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Time for new engine ? If so, who from ?

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by TMScouts, September 28, 2019.

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  1. TMScouts

    TMScouts New Member

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    Longish post – need your help.

    2003 Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0 l live in NW Washington

    178247 miles
    rebuilt transmission and transaxle in July

    Back on August 6, I was heading to Doctor for job mandated physical. 1 mile from appointment the gauge zooms up to max temp and light comes on. Not much choice, I continued to appointment. Explorer is now spewing coolant to the extent that someone called the fire dept. AAA took the rig and me back home. Found the thermostat housing had a lovely hole out the backside. Replaced housing “Dorman” (it was available) complete housing assy with thermostat and cover. For next 2 weeks had occasional overheat on gauges but then quickly went back to normal. Coolant drained and vac’d back in a couple times. 50/50 mix. Another trip, this time the overheat didn’t go back down. Scanner shows 325 degrees. AAA took the rig and me back home. Found Dorman had provided a thermostat that doesn’t always open. Replaced with Motorcraft thermostat 180 degrees. Rig now runs (usually) at 192 . Rig has been on dozens of 40 mile +trips and a couple 200 + trips without any overheat problems. Last Thursday rig shows overheat that wouldn’t go back to normal. As I was almost home I just drove it. Block tester shows yellow. Next steps ?
     
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  3. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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    Block tester says you have exhaust gases in the coolant, right? That means blown head gasket, IIRC.

    You can pull the heads on the 4.0, have them serviced at machine shop, and install new headgaskets (I like Felspar dual metal) and head bolts w/o removing the engine. That's your cheapest option and still several hundred dollars. Other option is to buy a good, running used engine with lower miles. This will cost more and be more work (removing and installing engine).

    The advantage to the second option is significant, however: you can replace the timing chains and cassettes while you have the new/used engine on the engine stand (before you install it). The 4.0 has a well-known problem with timing chain failure. Even with updated tensioners (2002.5 MY), the problem often happens around 150-180k miles. It can ruing the engine, or at least one or both heads (interference engine). Under the second option, you would NOT have to do the heads. These engines are not known to blow head gaskets (or have other significant head issues) if not overheated and do not have a timing chain failure.

    So, it depends on how good the body is and how much you like the truck/how long you want to drive it. If it were me, I'd look for a good used engine or even a running truck that had been totaled with <125k miles, do a compression check, pull the engine and put it on a stand, do the timing components; leave the head and bottom of the engine alone; replace the water pump and thermostat housing, and whatever else looked like it needed it; and install it.
     
    Last edited: October 1, 2019
  4. TMScouts

    TMScouts New Member

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    Thank you for the reply. To add a little more info: from 1 through 6 compression is: 1) - 120/170; 2) - 90/170; 3) - 100/170; 4) - 80/170; 5) - 90/170; 6) - 100/170. Any other thoughts ?
     
  5. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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    Are these dry/wet or cold/hot numbers?
     
  6. Explorer_PL

    Explorer_PL Elite Explorer

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    Can you just pull the heads on these motors without removing the entire motor since heads involve the timing chains removal as well ?
    And we know what timing on the 4.0 involves.
    Just curious if there is a simpler procedure.
     
  7. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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    Yes. The secondary timing chains wrap around gears at the ends of the rear (right/passenger) and left (front/driver) camshafts. Those gears are bolted on to the end of the respective camshafts. You can unbolt the gears and tie each gear/secondary chain so that it does not fall into the cavity when you remove the head.

    NB: While I have replaced timing sets and unbolted camshafts from heads (for resurfacing), I've always done it with the engine out of the car (which it needs to be in order to replace the timing cassettes--unless you want to drop the transmission to repair the right/rear cassette). So if anyone has done heads without removing the engine could pipe in, it would be good confirmation.

    Not sure what you mean by simpler procedure. Simpler procedure for replacing head gaskets w/o removing the heads? Yes: get a different truck, or dump some kind of crap into the cooling system that's supposed to seal leaks, is at best a stop-gap and not a valid repair, and will probably cause other problems (reduced cooling or heater-a/c performance, etc.) . . . .
     
