3.8 liter Essex experiences - Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2018, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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3.8 liter Essex experiences

For those of who have own a first or second gen Taurus. I wanted to know of your experiences with the 3.8 liter Essex V6. I've heard of the infamous head gasket failures this engine was known to have. Have any of you out there ever encountered this issue or have you done things to stop this from happening? I'm asking because I'm looking at restoring a first gen Taurus wagon. My first choice I want is an 86 LX wagon, but just in case I can't find the one I want my second and third choice for a first gen to be either a 90 or 91 GL or LX wagon. I know that 3.8 liter engine became available later in these years and eventually that engine was the only available engine on an LX wagon for 91. Please tell me your experiences with this engine.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2018, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by TaurusLX86 View Post
For those of who have own a first or second gen Taurus. I wanted to know of your experiences with the 3.8 liter Essex V6. I've heard of the infamous head gasket failures this engine was known to have. Have any of you out there ever encountered this issue or have you done things to stop this from happening? I'm asking because I'm looking at restoring a first gen Taurus wagon. My first choice I want is an 86 LX wagon, but just in case I can't find the one I want my second and third choice for a first gen to be either a 90 or 91 GL or LX wagon. I know that 3.8 liter engine became available later in these years and eventually that engine was the only available engine on an LX wagon for 91. Please tell me your experiences with this engine.

I had Essex in '91 & '93 Lin Cont. Ok except last one had the engine replaced under warranty due to cold start knock. '92 and '95 Sables, sedan and wagon. Wagon lost the head gasket and replaced under warranty by Ford. My mother had '92 Sable and had gasket fail before 50K. Engine is massive torque that runs out very early. Lin version slightly better but marginal. Very quiet and comfortable. On interstate ramps, have to go flat out all the way just to get merge speed.


-chart-
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-01-2018, 10:40 PM
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^ I'm skeered of the Taurus/Sable 3.8 Essex, lol! Run Forrest run (away)!!!
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-02-2018, 06:43 AM
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Never owned a 3.8, and never will.

05 Taurus SEL Duratec - my daily driver
04 Taurus SES Duratec - wifes car - TOTALED
06 Taurus SE Vulcan - wifes new ride
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter car
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-03-2018, 11:25 AM
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OK. They are prone to head gasket leaks, especially coolant to cylinder. You will notice broken or chipped insulators on the spark plugs (keep them cleaned and gapped) if coolant is leaking into the cylinder. If it is, take it down right away as the coolant will eventually cause the piston to seize after the engine is shut down and next time the starter is engaged it will break the rod for that cyl.

Also, I believe that engine has separate EGR ports for each cylinder in the intake manifold. The problem is that if they become carboned up, the engine will knock. You won't get a code for it but my theory is that the knocking causes the head gasket to fail leading to the above problem.

With this engine, start taking it down and looking for problems at the very first sign of trouble. If it starts knocking you can clean out the EGR ports with compressed air and don't even think about all that crap in bottles at the car parts store.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-05-2018, 09:57 AM
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I had a 1998 Windstar with the Essex engine. Shortly after 100,000 miles, the engine developed an occasional misfire that would trigger the check engine light, but strangely the miss was never felt. This eventually got worse to the point where the check engine light would flash more often as well as a noticeable coolant leak coming somewhere from the front of the engine. (cylinder 4, I think). My dad poured some head gasket sealer in the coolant and eventually the miss, leak and CEL codes went away, however the engine became under powered at some point as 1 or more cylinders were likely losing compression, and the max speed going up a hill on the freeway was ~45 MPH. Then shortly after 150,000 miles, the engine developed a constant miss in cylinder 3. This was unrelated to the head gasket and was likely a fuel delivery issue (failed injector?) as the catalytic converters never heated up. My dad didn't want to mess around with it so eventually it was sent off to the junkyard.

My uncle had a 1990 Mercury Sable with the Essex, which was handed down to my Grandma. Creeping up on 100,000 miles, my uncle noticed a puddle of coolant under the car one day and looked into the issue. When he confirmed that the head gasket was failing, he too did not want to mess around with it and advised my Grandma to look for a new car. She brought a brand new 2005 Taurus, which was then handed down to me in 2012.


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Vulcan OHV Engine
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-09-2018, 09:37 PM
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I had decent luck with my 91 3.8. She needed one head gasket job and made it to around 200k. Second transmission is what was the end of the car. The motor was still damn good running at the time and started instantly.

2006 Vulcan 64k GF daily driver
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-09-2018, 10:39 PM
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Buy one with a bad head gasket, swap in a 3.0L SHO engine and manual transmission, problem solved.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-15-2018, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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That's cool and all but I don't want to modify a Taurus. I want to restore one and keep it mostly original. If I wanted an SHO I'd buy an SHO.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-16-2018, 07:00 PM
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Being a new 3.8 owner myself i actually enjoy this engine a lot better than the Vulcan. But my question why not replace the head gaskets with MLS ones like I am getting ready to do. Except for one thing. Which ones should be used the ones for the Mustang or the ones for the Windstar?
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