Common failures on 4.6L? What (commonly) kills these motors? - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Common failures on 4.6L? What (commonly) kills these motors?

What are issues that 4.6's commonly have? The 3.8L SCs I'm coming from blow headgaskets like no tomorrow.

Do the 4.6L's have any chronic problems?

I think that the 4.6's are a much tougher motor than the 3.8 since they stand up to Police Interceptor, Ambulance and truck use, but please correct me if I am wrong.

If left alone (IE no power-adders) how long do 4.6's typically last, and at what RPM should my maximum shift point be to prevent motor death?

I've lost several motors to headgaskets now, and I lost my SC to a snapped crankshaft.
Are there any failures that these tend to suffer from? The OHC heads look pretty easy to change if the headgaskets went, so thats not that big of a deal, but what should I be aware of?

Sorry for the redundancy.
Also, can a tbird with 175k still make a run down the 1/4, or handle an occasional autoX if the car isn't pushed hard the rest of the time, and will going WOT off of stoplights or during freeway merges hurt a 4.6L with as many miles as the one I'm buying has? (not my questions, my girlfriend's convinced that if there is a way for it to blow up, it'll blow up on me if I do anything besides grandma-style driving.)

Also, if you know someone that's good at breaking curses or can remove the hex or whatever from me that's given me such bad luck with cars, I'd appreciate it. :P



Thanks,
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96 Laser Red 4.6L - Custom
Custom Nascar-Inspired Bodykit - 55* Rear Spoiler - J-modded Trans - 80mm MAF - One-Off Diablosport Chipmaster Revolution Chip/Tune W/Toggle - ScanGaugeII Diagnostics & Data Readout - PBR Brakes - Drilled/Slotted Rotors - SC Wheels & Springs - Falken Tires - KYB GR-1 Shocks/Struts - FSTB - RSTB - RTLB - LECB - 60/40 Split Rear - SC Seats - SC Vac/Boost Gauge
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 03:34 AM
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Actually, if you keep fresh oil in them and keep them maintained they seem to last forever. I have bought two cars with 4.6's that have failed... one is my '95 T-bird that had blown head gasket(s) and the other is a '93 Town Car with a failed oil pump. I think these are the two most common causes of failure with the 4.6.
As far as replacing the head gaskets in a 4.6, unless you are wanting to rebuild the motor with forged internals ($$$), it is almost more cost effective to find a used PI motor because the 4.6 is so expensive to rebuild.
Sorry, I can't help with your streak of bad luck. The best I can tell you is to stay away from bowties.
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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 07:56 AM
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See my signature. . . . .I am not really easy on the these motors from the throttle standpoint. The RPM's in the 4.6 MN12's are more limited by the Torque Converter than the motor, so there is no problem there. I have read about people "regularly" doing 6000 RPM shifts with modified TC and chipped vehicles, but I don't know how often is "regularly" . Like tinman_72 said: maintenance is the key with these motors, and they will last for what seems like forever. I have yet to have one fail on me.

I personally love the durability of the 4.6 and if I can get away with it I will never buy something with a different motor! (some people say I'm biased?)

Currently In the Short Bus Garage:
2 - '94 T-bird LX's 4.6L (one with 300,000+ miles and one with 200,000+ miles)
1 - '97 Mark VIII LSC - INTECH V8 (120,000+ miles)
1 - '97 F150 XLT 4x4 Flareside, 4.6L (130,000+ miles) - Currently being dismantled and rebuilt with upgrades!
1 - '00 Mustang GT (likes to accelerate with the brake on!), 4.6L (60,000+ miles - only comes out when I need to get somewhere fast.)

oh yeah, and they all have 4R70W's
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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 08:01 AM
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I'm Cynical, I say replace the girlfriend and get another bird My 94 4.6 has 150k on it, bad O2 sensors, still passes smog 3 years in a row. Just keep going and going. Mine leaks oil, and runs rough, but its never left me stranded nor never not started. its been a very good motor for me.

1995 Cougar XR7 4.6
1997 Thunderbird LX 4.6
1977 Country Squire 460
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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 09:16 AM
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the 93-95 4.6L engines do have a problem with valve stem seals, and burning oil.

But if you keep the oil up they will run pretty much forever.

They are pretty ping sensitive motors, so keep an eye out for any detonation, and take care of it before it beats up the bearings.
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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 09:49 AM
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mine is at 187-188k right now. only mobil1 since i own it at about 155k and autocrossing twice, with first time doing 4 lap and second time doing 6 lap. 1/4 miles past about 10 or 11 times, redline once or twice per week. still holding right now. have a tiny bit sign or valve stem seal smoking problem but not bad at all.

my house's angle drive way may contribute to the valve seal maybe the front one because everyday day i warm up the car for 15-20 minutes before i drove it.

still running strong. the tranny is the weak point for now.