  8. 410Fortune

    410Fortune Snow Season Staff Member Moderator

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    I would NOT mess with head gasket repairs on a SOHC engine because there are so many of these engines out there
    The head gasket repair can cost as much as a good engine replacement which usually comes with a warranty
    The head gasket repair is a CRAP SHOOT
    Since the truck overheated severely more then once, it would be a good idea to replace the engine AND flush the transmission cooler and cooling system at the same time.

    I am in North Idaho and I have been working on these trucks for 25 years, if you need some help or guidance let me know.
     
  9. Explorer_PL

    Explorer_PL Elite Explorer

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    Drew -
    So basically, if you take the head off, you need to stretch and hang the chain so it does not fall down, or moves and jumps the timing. Sounds very risky, but maybe shops do it ????
     
  10. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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    You would definitely need to re-time the engine if you remove the heads. Of course, if you have a few thousand dollars for a rebuilt engine (and the labor to remove and replace the engine), that's better by far -- especially b/c you'd be getting new timing components.

    I've removed and installed only three of these engines; I'm not a professional mechanic by any means. In my limited experience, as a backyard mechanic with a cherrypicker (engine lift) and engine stand, its a lot of work to remove and install these engines w/o a lift.

    You do need a special tool to re-time the engine. It's tricky to do, but there's a pretty good Cloyes video on YouTube walking you through it. FordtechMakulo has a mulit-part series of Youtube videos detailing the process as well.

    I can only report that in the engines I've seen, each with well over 100K miles, the cast iron piston walls looked like they were new. If not damaged due to a broken timing component (typically failed tensioner or guide), the heads are solid, too. Maybe the occasional bad roller follower, but no big deal. Of course, poorly maintained (read: infrequent oil changes) engines are always subject to sludge that could damage the heads. (But you can see if that's the case by removing a valve cover.)

    While I respect 410's experience (truly), I don't really understand this statement: "The head gasket repair is a CRAP SHOOT." Huh? Is he talking about the non-traditional/tricky re-timing of the engine? If so than any repair that requires re-timing the engine is a crap shoot. If he's not talking about the timing idiosyncrasies of this engine, then I just don't get it: remove and toss head bolts; clean surfaces; at a minimum test heads for flatness (have machine shop re-surface them if they're warped); put new quality head gaskets (dual metal, like Felspar); torque new headbolts per specs; reassemble.

    I also don't know what overheating has to do with flushing the cooling system/trans, but hey, I'm not a mechanic. I've often heard you need to thoroughly flush trans cooler after transmission failure (to be sure you get the bits out of there); and a timing chain/guide failure can foul the radiator; but you've not indicated a timing issue.

    As I indicated in my first post in this thread (and agree with 410), a replacement engine is your best option, if you can afford one, and feel competent with adequate tools/help to remove/re-install an engine. But if you go with a used engine with over 100K miles, I think it would be penny-wise but pound-foolish not to replace the timing components while the replacement engine is out, before you install it. Good luck.
     
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  11. 410Fortune

    410Fortune Snow Season Staff Member Moderator

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    I am talking about replacing the heads and head gaskets on the engine in the truck (without re doing the timing components!!, basically your budget sohc engine head gasket repair is a CRAP SHOOT)
    I AM a mechanic and I specialize in these trucks, I have lived and breathed ranger based vehicles since the 2.8L was under the hood

    Option 1 (CRAP SHOOT option):
    How much are a set of heads? and or the machine work? $500-600
    How much are the gaskets/ new TTY head bolts? $200
    How much is new oil and coolant? $80
    How much is labor? $750-800 unless you do yourself, and if you have never opened a sohc engine before and don't have the tools there are additional costs to consider.

    For the head gasket repair I would assume $1000 and that is with you doing the labor and without TOUCHING the timing components
    If you pay somebody to do the head pull and replace your going to be pushing $2000.

    This engine has been overheated severely 340 degrees water temp on the scanner!!
    you think the timing cover might develop some leaks? You think the crank bearings and piston rings made it through the water bath/heat?
    I hope you didn't warp the block when the head gaskets failed or the heads cracked.
    Only way to try and check the true ness of the deck is with a straight edge? And we are talking about letting the cam chains and gears hang there while you do all of this?

    You are taking a gamble assuming only the head gaskets are the problem.
    If you put it all back together and there are other issues like in the top end or bottom end, timing guides or tensioners failed, or if it is still mixing water with oil....then you have to do it all over again.

