The Ford 4.2 V6 engine started its journey with a couple of gasket problems. The engine was designed for the F-120s in the late 1996. The engine as able to generate 252 pounds feet of torque and 202 horsepower. But, besides the engine being powerful it suffered a host of intake manifold gasket issues.
Intake gasket problems
The intake gasket plays a vital role of keeping the coolant from getting into the combustion chambers. When it leaked it meant the chances of you experiencing further engine damage was very high.
Most of the gasket problems was relegated to engines built before January 1998. The company mitigated the problem by coming up with thicker gaskets that sealed the gap between the engine and the manifold tightly.
One of the major problems for the Ford 4.2 liter V6 engine is that the faulty manifold gasket would lead to the damage of the engine valves and later the bearings.
Engine knock will then follow due to the lack of lubrication and you could see permanent engine failure or the repair costs would be astronomical. Most of the Ford engine problems will start being experienced after 80,000 miles.
Another sign of engine problems were coolant leaks. While these were not overtly visible you would notice that the coolant levels were low. A closer observation underneath the engine would not reveal any physical signs of the coolant it means that the leak was going into the engine.
Ford 4.2 V6 routine problems
Other problems you would experience with the engine included some noise during acceleration. At times this was followed with the check engine light coming on. The problem could be a simple foul spark plug problem.
Since you are dealing with high mileage trucks you could also experience some form of vibration when the engine is at idle. This could be a symptom of motor mounts collapsing.
The Ford 4.2 V6 engine gasket was replaced with a more thicker one that did not allow for leaks. It is not wise to ignore the check engine light as it symbolizes further engine problems.
If the check engine light is followed by engine misfires or lose of acceleration then you may experience further problems.
Symptoms of Blown head gasket
One of the major problems of the Ford 4.2 V6 engine was that it experienced more cases of a blown head gasket.
Any normal internal combustion operates on three fluids – oil, fuel and coolant. The coolant is mixed with water to increase its boiling point. The air/fuel mixture is ignited to provide the forward motion for the car.
The coolant is preferred to water because it does not solidify under extreme cold weather conditions. If water was used it would turn into ice and expand in the engine block.
The coolant takes away the heat from the engine and passes it to the radiator where it is cooled down. The radiator has air vents that help cool the liquid. This process is continuous.
What is the purpose of the head gasket?
You are probably wondering what is this head gasket we keep talking about. Well, the head gasket is the ringed panel that you see in between the engine block and the cylinder head.
As we stated earlier oil and coolant should not be in the combustion chambers. The head gasket keeps these liquids out. The head gasket is exposed to a wide variety of temperatures making it expand and contract.
With time the head gasket will weaken and develop cracks. This in turn starts leaking coolant or oil. For the Ford 4.2 liter V6 engine the first problem with their head gasket was that it was too thin. When things are not rectified at this time you will experience a blown gasket.
It is hard to know what could be wrong with your engine when it starts to overheat. It could be that the head gasket has blown hence leading to the coolant leaking to the combustion chambers. This is often evidenced by white thick smoke with a sweat smell from the exhaust.
Overheating is challenging to diagnose as it can result from various problems in the radiator.
If the radiator thermostat fails then it will not be able to control the flow of the coolant to the engine block. Also, if the radiator hoses are leaking or constricted then they will not supply enough coolant to the engine block.
If you ignore problems with a blown head gasket then you are looking at incurring more costs in terms of engine repairs.
If the coolant is leaking then you are going to have further problems with your catalytic converter, erosion of lubrication, engine oil leaks and engine overheating as the coolant and the combustion gases mix.
Ripple effect of damaged head gasket
The problem with diagnosing head gasket problems is that they can be related to other engine problems. If one of the cylinder heads is chirped then it will directly affect the head gasket but this may not make it blown. You may also notice some corrosion on the head gasket but this is no sure way that the head gasket is blown.
One of the most sure way that you have a blown head gasket is that you experience engine misfires. This is because the combustion cylinders are unable to properly ignite the air fuel mixture due to the infilling of the coolant.
Since you are running low on coolant the engine will start overheating and you can experience rough idling due to the low compression. If you remove your spark plugs you will notice they have some coolant on them.
Where the head gasket blows will influence the kind of symptoms that you see. If it is between the cylinder and the coolant port then leakage will be of the cylinder. Misfires are common and your car will fail a compression test.
When it happens between the combustion chamber and the cooling system then you should notice a reduction of the coolant in the reservoir. This is then followed with engine overheating. Overheating is dangerous as your car will not reach the kind of speeds you desire especially on the freeway.
The biggest problem with engine overheating is that it sets off some chain reaction problems especially in the cooling system. This means your radiator hoses will start eroding, the radiator will be next and may soon stop working.
When doing repairs do not just replace the item that had a problem check the other systems connected to the problem. This is because a problem like overheating weakens other existing systems. Again, check your water pump as you replace your blown gasket.
The radiator cap often swells whenever your car is overheating. If you open it when cool you may notice some milky substance in it. This is an indication that oil has found its way to the cooling system.
The Ford 4.2 V6 engine is a powerful engine suitable for trucks. It is reliable but had to overcome initial problems with its head gasket. At this time it was too thin and this caused motorists suffer blown head gasket problems.
Ford later fixed this by replacing the head gasket with a thicker one. Problems of a blown head gasket often lead to the coolant leaking to the combustion chambers.