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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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thanks much!

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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 10:26 AM
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Both of our 4.6s are still alive and kicking. The Birds is at 170k, and is doing just fine. The transmission that sits behind it is hosed though. My Cougar's is at 95k, and still feels like new. I had my transmission built up, so I'm not worried about reliablity on that car.
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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 12:25 PM
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I agree with justinh, valve stem seals.On my cat the seals are bad it burns oil like a b*tch! But as long as you keep the oil level it would just keep going.

"Alive man is pliable and weak
Dead he is firm and strong"
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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 01:49 PM
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Ya my oil level on my 95 was about a quart low every month but other than that the motor ran really strong.Overheated about 3 times in california heat and when i finnally pulled it there was no damage what so ever.The motor ran as strong from the day i bought it till the day i pulled it and swaped the PI.

The only problem i feel that these NPI motors have is the lack of power.

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Its slow, Really.
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post #11 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 05:04 PM
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I have 2 4.6 cars, a 94 cougar with 210K miles, and a 94 crown vic with 260K miles. Both motors burn oil from worn out valve seals, but otherwise have no problems and still have plenty of power. Don't hesitate to beat on the car. Just keep oil in it and it will run for a very long time.

Mike

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post #12 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-14-2006, 07:42 PM
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My 97 4.6 has never been apart, except for the intake manifold being replaced with a PI one. With 300,000+ miles on it, it does burn some oil, pan gasket seeps a bit...but it runs like a champ and I "regularly" rev it to 6500 when playing around. Yes, I know this is a bit much, but I know the consequences and no I don't have a stock torque converter, lol.
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post #13 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-14-2006, 08:06 PM
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Good thread!!

5,600 on my rebuilt motor

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post #14 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 03:59 PM
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My oil pan is rusting out but I live in Michigan where they salt the roads like crazy.

1996 sport 4.6 130k and still strong.
1991 SC 3.8 project and toy.
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post #15 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 04:10 PM
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My 97 4.6 just hit 95xxx miles and does not burn oil at all .

Why do the valve seals ware out ?

I thought That the 96 and 97 did not have that problem .

1997 Ford Thunderbird 4.6 Sport .

60'...... 2.06
1/8th .. 9.194
mph .... 77.13

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post #16 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 04:25 PM
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The 96/97s arent as bad as the pre 95 ones, but it does still happen. The reason the valve seals start leaking so bad on the old 4.6s is that the valve guides on the older style heads are too short, and over time they wear out. Once the guides are worn, the valve actually starts to wobble a bit while it is being lifted, and this can very quickly wipe out even new valve seals, so the ones with 200K miles on them don't hold up and start leaking oil down the valve. The 96+ NPI heads have longer valve guides, so they don't wear out as quickly, but it will happen eventually.

Mike

-91 Cougar LS, coming soon, complete overhaul with a 427" Windsor.
-90 XR7 5-speed black on black w/sunroof, MP2, coated rotors, double intercooler, 15%OD, ported heads, comp stage 1 cam, 85mm TB, 90MM LMAF, 80# injectors, and ported big valve heads
-98 Mark VIII LSC, Procharger P600b, TR3650 swap and 3.73s.
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post #17 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 05:23 PM
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Nice info Mike ,

Thanks

1997 Ford Thunderbird 4.6 Sport .

60'...... 2.06
1/8th .. 9.194
mph .... 77.13

mods*
PI heads *PI intake*Mark VIII torque converter*Cobra T-loc w\4.10's * Jmod*tranny fluid cooler*P&P stock T/B & plenum*UD pulleys* Dynotech 4in ds*80mm Lightning maf*Xcal2*02 GT intake tube.
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post #18 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 07:27 PM
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I've only seen 2 of these engines blown up.

One was a Town Car with a leaky intake. Same intake they recalled. The gasket leaked into the front cylinder and caused a hydraulic lock. They bent a rod or something. Just replaced that one with a used '02 Crown Vic motor.

