Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. #1

    Default Daily Driver Woes

    It's been a while since I've been on. For the most part I've just been keeping things alive with no real progress on any of my projects. Well, yesterday my DD ('98 mustang v6) took a large step back in staying alive. Believe I blew a head gasket out as I was on the interstate. Saw the temp start to rise which isn't like her at all and attempted to limp her to my uncle's house but she got too hot too fast thanks to the extreme heat wave we are in. She started to clack at about halfway up the gauge and I got her over but she still smoked out the hood and then refused to restart for a bit. She begrudgingly started to crawl up on the trailer. My uncle trailered her home and after an hour of sitting on the trailer for the ride she did restart just fine, but she's definitely hurt. I'm trying to figure out my next move. Obviously I have to pull the motor, she has a rear main going out and the trans needs a new torque converter. My worry is the heads. She did get hot but I have no clue how tough the heads are on the 3.8s. What is the likelihood that they are warped even if they aren't cracked? I've never rebuilt one this new so I'm not sure how much machining they will really take without making them less reliable or completely killing their gas mileage. She has 229k miles on her so it was time for a refresh anyway. Not exactly how I wanted to get pushed into doing it though.

    I thought about just sending her into a shop and letting them do it but the $5k price tag to rebuild the motor and trans is probably more than she is worth in strict numbers. I've had her for 8 years though so I'm not going to give up on her now.
    '03 Explorer Limited
    '85 LX
    '85 Twister II
    '89 LX
    '98 v6
    '77 Mach 1.....and I still own them all.

  2. #2


    You might check the thermostat before going too crazy with pulling the motor. Should be an easy thing to check. I had a '93 Ranger one time that had similar symptoms with a thermostat stuck closed. In my case, the smoke was actually just steam coming off the engine from it getting too hot and the radiator overflowing. After it cooled down it would start and run fine for a mile or two but then quickly heat up. After it cooled down and we pulled the radiator hose & removed the thermostat, no more overheating (because the coolant could actually circulate). I replaced the thermostat (very cheap part) to get the heater working again.

    I think those heads are pretty tough and are probably fine as long as you didn't try driving it very far with it overheated. The other problems you mentioned are another story.

    Good luck...hope it's something simple & cheaper to fix than a head gasket.
    Last edited by LT-84GTturbo; 07-14-2017 at 11:12 AM.

    1984 Mustang GT Turbo

  3. #3


    EDIT: I didn't think about what Larry just said, but I agree with him and would start there first. Could be a simple fix not involving pulling the heads or motor.

    Depending on how hot they got, they could have possibly cracked or warped. The heads were kinda hit and miss on how tough they were as I have seen some warp during normal conditions and some that never warped after multiple overheatings.

    I would pull the heads and check them for cracks, especially around the valves, first off. If that checks out fine, then I would check them for warpage by using a straight edge and feeler gauges along the face of the heads. I believe up to a .004" difference is acceptable....the less the better of course. If they are not too bad, they can be milled at a machine shop fairly cheap to true them back up.

    As common as these motors are, finding a good set of new or reman heads should be fairly easy to find and cost effective.
    Last edited by 84StangSVT; 07-14-2017 at 11:11 AM.
    1984 Mustang LX Convertible 3.8L V-6/Auto (SOLD)
    1984 Mustang GT Hatchback 5.0 V-8/5 Speed

    I'm an FEP Supporter and proud of it. Are you?

  4. #4


    You could prolly get a junkyard motor for 500. There are multitude of these engines out there. Just a thought vs. dumping a buch of money in heads and still having a high mileage bottom end.

