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Hey guys,

I've been searching on here and found it hard to believe, but I couldn't find anything on replacing the head gaskets in a 302. I started noticing a problem with overheating when the weather really started warming up. When it started getting toward the "L" on the guage, it worried me enough to get it diagnosed. The mechanic went through everything in the cooling system and found nothing but a "very small leak" where the water pump bolts to the timing cover. Then he did a block check and found combustion gases in the cooling system, which he then isolated to a leaking head gasket. The diagnoses was only $105, but the quote on the repair was ~$1800, so I decided not to have them do it and am looking for a new truck. Funny digression...when I went to pick up the Bronco to take it home, it happened to be one of our hottest days yet this summer, and it didn't even get me home, had to call in a flatbed. So I'm stuck riding my dual sport to work while I look for the perfect truck to go into massive debt on...

I'd really like to fix this myself though as a project, so I don't have a Bronco collecting dust in my carport. From what I have been able to determine the parts are not expensive at all, and that the cost is probably 90% or more labor. I'm concerned whether I have all the right tools before I dig in. I'm also concerned that I won't be able to have the heads magnafluxed, or whatever the mechanic recommended. Would I be stupid to replace the head gaskets without having the heads checked out? Also, does anyone have a step by step guide to doing this, or am I better off buying a Chilton or Haynes manual?

Thanks!
 

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you should have the heads checked by an machine shop they want to check for cracks and warpage
you also will want to buy some kind of manual
 

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Never done the head gasket, but you can get the manuals on ebay for about five bucks, so it's worth getting regardless.
Good luck!
 

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you should have the heads checked by an machine shop they want to check for cracks and warpage
you also will want to buy some kind of manual
So maybe it's worth taking the step up to some of those AFR heads, eh?
 

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That depends on what u want out of it. You may also want to think about how many miles are on the engine. If you have high miles on the engine and you put all this work into the top end you may be pulling the motor at a later date to rebuild the lower end. Also if you replace the head gasket and/or heads you need to find out why it over heated the first time to make sure you have that repaired the origanal over heating problem or you can end up doing all this work over again
 

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Just to mention: there are some new chemical additives that you put in the radiator that are supposed to seal head gaskets. I have never tried them. But one sales person at Kragen told me that some really work and can seal a cracked head. The one he was talking about was $50.00. Again, I have no experience with these products, may be a waste of $50, but what if it did work; that would at least get you down the road for a while. Call some auto parts stores and do some research on line. Let us know.
 

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Then he did a block check and found combustion gases in the cooling system, which he then isolated to a leaking head gasket. The diagnoses was only $105,


1st, I would get a second opinion, seriously combustion gas was found in the coolant. How did this mechanic test this?with the engine running ? Was oil fond in the coolant, and how would exhaust gases from an engine get into the coolant from a head gasket leak :doh0715: Something don't sound right.

Next, get a coolant pressurization kit, it would surely tell you if a crack exists & muchless than the $105.00 diagnostic you paid out. It's free as in 0.00 dollars.

Next if you have a leak in head, the coolant would be dropping and the tell-tale signs of steam in the exhaust

lastly, bandaid fixes like "stop a leak" are not the solution to your problem(s)
 

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You can do a block test with a chemical tester that will turn colors when exposed to combustion gasses in coolant. I would buy yourself one of the testers (i have two in my toolbox at my shop). If it is infact leaking. make sure the cooling system is in good shape and pour a bottle of blue devil sealant with fresh coolant in it.

I've had many cars in the shop, including many 3.8's that are still running with this in the cooling system.
 

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If you want I have a set of reman heads sell to you cheap, But get a set of gaskets, intake set as well, be prepared for broken exhaust studs, would also be a good time to convert to headers as well.
 

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I did the heads on my truck recently, it wasn't easy, but its definitely doable with a Haynes manual. It all depends on your mileage. Do a compression test before you start to see if its worth it.

Its a lot more work than it looks like, but it can be done with an average set of tools. The only weird thing that I remember was a special tool to remove the upper intake. And you need a good torque wrench to put the head bolts on right. It took me a few good weekends of work to get it all done.

While your at it you might as well have your heads remachined by a good machinist. I just went through the whole ordeal with my truck so I could answer most your questions. And parts will be at least a few hundred.
 

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When you've done heads on some of the other cars out there, these are a walk in the park. I will GLADLY do these over say a Toyota 3.0 V6 or Mercedes V8.
 

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Whats the difference in the other cars? Just more shit to take off and less room to do it in?
yeah the mercedes prolly has a ton of plastic and computer crap all over everything like my aunt's bmw.

can you imagine having to take the heads off of a ford modular?
 

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yeah the mercedes prolly has a ton of plastic and computer crap all over everything like my aunt's bmw.

can you imagine having to take the heads off of a ford modular?

Been there, done that on a mod motor. Tightest one i did was a 6.8 L V10 in a E450 shuttle bus.

Worst head gasket job? Windstar 3.8, Mercedes V8 (had to install time-sert sleeves in every single head bolt hole), Ford 6.0 in an excursion (i wanted to kill myself after that one)
 
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