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Discussion Starter #1
Hey, need some help here please…

I bought my very first car an 87 ford escort and had a problem with it. My car was over heating and the gauges for the temp and fuel would be rising randomly like crazy so I brought it into the mechanics and they told me that the fan belt switch was gone and they had to replace that. So I got that fixed and then a few days later I noticed that my car was leaking antifreeze fluid. I brought the car back to the mechanics and they took a look and said that I over heated the head gasket and that it would coast me 2,000 Canadian to fix it so instead they added this sealing fluid as a quick fix. I want to fix the head gasket on my own. I wont have any help besides a repair manual that Ill buy … so I really need some help here because I have no experience with cars .. But im willing to work on mine so if anyone here is willing to help me out that would be really great!
How long approximately would it take to fix? And does it require me to change the intake and exhaust manifold gaskets as well?

Thank you! :D
 

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Having never done one, all weekend. Eventually with practice you can do one in half a day. But on an old car you can count on a lot of "little things" going wrong- rusted exhaust studs, broken bolts, broken plastic parts.

You'll also need a torque wrench. Get a loaner from your parts store if you dont think you'll need it again. And you may as well purchase the comprehensive engine gasket kit, which will give you new intake, exhaust and valve cover gsakets. You're going to need some odd wrenches, like large adjustable wrenches for the coolant pipe and EGR pipe nuts. And a specialty wrench for the timing tensioner bolts, or at least a very deep offset 10 mm box wrench. And you should probably get a new timing belt and tensioner kit while you're in there. It's a big job the first time honestly.

Also have a long straightedge (metal yardstick or t-square) to check the head for warpage once it's off. The all-aluminum heads warp and/or crack easily when they're overheated, and you don't want to put a bad head on just to have to redo the job later.
 

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If the fan switch wasn't working I can see that. Did they say specifically where the coolant was leaking from? Were you puffing white smoke before they replaced the switch, what about after? If it's no for both, then your gasket is fine. If it's yes on both, you had a bad gasket beforehand, and the leak was not caused by the gasket. If it's no beforehand, and yes after, the mechanics are responsible for the gasket blowing....but you can't tell if the gasket is blown from a water leak only, unless you can see it leaking from under the head, are blowing white smoke constantly, or have chocolate milk in your radiator.


Check all those things before you tear it apart...it may save you from extra work, or future problems if the mechanics are stupid (and many are when it comes to these cars).
 

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My recomendation is to replace the head while you are there. It is probably warped, but if you don't need the car daily, pull the head, check it using a straight edge and a set of feeler gauges. I believe the tolerance for warpage is .003" from cylinder 1-4. If it's bad, it will be cheaper and faster to order a replacement head, usually about $200-$300 shipped from epay. Use the cylinder head guide to find out what casting number would work with your car. When you start putting the head on, make certain that the block surface is clean. I use a flat file or stone and then wipe it down with an acetone soaked rag. Follow the torquing instructions in the manual, and do your best to keep your work area clean. I would guess that if you had all the parts on hand, and started early in the day and worked hard you could do the whole job in a day. Pulling the radiator out of the car will make your job much easier also. If you have no experience with cars, FIND SOMEONE WHO DOES! Even if they won't actually help you with the work, they can be a good source of knowledge and a person to bounce ideas off of.
 

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I have no experience with cars
I don't want to scare you, but that's probably the best reason not to start out with a job like this. You most likely don't have the kind of tools you need at your disposal, which will dramatically increase the time it will take to complete the job.

To start out, go get a shop manual (preferably an original Ford one from eBay, with nice diagrams), and then read the step-by-step procedure that they outline. That'll give you a good idea of the difficulty of the task.

I wouldn't predict somebody that's never worked on a car before could change a head gasket in a day, so you'd better have some time on your hands. It could easily take a week if you're still learning the basics of mechanics along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for the help guys.
i have no other choice really but to fix it on my own. a mechanic said to fix it at the shop would cost me a grand and thats how much i paid for the ride.

Ive been able to get a little experience with fixing the car like spark plugs, distributor cap, rotor and fuel an air filter.

I must say that i cant wait on this anymore. there is a fare large leak now from the head gasket to the point where there is vapors steaming off.

I am nervous to do this but Ive come this far and dont want to give up.

i cant find good info in the Haynes Repair Manual for this job. Can anyone send me information and steps on how to dissemble the part(s).
my e-mail is [email protected]

my vehicle is a 87 Ford Escort GL 1.9L

Thank you for everyhting! i really appreciate all this help.
 

