General Ford Ranger Discussion General discussion of the Ford Ranger that does not fit in any other sub-forum.

Blown Head gasket?

  #1  
Old 01-22-2019
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Blown Head gasket?

Another problem with the Ranger :(

Long story short, I let my sister borrow the Ranger to get to work when she calls me about the truck smoking and almost over heating. She pulls over and eventually makes it home without the needle ever reaching it's peak. Turns out one of the heater hoses ruptured.

​​​​​Bought the part at NAPA. I have a no-spill funnel to make bleeding it easier. During the bleeding process, the coolant bubbles, steams and over flows. It even shot out when turning it on.

I checked the dip stick and it shows no signs of coolant and no smoke at the tail pipe.

I changed thermostat about 6 months ago and the lower intake manifold gasket two weeks ago.

also, it's not blowing any hot air yet, just cold.
and after she got home and let the truck cool down, it would only crank and wouldn't start at all until I tried flooring the gas pedal. It starts fine now though.

02 3.0L
Thanks guys in advance
​​​​
 

Last edited by jranger96; 01-22-2019 at 02:02 PM.
  #2  
Old 01-22-2019
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Originally Posted by jranger96 View Post
Another problem with the Ranger :(

Long story short, I let my sister borrow the Ranger to get to work when she calls me about the truck smoking and almost over heating. She pulls over and eventually makes it home without the needle ever reaching it's peak. Turns out one of the heater hoses ruptured.

​​​​​Bought the part at NAPA. I have a no-spill funnel to make bleeding it easier. During the bleeding process, the coolant bubbles, steams and over flows. It even shot out when turning it on.

I checked the dip stick and it shows no signs of coolant and no smoke at the tail pipe.

I changed thermostat about 6 months ago and the lower intake manifold gasket two weeks ago.

also, it's not blowing any hot air yet, just cold.
and after she got home and let the truck cool down, it would only crank and wouldn't start at all until I tried flooring the gas pedal. It starts fine now though.

02 3.0L
Thanks guys in advance
​​​​
get yourself a radiator sniffer. It can detect combustion gasses in the coolant and change the fluid color. IF it changes your head gaskets are shot
 
  #3  
Old 01-22-2019
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I read those things aren't always accurate. Anyways if the head gasket is shot, what's the difficulty level in your opinion?
 
  #4  
Old 01-22-2019
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depends on your mechanical ability and/or your confidence. For me i could probably do it but i wouldn't want to do it because of the complexity
 
  #5  
Old 01-22-2019
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The Glove test is 100% accurate, and pretty much FREE

Drain some coolant out if its at the TOP of radiator, you want an inch or more of air at the top of radiator for the test
Get a latex glove or balloon
remove rad cap
Remove overflow hose and block that port in radiator with: gum, putty, vacuum cap..........whatever
Put glove over rad cap opening and seal it in place with a Zap strap or rubber band; or use a balloon, "condoms" even work OK for this, lol

Disable Coil pack, unplug it's 4 wire connector, you want a No Start

Crank engine over and watch the "glove", if you have a head gasket leak or cracked head then glove will bounce each time that cylinder is on it's compression stroke(150psi)
100% accurate
If "glove" just lays there then all is well

If "glove" bounces then remove 1 spark plug at a time and crank engine again, when glove stops bouncing last spark plug removed was from the cylinder with the leak, put it back in to confirm.
If glove bounces less but still bounces then you could have more than one cylinder effected, just keep removing spark plugs
You don't have to do this last part, but some would like to know which cylinder(s) are effected, you still need to replace both heads gaskets on a V6 or V8 engine

3.0l Vulcan was not known for cracking heads, 2.9l or 4.0l were, any engine can get a blown head gasket when over heated, the heads get too hot and their metal over expands, since head bolts are holding them they expand DOWN , this crushes the head gasket's metal rings around the cylinders which can then "blow" out, from the 900psi + pressure when a cylinder is firing
This is why you replace Both head gaskets in a "V" engine when one blows, its likely the other side was crushed as well and not far from "blowing"