    I have BEEN DOWN THE ROAD on the head gasket replacement procedure more then once.
    Sometimes you WIN sometimes it was ALL FOR NOT.
    No warranty on this option.
    That is what I mean by a crap shoot.
    PERSONALLY I go the other route

    Option 2:
    I find a good low mile used SOHC engine (take your pic!) I like to use the 04+ sohc engines, we are seeing over 300K miles from the later model units with good oil change history.

    Then we address any issues it may have WHILE IT IS OUT like timing cover leaks, balance chain and tensioner issues, replace the tensioners on both heads, etc.

    A used engine can be around $500 ( I sell them for $400-800 depending on year/miles)
    My labor to change a SOHC engine is $600
    Fluids and filters, new tune up parts another $200
    Takes me a weekend to do it as I have pulled and installed many 4.0 v6 engines

    So for $1300 or so you can get a low mile known good SOHC engine with warranty installed by somebody who lives and breathes these trucks

    You want new tensioners? add $350 from Ford
    I can also remove the front timing cover and replace the balance chain and main chain tensioners while the engine is out, another $300 or so.

    Now we are just over $2000 with new engine gaskets full tune up parts, fresh fluids and filters on a KNOWN good SOHC engine WITH A WARRANTY

    Just sayin..................

    Option 3:
    Buy a reman sohc engine and install it.........going to be well over $3000 for this option, unless you do all of the work yourself. Then it is just the cost of the new long block, all fluids, filters, tune up parts, and gaskets.
    Last time I looked a 03 Explorer is not worth putting $4000-5000 engine into
    Especially not with the abundance of SOHC engines available used and in good shape with low miles.



    The cooling system:
    The reason I flush the transmission and its cooling system while the engine is out is because chances that the transmission also got hot when the water tempo was over 340 degrees is very good since they trans fluid is cooled (or heated) by the same water/water cooler inside the radiator. So now is the time (while engine is out) to run some cleaner through the trans cooler and lines, drop the pan, change the trans filter and fluid.

    Also a VERY good idea since you said your transmission was just rebuilt...it is a GOOD idea to change the fluid and filter after 500 miles, then again at 1500 miles....this gets any assembly compound or contaminants from the rebuild out of your new trans and assures a long life from the reman unit.


    There that is the long version.
    Want to hear the story about the 98 Eddie Bauer that came to me needing head gaskets on the 5.0? and how I replaced the heads and gaskets, then I replaced them again, then I still had oil/ water mixing so I changed the whole engine,, only to have the transmission lose all gears on the first test drive? Yeah that was a fun one....about $900 in parts and fluids down a hole plus 10 days of shop time (my labor). I crushed that truck the next week.

    @Drewmcg I commend you for doing your own SOHC engine work!! Well done.
    This is what got me started on all of this many many years ago, my desire to be able to afford to fix things myself has lead to a full blown customs shop here at my house. I have a desk job! I do this stuff on the side it is my passion.
    DIY is the BEST way yo go as parts are cheap, labor is expensive and unless you DIY or have a very trusted mechanic, many times paying a shop to replace ANYTHING is a crap shoot.
     
    Last edited: October 6, 2019
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  12. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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    Very helpful info, 410! Thanks.

    I checked Rockauto this morning. For my '02 XLS 4.0 SOHC: head gasket set (incl. valve covers, manifolds, and head gaskets, etc.): $88. Headbolts (Felpro): $24. So total parts (not counting oil and coolant, which will apply to any repair options) = $114 + shipping.

    You'd have to check with your auto machine shop for head reconditioning costs. Here's a current internet price list from a shop I found near Cleveland:

    Cylinder Head Aluminum
    • Degrease – Starting at $50
    • Pressure Test – Starting at $50
    • Install Freeze Plugs – $3/each
    • Replace Valve Seats – $12/each
    • Replace Valve Guides – $7/each
    • Machine Valve Seats for 3 Angle Cut –
      • V8 – $75
      • V6 – $65
      • 4 Cyl. – $80
    • Regrind Valves – $1/each
    • Spark Plug Hole Thread Repair – Estimate
    • Resurface Head Gasket Surface Area – $40/head
    • Minor Aluminum Welding – Estimate
    You likely have more experience than me, but I'd think you could expect to pay close to $200-$225/head for cleaning, resurfacing, pressure check, and other needed minor repairs. Junk yard heads probably not worth it since they'd need to be resurfaced and pressure checked anyway. Rockauto sells complete heads for around $400/each if one of the heads is irreparable.

