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I’ve been told this is a common problem with these cars at around this age. I haven’t experienced any issues pertaining to this, but is it a good idea to do so? Do they make a metal version to replace the plastic one that’s OEM?
 

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If you are going to hang on to the car for quite a while , good idea to replace intake manifold . As you say , preventive maintenance is better than getting caught out . This MIGHT help you

 

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I’ve been told this is a common problem with these cars at around this age. I haven’t experienced any issues pertaining to this, but is it a good idea to do so? Do they make a metal version to replace the plastic one that’s OEM?
I do not know of a metal one. If you decide to replace it, I would use a genuine ford intake. While problematic, it did last 18 years. I would not trust one of the cheap made in china intakes that are available.
 
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