1994 thunderbird LX....

Discussion in 'Other Auto Tech' started by slow5poh, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. Hello all. I haven't posted on there in over a year because I sold my 5.0 mustang a while back. But just recently my GF got a 1994 thunderbird 3.8L from her grandma. I have heard the static about the head gasket problems on these engines. It has 93,000 miles on it and the head gaskets were done at 90,000. I was just curious if anyone knew if ford re designed the gaskets or somehthing. Basically I was just wondering if once the heads have been done will it be ok for a while, or have some folks had to do them more than once? And what other problems should i be on the lookout for. So far I like the styling of the car inside and out, and it seems to get good fuel mileage. Thanks very much.

  2. Well, you could always go the route of just pulling it apart, scraping off the old gaskets, slapping on new ones, and torquing it all down with fresh head bolts. In theory, that would hold up ... but there's something weird about 3.8's and head gaskets that I've never quite understood.

    Probably not the FULL reason why, but I'll throw out my theory on the 3.8 Head Gasket curse, here...

    I'm thinking that at least part of it might be that they're more vulnerable to heat than their V8 (5.0 or 4.6) counterparts. I see a LOT of T-Birds listed on local ads around here, and they've ALWAYS got "Needs head gasket(s)" somewhere in there on the cheap for-sales. Cars like MN12's (T-Birds, Cougars, Mark VIII's) generally have electric fans, as do other 3.8-equipped cars like base/LX SN95 Mustangs, Tauruses, etc. ... and when these go out, people generally don't tend to notice until it's too late (that is, steam is rolling out from underhood and coolant is gushing everywhere, and/or the engine temp gauge is pegged at HOT). You can probably get away with running things a bit hotter than you should with a more sturdy motor like a 5.0 or a 4.6 (bigger block/heads, takes more heat to damage it, I guess), but with a 3.8 ... POOF! Helloooooo warped heads! :eek:

    With the MN12's in particular, as I've just recently found out myself, tend to have issues with the radiator fan relay(s) crapping out or sometimes intermittently failing - something called the Constant Control Relay Module (CCRM) located behind the passenger-side headlight assembly. If that and/or the radiator fan motor fails, you'll likely run into an overheating condition when running around in city traffic; with some motors, you can get away with doing that a few times, maybe a LOT, but with others like a 3.8 (all-aluminum motors are so frail in some ways), it might only take one time to really screw stuff up.

    When a head gets warped, most folks don't check (or have a shop check) the head(s) to see if they're warped/cracked, so they just slap on new gaskets and MAYBE new bolts (torque-to-yield bolts should ALWAYS be changed out when doing head gaskets), and they act all surprised when the thing starts sucking coolant into the oil or vise-versa, and then they go blaming the motor. (As far as I'm concerned, ANY motor can be made reliable, as long as you know its weak points and take proper preventative measures to guard against them.)

    There's probably more to the 3.8 than just that which makes 'em more likely to eat head gaskets than others, but overheating and inattentive owners seem to be the biggest issues out here in the desert, anyway. :shrug: