Hi everyone. I have a few general questions about the Essex V6 family and, in particular, Ford's head gasket issue with the 3.8. I'm a car guy, even though my technical knowledge doesn't hold a candle to some of the people in these forums, and what I really like is straight, text-book style facts. When I post in any of the forums I frequent (GMInsideNews is where I go most under the MN12Fan handle) I tend to be as precise as possible. Most recently I've been revising entire, or near entire, automotive articles on Wikipedia to improve the quality of style and details. It's become something of a hobby really because some of those articles are horribly written.
Anyway, the article on the Essex V6 caught my eye because there is what I feel to be a glaring omission: no mention of the 3.8's head gasket issues
. Here's a link for reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Es...gine_(Canadian
I've contributed to that very article myself, but I never chose to add anything about the head gasket issue because I personally don't know enough about it and Wikipedia's heavy on verifiability anyway which means references are needed. This said, what is the deal with the head gasket issue anyway? Some of the common things I've seen are as follows:
1. Fundamental problem is that 3.8's aluminum heads expand and contract at a different rate from the cast iron block and vice versa. Poor head gasket design results in poor control of this situation and failure.
2. Ford issued TSB 98-4-9 about the 3.8, but referred to '88-'95 FWD applications for the engine.
3. Along with the second point, I saw a letter
at the Center for Auto Safety website suggesting that any
3.8 used in a '88-'95 Ford vehicle is prone to head gasket failure.
I also gather that really early versions of the 3.8 (pre-'88), post-split port injection versions of the 3.8, and the 4.2 do not have a reputation for head gasket failure.
Aside from the food for thought, I am personally curious because I have a '94 Thunderbird with a 3.8 and the head gasket issue has always been at the back of my mind, even though I've never encountered it. I got the car back in 2002 and am its second owner. It had about 118,000 miles at the time and currently is about to turn 153,000. Modifications under the hood include a new radiator (which I did soon after I got the car since the original had leaky tanks), a lower temperature thermostat, and a transmission cooler (changed fluid to Mercon V too). I had a cold air intake installed for a while but I took it off because I was never that impressed with it. Lastly, I've used Mobil One 10W-30 synthetic since I first got the car.
Given all of this, here are my main questions:
What Essex V6s are truly affected by the head gasket issue?
Is there any preventative maintenance, other than a preemptive replacement of the head gasket, to stop a head gasket failure from happening?
Is there any easy way to tell if a head gasket has already been replaced?
Thanks for reading and I look forward to everyone's responses.
Bonus question: Why no head gasket sticky?