The other was an early Crown Vic with the aluminum intake. Some kid was driving to school from Seattle and the oil light came on. Then the motor started missing and clattering. He siezed a cam. The oil wasn't on the stick and hadn't been changed or checked in 20,000 miles. One used head fixed that one right up.
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post #19 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icantdrive55
The oil wasn't on the stick and hadn't been changed or checked in 20,000 miles. One used head fixed that one right up.
Now if that isn't a testament to how un-killable the 4.6 is, I don't know what is. You don't change the oil or even check it for 20K miles, run it dry to the point where the cam seizes in the head, and you don't even need to replace the whole engine, just one head! That's an awesome story.

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-90 XR7 5-speed black on black w/sunroof, MP2, coated rotors, double intercooler, 15%OD, ported heads, comp stage 1 cam, 85mm TB, 90MM LMAF, 80# injectors, and ported big valve heads
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post #20 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-15-2006, 10:30 PM
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I've killed the same 4.6l twice..lol..I think it was just a dud... 1st time: threw a timing chain which ripped through the valve cover, bent valves, dinged up pistons, metal shaving all throughout the engine... but..lol.. I still drove it home (2miles) just to see how tough a ford is.. well it made it home, started back up once then was dead.. so I got it rebuilt top to bottom.. 2nd time: 20k miles on the rebuilt motor.. sheared off the key that holds the timing gear on the crankshaft, spun the gear 1/4 of a turn, bent valves, dinged cylinders.. but..lol.. it once again got me home (1.5miles) before she rolled over and died... they say a cat has 9 lives.. i've burned up 3 of those lives.. 2 motors, and a "totalled out" wreck... and after thinking heavily wether or not I should let my cat eat a snake (cobra motor). I've decide the explorer motor is the logical route for me.. as of right now.. she's out infront of the house with her chin up so high and proud (since there's no motor in it..lol) waiting to chow down on an explorer motor.

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post #21 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-16-2006, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadMikeyL
The 96/97s arent as bad as the pre 95 ones, but it does still happen. The reason the valve seals start leaking so bad on the old 4.6s is that the valve guides on the older style heads are too short, and over time they wear out. Once the guides are worn, the valve actually starts to wobble a bit while it is being lifted, and this can very quickly wipe out even new valve seals, so the ones with 200K miles on them don't hold up and start leaking oil down the valve. The 96+ NPI heads have longer valve guides, so they don't wear out as quickly, but it will happen eventually.

Mike

yup, happens on 96-97 too. mine is an example , very very minimal. just press the gas a little bit more and no more. only 1 out of 10 times though. usually hotter days when the engine idle for a period of time. mine is at about 187-188k which regularly sees 6000 rpm. the smoke is very minimal too, not even 1/3 that what mine 94 show.

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post #22 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-17-2006, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Ghost
I think that the 4.6's are a much tougher motor than the 3.8 since they stand up to Police Interceptor, Ambulance and truck use, but please correct me if I am wrong.
The police version gets heavy duty fan, oil cooler, trans cooler, larger radiator, high output alternator, and special tuing to make it idle higher and cooling fans run nearly all the time--I got one, an 00.

1994 Merc Cougar 4.6L-Bone Stock
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post #23 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-18-2006, 11:38 AM
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My '96 was given to me by my step mom. In her entire period of owning the car, I don't think she changed the oil once. The sticker on the windshield said next change 35,000 and the car had 110K when I got it. I changed the oil and drove it for about 3 weeks. About halfway on a 10 mile drive, I saw the tach just drop to 0 and saw nothing but smoke out of my rearview, it literally covered the freeway in smoke but make any noises, just died. It burned every drop of oil and water in the engine. The gauge showed normal temp as well. Turned out the piston rings burned up badly due to continuous detonation(pinging) caused by a MAF covered in crud. The head gaskets appeared good upon inspection.

My first PI replacement snapped one of the chains due to a bent cam gear (engine pulled from vehicle in accident that broke valve cover and bent cam gear), lots of PTV contact, and the chain tore up the block/oil pump before ending up in the oil pan in thousands of pieces. Never got drove it, gave one hiccup and SNAP as soon as I tried the first crank.

My current PI motor runs very strong, I beat on it pretty hard sometimes (5500-6000 rpm shifts, 1-2, 2-3) I change the oil frequently, starts up everytime, never so much as misses a breath. But it does have a slight ticking noise from passenger head, there was an explorer TSB about it....doesnt seem to hurt power, and it sounds the same as it did when I installed the engine. I hope to get much more than 200,000 miles out of this engine.

