4.6/5.4/6.8 2 valve engines had the potential of blowing out plugs (perhaps up to a certain date), and the Romeo 4.6 used in vans (most F150's got the Windsor 4.6) had a different problem with the heads.

The PI heads went on the Romeo 4.6 (used in most vans) in 2001 and had additional cooling problems covered by a TSB. I got a new pair of heads under this TSB under my extended warranty at 42k miles (now have over 99k and all is well). I believe that PI Romeo motors (in vans and Explorers among other vehicles) had this problem through 9/2003--so even early 2004 vans could have had the problem heads.

I believe the spark plug threads were fixed (by adding more threads) circa 2005 but can't find a quick cite. The new heads I got have the additional threads.

Here's my first post to this forum regarding the TSB on the 4.6, so you do NOT want one of these engines:

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/51...-timebomb.html

I just found a TSB on the plugs blowing out and it appears to be a problem through 2008(?)

http://www.fulltorque.com/pdf/Ford%2...20Bulletin.pdf

No time to follow through right now, but I thought I recalled that circa 2005 the heads got more threads in them. For what it's worth, plug blowouts on the 4.6 seem much rarer than on the 5.4 and 6.8, likely because of the much shorter stroke--meaning less cylinder pressure and less vibration. It is extremely rare to hear of cop cars, taxis, etc blowing out plugs. I think the 4.6 is a GREAT engine and is very economical in the vans if you are lightly loaded most of the time--probably the best gas mileage in any full size van ever.

Good luck,
George
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:18 PM
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Thanks for trying to help to clear up this Q.

Quote:
Originally Posted by YoGeorge View Post
all 4.6/5.4/6.8 2 valve engines had the potential of blowing out plugs (perhaps up to a certain date)

Here's my first post to this forum regarding the TSB on the 4.6, so you do NOT want one of these engines [thru Sept '03 motor build date?-"through 2008(?)"?]

I think the 4.6 is a GREAT engine

Good luck,
George
Or perhaps a ticking "timebomb"?

Sorry, but can't help that it reminds me of a classic SNL skit: 'It's a dessert topping. No! It's a floor wax.'

When was that TSB about ticking sound in wheel well issued?

Glad you've had "Good luck" w/new FORD, FORD extended warranty, low mile 4.6 Econoline & resolving ticking noise.

Apologize for not specifying "When did FORD improve 4.6/5.4 heads?" in Econoline during the '97-'05 time span. Am currently interested, almost exclusively, in used, high mileage, Econolines w/4.6, in this range.

Note: Most such vehicles are now in what you deemed the keep forever 150,000 mile class.
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Old 11-10-2011, 05:22 PM
YoGeorge YoGeorge is offline
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TSB was issued in December 2003 (TSB #0256, year 2003). I have not heard of a lot of engine failures in the affected engines but am relieved that I got the new heads anyway. Note that my post was made in my earliest days on the board; I had just found the TSB, and noted that my engine had the tick for a year or two beforehand, primarily in the right wheel well area.

The Romeo engines were used in a LOT of cars as well as Explorers, Expeditions, and vans. (All the aluminum block engines in Explorers were Romeo built.) I think the Windsor engines went primarily into pickups. I live within about 35 miles of both of these engine plants, for what it's worth...

If you want a solid 4.6, you might look for vans with the Windsor 4.6 (engine code 6--Romeo code was "W", which seems wrong but that is what it is) in the SN if you can find one, stay with years preceding the early PI head engine (1997-2000), or find a late 2004 or a 2005 van which would have been built after the cylinder head cooling problems were solved. Or find one that does not tick. I don't think they all do. Or find one that has had the heads replaced. The Romeo got the PI heads in 2001, and note that the stuck spark plugs were unique to the 3 valve engines, which the vans have never used.

Again, I have no idea if valves in the affected engines will actually burn or whatever, but have not heard of a lot of failures (nor do the Consumer Reports used car ratings show a history of major engine problems with the 4.6 in the Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, etc during those years--and these used the Romeo engines). I have over 99k on my van and plan to drive it to 150 or 200k; I'm retired, have a smaller car to drive daily, and can see keeping the van indefinitely since it's not really depreciating any more.

Finally, I think that plugs blowing out of the 4.6 are really very rare compared to the 5.4 and 6.8 regardless of year. Almost unheard of in car applications, really. And I just found this 2009 article saying that the Romeo plant, opened with the introduction of the 4.6 (and that being their main engine), had produced 10 MILLION engines: http://media.ford.com/article_displa...ticle_id=29893 It really is a solid engine. Just make sure to use a good oil filter with a solid anti drainback valve (like the Motorcraft 820S) and the recommended 5W20 (or in the earlier years 5W30) oil. Gotta get oil to the valve train quickly. I did have a friend who lost the oil pump in a 4.6 in his van early on (maybe 40k miles) and took out the cylinder heads very quickly (cams ride right in the aluminum head w/o bearing inserts). But then I blew up a Chevy 305 in my '86 GMC van in 1990 at ~42k miles when the timing chain let go on the freeway and it got a whole new targetmaster engine. (GM paid half the bill even though it was out of warranty).

George
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:27 PM
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5.4 PI vans came out in 1999.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:19 AM
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Adding a bit more from Johnny Langton:

Quote:
All of the 5.4L's went to PI heads in '99, 4.6L's in 2000. But considering the E-Series is the disrespected red-headed stepchild for Ford that gets all of the leftover parts, they were probably a year or so behind the others.
JL
Like YoGeorge Johnny seems to know these motors quite well. For those looking in and not sure how to ID if their van has these heads:

Click the image to open in full size.

HTH or adds something to the thread.
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWA View Post
Adding a bit more from Johnny Langton:



Like YoGeorge Johnny seems to know these motors quite well. For those looking in and not sure how to ID if their van has these heads:

Click the image to open in full size.

HTH or adds something to the thread.
Thanks, JWA...this is good information. All 5.4's were Windsor engines and got the PI heads in 1999. I believe the Windsor 4.6 may have gotten the PI heads in 1999 as well and these were used in the F150 and in Mustang GT's (even though most Mustang engines were Romeos). So the Mustang got the Windsor PI engine in 1999-2000 and in 2001 went back to the Romeo.

The Romeo got the PI heads in 2001, and this is when the van, Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, Town Car got the PI engine. It was the Romeo PI heads that had the cooling problem that warranted the TSB I quoted above.

I am still befuddled as to why Ford had 2 different 4.6's that are otherwise so similar (just like there were THREE 351's back in the old days).

Thanks,
George
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:37 AM
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Ford's Romeo plant was developed specifically for the modular engines (late 80s, early 90s). Since Ford needed more production than Romeo could put out, they shifted some production to the Windsor plant, which had built the small-blocks since the 50s, pushrods, like 302, 351, etc.

Windsor plant still produces racing smallblocks, but under different ownership, since Ford sold it to Nemak in 2008.
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
I am still befuddled as to why Ford had 2 different 4.6's that are otherwise so similar (just like there were THREE 351's back in the old days).
Those transistion years are always curious things regardless what industry; cars/trucks, guitars, tools---you name it its never easy until things are more consistent. There was a time chassis serial numbers or build dates werent' all that important----today its almost vital to have that info handy for service or parts.

These forums help demystify some of this for us!
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:19 AM
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I think YoGeorge mentioned it, but I wanted to point out that PI heads and spark-plug fiasco are kinda not related to each other.

Romeo PI heads and insufficient cooling TSB are.
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:19 AM
 
 
 
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