When refilling cooling system, remove 1 heater hose at the firewall and fill the system via radiator cap hole, when coolant starts to flow out of the hose or heater core put hose back on, the little air that will be left will be easily purged from the system
The overflow tank system is Self Purging of air, so drive it a few days and check rad level when cold, should be full to the top

The problem is that in most engines the thermostat is on the upper rad hose, so when refilling air gets trapped behind it in the engine and heads(taking heater hose off lets the air out).
Many thermostats have a "jiggle valve", lol, and yes that IS the technical term for it
The jiggle valve is a hole in the thermostat's plate, with a metal pin in it that is loose, it "jiggles", this should be mounted at the 12:00 position(highest point), its there to let the air out when refilling the cooling system, OR to let any air out that may have gotten into the engine
The metal pin is there to prevent the hole from being blocked, it "jiggles" around with coolant flow to keep hole open.

I usually drill an 1/8" hole in any thermostat plate that didn't come with a jiggle valve
But I still take the heater hose off to refill
 

Last edited by RonD; 01-23-2019 at 10:35 AM.
  #6  
Old 01-23-2019
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
The Glove test is 100% accurate, and pretty much FREE

Drain some coolant out if its at the TOP of radiator, you want an inch or more of air at the top of radiator for the test
Get a latex glove or balloon
remove rad cap
Remove overflow hose and block that port in radiator with: gum, putty, vacuum cap..........whatever
Put glove over rad cap opening and seal it in place with a Zap strap or rubber band; or use a balloon, "condoms" even work OK for this, lol

Disable Coil pack, unplug it's 4 wire connector, you want a No Start

Crank engine over and watch the "glove", if you have a head gasket leak or cracked head then glove will bounce each time that cylinder is on it's compression stroke(150psi)
100% accurate
If "glove" just lays there then all is well

If "glove" bounces then remove 1 spark plug at a time and crank engine again, when glove stops bouncing last spark plug removed was from the cylinder with the leak, put it back in to confirm.
If glove bounces less but still bounces then you could have more than one cylinder effected, just keep removing spark plugs
You don't have to do this last part, but some would like to know which cylinder(s) are effected, you still need to replace both heads gaskets on a V6 or V8 engine

3.0l Vulcan was not known for cracking heads, 2.9l or 4.0l were, any engine can get a blown head gasket when over heated, the heads get too hot and their metal over expands, since head bolts are holding them they expand DOWN , this crushes the head gasket's metal rings around the cylinders which can then "blow" out, from the 900psi + pressure when a cylinder is firing
This is why you replace Both head gaskets in a "V" engine when one blows, its likely the other side was crushed as well and not far from "blowing"



When refilling cooling system, remove 1 heater hose at the firewall and fill the system via radiator cap hole, when coolant starts to flow out of the hose or heater core put hose back on, the little air that will be left will be easily purged from the system
The overflow tank system is Self Purging of air, so drive it a few days and check rad level when cold, should be full to the top

The problem is that in most engines the thermostat is on the upper rad hose, so when refilling air gets trapped behind it in the engine and heads(taking heater hose off lets the air out).
Many thermostats have a "jiggle valve", lol, and yes that IS the technical term for it
The jiggle valve is a hole in the thermostat's plate, with a metal pin in it that is loose, it "jiggles", this should be mounted at the 12:00 position(highest point), its there to let the air out when refilling the cooling system, OR to let any air out that may have gotten into the engine
The metal pin is there to prevent the hole from being blocked, it "jiggles" around with coolant flow to keep hole open.

I usually drill an 1/8" hole in any thermostat plate that didn't come with a jiggle valve
But I still take the heater hose off to refill

Ok thanks Ron, I just tried the glove test. It just inflates it with air and coolant. Is that bad?
 
  #7  
Old 01-23-2019
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Originally Posted by jranger96 View Post
Ok thanks Ron, I just tried the glove test. It just inflates it with air and coolant. Is that bad?
??
Yes, it is bad.

