Blown Head Gasket - Should I replace the Cylinder Heads? - Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Blown Head Gasket - Should I replace the Cylinder Heads?

Hi Everybody,

Our 2000 Taurus Station Wagon (3.0 Vulcan OHV Engine) in otherwise very good condition has a blown head gasket. My first thought was, "Hey, there are some very nice Audi cars out there with 5-Cylinder engines, why not just keep running our Taurus on its 5 remaining cylinders?" But then my wife got tired of seeing billows of steam behind her every time she pulled away from a traffic light...

Anyway, I need to make a decision. Do I just pull the offending cylinder head (thankfully the one at the front of the car), have it resurfaced to eliminate any warping and put it back on, or do I pull both cylinder heads and replace them with remanufactured ones (NAPA has them for about $300 each). Figuring it would cost around $100 to have the original resurfaced, it would be about $500 extra to replace both with remanufactured heads (and take a few more hours of my time).

Here's the stats:
Car has 151,800 miles.
Very little oil use (less than a quart per 1000 miles).
We plan to keep this car at least another 3 years / 30,000 more miles (and possibly as long as 7 more years / 70,000 more miles).

My concern is, if I spend the money and time replacing both cylinder heads, it'll be a waste if the car needs a new bottom end anyway in the next year or two. I suppose I could just buy a short block if that happens, but it seems like most engine remanufacturers (including Ford) are only offering long blocks these days.

On the other hand, I don't want to spend 15 to 20 hours of my life on this project just resurfacing and keeping the original cylinder head, only to have to repeat it all if the valves give out or the other head blows its gasket in the next few years.

So, here are my questions:

How long do the top ends (valves) of the Vulcan engines last?

How long (assuming an extreme overheating scenario doesn't happen) do cylinder head gaskets usually last on the Vulcan engines?

How long does the bottom end (rings, bearings, etc.) of these Vulcan engines last?

By the way, I am also replacing the water pump and heater core when I do this job since I suspect that my pump's impeller blades are mostly dissolved, based on the rusty color of the antifreeze within just weeks of flushing and replacing it, and also the fact that I have to pressure clean the heater core every few months to get the rust gunk out of it.

Any thoughts and suggestions appreciated!

Best wishes,

John

Last edited by mdtobe; 07-30-2016 at 10:21 PM.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 10:18 AM
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You can find reman heads online for WAY cheaper than $300 each, even including shipping costs.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I'm sure I can find cheaper ones on the Internet. But given the labor involved in replacing them, I feel hesitant to go with cheaper ones just to save a hundred or so. And actually, I just looked up on the NAPA website and I was wrong about the pricing. Their own brand ("NAPA IronClad", really remanufactured by ATK) heads are $199 each and the Moore's Cylinder Heads brand are $254 each. Both with only 1 year / 12,000 mile warranties (not very impressive).

All that said, I've just read some pretty bad reviews of both ATK and Moore's. Now I'm thinking maybe it's best to take my heads and have a reputable local machine shop rebuild them if they're still good..

Thoughts?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 03:52 PM
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With something that involves serious labor I'd feel more comfortable with a local shop, just my 2

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 09:01 PM
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The mechanic I've talked to say it's very common for the head gasket to go but he doesn't usually end up doing too many of them because the cost isn't worth it. Normally, it's time for the junk yard when the head gasket blows. I think the cheapest way out is to just dump another used engine in. Check car-parts.com, used engines are probably in the $300-$500 range.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 09:25 PM
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A compression test on the remaining good cylinders might be helpful in the decision making process. On my 03 I pulled the heads for one cylinder with a fairly bad exhaust valve. It is pretty low miles but had some used heads on if for some damn reason. I sourced some low mileage used one and had a good machine shop rework them. Turned out great and not sorry I did that route. On the 00 it has a bent valve when I bought it. It is higher miles and I just pulled one head, slapped in a valve and put it back together. Not sorry I did that either and has been working out OK. I think it all depends on the circumstances. I can tell the difference in power between the two cars but they both fit a need.

2006 Vulcan 64k GF daily driver
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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"With something that involves serious labor I'd feel more comfortable with a local shop, just my 2"


Me, too! But my mechanic quoted $1560 just to pull the heads, have them checked and resurfaced (no valve job), and put back on the car. I'm not putting that kind of money into a car that in perfect condition isn't worth much more than that.

Willing to put my own time and maybe $500 or so into the job though (and this way end up with warrantied, remanufactured cylinder heads as well).

This isn't my first cylinder head replacement. I did one on an MG Midget (simple to work on) and one on a Fiat X1/9 (Overhead Cam - NOT so simple to work on) in the past. All the wiring and plugs are a bit intimidating in this more modern engine compartment though!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henrysel View Post
The mechanic I've talked to say it's very common for the head gasket to go but he doesn't usually end up doing too many of them because the cost isn't worth it. Normally, it's time for the junk yard when the head gasket blows. I think the cheapest way out is to just dump another used engine in. Check car-parts.com, used engines are probably in the $300-$500 range.
Yes, most people (including me) don't want to pay a mechanic more money than the car is worth for a job. I thought about a used engine, but then it's just an old engine that could blow tomorrow, plus I'd have to rent an engine crane, find a way to transport the engine to my house (and get rid of the old one), etc. And I've never pulled and replaced an engine before (a bit intimidated there). Heads are nice and light and fit just fine in the back of my Cherokee. And come with a warranty.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
A compression test on the remaining good cylinders might be helpful in the decision making process.
Yes, I might do that. Given that the car made good power and used virtually no oil before the gasket blew, I'm confident the compression readings will be good.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 11:55 AM
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Do the front timing cover at the same time.
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