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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-20-03, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Head gasket??

I've been reading a lot of previous posts about some of the problems that I am seeing in my '89 3.9lt 3sp auto EA falcon.

1. The engine is shaking a lot at idle, I adjusted the idle spped and the shaking is still there.

2. It seems to be loosing a lot of coolant, I can't see where from and there is no milky residue in the oil.

3. A loss in power, it is not major. When I floor the accelerator at 75km/hr it doesn't kick down to 2nd gear and it used to do it at 85km/hr.

I have seen each of these problems individually and they all mention as a possible cause HEADGASKET!!

Seeing that I am seeing all of these problems together, that can only mean one thing can't it????

89 EA. 4 wheels, engine, steering wheel. That's about it.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-20-03, 06:11 PM
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Re: Head gasket??

does it blow white smoke on start-up?

its possible that the coolant is weeping into the combustion chamber, not the oil galleries, if this is the case you "should" get white smoke especially on start-up, also pull your spark plugs out and see if theyre ultra clean. Other than that, cheack around the gasket surface for stains and also check all welch plugs

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-20-03, 06:36 PM
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The best way to know FOR SURE if you have any head gasket trouble is to use a block tester. If there's a blown head gasket or a crack in the head or block, exhaust and combustion gases will be present in the coolant. The block tester uses a chemical to see if there are indeed any such gases present in your radiator.

I guarantee if you're having head gasket issues, the test will tell you. The kit is only around 20-30 bucks and is well worth every penny.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-20-03, 10:09 PM
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Re: Head gasket??

Any oil in coolant?

My mech does the test for free for me. Itll be well worth the $20or $30.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-22-03, 05:20 AM
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Re: Head gasket??

Does sound like a gasket, doesn't it?
If it is, check the block deck and head face with a straight edge, it is not uncommon for one or both to be out of true, thus causing the gasket to blow.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-23-03, 04:28 PM
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Re: Head gasket??

Sorry mate - IMHO thats a head gasket for sure. $$$ unless you're able to do it yourself.

Your coolant will be getting pushed out into the overflow tank by the air pressure from the cylinder blowing into the water gallery. Does your cooling system remain pressurised for like 1-2 hours after the car has been used - check by slowly removing the radiator cap & watching the overflow tank. If there's air blowing into the overflow tank as you do it the gasket is blown.

I've just been through exactly this with my XF EFI - no milky oil or overheating - just coolant vanishing - not even leaving a puddle. As soon as I removed the head I could see what had happened - the rear water passages on the head had corroded away and the distance between them & the #6 cyl was half what it should be - so the gasket had been destroyed- that'll be the same on yours I'd guess. As someone said - check your plugs too - the cleanest one will be the likely cylinder that it getting a waterblasting - my #6 piston crown was gleeming.

The inherent problem with all these alloyhead 6's is they don't have enough earth straps on them so the water acts as an electrolyte. Since aluminum corrodes more readily than iron the combination of alloy head/cast iron block means the head corrodes away first where it's in contact with the water & a dissimilar metal - in this case the iron. It's called galvanic & electrolytic corrosions - look up the "galvanic series" on the net for more about this.

This can be reduced with the use of corrosion inhibitor but the only real fix is extra earth straps on the head - which I'm in the process of doing - slinging 2 of them off the intake manifold injector
body bolts to the body.

When it's off be sure to get it pressure/crack tested & do what's needed.

Good luck.

Last edited by yeah right; 08-23-03 at 04:33 PM.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-24-03, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Head Gasket?

Well I checked last night and there was milky residue in the oil and white smoke coming from the exhaust on startup.

I'm going to ask a couple of stupid questions here so please do not redicule me too much. lol.

1. Can the head gasket be replaced without removing the engine from the car?

2. How dangerous is it to continue to drive the car?

3. What if anything, can be stuffed up more if I do drive the car?

Thanks for your patience.

89 EA. 4 wheels, engine, steering wheel. That's about it.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-25-03, 02:10 AM
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Re: Head gasket??

I'm not familiar with the EA 3.9 - are they OHC? I doubt you'd have to remove the engine to remove the head - a design flaw like that would never be lived down by Ford - we're still quoting the failure of the Edsel.....

It's not good to drive about with water contaminated oil. The heat can cause it to steam & therefore pressurise oil gallerys & prevent oil intermittently from getting to where it needs too & also decreasing it's lubricating abilities even if it does get there. Also the engine will be prone to localised overheating - hot spots in the engine where there is no coolant due to the lower level & presence of steam instead of water because of air in the cooling system which is compressable - whereas water is (for all intents) incompressible. You'd likely get overheating which could crack the head and/or block - not a nice scenario.

Don't waste any time - get it sorted NOW before it costs you a fortune for a motor reco. They're not hard to do if you have even the slightest mechanical inclination.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-25-03, 02:12 AM
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Re: Head gasket??

Sorry - forgot to say - when it's all sorted - as for kickdown - check the kickdown cable. it could be broken or just mal-adjusted.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-25-03, 02:28 AM
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Re: Head gasket??

Yup.. as mentioned above, get it done, you will only make things worse by leaving it.

The EA head is easy to take off. The engine can stay in. Infact, it will only take a few hours to change the gasket if you know what your doing... but its a good idea to have the head checked while its out.

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