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Discussion Starter #1
Would anyone happen to know all of the symptoms that lead to the headgasket blowing in a 3.8L? I'm asking because the past couple of days, my car has been running funny when I start it up. Sometimes, it would suddenly idle really roughly, like the engine was choking or something (it would go away only after I rev it up a little) and I have also noticed a slight decrease in power. Also, ever since I got the water pump replaced, the thermostat's been running a little hotter than before (sometimes it would it between the "N" and "O" in "normal" when I'm just coasting down the street) - the fan has even had to go on Hi a couple of times, in 30 degree weather too!

Am I just being paranoid or should I start looking for a new Taurus (*cough*SHO*cough*
)?

Thanks a bunch guys!
 

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Uh oh.


Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you've got roughly 100 - 250 miles before cylinder self-clean mode fully sets in. The stumbling at idle is indicative of coolant bleeding into the combustion chamber while the car is off, and the resultant burning off of the liquid in the chamber before it's clear enough to rum smooth. The hi fan, and abnormal engine temps just serve to re-enforce that hypothesis. If you're willing to drop the $$$ to get it replaced, or the time to do it yourself, make an appointment, otherwise, it's time to SHO shop!


Either way, good luck.
 

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Sounds like the headgasket is starting to fail. I remember I posted a topic about my really rough idle and abnormal temperatures. 2 days I'm releasing so much white smoke that I couldn't see a darn thing behind me.


I did the job myself and Bob helped me get started on it through multiple PMs. Don't just replace the headgasket on the bad bank; do them both. The leak is probably on the 1st of 4th cylinder. Those are the most common. Anyway, good luck and make sure you do not overheat the engine if you still want to keep it. That coolant level will drop fast when she really blows.
 

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You pretty much guatanteed it when you said 3.8. I had both go within a couple months of each other. Got the dealer to take care of one side but had to ante up myself for the other. Sorry man but it sounds like its done.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I was kinda of wishing it wasn't, but I was prepared that the it was the headgasket...Thanks anyway guys
. For those that have had theirs fail, was it like a gradual thing (the rough idle became more frequent, the temps ran hotter, and the fan had to be on for longer periods of time), then it happened, or did you get a rough idle like a couple of times, then the next time you know, the engine just blows up in your face? I have been checking my coolant levels for the past week, and there hasn't been much of a drop (I'm not really sure, the resevoirs dirty <_< ...but the rough idle has happened I would say two times out of maybe 15-20 starts over the past 9 days.

Sadly though, once the headgasket goes, we'll be getting a new car; I'm not that much of a wrench, and the family had decided a couple of months ago that next year was going to be the Taurus' last. I've been also thinking of getting a car of my own to run some autocross and beginner's events that the SCCA sponsors, so I would like a car with a little bit more performance options than the Taurus (sorry guys
) However, I was hoping that I would be able to give it to my uncle - he just moved here from overseas - but it looks like no hand-me-downs for him either
.
 

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Originally posted by Packer15@Dec 17 2003, 10:09 AM
You pretty much guatanteed it when you said 3.8. I had both go within a couple months of each other. Got the dealer to take care of one side but had to ante up myself for the other. Sorry man but it sounds like its done.
Why didn't you have both replaced when the first one went? You should have insisted that it be done that way the first time, instead of having to pay out of pocket the 2nd time.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Update; Well another problem came up last night...starter went bad, the car wouldn't start and stupid roadside assistance provided by my cell phone company sent a tow that never came (3 hours later, I caved and called a local tow for $55).GRRRR


Anyway, when I picked up the car from the mechanic, I turned the engine over and it refused to start (like it would try to idle, but it would just go away), I gave it some gas while cranking and it turned over fine. Tried it again a couple of times without giving it gas and now it cranks up smoother than ever; but the engine is still running rougher than it did before. However, the mechanic said that there might be a couple of sparkplugs that might have gone bad (I told him I had a full tune-up done a year ago).

Now the question is...Does coolant leaking in from the headgasket, cause sparkplugs to go bad? If the bad sparkplugs are taken out, will there be any tell-tale signs that they were fouled up by coolant? (like bad 02 sensors having a greenish tint?). I also checked my oil, no greenish tint yet. Just a dark color because its due for any oil change <_< ...
 

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You know, I really don't like this post. I've also had engine idle problems with my 3.8 lately. I start it sometimes and it idles rough and chokes. I have to restart it and rev it high for about 30 seconds to make it idle normally. I hope its not gonna die. I don't have the money for a new engine and I really need to have a working vehicle for college.
 

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Just do a compression test on all cylinders.

the compression will be around 120 to 150 PSI. You should look more for uniformity of pressures than an particular pressure. a few pounds difference is OK. If you have a leaking cylinder, it will probably not compress more than 30 PSI, if that.
So you will have 4 or 5 cylinders with high pressure and 1 or 2 with much lower pressure.

Low pressure COULD be other damage like busted rings or a cracked head or block, but if there is low compression, ENGINE damage.

And while I know squat about the 3.8, it sounds like you can bet that head gasket is it.....
 

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Ahhh.... I can remember those days. What a pain that was because it always happened when it was cold out.

Sounds like the gaskets are going bye-bye. At one time I had used a engine stop leak and it bought me some time. But there is no gurantee of this.

QUOTE
you've got roughly 100 - 250 miles before cylinder self-clean mode[/b]
I never heard it put like that, Funny, sort of.....

Well, now you know what to ask for christmas.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks I'll try the stop leak...though I know its like putting a band-aid on a buckshot wound. Basically my plan is to ride it out until the 29th when we go away for vacation. When we come back, we'll see where we can go from there
 

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I used Bars stop leak. One of the liquid and one of the powder stuff. Within a day, no more smoke, idle went back to normal, temp back to normal, drove great. I had it on for over 1000 miles before I decided to fix it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Originally posted by JJ57@Dec 22 2003, 04:11 PM
I used Bars stop leak. One of the liquid and one of the powder stuff. Within a day, no more smoke, idle went back to normal, temp back to normal, drove great. I had it on for over 1000 miles before I decided to fix it.
I see, so you put both the liquid and powder versions of Bar's stop leak into the engine?
 

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here is a trick for head gasket problems.

if yours is blown you will lose water from your radiator.

my grandfather 70 and a mechanic of like 50 years taught me that one

if your car is smoking and losing water (without visible leak) then you got a blown head gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Update ver. 2.0 : Ok, changed the oil and filter since it was due anyway, added stop leak for the engine, added stop leak powder to radiator (all bar's) Hopefully it will last 100 more miles. I looked at the old oil and it didn't seem to have any greenish/yellow tint to it or look like milk chocolate (good ol' dirty oil). Had a couple of bubbles when I drained it however, I don't know if that means anything.

The most important thing is that I'll be leaving for vacation tomorrow and the car is still in one piece


However, what I have noticed is that the car ONLY starts and idles roughly if it has been sitting on an unlevel surface for about 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, if it's sitting on level ground it will turn over and idle normally even if left overnight... What in the world is up with that?
 

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I used both things of Bars in the engine. I wanted to be damn sure that got enought in there.

The coolant looked like chocloate milk from the Bars, but it worked. It took about a day and the head gasket was sealed. When I had more time, then I tore it apart on the weekend.
 
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