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So I am stumped and need some help. I have a 96 3.8. Two yers ago this April the head gaskets blew, so I tore it down and repalced the gaskets. Since then the engine ran fine. A little hot sometimes in the summer with the AC running and air temp near 100. Fast forward to December 2012 and when starting the car on a cold morning I notice white smoke. Have not drove it since and started tearing it down gain thinking head gaskets again.

Took heads off and the gaskets are in tact, no tears or breaks or anything to indicate they are blown. Visual inspection of the heads shows no cracks. I will admit the first time I cut corners and did not have heads shaved, just checked with a straight edge.

What is the possibility the heads could be cracked and I am just not seeing it? Could it be the block? Any ideas?

Talked to a machine shop and they would charge $50/head to shave them and $45/head to pressure check...trying to avoid spending $200 and finding out they are cracked and having to spend more money to buy new heads.
 

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It's the head gaskets, u never take a short cut always machine the heads
 

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Always a possibility that there's a fine crack but I doubt it.

Take Rob's advice and machine the heads, put it back together and sell it. Buy yourself a V8 Tbird and never look back.
 

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Not the head gaskets unless the ring is blown or material is corroded, more likely Warped heads causing the gaskets to not seal properly. Cracked heads typically would cause a loss of compression instead of coolant leakage, they usually crack near or between the valves and spark plug area.

Always machine and pressure check the heads before re-installation, even if there is nothing wrong with the head. They can become warped if the head bolts are not loosened in the opposite of the tightening sequence as well. The re-surface gives them a nice bite into the new gaskets as well.

Better to spend $200 to make sure your heads are in good working order than to short cut and waste money on gaskets, coolant, sealer, and time .. although I usually just have the heads surfaced unless there was a reason to suspect the valves were bent.
 

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Every shop I've dealt with cleans for free and stops there if they find a crack.
 

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Timing cover is possible, I had it happen to my SC. I caught it on my SC because I was mixing coolant into the oil,.
Timing cover wouldnt cause the coolant to enter the combustion chamber and burn out of the exhaust .. it would just ruin the bearings.
 

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Any other indicators?

I have my 89 apart for the same thing. One spark plug, when I removed it, was clean, all others had 70,000 worth of carbon. That same cylinder the piston and combustion chamber are clear of all carbon.

It wasn't an obvious blow through like the last time I did the head gaskets :):sigh::) but I can see where the gasket is delaminating, I can only assume that is where it was leaking combustion gases (and pressurizing the the cooling system) and introducing coolant into the cylinder (white smoke).

I kinda wish I hadn't taken on this project, I should have just junked it and spent my time on my wrecked 97 Cougar or my newly bought 97 Mark VIII.
 

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This is what I saw:








 

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Timing cover wouldnt cause the coolant to enter the combustion chamber and burn out of the exhaust .. it would just ruin the bearings.
I was talking mainly about the coolant in the oil, as for coolant in the combustion chamber then that really narrows the options. Head or head gasket.
 

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sure looks like someone put some headgasket sealer in that system >.>

if you plan on putting that back together definitely machine the heads smooth, and have a valvejob done. slap it all back together with new headbolts and go get yourself a couple of gallons of distilled water and Prestone Clean. those galleries shouldn't be plugged like that. you can expect a heatercore failure if indeed their is sealer in the system...

and don't forget to change your oil again after a few hundred miles. make sure you get all that coolant out before it wipes the babbitt off your bearings.
 
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