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Wow,

I thought this had been taken care of. Where is the water coming from in the gasket, specifically? Many times the front part, near the exhaust manifold, will rot out, and start leaking near cylinder 4.

Walt had a pretty good recommendation regarding replacement, and yes, the specification is .003" total warpage in the entire length of the head. Usually take the head to be skimmed will flatten it out if need be. Likewise, the block can technically warp, and it's good to check it as well.

The Haynes manual has a little info regarding the head, and includes the torque specifications and sequence. Typing up step by step directions will take a decent amount of time, and will vary from person to person...a head gasket replacement is relatively simple, yet moderately intricate. I'll try to remember things that need to be done (in no particular order) off the top of my head below.

If I had a scanner here, I'd be able to scan the walkthrough from the Ford manuals I have lying about. Basically you need to remove the exhaust, the timing belt cover, all ancillary belts, the alternator (and mounting bracket), a/c compressor and mounting brackets if you have one, drain the system the lower radiator hose, and then keep going.

Remove the thermostat and distributor
Disconnect the fuel injector, TPS, O2 sensor, cooling fan, EGR controller.
Disconnect all vacuum lines at the intake manifold
Remove the cooling fan.
Remove the spark plugs (wires should've gone with the distro)
Remove the timing belt cover backing plate (most annoying POS on the car)
Cut the timing belt (it'll be replaced)
Remove the crank pulley bolt, take off the crank pulley
You should replace the water pump as well, so might as well take it off.
Take off the ground strap and hold bolt.
Take the valve cover off
Undo the head bolts a little at a time until loose, in sequence (the Haynes manual shows this...I have one, and had to reference it once)
Pull the head off, and be ready to catch any spills.

You'll probably want to change the oil after this, as coolant may fall in the return holes and go into the crank case. Be sure to soak up any that falls in the cylinders, and maybe put some oil in the cylinders, along the walls, to prevent any rust from forming due to humidity.

Clean up the head and the block deck, and start measuring flatness. If it's too warped, you can either replace, or repair the head. Some of us on here have spare heads that may likely be a direct replacement, depending on your engine type. If it's CFI, I have one here in very good shape (rebuilt about 4k ago, no issues).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I know, i shouldnt have ignored the issue. I was hoping that it would be alright. im kicking myself, believe me. But im getting it done!

i noticed the leak (looking at the engine) the left side of the head near the water pump. Near the 4th cylinder. But also there was coolant on the rad too below the rad cap. I checked the hoses and they are fine. the leak is only coming from the head.

I dont understand what Walt said about the head : "pull the head, check it using a straight edge and a set of feeler gauges. I believe the tolerance for warpage is .003" from cylinder 1-4. Can you explain this please?

Unexplodedcow : Im going to need to buy a 87 Ford Escort service manual set either way. But if you are able to scan those pages and send them to me to my e-mail that would be a great help so that i can get started on the reading.

"Remove the timing belt cover backing plate (most annoying POS on the car) " any tips that you have on removing this?


" Pull the head off, and be ready to catch any spills." will there be high pressure behind it? or just it running off?

"oil in the cylinders, along the walls, to prevent any rust from forming due to humidity. " good tip, thank you

Thank you for the heads up on your spare head.

My big question is How do Place everything back together?? ive hear i will need special tools.

Thank you!


I guess working on own like this will in the end open up the door for me to customize my dream car of a 442 olds : ) But i must admit i am nervous. But i can do it. How did you guys feel when you first started working on cars ? what helped and didnt help??
 

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Discussion Starter #9
oh and Walt, I dont know anyone who knows very much about cars...
Im in Toronto. so i dont believe anyones close by.
 

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Taking apart is as easy as having a ratchet, socket, and extensions. No real tips on removing the timing belt guard, but I never put mine back on, and I'm not the only one. If you can find a 1.6L timing cover, it bolts directly in place of the 1.9 one, with 4 bolts holding it: 2 from the studs coming out of the head, and 2 off the oil pump. It's a sturdier design. I ran one for a while until I'd noticed the one being used had a slight warp from sitting outside for nearly 2 decades, and was hitting a pulley.

The most special tool will be the torque wrench, possibly the 19mm deep offset box wrench to turn the crank.

The water pump, by the way, is on the side of the block, right next to cyl. 1, and is driven by the timing belt.

If you're referring to the area near the thermostat, front-side of the head, near cyl. 4 ...that seems to be the most common spot for the gasket to blow as far as water is concerned, since it's the hottest part of the head. However, the thermostat housing gasket can leak, too, and some might mistake it for a head gasket leak.

If the hoses are original, I'd really suggest replacing them. Check the lower radiator hose as well. The cap can leak if it's old, or the gasket is worn out. You'll need to just go through the system and make sure nothing is worn out. A pinhole can develop in a hose, causing a leak, and not be detectable unless the hose is squeezed.


No, there won't be any pressure in the water system when taking the head off...you'll have relieved that by draining the coolant system. But some coolant stays in the head, so it will splash out. Removing the thermostat housing helps some, too.


Good job on getting some shop manuals, they will walk through the whole process, including how to check the head for straightness. What Walt means by that is the head gasket surface of the head needs to be checked to determine how flat the surface is, if the head is warped or twisted. To do this you need a (very) flat, good, clean (sterilized if you like) straight edge and graduated feeler gauges. The Ford manuals show how to measure warpage.

The biggest thing you'll run into is making sure the gasket surfaces are clean and flat. Cleanliness is paramount...feeling confident in eating off the head or block is a good thing. The reason is for sealing...it's needed. Otherwise the gasket can blow out again, very quickly (sometimes on the first heating up to operating temp).

It's not my spare head, it was what I was driving on before my rings went. Speaking of which, with the head off you'll have a chance to check out wear patterns and cross-hatching of the cylinders, as well as check for burnt valves, and generally see how the engine's been running.

This is your first time; read the manual 100 times over, and then read some more until you can quote it verbatim. If you don't understand it, just ask some questions here, and I'm sure at least one of us will help. There's another 1st gen owner, Pyoro, who might be from your area. Maybe send them a PM and see if they're close enough to help, and or not some crazy stalker/murder/father-raping porn addict.

Also, don't worry about this being your first job. Years ago, when I was (much) younger, I tried my hand at rebuilding an Escort engine as a first time thing, and had never built anything previously. It ran quite well, and lasted for many years. The book helps, and studying how engines work will give you a better understanding. Breaking it open (if you're a visual, hands-on learning type) will give you more experience than reading alone.
 

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I'm in Toronto. I also own a 1G. I have a 1989 Shop Manual. I am not sure if it would be useful though?

I just read your comment Cow. BOOOO!!! :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you Cow! very helpful!
I ordered off ebay a 1987 Ford Escort Mercury Tempo Topaz Service Manual Set. Im planning on studying it.. Im leaving to Poland next week for a bit so it gives me time to educate myself so that when i get back i can get this show on the road : ) Im thinking the best time for me to actually tear the engine apart will be once the weather here gets a little warmer.

The leak is coming from the passenger side, near cyl.1 . on the side of the block. I checked the hoses and they are fine. No leaks.

I talked to a guy (mechanic) at muscle car show that i went to on the weekend and he was feeding me great tips. he even gave me his number to call which was very nice. So that brings me questions:

where can i find "Michelin on Demand"?

when you guys need car parts who do you deal with? I want to be going to one place/person so that i can workup some deals.

Im planning on renting a torque wrench since they have to be calibrated properly and i dont know how to do that. Where do you suggest I can rent one from? Is it possible to calibrate it yourself?? and if not how much does it cost to have it calibrated?

I heard that I can use ATU Silicon when sealing the head/block.

Where would I be able to find the Torque sequence and Torque specs? Would it be within the manual i just bought?
 

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That's not quite the usual spot for a water leak. If it's coming from the side of the block, your water pump is leaking, and you'll need a new one, which is a much easier job than pulling and replacing the head gasket.

I have never heard of Michelin on Demand, so I can't help there.

I use RockAuto.com for most of my parts, or just hit up a local parts store. Still, Rockauto tends to be cheaper, but I don't know how that'll fair with Canadian post.

Torque wrenches, when new, are calibrated. I have even used cheap ones in the past. If you must rent one, I suggest the torque bar style, or "bendy bar" as some call it. It's a rod that simply bends, and a needle bar stays straight, pointing to the correct torque on the scale by the handle. It doesn't ratchet, however. But, it's what I use for my builds (I use an antique one) without issue.

Do not use ATV to seal the block, water pump, or anything else for that matter. That crap never holds up for me. I've been using gasket shellac for a while. Just coat the gaskets with it (very lightly), let it dry, and put the thing together. I've never had a leaky gasket, or one that fell apart. Don't use it on the head gasket.

A better thing to use than ATV is also Permatex "Form a gasket." It's essentially a thicker version of gasket shellac, and seals well..be careful of using too much.
 
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