  5. #5


    single port 3.8L heads are terrible. I have literally replaced or machined hundreds of them for warpage and cracks. I nearly paid for my first house with 3.8L head gasket and AXODE transmission recalls and repairs. The '99-up split port heads are far superior in durability, but don't interchange (easily) with the '98-prior single port heads. Pull the heads, have them checked for flatness, cracks and valve leakage. You will regret not doing that, if you just reassemble with new gaskets. Also, the 3.8s have a pretty sensitive bottom end. Any coolant in the oil quickly destroys bearing and journals, faster than most other engines, for some reason. It might be time to retire the ol' gal...
    Jim DeAngelis
    Cornucopia of Useless Knowledge
    Connoisseur of Dearborn Ferrous Oxide
    '83 GT hatch, currently under the knife

  6. #6


    I will check the thermostat. I've put a couple on her, though none went out quite like what happened yesterday. Every time they have gone on me I get a gauge that bobs around, but yesterday was stupid hot.

    She doesn't have any exhaust blowing back into the radiator. Checked at lunch on that, so maybe not a gasket. Bad water pump also went through our minds. She starts easy like always but sounds hyper. Runs up to around 2200 rpms (high for her. She usually starts at around 1500 cold and then drops to 900 at idle) When she drops to idle it's around 1000 and she's got a hard miss and is just shaky in general (heat may have ruined a plug wire). Figure to pull the plugs this weekend and see how they look.

    There are a couple v6s in my area right now for around $1500. Pretty beat up but supposedly running, though high mileage and hard to say if really that much better of a motor than I have now. There are zero parts cars with a motor on craigslist in my area right now that aren't a gt. There's a '94 v6 in a salvage yard a little ways away that has 90k miles on it, but didn't think they were the same. Can't remember. I'm going to put something in the car, whether it's a salvage motor, crate motor, or rebuild this one. I've got a ton of extras on the car and new parts and finding an SN-95 that isn't red or white around here is next to impossible so I'm a little attached to my blue beauty. Always get lots of complements. The real kicker, she was making 29 mpg. Figure I may have to kiss that goodbye regardless of the route.
    '03 Explorer Limited
    '85 LX
    '85 Twister II
    '89 LX
    '98 v6
    '77 Mach 1.....and I still own them all.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by jenJuka View Post
    Bad water pump also went through our minds.
    Water pump went through my mind after posting too. The same Ranger that had the thermostat stuck closed had a water pump problem a couple of years later. The symptoms from that were a little different for me though. It would run hot but usually only on hot days and it would go up slowly instead of immediately like with the thermostat problem. I believe some thermostat problems happen when they just don't open up all the way which I guess might cause the gauge to bob around. Sticking closed made mine get hot enough to clatter like you said in only a mile or two. I would just take out the thermostat and test drive it to see if there is any difference.

    1984 Mustang GT Turbo

  8. #8
    FEP Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Grand Rapids, MI


    How does the oil look? I've done several 3.8 head gaskets and I've never had trouble with the bottom end, but in each case the oil was clean and not contaminated with coolant. I agree with the other suggestions of starting with the simple and easy stuff first. Check the thermostat, pull the belt and check the water pump. Run water through the rad and make sure it isn't plugged. Pull the plugs and see how they are.

    I remember the first one I did was in my old '92 T-Bird. It was running a little shaky, but never overheated. I suspected the head gaskets as even then it was a known issue on the 3.8's with the factory gaskets. I limped it home an hour on the highway. I parked it in the driveway and pulled the plugs. When I pulled #5 antifreeze drained out of the plug hole I put another 140k great running miles on that engine before the rear shock mounts rusted out and I retired the car.

  9. #9
    FEP Super Member gr79's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    SE Michigan


    That time comes for any old DD car. Crossroads. Hold or fold.

    True, 5g is a lot of money to sink into any car for repairs.
    However, if in overall good dependable shape, why not?

    Gonna find another like it? Prob not.
    Not many likeable cars out there exist very long at any one time with a good known history plus a 'new' drive train for 5g.
    A big major job that only happens a few times over the car lifespan.

    Estimated resale value numbers are valid only if selling it.

    Don't let anyone kid you it wont be worth more after life extending repairs. Bet you can break even.
    If keeping it, the investment is logical to me.
    An ongoing restoration. You will get to keep driving it. Can be a very rewarding experience.
    Gotta make a realistic overall plan and what if decisions ahead of time.

