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Old 03-28-2004, 20:46   #1 (permalink)
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Windstar Head Gasket

I have a 96 Windstar with the 3.8 L engine. It has 100 K miles and I am afraid I am starting to see symptons of a bad head gasket. I am losing about a 1/2 quart of anti-freeze a month and do not see any evidence of leak. I also get check engine light and rough start after brief "hot soak". Anyone have a good way of pinpointing this problem to head gaskets. It runs ok with this exception. I have seen no evidence of white exhaust either.

Thanks
Charles Webb
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Old 03-28-2004, 21:02   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Windstar Head Gasket

A chemical type block tester is the best way to test for a blown head gasket, cracked head, or a cracked block. Having any of the aforementioned problems often causes combustion gases to enter the cooling system. A block tester checks for those gases and is a sure fire way of knowing if you have a problem.

They're relatively inexpensive and are very easy to use. Any local parts house should be able to set you up.

Good luck!

Brian
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Old 04-11-2004, 10:26   #3 (permalink)
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Smile Re: Windstar Head Gasket

Brian,

Thanks for the tip. I purchased the block tester for $50.00 at NAPA. It tested negative so I am good for awhile. The device was easy enough to use but probably works easier if you have a leaky gasket. Without a leak you are drawing a vacuum on a closed circuit. If you keep squeezing the bulb during the test to draw more vacuum (per directions) you tend to collapse the hoses causing anti-freeze to enter the device which ruins the test. I had started with the coolant level a few inches from the top as recommended. If I were doing it again I would have drained more fluid to start.

Charles
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Old 05-09-2004, 01:42   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Windstar Head Gasket

Hi, a little bit of info on your windstar head gasket problem.
As a ford mechanic i have done dozens of them, unfortunatly most of then turned into engine jobs due to the antifreeze going into the combustion chamber, past the rings then in to the oil sump, antifreeze kills con rod bearings.
This type of leak leaks mostly when cold, and instead of compression entering the cooling system, antifreeze gets into the comb.chamber, and usually runs rough till the coolant blows out, this usually happens to #4cyl (one next to power steering pump) or sometimes #3 cyl also.
Simply take the spark plug out when the engine is cold, I would use my little mirror , put it next to the hole, crank the engine, and see if any antifreeze blows out on to the mirror, a small taste will tell you if you want to determine whether its just moisture or actually antifreeze. sounds backyard but its a quick way to tell fast.
Also loosen the sump plug slightly to take a small sample of the eng oil, if antifreeze has already gotten down there it will rest on the bottom and you will see it come out first, a little sample is all you need, this is bad for the bearings as i mentioned and personally have seen many repeat visits of cars where the head gaskets have just been repaired then come in knocking a month later with damaged bearings.
3.8s also have massive timing chain cover leaks, where the coolant will leak internally into the crankcase as well as externally.
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Old 05-11-2004, 07:08   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Windstar Head Gasket

Your info was very helpful. My head gasket was replaced at 90 k miles along with a new short block. Antifreze had flooded the crankcase. Now, it has happened again at 217k. I caught the problem early, but antifreze still flooded the crankcase. This happened while I was testing the car in my driveway. ( My wife may have driven it a short distance as the gasket was starting to fail.) I have replaced all of the usual bolt on accessories - starter, alternator, water pump and radiator; so I don't want to junk the car if I can replace the gasket myself. I used to be an aircraft mechanic and have done lots of maintenance over the years including an engine overhaul. Your note about the destruction of con rod bearings concerns me. It mught be worth my labor and $100-$200 parts expense to make the repair. The van would be a back up vehicle I can use to haul stuff from DIY home improvement stores. I miss not being able to load 4 x 8 sheets of plywood, etc. Can't do that in my Accord. What would you suggest? Thanks for your help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by drof
Hi, a little bit of info on your windstar head gasket problem.
As a ford mechanic i have done dozens of them, unfortunatly most of then turned into engine jobs due to the antifreeze going into the combustion chamber, past the rings then in to the oil sump, antifreeze kills con rod bearings.
This type of leak leaks mostly when cold, and instead of compression entering the cooling system, antifreeze gets into the comb.chamber, and usually runs rough till the coolant blows out, this usually happens to #4cyl (one next to power steering pump) or sometimes #3 cyl also.
Simply take the spark plug out when the engine is cold, I would use my little mirror , put it next to the hole, crank the engine, and see if any antifreeze blows out on to the mirror, a small taste will tell you if you want to determine whether its just moisture or actually antifreeze. sounds backyard but its a quick way to tell fast.
Also loosen the sump plug slightly to take a small sample of the eng oil, if antifreeze has already gotten down there it will rest on the bottom and you will see it come out first, a little sample is all you need, this is bad for the bearings as i mentioned and personally have seen many repeat visits of cars where the head gaskets have just been repaired then come in knocking a month later with damaged bearings.
3.8s also have massive timing chain cover leaks, where the coolant will leak internally into the crankcase as well as externally.
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Old 05-14-2004, 23:47   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Windstar Head Gasket