You disconnected the coil right?
So engine didn't start

If engine started then yes, if there is a cylinder leak, blown head gasket, then "glove" would inflate pretty fast(900psi), and coolant would come with it, which is why you do test with spark disabled

If it did it with spark disabled, the coolant part, then its a pretty big leak, to push coolant up 1 or 2 inches in the radiator with 150psi

I would see if you can ID the cylinder with the leak and have that head tested for a crack


Pair of 3.0l Vulcan heads will run $350 or so, single head $175, or drop your heads off at a local Machine shop and they will clean, surface and pressure test for about $150($75 each)
Head gasket "KIT" with new head bolts $60-$75
If its your first time take LOTS and LOTS of pictures, they are free, and you WILL forget where hoses and wires plugged in
10 hours to do it, plus down time if you don't get news heads, 4 hours to take it apart and 6 hours to reassemble

If you decided to do Machine Shop then get the gasket KIT first, it will have 12 new valve guide seals included, drop those off with the heads, Shop will usually install those for free or maybe $10-$20 more, but worth it since the overheating cracked the old ones
You need a valve spring compressor tool to install these, which can be rented
 

Last edited by RonD; 01-23-2019 at 01:30 PM.
  #8  
Old 01-23-2019
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
??
Yes, it is bad.

You disconnected the coil right?
So engine didn't start

If engine started then yes, if there is a cylinder leak, blown head gasket, then "glove" would inflate pretty fast, and coolant would come with it, which is why you do test with spark disabled

If it did it with spark disabled, the coolant part, then its a pretty big leak, to push coolant up 1 or 2 inches in the radiator

I would see if you can ID the cylinder with the leak and have that head tested for a crack
Gotcha

Yeah the coil pack was disconnected.
Cranked it and watch it inflate the glove. Then that's when the coolant started to leak into the glove.

It never really bounced like you mentioned. It just inflated lol?
 
  #9  
Old 01-23-2019
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Shouldn't do that, try it with fan belt unhooked from crank pulley, so water pump is not spinning

Just wondering if water pump is pushing coolant out upper rad hose if thermostat got fried and is stuck open
Normally water pump would just push coolant thru the engine when cold, thermostat closed

Bouncing should be seen, with no spark
it would just inflate with engine running and a blown head gasket
 
  #10  
Old 01-26-2019
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
Shouldn't do that, try it with fan belt unhooked from crank pulley, so water pump is not spinning

Just wondering if water pump is pushing coolant out upper rad hose if thermostat got fried and is stuck open
Normally water pump would just push coolant thru the engine when cold, thermostat closed

Bouncing should be seen, with no spark
it would just inflate with engine running and a blown head gasket
Ok Ron I'll try that and give the glove test another try. I don't see any coolant in the oil and exhaust. And the truck was running fine while bleeding. No CEL or misfire codes


​​​
 
  #11  
Old 01-26-2019
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Coolant in the oil is a last thing that happen with a blown head gasket, in the old days it was more common but with new gasket material it less common, but a For Sure sign of a blown gasket when it happens
Also depends on the engine design, i.e. location of oil passages thru the head, in V engines there is also the Valley between heads

Yes, white smoke from tail pipe is also a sign of blown head gasket or cracked head(cracked head can't get coolant in the oil), exhaust will smell sweet, like burning coolant
But all exhausts blows white smoke in colder air, there is always water vapor in the exhaust, water is a by product produced when you burn gasoline(H) with Air(O) , H2O, which is why exhaust system rust from the inside out.
So when outside air is cold, the water vapor condenses as soon as it exits tail pipe, white smoke.
If it coolant then its already condensing before it leaves tail pipe because there is so much vapor, so will be white smoke at any outside temp

If the glove just lays there then all is well, hope that's the outcome
And if it does I would plan on changing the thermostat, it is stuck open
 
  #12  
Old 01-26-2019
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
Coolant in the oil is a last thing that happen with a blown head gasket, in the old days it was more common but with new gasket material it less common, but a For Sure sign of a blown gasket when it happens
Also depends on the engine design, i.e. location of oil passages thru the head, in V engines there is also the Valley between heads

