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head gasket job complete


Active Member
December 12, 2002
Reaction score
City, State
Denver, CO
Year, Model & Trim Level
92 XLT
Finally done with replacing heads and gaskets.
Cleaning up and writing up parts list took the longest. So far so good, idles smoothly, no smoke besides the initial burning of residual oil on the exhaust manifolds.

About to do its first oil change and coolant flush. I will also need to replace the alternator as the pulley makes some grinding noise.

I will make a list of cured symptoms. The first ones seem to be bumpy idle and rich smell. Also, no more rough running around 1,000 rpm's and no exhaust leak type noise. Valve train noise very low.

I replaced all gaskets (heads, lower & upper intake manifold, valve cover & added exhaust), replaced heads, changed push rods and rocker arms (lifters were fine), changed idle and tensionner pulleys.

I hope the rings hold up for a while, this was quite a job. It took me about 2 full days to put back together but I spread over 3. About the same amount to pull everything out. Cleaning up gasket surfaces and carbon build up took a few days.

EDIT: At first, the fuel pump was priming... I had put the relay back into the power seat slot instead of the fuel pump. Then after a few starts the car wouldn't start anymore, I had forgotten to put the vacuum line on the fuel pressure regulator. Then it was all good.

EDIT2: Did a compression test, got 130 across all 5 and 110 on the one with the bad cylinder wall. Got 130 squirting some oil. I also found a small oil leak at the right rear of the head. Near the same area the spark plug wire was arcing randomly, I swapped it with its nearest neighbor and it stopped arcing. Weird.

EDIT3: Arcing was due to a cracked spark plug insulator, weird. Also, I fixed a belt squeak, by loosening and re-tightening the tensionner pulley which had a bit of wobble to it. The oil leak is still there, sucks.

EDIT4: Oil leak is from right rear of the valve cover gasket, not head, because the new heads are so shiny, it was hard to tell it had oil on it from above. I swiped my finger on it to notice the oil. Most of valve cover bolts from the exhaust manifold side needed readjusting after heat cycles.

One injector had its cap missing so I bought a new one, should have bought just the cap but didn't know where to get them.

All injectors were replaced a few thousands of miles ago when one went out completely.