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!