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Hi,everyone i am a newbie to the this site which truly makes for a good read. Today i have a problem which before embarking on a spending spree would like advice on. I have a 1998 Ford Ranchero xr6 ute xh model (manual)or as known in other countries as a ford falcon xr6 ute. Yesterday the ute started with a light consistant misfire when going through the gears. I am trying to rule out blown or faulty head gasket,has close to 400 000 km on the clock.HT leads i tested individually at idle,good spark.plug 2&4 has a light film of oil around the thread. Any advice please. Thanks
 

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A compression test and a block test should help in eliminating head / gasket fault . Some usual signs without testing can be pressurised cooling system / hoses , emulsfied oil , more water than usual from exhaust tailpipe , coolant level drop with no apparent leaks .
 

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I assume this is the Australian inline 6 model. The XH uses the EEC-V system and TFI distributor. Common causes of this sort of miss are cracked coil or failed TFI module. Note also that Ford specifies a minimum 6mm spark plug jump test; i.e. the spark at number 1 (or any other lead) must jump at least 6mm (in a healthy system it should actually easily jump about 15mm or more) ? A healthy looking spark that jumps less than 6mm will not run the car properly and is a sign the coil is cracked. Easiest to test with a tool similar to this https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/1x-Car-Auto-Adjustable-Spark-Plug-Ignition-Tester-Wire-Coil-Circuit-Diagnostic/322345512906?epid=632922107&hash=item4b0d4a2fca:g:g0UAAOSw4A5YoW3z but you can at a pinch use an old spark plug with the gap opened up as far as practical. In your case you should do this test at the lead that goes from the coil pack to the distributor. Also check the capacitor/suppressor at coil is sound, properly connected connected and properly earthed; in these cars it does more than suppress ignition noise its a required earth for the ignition system. To test the EFI module use these tests: Ford EEC-IV/TFI-IV Electronic Engine Control Troubleshooting while for a US Ranger, the tests and resistances apply to the Australian E series vehicles including the XH. Head gaskets usually fail at number 1 or six and often due to erosion of composite gaskets at the unused coolant channels; using a MLS (multi layered steel) head gasket designed for the AU series or this https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Ford-Falcon-ED-EF-EL-AU-Permaseal-Metal-MLS-Head-Gasket-Set-Head-Bolt-Kit/190761691070?hash=item2c6a4867be:g:0yIAAOxy4dNStqME will fix that permanently. If replacing the head gasket you must use new torque to yield head bolts - they stretch when tightened and are one time use. Pressure test the cooling system head with rags or tissues twisted into empty spark plug holes; they will get damp if there is a leak. But also the spark plugs where the gasket has failed will look shiny and clean when removed compared to the others. Head flutter from a alloy head softened by overheating will also blow the gasket (the head bolts sink into the softened head).
 
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