Yes, white smoke from tail pipe is also a sign of blown head gasket or cracked head(cracked head can't get coolant in the oil), exhaust will smell sweet, like burning coolant
But all exhausts blows white smoke in colder air, there is always water vapor in the exhaust, water is a by product produced when you burn gasoline(H) with Air(O) , H2O, which is why exhaust system rust from the inside out.
So when outside air is cold, the water vapor condenses as soon as it exits tail pipe, white smoke.
If it coolant then its already condensing before it leaves tail pipe because there is so much vapor, so will be white smoke at any outside temp

If the glove just lays there then all is well, hope that's the outcome
And if it does I would plan on changing the thermostat, it is stuck open
Ron, I tried the glove test again. The glove did bounce and inflate, but then it started pushing coolant out the Rad again. I did remove the belt, I wasn't sure if you meant to run the truck with the belt off or try the test again with it off. Again, the coil pack is disconnected.

​​​​​​
 
  #13  
Old 01-26-2019
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You have a cylinder leak
Start pulling out 1 spark plug at a time and crank engine over each time
Just a short crank is needed, once you see glove bounce you know last spark plug removed is not the leaking cylinder
Leave spark plugs out as you go

When you get a no bounce compare that spark plugs tip to the others, it should be white like it was steam cleaned, because it was, others should have brownish color


The cylinder leak is pumping air into the head's cooling passages, this displaces the coolant in the head so rad level coolant is rising, the longer you crank the more the displacement so the higher the level will get in the rad, you can drain more coolant out as needed
 

Last edited by RonD; 01-26-2019 at 01:38 PM.
  #14  
Old 01-26-2019
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
You have a cylinder leak
Start pulling out 1 spark plug at a time and crank engine over each time
Just a short crank is needed, once you see glove bounce you know last spark plug removed is not the leaking cylinder
Leave spark plugs out as you go

When you get a no bounce compare that spark plugs tip to the others, it should be white like it was steam cleaned, because it was, others should have brownish color


The cylinder leak is pumping air into the head's cooling passages, this displaces the coolant in the head so rad level coolant is rising, the longer you crank the more the displacement so the higher the level will get in the rad, you can drain more coolant out as needed
Ok I tried doing this but the battery voltage keeps on dropping down 11.8v and cranks very slowly

​​​​I'll try again tomorrow

So it pretty much confirms a leaking head gasket?

 
  #15  
Old 01-26-2019
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Yes, no other way to blow up a glove on the cooling system except with cylinder pressure
 
  #16  
Old 01-26-2019
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
Yes, no other way to blow up a glove on the cooling system except with cylinder pressure

Is it necessary to continue the cylinder leak test then? Since both head gaskets will need to be replaced anyways...
And is it worth just replacing the head gasket? Or am i better off putting a used motor in?

​​​​​The truck is just shy of 190k miles
 
  #17  
Old 01-26-2019
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Better to replace head gaskets, bottom end should last 400k.

I would find out which cylinder it is, just so you can inspect that cylinder closer when heads are off
Just 6 spark plugs to remove.
Any way you can take battery out and charge it, even swap it out temporarily with another vehicle, so it can get charged back up
 
  #18  
Old 02-18-2019
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
Better to replace head gaskets, bottom end should last 400k.

I would find out which cylinder it is, just so you can inspect that cylinder closer when heads are off
Just 6 spark plugs to remove.
Any way you can take battery out and charge it, even swap it out temporarily with another vehicle, so it can get charged back up

The glove test confirmed the leak at cylinder 3. Removed the plug and no more glove bouncing when cranking. Plus the spark plug had coolant lol.

Anyways, since this is my first time doing a head gasket and up for the challenge, any tips and what to look out for? I'll be using a youtube video and manual for reference.

Can anyone confirm if the head bolts need to be lubricated?
 
  #19  
Old 02-18-2019
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Yes, you should oil your head bolts. Many also recommend chasing the threads in the block.
 
