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well i think the water an oil will mix together and look like chocolate milk or something, as far as replacein the gasket jus take's time , get all the stuff out of the way and pull your valve covers an then, i think take out the head bolts an loosen the rockers and pull out the push rods. then take the heads off one at a time pull the old gasket off ,put the new one on and put it all back together. hope this helps.
 

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are you losing coolant?
 

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Blowing any white smoke out the exhaust? How's the temperature, overheating?

Might get more exposure with our 3.8 experts! :)

Joe
 

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It depends on HOW it blows,

1st, the most common is into the waterjacket, you will have bubbles in the rad,the enging will miss and if you pull the spark plugs one will be cleaner than the rest, white smoke/steam out the tailpipe, and your oil could look like coffee with cream.

2nd, is the compression blow, what that is, the head gasket failed between 2 joing cyl, and the compression swapps back and forth between the 2. run a compression test to find this one
 

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Been there...

 

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Yeah, they can go in many ways, and cause many different symptoms. I never got missing oil and coolant, but I got a sparkplug that was clean, and too much pressure in the coolant system which fourced the coolant out the overflow reservoir.

I don't remember the results of the compression test in my case, I think I didn't see a problem until I took out all the plugs, because it was both letting compression into the cooling system, and leaking compression between two cylinders.
 

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Ok easiest way to tell, well for one you have a ford 3.8, so yes your head gasket is probably blown, they tend to go in that motor. But the other easy way to tell is, rev the engine, see if you have white smoke. Other than that your gonna have to look at the oil or run an emissions test and see if you have outrageously high HC's. You can also buy PH strips to test the coolant, and it'll tell you whether or not there is fuel in your coolant. But it is a 3.8 ford, so chances are if you have about 100k on it your head gasket is done. On that motor its not that difficult of a job as long as you have some kind of mechanical experience, also get the heads resurfaced, a lot of people don't and the gasket blows again.
 

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Also, keep this in mind. Some of us have replaced the head gaskets and ended up with a knocking engine not too long after. I know I have been there. I did everything that I should have. I even changed the oil and filter 3 times after I replaced the gaskets. I drained the oil that was in it and put in fresh with a new filter. I ran it for a while and did it again then repeated. The oil looked fine after the first time but I didn't want to take any chances. It didn't ever knock that I could hear before the repair, but the damage was already done by the time I got there. Bearings just don't like water.
 

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first thing you have to do is stop driving it. that's the very first sterp that should always be taken when you suspect a blown ehadgasket, or any other kind of problem you may encounter. Usually driving it will will only make the problem worse. This can be seen with suspension problems, engine problems, transmissions, etc.

So open your radiator and see what the fluid level is like. Look in your reservoir as well, and also look at what color the coolant is. Next would be to take out the oil dipstick and see what the oil looks like, sometime you'll have coolant on the dipstick if the HG is blown. You could also try starting the car and opening the radiator or observing the reservoir. Sometimes when the HG blows it will make bubbles in the cooling system (exhaust gas) and you'll see the gas rising out of the tank too.

If the fire ring (metal ring around each cylinder) is blown then a compression test on all 6 cylinders will reveal it. This is the most common failure. I can go into another cylinder, a coolant passage, or an oil passage, or if you're really lucky, all 3! :D

A headgasket set from fel-pro is about 100 dollars, plus 30 dollars in head bolts (which NEED to be replaced once removed, because they're torque-to-yield and only hold torque once). If you're novice at engines then it may seem difficult at first. But by taking on the project you will gain plenty of experience with your car and motors in general. A shop could charge you anywhere from 1300-2000 dollars for this job, what would only cost you 300 tops. It involves removing the upper and lower intake manifolds, valve covers, exhaust manifolds, accessory brackets, and of course heads. This would also be a good time to replace the water pump and your coolant hoses.

-Thomas
 

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just to be safe, do a compression check. these symptoms do not always show.
 

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the main thing is that they're all within 5psi of eachother. If one is lower you will see it.
 

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its strange cause i got 145,000+ on my 3.8 and it still hasnt gone yet and ive been bracing the moment for a while and it still hasnt come
 

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dude, better do a preventive one. that would be my advice from what i'm hearing here. this december its going to be apart of my major maint. overhaul. i'm gonna rebuild the suspension and the motor (new seals, clean, probably paint a little too). hopefully it'll be a brand new car by the time im done with it......get rid of those pesky leaks.
 
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