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I do odd jobs for my girlfriend's boss to make some extra cash. The other day he asked me if I would do a tune-up on his son's car, a 1996 T-bird with the 3.8 in it. I said I would, so he went to Auto Zone and got new plugs, wires, air filter, fuel filter, and PCV valve, and I put everything on for him. Unfortunately it is still hesitating when you give it gas from a stop, which is the reason he wanted the tune up in the first place. Now I'm not sure, but I think a head gasket is starting to go, and here are the reasons why I think so:

1. When I had a head gasket start to go on my turbo Dodge (another motor known for the problem), it acted exactly the same way. When you stop at a traffic light or whatever, moisture accumulates in the cylinder(s), fouling the plug. Then when you hit the gas, it hesitates until the moisture is flushed out, then it will go normally.

2. He recently had to put a new radiator put in. We don't know if the car overheated or not (he didn't think so), but regardless the car only has 50k miles and is in otherwise excellent condition, so I suspect the cooling system might have been neglected. Or perhaps when the coolant was refilled the air was not bled from the system properly. I noticed it has a bleed cap on top of the engine that you must open prior to filling the radiator.

3. The Essex reputation.

There are no other head gasket symptoms yet. No white smoke, no water in the oil, no visible bubbling in the coolant reservoir, but if it's just a small leak these symptoms might not be noticeable. I was thinking about doing a compression test later today. That would show if the gasket was leaking somewhere right? And I'm open to other possibilities too. I was maybe gonna clean the MAF sensor, but I don't know what else to check. The car idles pretty smoothly at a stop, it's like it just waits a second to go when you hit the gas, then all of a sudden it goes.
 
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