To Jbryant, my first suggestion would be to make sure you pinpoint the leak, as i mentioned, timing chain covers on 3.8s leak coolant internally as well as headgaskets and possibly intake manifold gaskets. Take a small oil/antifreeze sample from the sump plug quickly when cold, if you see antifreeze then good chances you will have bearing problems soon. The timing chain cover leak can be seen externally as well, so do a visual on that. There is a newer updated gasket from ford.
Checking the head gasket can be as easy as i've already described in a earlier post, that was my easy method, ford suggests a compression test.
Also if you have access to a tailpipe 4 gas analyzer, using the probe in the overflow bottle or rad to check for hc is also a quick method.
Usually due the nature of this problem #4 might run rough for a few secs when started cold if it is the head gasket, the spark plug might also be cleaner than #5 or 6
If the intake is leaking internally, it also might be leaking externally, so do a visual on that, it will also cause rough running possibly, intake manifold cooling leaks are so big i've seen them twist a con rod (more popular on split port 3.8s), this will also possibly turn on the check engine light due to one bank running lean.
so pinpoint it first, then when you tell me whats leaking i'll let you know what your in for, my idea of what is easy might not be yours.
I must brag a bit and say i can remove and install a 3.8litre in a windstar in under 6 hours without it ever coming back for that problem again.
Headgaskets in 3.8s is a huge ford recall, the headgasket tightening procedure and gaskets have both been updated and changed twice, so any other manual will probley be incorrect.
The 3.8 was a hard engine to get used to. compaired to the 3.0 its a lot harder to work on. I've seen some mechanics have a tough time doing headgaskets on them for the first time. However you may be more skilled and informed than the mechanic at the shop you take it to. I know dozens of mechanics, mostly ford, and i wouldnt let half of them work on my car.
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Old 05-21-2004, 14:31   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Windstar Head Gasket

I have a simple way to check this problem. Most of the head jobs I have done on these vans involved leakage around the number 4 cylinder. Put that cylinder at tdc and pressurize it with air. At the same time remove the rad cap and watch if the anti freeze starts to rise, cold engine of course! If it does chances are your head gasket is leaking.
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Old 08-27-2005, 18:48   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Windstar Head Gasket

I desperately need your help with my Winstar 96 - V6 - 3.8L - 130K miles -

History:
It has been 4 months with coolant loss little by little and temperature gauge jumps to 3/4 when stops at (red light) or traffic jam before the cooling fans start to cool it back down to normal(1/2). Sometimes I see few drops of coolant on ground in the morning and sometimes dI see none.

Yesterday the car ran fine after 3-hour trip from PA to MD. This morning when I started the car I experienced that the Engine was running very very rough, the car was shaking, and looks like it was running with one/two out of 6 engines. I aslo heard rattling noise inside the engine and when I looked down underneath of the car I saw oil dripping down hard from the Catalytic converter. I could not trace the oil leak and can not see how the oil could get to the CAT...Now I can only back and forward the car from my driveway but it's not drivable on the road.

What could be the problems?
Intake Manifold, head gaskets or something else?Hopefully not the engine...

Thanks for your help in advance!
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:14   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Windstar Head Gasket

Guys,
I checked out what you had to say about the Windstar antifreeze in the oil thing. I just checked out one with 150K miles on it and there is a bunch of antifreeze in the oil. It belongs to an 83 year lady who has little money. Is it worth it to do the head, intake and timing cover gasket only to have the bottom end go bad? She told me that a couple of mechanics told her it needed a new engine. From what I have read, this is true. I have done a fair amount of engine swapping and rebuilds, but I am a Mopar guy who knows little about the Ford stuff. Thanks for your help!
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