  #20  
Old 02-18-2019
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Originally Posted by thyde View Post
Yes, you should oil your head bolts. Many also recommend chasing the threads in the block.
Will any oil lubricant do? And what thread chaser will I need?
 
  #21  
Old 02-18-2019
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Originally Posted by jranger96 View Post
Will any oil lubricant do? And what thread chaser will I need?
You need a thread tap for that, (bottoming type)
Be careful though, the factory threads may be of closer tolerance and you could open up the hole to much.
If the new head bolts thread in easy, then don't re-cut the threads.
Some WD-40 and some compressed air work well enough to clean out the holes and block ready to mount the new head(s).
 

Last edited by Jeff R 1; 02-18-2019 at 11:51 PM.
  #22  
Old 02-18-2019
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Take LOTS OF PICTURES of the vacuum lines and wiring connections, pictures are FREE, impossible to have "One too many"
Get some masking tape or similar and a marker, and label stuff as needed

I have a table I setup when doing disassembly, first parts off go at the far end and then I work my way to the other end as I go, so when reassembling I have an ORDER to go with

No reason to buy a tap for head bolt holes in most cases, you can thread a head bolt into each hole before assembly to make sure it screws in OK
Use motor oil on the new head bolt threads, or any oil

DO NOT DRAIN THE OIL

Call machine shop ahead of time to see how busy they are, it usually takes a day to clean, surface and test 2 heads, so you drop heads off the day before and pick them up at closing the next day.
Drop off the new valve guide seals that come with the new head gasket set, with the heads so the shop can install them


Lifters and push rods can be keep in order so they go back in where they came out, but I haven't done that for years, and never had any issues at all
I look at each as it comes out, looking for unusual wear, you will know it when you see it, then drop them in a tray of clean motor oil until needed for reassembly

While the heads are in the shop clean the block surfaces and piston tops as needed
CHECK Core Plugs(freeze plugs) on the sides of engine and change any that seem rusty or have flaking paint
After cleaning block there will be debris in the intake valley, even if you cover it, lol, pour oil around to wash any debris down into the oil pan below

After block and pistons are clean you can THEN drain the oil and remove the filter, any debris that went down the drain holes in the block or intake valley will drain out with the old oil


I have spent a day(or more) on ONE rusty exhaust bolt, they can be a pain in the butt
If your vehicle runs you can take it to a local muffler shop, tell them what you are doing, pulling the heads, and ask them to remove all the exhaust manifold bolts and collector bolts and then reinstall each loosely, and replace any that are broke or bad
The most this ever cost me was $60
It takes them maybe 1/2 an hour, even with broke bolts or stripped heads
They do this daily so they have all the tools and know all the tricks to get it done
And they have all the replacement bolts in stock

You have a 2002 so the bolts may not be too rusty, 16/17 years old, so you may want to give them a try before you start disassembly, if they seem to be coming out easily then forget the muffler shop
 

Last edited by RonD; 02-18-2019 at 09:39 PM.
  #23  
Old 02-20-2019
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Thanks guys for the input

I just started the tear down today and no problems yet. Fan Clutch and exhaust bolts came off with ease. Radiator is out. Should have the intake and valve covers off tomorrow.

I'm still debating whether I should get the timing cover gasket and chain out of the way while everything is apart. I'll maybe do it while the heads are at the shop.

Also, should I be using a torque angle gauge when torquing down the head bolts to 90 in the final stages or will I be OK with eye balling it? I'll be marking the Bolts with a sharpie of course.
 
  #24  
Old 02-20-2019
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It is recommended to use new head bolts, because they stretch a little when they hit final torque, so re-using them is not recommended.

Just two cents, I'm going through a similar repair, and even though I only have a 4 cylinder I am starting to think I have earned the joy of doing the head gasket twice ....
 
  #25  
Old 02-21-2019
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Yes I have new head bolts. One set for each side.

While the heads are off, I want to inspect and replace the valve lifters as necessary. No special tools required right? How should I go about inspecting other valve train components?
I was getting a ticking noise only after shutting engine off. I want to rule things out and make sure all is fine while im in there.


​​​​Thanks
 

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