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post #24 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-18-2006, 05:06 PM
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BOOST KILLS THESE MOTORS!!!!!!!!!...Detonation and 4.6 = cracked/broken ring lands!!!!..N/A a very stout motor as is

Going for broke!!!!
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post #25 of 47 (permalink) Old 11-18-2006, 09:35 PM
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my 95 4.6i has many bolt ons, I built a full exhaust, ported the intake a lil, after market mild race cams, modded MAF, all ran on the stock computer and I beat on my cat hard! It does comsume a little oil. Also the 4r70w is completely stock and I manually shift it and beat the death out of it. I have loudly skwaked the tires in a 1-2 shift many times at WOT yet at 120xxx it still runs strong

2x95 cougars to the scapper
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post #26 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-05-2007, 01:25 AM
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I've killed 2 of these. The original one in my 95 threw a timing chain while cruising at 75mph and ate the valves out of the left bank. This was at 130k miles, roughly, and the engine was cared for. Being stranded in Hattiesburg, MS hundreds of miles from home was NOT a good feeling. I bought the car new and changed the oil regularly with Mobil 1. The second (replacement) engine had supposedly 90k miles on it when I bought it. I got 40k miles out of it and the rings were shot. It blewso much oil out it clogged the cats and killed the O2 sensors. Just to contrast it, my 76 Chrysler with a 400bb killed a timing chain at 110k miles, changed the chain out and reset the timing and it went right back into duty. I put another 50k on it before parking it due to buying the T-bird and radiator issues. 4.6s are REDICULOUSLY expensive to rebuild. You would think as long as they've been out parts would be cheaper.

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2002 Explorer PI, full length true duals with Magnaflow internal X pipe, 2000 GT Trans, C&L MAF, JBA headers, 89 SC swaybars, 97 Sport springs.
Bought brand new by me 4/28/1995 - totaled by an idiot running into it 4/8/2014 RIP

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post #27 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-05-2007, 04:27 AM
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Ive put 155k miles on my 1994 with the 4.6L, engine still runs great and gets 20 mpg. Blew 2 transmissions already, so the engine isnt getting any more miles until I find a replacement trans.
Coolant boiled over a few times because the electric fan died, but the engine never had any problems from it.

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post #28 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-05-2007, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flying low
...4.6s are REDICULOUSLY expensive to rebuild. You would think as long as they've been out parts would be cheaper.
I thought the rebuilds were expensive because of the labor involved, not the parts. Am I mistaken?
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post #29 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-06-2007, 03:13 PM
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Mainly parts

Price engine kits on these things and then look at rebuild kits for other small blocks. If it were 1995 and these engines were still relatively new it'd be one thing but they've been making these engines for 15 years so installed base is no longer an excuse. You usually ought to change the rods too because they come with powdered metal pieces of crap from the factory which have journals that cannot be resized.

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Bought brand new by me 4/28/1995 - totaled by an idiot running into it 4/8/2014 RIP

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post #30 of 47 (permalink) Old 01-11-2007, 08:45 PM
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Unhappy Scary...

[QUOTE=flying low]I've killed 2 of these. The original one in my 95 threw a timing chain while cruising at 75mph and ate the valves out of the left bank. This was at 130k miles, roughly, and the engine was cared for. Being stranded in Hattiesburg, MS hundreds of miles from home was NOT a good feeling. I bought the car new and changed the oil regularly with Mobil 1...[/QUOTE]

Man! That's not good news!

This 1995 40th Anniversary T-Bird LX has 136,000 on it (at least that's where the odometer stopped), but seems to run fine. No noise or vibration...hasn't burned any oil since I bought it, and the previous owner stated that it hasn't had problems.

I'm watching it closely, though...in fact I'm bringing it in for an oil change this weekend.

I CANNOT afford this thing to die on me...it needs to get me back and forth to work (30 miles each way)...Interstate driving...70 MPH. I baby this thing...drive it like a grandpa...so hopefully it'll warn me ahead of time...LOL! Plus, either the gas gauge is wrong, or this car gets INCREDIBLE gas mileage...I guess the previous owner was right...he said 28 MPG + on the interstate... :-)

I'd be COMPLETELY screwed if this car's motor or tranny went south. I just paid $2500 cash for it a week ago! My other car's tranny died & left me stranded (1995 LeBaron), so that's the reason I purchased the T-Bird.

I had a choice of cars for $3000...including a Ford Ranger P/U with a 4-banger. The T-Bird got the highest marks for reliabilty, so that's what I went with...imagine my surprise when I saw this pristine-looking 40th Anniversary LX! After having it thoroughly looked over, the only thing wrong with the car appears to be the odomoter/trip meter (and I just ordered the new gears yeterday).

I need this car to last...my job depends on it!

Radio Doug

Last edited by Radiodugger; 01-11-2007 at 09:29 PM.
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