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Hello, this is my first post, so if i have confusing info, im sorry. Anyways, I have a 1997 t-bird was approx 150,000 km on it with a 4.6 V8. Coming home from Brandon, my low coolent light came on, and my temp started to rise. I pulled over at the next mile road, and stoped the car and had a look under the hood. There was Anti-freezer all over the place. I was not sure where it was leaking out of, i filled my reservor up with water, and started the car. That is where i seen the leak. It was coming out behind the Alternator. So, i left the car there, and got a ride home from the brother in law, and got the truck and trailer, and picked up the car a few hrs later. Today, i took the car off the trailer, placed it in the shop, and took the Alternator off to have a close look at were the anti-freezer was coming out of. There was 2 cracks on the Upper intake manifold, right behind the Alternator and beside both sending units. On pervious years of thunderbirds this was a 2 peice unit. The anti-freezer went throw a cast peice, and the rest is plastic. But for unknown stupied reasons, ford went with a 1 peice, all plasic upper intake. Thus, i guess that is why it cracked on me. Now, my question is why will that have cracked like that, and will a 2 peice upper intake manifold work off a 1996 t-bird with a 4.6 V8 work? Thanks :D
 

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All 96 and 97 thunderbirds cougars and many other 4.6's came from the factory stock with a 1 piece plastic intake manifold there was a huge recall done to have the manifold replaced with the newer 2 piece manifold you are refering to. If you have access to a 96 with the 2 piece manifold with the aluminum cross over that you can use then yes that would be a direct swap for your 97.
 

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As for why it cracked. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Those solid plastic manifolds are ticking time bombs.
 

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The all plastic intake went 96 through the 2001 model year on some cars. I let the one on my 2000 Grand Marquis go as long as I could, it actually didn't fail by cracking, but between a flattened gasket and what looked like leaking rear coolant nipple, I finally swapped it out at 143,000 miles. I should have done it some time ago but didn't.
 
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