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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new and going to try not to draw this out, yet give every bit of information that may allow someone to help me or help me come to a decision.

My Taurus is a 2004 SE with the Vulcan engine. I purchased it used back in October. I still owe a loan on it and need to get use out of it for the next 3 years or so.

When it hit winter, I noticed the heat was anemic then a code came up (forget which one it indicated either change plugs/wires or coil pack) so I took it back to the dealership under the warranty. They allegedly flushed the heater core, changed the plugs and wires.

Then in February my transmission went out. Under warranty they installed a rebuilt transmission.

Now .. I noticed my coolant was low one week, added coolant, then I noticed a discoloration and would possibly be an oil sheen. I noticed that my tempgauge would go from low to mid within 1-2 miles of 50 mph driving in the summer heat with the air on and that with multi-trip city errands that steam would start to to come through my headlights near the overflow.

My backyard mechanic buddy said everything should be fine. Well .. driving around, next thing you know about 2-3 quarts of coolant mix dumped out from under the car and the overpressure basket.

This is when the "best Radiator / Cooling place in town" stated that the head gasket was leaking on the exhaust side, the coolant had not mixed with the engine oil and that the head gasket neaded replaced.

Went through this whole spiel on how some places just replace the gasket and they would remill the head if necessary.

"The Best Place" in town did not give me a detailed estimate. Their verbal was $1500 and what they wrote down in pen on their otherwise computer generated receipt for the diagnostic service simply said $1600.

So, in the future I have found local dealerships that will sell me a new car even considering my credit. My blessed Taurus has been sitting in the driveway for 3 weeks now. The shop told me I could run it for short runs but risk causing further damage.

I just don't have / can't finance the $1600 and am seriously considering attempting to fix it myself. I'm looking at least $400 for the head gaskets, rtv, head bolts, Ford 2004 Taurus service manual from chiltons .. and renting tools from one of the local parts shops.

I have changed my oil and done my brakes, but know that this is a lot more involved.

I have 4 kids and work 2 jobs.

Guess what I'm looking for considering the above is whether to even consider doing it myself and recommendations on manuals that are better than the typical ones where it is so generic covering x cars over y years (Haines/Chilton)

I also need recommendations on how to check for things that may have caused this condition and anything else so that this is the last major repair or shop visit I need to do for a long long time.

Thank you, in advance,

Joe
 

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The head gaskets are a pretty involved repair. Very doable with some mechanical skills and the right tools but it's a LOT more than doing brakes. I've done about a dozen of them on different vehicles. One thing I will recomend is taking the heads to a machine shop to have them make sure the surface is flat. If it is warped at all it can leak again and all your work would be for nothing. I have a local guy that is really fair in his prices, think it was right around 80 bucks last time to have a head surfaced and also a thread repair to one of the spark plug holes.

Steam coming out is NEVER a god sign and the cooling system should have been addressed at that time, your backyard buddy didn't do you any favors. I would get a second opinion on the head gasket before you jump into the repair.

I have a tester like this one that is pretty good at finding bad head gaskets,
. If your leak is from coolant to exhaust then this will pick up the exhaust gases in the coolant overflow tank. For 30 bucks it's been well worth it for me. There are also stant pressure testers, cylinder leakage testers, and compression testers that are also helpful in finding head gaskets.

I have the factory manual on disk through 2003, but that should be the same for your 04. I will try to figure out how to save the head gasket instructions so I can email it to you if you want.

The felpro complete gasket kit is 65 bucks from rockauto.com and then you will need new bolts are another 16 bucks and then some new coolant. I haven't done the head gaskets on this car so there may also be a few other items you will need also. Tools can be found for a very fair price at harbor freight, they aren't the best tools but they do get decent reviews and they are the best way to get the tools you will need for a decent price if you don't have a good selection of tools right now. Otherwise sears is a little better quality for a little more price, but a lot of their craftsman are also switching to imported tools so they are basically the same thing as harbor freight. You will need a torque wrench also. A good jack and jack stand. I'm just throwing this stuff out there since I don't know what tools you currently have.
 

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If you start the car with the overflow tank cap off and see bubbles, then you likely have a head gasket breach.

You can confirm with a block tester that Autozone will lend you for free (although you have to buy the test fluid for about $8) if you live near one.

Scott's guidance is right on - not terribly difficult, just time consuming. And definitely have the heads surface checked. Probably want to do both heads at the same time.

Scott - to get the chapter of the DVD converted to PDF, install a free PDF converter like Primo PDF unless you already have a PDF creation software installed. Then make it your default printer and print the chapter. I have the DVD manual that goes to 2002 which should also be OK to use so if there is a problem, PM me and I can send you that chapter.

$400 budget should more than cover the parts and possible machine shop expense, plus fluids (oil, coolant) - might have left over for new plugs which would be an ideal thing to replace since you have everything apart.

No special tools other than torque wrench (free loan from Auto Zone) and full set of 3/8 & 1/2" sockets and typical mix of screwdrivers, wrenches, extensions etc. Maybe have on hand spare exhaust nuts since these are often corroded. Also have penetrating oil like PB blaster for those rusted fasteners.
 

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Hey guys,
I also have a what I believe is a leaking head gasket, over heated a couple weeks ago and ever since then I have a case of bubbling degauss tank, except for the bubbling it runs fine.
-Scott 37300, a copy of those instructions would be much appreciated.
Thanks
Ron
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm at an organization phase on this, a little cash starved at the moment. Researching shops to ensure the head is flat, tools and parts necessary as well as instructions.

A question though. What typically causes a "blown" (mine is allegedly leaking from the exhaust side) head gasket?
 

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Well, a exhaust side leak isn't possable with the Taurus design. So the shop is using "exhaust side leak" to describe the leak happening in 1 direction. Out of the combustion chamber and into the coolent passage in your case. At any time the gasket can break and allow for the leak to happen in both directions.

I think will also need intake manifold gaskets. I have only worked on durtecs so i am not sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, a exhaust side leak isn't possable with the Taurus design. So the shop is using "exhaust side leak" to describe the leak happening in 1 direction. Out of the combustion chamber and into the coolent passage in your case. At any time the gasket can break and allow for the leak to happen in both directions.

I think will also need intake manifold gaskets. I have only worked on durtecs so i am not sure.
Thank you crackhead, that would possibly (learning) likely explain the lack of milky oil.
 
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