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Hi all, This is my first post so please excuse any mistakes in protocol. My 2001 Taurus LX with the 3.0 L OHV Vulcan overheated on my wife when she drove it home on a crowded freeway. She was near home when she noticed the temp gauge near the red and by the time she drove into our garage (with the heater going full bore and windows down) it was pegged. I was due elsewhere and couldn't evaluate the problem much then but suspected, at least, a head gasket problem. The next day I discovered nearly two gallons of coolant was gone. I topped it off. Also, the exhaust, although looking quite normal, felt higher in moisture content. The engine also seemed to miss on a cylinder now and again. I checked the water pump first to see if the fins on the impeller (?) were ok. They were. I then proceeded to tear the engine down to the block. I was stunned by the amount of deposits in the valley between the cylinders (What is the best way to clean that out?). This is the most aggressive I have been at a self repair and am in unfamiliar territory. I am asking you good folks for advice on if my posted pictures of the block and heads show conclusive evidence of a ruined head gasket. I will certainly listen to other comments as well. Thanks for any help on this repair.
 

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It appears that lack of cooling system maintenance and lack of oil changes have allowed the engine to get hot. The coolant passages around the cylinder are nearly closed off. The deposits in the lifter valley is cooked and carbonized oil.

I can't say for sure from the pics that a head gasket failed. But I can say he engine needs a complete teardown. The only way to clean that block is to have it hot tanked.
 

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Cake monster
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That's one dirty vulcan, how often was the oil changed?

On to the heads....

I don't see any obvious signs of gasket failure. Cylinder 1 is a little cleaner than the others though. Cylinder 3 looks funny, almost oily. Have you put a straight edge on the heads and block to check for warp? The next step would be to take those heads to a machine shop and have them checked over. Like stated above, you would need to have the engine block dipped to get that kind of sludge out of it. If you don't want to do that, you could try running a quart of atf in your oil for a while, that might remove some of it. You could try kerosene or diesel fuel, google that one. I wouldn't personally try that on an engine that I had just done a head rebuild on, though.

If you can find a cleaner engine at the wreckers, that might be a good option. Get the heads rebuilt and install them before you put the new engine in. You could put it back together, and might run just fine. There's a lot of engines out there just as dirty and running without issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for responding, rdh2 and JW657. Tomorrow, being Saturday, I will have time to check the block and heads with a good straight edge and feeler gauges. I wanted to post the pictures and get some reactions before I removed the gaskets and residue from the block/heads. Someone may ask for a closeup of a certain area to assess for damage.

I usually drive this car and have never had a problem with overheating or leaking coolant. The massive loss of liquid from the system this one time suggested to me that it was being vaporized in the combustion chambers. Any further thoughts on that?

 

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Salvage

Hi all, This is my first post so please excuse any mistakes in protocol. My 2001 Taurus LX with the 3.0 L OHV Vulcan overheated on my wife when she drove it home on a crowded freeway. She was near home when she noticed the temp gauge near the red and by the time she drove into our garage (with the heater going full bore and windows down) it was pegged. I was due elsewhere and couldn't evaluate the problem much then but suspected, at least, a head gasket problem. The next day I discovered nearly two gallons of coolant was gone. I topped it off. Also, the exhaust, although looking quite normal, felt higher in moisture content. The engine also seemed to miss on a cylinder now and again. I checked the water pump first to see if the fins on the impeller (?) were ok. They were. I then proceeded to tear the engine down to the block. I was stunned by the amount of deposits in the valley between the cylinders (What is the best way to clean that out?). This is the most aggressive I have been at a self repair and am in unfamiliar territory. I am asking you good folks for advice on if my posted pictures of the block and heads show conclusive evidence of a ruined head gasket. I will certainly listen to other comments as well. Thanks for any help on this repair.
From pic 2 it can be seen that that the crosshatch in the cylinder is still there, showing no wear. You can likely clean it up and do the valves, and still have a good engine.

The gunk is likely from a plugged PCV, or line to it.

-chart-
 

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Cake monster
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Thanks for responding, rdh2 and JW657. Tomorrow, being Saturday, I will have time to check the block and heads with a good straight edge and feeler gauges. I wanted to post the pictures and get some reactions before I removed the gaskets and residue from the block/heads. Someone may ask for a closeup of a certain area to assess for damage.

I usually drive this car and have never had a problem with overheating or leaking coolant. The massive loss of liquid from the system this one time suggested to me that it was being vaporized in the combustion chambers. Any further thoughts on that?

When it water escapes into the cylinder, it generally does a good job steam cleaning the carbon off the piston, I don't see any distinct signs of that, except for maybe cyl 1, but it doesn't look much different from the rest.
 

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In my experience with blown head gaskets the exhaust has a horrible smell. (gives me a headach) If you're coolant was low it possilbly could have caused overheating. If it was missing check spark plugs and see if maybe one is gunked up. Unlikely that a plug would fail AND these symtoms would pop up at the same time. Like the others said, check for warpage and clean the deposits. Rebuild would be a good idea too. JW657's idea is good, our auto tech instuctor actually showed us to put atf in the oil (the detergent works well) I wouldn't suggest kerosene though, done it before and it worked, saw a buddy do it and ruin a motor.
 

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Blown head gasket

Hi THERE,I HAVE A SEVERE COOLANT LEAK MYSELF ON A 100K MOTOR LIKE YOURS AND AM GETTING READY TO DO THIS JOB. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PICS VERY NICE GUAGE TO GO BY. IF YOU DON'T MIND PLEASE FEEL FREE SHARING SOME INFO ALONG THE WAY. YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO REPLACE THE HEAD BOLTS WITH NEW AND THE FORD PRICE IS HIGH I WOULD BE INTERESTED TO FIND A CHEAPER SOURCE AND GASKET SET ALSO. GOOD LUCK. BTW I USE 5W20 CASTROL OIL AND K+ N OIL FILTERS ON ALL MY MOTORS AND AN ENGINE FLUSH WITH GUNK AND SLICK 50. I THINK YOURE MOTOR WILL RUN AGAIN! :)
 
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