    Assuming $225/ea for head machining, you'd be at about $575 for parts and machining to do the head job yourself. You'd need to add to this the re-timing tool cost, net of selling it on e-bay after you're done with it. This is roughly 40% less than your estimate of $1000. No need to buy/rent cherry picker or engine stand.

    As you point out, there are risks to this approach (what you call a crapshoot). Then again, life is kind of a crapshoot, non? IMHO, the risk of a cracked or warped cast iron block on these facts is low. And the OP has not reported water in the oil. If it were me, I would not mess with the water pump or front cover unless there is evidence of a leak there. And he's already replaced the thermostat housing, IIRC.

    A good (long) thread on the risks/rewards of this approach is here: Blown SOHC head gasket *PICS* . I've always found Dale (2000StreetRod's) advice to be extremely helpful.

    You say: "So for $1300 or so you can get a low mile known good SOHC engine with warranty installed by somebody who lives and breathes these trucks." I must say, I'm surprised at this estimate. If you happen to be located in NW Washington, and are available, I'd highly recommend that the OP have you do this repair instead, if he can afford the extra $700 or so. Better still, he should spend the extra $$ to have you do the timing components at the same time, to address one of the known Achilles' heels of this truck.

    I simply don't know of a shop in SE Michigan that would install a used motor and warranty it for $1300 complete (especially a low-mileage one). And unless I'm missing something your advice -- boiled down -- is that it is not sensible *ever* to do a head job for blown head gaskets (except perhaps for difficult-to-find engines), which are almost always caused by overheated engines. You are entitled to that point of view, and you've backed it up with your reasoning, but I can tell you that head jobs are done with some frequency by Detroit-area mechanics. So evidently there's a difference of opinion out there.
     
  13. 410Fortune

    410Fortune Snow Season Staff Member Moderator

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    Hey @Drewmcg I am glad you replied!

    what about new head bolts? are parts like valve seals covered in the machine shop prices?
    coolant? oil and filter? You forgot to add cost for those....
    If he is going to work on timing you need to buy the tools, cassettes and new primary and hydraulic tensioners?

    So $575 for head work, $115 for gasket set, $20 for head bolts, $50 for oil change and coolant, misc sealants and shop supplies, I'm at $760 right there without touching the rest of the engine.....getting closer to the $1000 I "threw" out there for DIY head gasket repair on SOHC.

    yes I am in North Idaho which is very close to Washington, well close ish
    Yes I work cheap because I do only these trucks...so pulling a SOHC engine for me is like a 4-5 hour deal and I have installed probably 30+ SOHC engines over the years, sometimes two a week :) That is not to mention how many pushrod 4.0 and 5.0 I work on...

    I can get a SOHC engine here locally from a wrecker (spaldings) for around $5-600 with warranty, we can use later model engine (04+) because I can plumb around the PCV system. So this gives you the ability to run 04-14 SOHC engine long block. or I can get an engine from Ebay (yes ebay) or usually I have them around (I just sold my 2005 and 2007 engines recently, so I am out of SOHC for right now)

    Anywho I love to talk about this stuff and share my experiences
    Just remember this engine saw 340 degrees water temp at the coolant sensor.....
    I personally would not invest a dime in a SOHC engine that got that hot, simply because there are SO MANY good low mile replacements.
    Yes I do head gasket jobs, and I do them PROPERLY by the book and like a surgeon, but I am VERY hesitant to do them on a SOHC engine with high miles after overheating...that is all.
    I have NO problem with difference of opinion, none at all, after all this is a discussion forum! Where we try to come together and help people decide what path works best for them
    TWO HEADS are ALWAYS better then one.
    It is true you will not find prices like mine at shops, I work in my home shop for like $15-40 / hour, not $95-130/ hour like the going shop rate is around here.....my passion is these trucks and I already have a desk job.
    My shop is invite only so I also get to pick and choose what trucks I work on....its a good life.
     

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