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I've read some other posts on the head gasket problems and I thought I would post this.
I just purchased a 1999 Ford E-350 Cutaway van with 135,000 miles on it. It looked fine until I drove it for a few miles and the darn head gasket started leaking. It looks as though it's leaking on the passenger side, rear of the engine on the inside area of the head. Almost all the way to the rear. I cleaned it up (pressure wash) and it's pretty clear now and I can actually see it bubbling in that area. It leaks down onto the exhaust and creates that odor I'm sure most of you are familiar with.. burning oil.
My question is this. Have any of you had this problem? If so, have any of you fixed this yourself? I got a quote of $2,600 at a dealership and they said that because it has overhead cams, the whole front has to come off of the engine and the timing chains would have to be removed. They said there are special tools to re-align the timing chain and sprockets and it's a very involved job. It's also in a van so it looks like it may even be a little more involved.
Anyway, is this something that I could do myself? Should I get a manual and if so which one would go in depth with the changing of the gasket? Couldn't I just mark the timing gears and re-locate them? Also, is this a problem with the head? I was told that these heads on these engines couldn't be milled. Also the dealer said it's 24 hour job in the flat rate manual.
Thanks in advance for anyone's assistance on this.
Well first of all, i wouldnt spend $2,500 bucks if a new block w/ warranty from dealer is about $3,250-3,400 bucks w/ core return the warranty is good for 36k or 3years, spend the little extra cash and have a brand new engine... dont get stuck with a $2,500 plus job and a 130,000 mile engine and wait for the other head gasket to leak. Do it right the first time.
The heads could be ported slightly by the way (the dealer tells you they cant just so you can take your business to them) They are called "MODULAR" engines for one reason only, once they reach a certain mileage its just a block of steel (worthless), its a big job to do, but 24 hours, come on now, i can build you 4-5 small block 302's in that time.
Yes, I'm sure it's a leaking headgasket. I can see right where it's bubbling out. I should take a picture and post it... actually I will.
As far as a new engine... I was thinking the same thing. Either I'm going to have the work done reasonably or I will just get a new longblock.
When taking this thing apart and the fact that this is in the van... how long should it take? Also, the timing chain and the cover over the front... can I just mark the location of the chain and sprocket and put it back the way it was or do I need some additional tools to do this?
Thanks for your help. I will follow up sometime today with a post that includes a picture of where the leak is coming from.
The other thing you might look at is another shop! Two places (one dealer and one large garage) quoted me OVER $1200 to replace the head gaskets on my 4.6L. The place that actually did the work charged me $520 - and they acted like they where afraid I would think they where ripping me off. They pulled and machined both heads like they should and its run fine every since. These two mechanics where just a couple guys working in a big unheated shop with a line of 20 cars awaiting their services. I know they didn't have any special tools to line up the timing sprockets but then again they have also noted for their cheap work on these modulars and have done hundreds by now. I know the 5.4 is more and a van is even more then that but it pays to shop around.
If you're stuck with the $2600 estimate I think you have hit the cut off point on replacing with a long block.
I think that just depends on how the engine was treated ever since new, if it was beat up, changed the oil every 4,500 to 6000 miles, you're probably better off with a new block (you'll have piece of mind, and warranty to go with that) On the other hand if it was treated fairly well im guessing you should probably get a good 200,000 plus.
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