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During the timing cover gasket replacement (leaking coolant at the passenger fender side of the engine) I had to remove the oil pan to replace it's gasket since that's part of the procedure. Getting the oil pan off is impossible since the front head's catalytic converter is in the way of the pan. After trying my hardest to get the nuts off the exhaust flanges at the dual cat y pipe, I succeeded to get the front two off. They weren't bad at all. I used an impact wrench. The others didn't look too hard either. But the rear head's flange......................... forget it. Those two nuts wouldn't budge. I managed to get an impact on one of them barely and it just rounded it right off. The other nut... not a chance. I could get a 15mm wrench on it but that wouldn't turn at all and there was no way to get any leverage back there (reaching from the top). After that nut also began to strip, I decided heck with it and grabbed the sawz-all (after 2 hours of working hard at getting them off with no luck and lots of reading). Anyways, with the front two nuts off, only one cut behind the cat and off it came. I made a nice clean cut.

So, in less than 5 minutes I could have been done. Lesson learned. I guess I didn't want to have to bring it to an exhaust shop. But $20 for a pro weld is much better than a bunch more hours and no luck getting these nuts broken loose.

My advice to others, if you can't get them to budge, leave them. Grab the sawz-all and get it welded later. It'll save you Lots of grief and you can go on with the job at hand.
 

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Before anyone cuts off their pipes, try swinging the manifold instead. I know this post is ancient, but I just finished this job last week and this post was on top of my searches. I registered here just to post this. Here is the write up I wrote for my records. Hope it makes sense to anyone looking to do this job.

1997 Ford Taurus 3.0 ohv engine. Removing the "Y" pipe with the cats attached.
The worst part of this job is taking the firewall side bolts loose from the exhaust manifold. This was the best way for me to accomplish that.

1: Pull the car up on ramps and secure it properly, lock rear brakes, shake test, ect.

2: Remove the battery cable (you are close to the starter at times)

3: Remove the breather/air filter hose and housing. (room to work)

4: Remove the following to keep from breaking them when you’re working on the manifold or to keep the aggravation level lower.
Rear spark plugs: Might break them when going back on
Transmission dipstick: Out of agitation
IAC valve: to keep from breaking it
Vacuum pump: to keep from breaking it.
Oil dipstick and tube to get it out of the way

Once all those are done, disconnect ALL the 02 sensors. Don’t be afraid to take them loose from the rack. Use two long screw drivers while you lay on top of the engine or one samll one pushed into the right place. Use an old lawn chair cushion or old blanket to cushion yourself from the engine and thank me later. While you’re there spray the manifold bolts to pipes with lubricant (use the straw).

5: Remove the EGR tube starting at the manifold end.
You will see two nuts to turn, making sure you hold the bottom bolt with one wrench and turn the other without moving the bottom bolt. You don't want to rip this tube so be careful. This seems to be a common failure point and is likely due to improper removal and install.
Loosen the top of the erg tube and remove from the engine.

6: Front manifold. Leave the main bolts tight and climb under the car, lubricate and take the two nuts loose that connect the manifold to the pipes. 14mm or 9/16, (I had to use both). Tap the socket on with a hammer.

7: Take three 02 sensors out, you can leave the closest one to the rear in.

8: Remove the front manifold, (13mm deep well) nuts and bolts. Set it aside.

9: Take a jack with a 2x6 piece of wood and jack up the pipes under the cat (lightly).

10: Two bolts hold the cats up along with the manifold bolts. One at the back of the cats and one to the side next to the passenger wheel. 13 or 14 mm deep wells required and long extension for the one next to the wheel.

11. Take the pipes loose behind the cats (two bolts). Remove the rubber bands holding up the pipes toward the center of the car to drop them out of the way.

12: Put your light source under the hood just past the brakes master cylinder and point it toward the rear manifold.

13: You will need a long extension and a few short ones. A swivel and 14 millimeter and or 9/16 deep well socket, a breaker bar, and a hammer to get the rear nut loose.

14: Climb under the car and lay on the driver’s side of the engine, head toward the rear so you can see the rear manifold bolt holding the pipes/cats on. Just to the right of the cat is a small area to pass the socket on a swivel. Through the hole you’re looking into, reach up with your hand and help place the socket on the bolt. If it doesn’t fit right try the 14mm or the 9/16. Once you get one that fits, tap the back of the extension with a hammer to seat the socket better. Attach the breaker bar and break the bolt loose. If you round it off you’re going to need a special socket for that.

15: Climb back up on the engine and remove the bottom three manifold bolts, 13mm socket. Loosen the top three bolts enough that it allows the manifold to swing.

16. Remove the jack from the cats and now you can swing the manifold to allow the fount bolt to be accessed and removed from the pipe. Don't get to rough with swinging the pipes. If you round the nut off you’re going to need a special socket that will garb it. (I rounded this one off and need to climb back on the engine and cut the bolt loose with a hacksaw blade. With the back one out I was able to swing it enough to cut it loose only after taking the all the other manifold bolts out). Lower the pipes and you’re out.

17: Climb back on the engine and remove the final three bolts and now you’re done.

Going back on.
18: Make sure the bolts for the pipe to manifold are clean and easy to turn by hand.

19: Put the y pip back in place (I climbed under it and pushed it into place. You could use the jack) and bolt up the two extra bolts that hold it in place (see Number 10) and put a jack under the cat to hold it in place. (Mine kept falling without the jack).

20: Climb onto the engine and put the rear manifold into place and hand tighten the two pipe to manifold bolts. Then put your manifold along with the gasket back on the engine and hand tighten.

21: Climb off and put the front manifold to pipe bolts on and hand tighten. Put the manifold and gasket back on and hand tighten the 6 bolts.

22: Climb back onto the engine with a 9/16 or 14mm wrench and tighten the pipe to manifold bolts. Then do the Manifold to head bolts (13mm).

23: Tighten the fount the same way.

24: Now put it all back together in the way that seems most appropriate.

It was a lot to try and remember, the socket sizes could be off a little so don't take it as Gospel.
 
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