    That is what i do.
    Sure major costly breakdowns are a big bummer. Been thru a few in 37 years of same car ownership.
    But after patient proper reliable DD repair, happiness like getting same car 'new again'.
    To this day, never regret ever doing that. Gets easier the more it happens!
    No freaking out like the first time.
    Except for the thought of parts/parts breaking, wearing, and no longer made, stopping the process.
    Also rust damage of anything beyond repair.

    Had an engine knock and had to park it for over 10 years. Time and money.
    Now on its 2nd 'life', have driven it over 2x as long as from 1980-1987.
    Has stabilized into a long term DD. Weak design points are known, and bugs are out of it.

    Any old DD car will require that kind of money and repair over time.
    Constant repairs, unknown when they will occur.
    For sure the newer ones will easily hit that number and more eventually.
    Last edited by gr79; 07-15-2017 at 07:35 AM.

  10. #10
    FEP Super Member xctasy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Dunedin 9011, New Zealand, South Pacific


    I don't recall Ford ever pumping money into a turkey.

    The carb Turbo 2.3 wasn't actually a turkey, just a complicated beast.

    Even the Edsel wasn't a turkey.

    All the six cylinder Mustangs are infinantly more complicated to hop up or preserve than V8's, but much cheaper with the right knowledge.

    Mainly due to the ability to pick up basic parts.

    We all know a 96 to 01 Exploder or Mountainer can give you a 350 dollar engine base to make a 400 hp 5.0 Mustang. The Essex V6 is just as cheap, but you have to decide on how you match the parts. Six cylinder parts go with six cylinder parts, and its always cheap to keep the car the same engine type to avoid other costs, unless you really want a Bent Eight.

    I'd suggest a later V6 engine, but if the base is okay, you can do a blister pack rebuild and as long as the bore intergity is preserved, you can hone out and rebuild exceptionally cheaply. Fords 90's engines in the EFI era were wonderfully designed to look after the cylinder bores and make cheap cast iron blocks last a long time.

    The aluminum heads, well, they were a work in progress sadly, but Ford did fix the problems properly. Its the corrosion inhiitor, the head gasket fire rings, and the temper of the heat teated aluminum that ruins longevity.

    If it was a quality problem, It would be a problem often. The Essex V6 head problems are quality, but only occasional. The coolant and frequent oil changes keep those things alive. We've got many 3.8 SN 95 imports down here in NZ, and they last and last, but we do oil and coolant changes.

    The heads are a heat treating issue. Ford fixed it, but its always been a problem early on, especially if coolant hasn't been serviced the right way.

    The engine is very like the old priortiy oiling 351C below, big long conrods, and large main bearings and the have a lot of rubbing friction if the front mounted oil pump doesn't prime with oil.

    The engine is light, and you can swap in another 4.2 block if you have to. Plenty of people do it.

    V6 Essex survival is like old Cleveland engine survival, plenty of 200 and 300 thousand mile engines around, but a few early failures.

    The knowledge gives you options to solve your problem.

    I think that the engine is just great, its so light, and the problems are about what to do with it , or ditch it.

    The 4.2 F150 block parts are the answer.

    If its an emissions MI state, then you have to use the passenger car block, but the later heads are what I'd use.

    Check this out...its a strong base!

    Quote Originally Posted by plstktnkr2 View Post
    I am currently putting a new engine in my '83 GLX.

    It is a 3.8 stroked + poked to 4.3L that came from a 1989 "Supercoupe" T-Bird

    Some of it's features are
    Girdle on the mains, with ARP studs, 4.2 F 150 crank, wiseco pistons and 351 h-beam rods.
    Heads have been ported, larger valves, springs, and roller rockers, ARP stud kit as well.
    Static compression is 9.5:1 Cam specs to follow (as soon as I find my cam card)
    I have also procured a MASSIVE (compared to stock) intercooler and am in the process of designing a less restricted airpath from the S/C to the intake.

    Pictures coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by plstktnkr2 View Post
    Progress so far: Engine assembly:

    and oil pan issue:

    and the places it needs adjustment are the casting reinforcements that are close to the girdle, and two clearence holes have to be made at the number one main bearing cap nuts as shown by the two black dots shown on here:

    steady progress though.

  11. #11


    I worked in a dealership as a tech during the time when the '8(9?)-97 SEFI 3.8s (I think they were in Mustangs a bit longer) were starting to get some miles on them and the shop was FULL of them ALL THE TIME. 3.8s = GARBAGE. Not worth sinking a single penny into. Time for a V8 swap.
    Last edited by ZephyrEFI; 07-15-2017 at 09:42 AM.

    '79 Mercury Zephyr ES 5.0L GT40 EFI T-5 (Mustang LWB)
    '17 Ford Transit Connect Titanium LWB
    '14 Ford Fusion SE Manual

  12. #12


    There's coolant in the oil. She sucks all the coolant out of the radiator within a short time of starting her. Oil is like looking at cappuccino. Sad day. Was hoping it wouldn't be too bad. There's a '95 running 3.8 up the road for $500. Has 160k miles on it and recently drove from Florida. That's around the same miles mine had on it when I got it so motor could have a lot of life left in it. This one's body is junk so I would just be taking the motor. Mine is in great shape. Just needs motor, torque converter, windshield. The brilliance of my local road department had them spreading pea gravel this winter instead of salt. Cost half the people in the county a windshield.
    '03 Explorer Limited
    '85 LX
    '85 Twister II
    '89 LX
    '98 v6
    '77 Mach 1.....and I still own them all.

  13. #13
    FEP Supporter Mustang Marty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Everett, Washington, United States


    I would be leery about any used 89-97 3.8l. Besides the head gaskets, the block has a tendency to warp if it is overheated so even if the head gaskets are replaced the engine may not be repaired correctly. In late 1997, Ford changed the head gasket material so they are less prone to go out in the 98+ cars but the blocks weren't changed until '99 model year.

    If you buy that 95 I would replace the head gaskets while the engine is out and check the heads and block for warping. Other wise you may be replacing that engine sooner than you hope.
    79 Mustang Coupe - Jade Green Metallic - 5.0 5Sp - Purchased 2006
    01 Mustang - True Blue - 3.8 Auto - Purchased 2001
    85 ASC - McLaren 5.0 SC - ASC White - 5.0 CFI Auto - Owned 2004 - 2016
    98 Mustang - White - 3.8 5pd - Owned 1998 - 2001
    84 Mustang SSP - White - 5.0 5sp - Owned 1993 - 1998
    84 SVO - Charcoal - 2.3t 5Sp - Owned 1989 -1992
    79 Mustang Ghia - 5.0 Auto - Owned 1981 - 1986
    68 Mustang Coupe - 302 Auto - Owned 1980 - 1981

  14. #14


    Quizzed the owner on the other car a little more and definitely not going with it. Seems they have run it pretty hard and aren't giving me the vibe that they take care of their stuff very well. Going to order a new long block for it and just start new with something that has warranty and I know exactly what has happened to it. Next task, figure out how much of a pain it is to pull the motor in this model. Will be the first rig with airbags I've ever pulled. I appreciate everyone's input. Looks like it'll be a while longer before the twister is back on the road. Every time I get the money for her frame work something steals it from me. Adulting is stupid.
    '03 Explorer Limited
    '85 LX
    '85 Twister II
    '89 LX
    '98 v6
    '77 Mach 1.....and I still own them all.

  15. #15


    Afaik there are numerous parts that interchange between the V6 cars and trucks. The ranger and Explorer V6's of that era ran reliably for a good long while. My Explorer sport with V6 and 5 speed saw trailer duty and tow duty a few times. It ran like a top when I sold it and didn't use a drop of oil either. I'd do a bit more research on V6's before putting another 3.8 back in. Lots of people had problems- way more commonly trouble than the 4.6's or 5.0's.

    of course my grandpa taught me that if it has **** or tires it's bound to cause you trouble ......

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts