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View Full Version : Ford F-250, oil leak on the head gasket


Roger
12-14-2012, 11:26 PM
I have a 2003, F-250, now with 47,000, 5.4L v-8. I've used it exclusively for my lawn service work, pulling a single axle trailer with a ZTR, w/b, hand mower, plus a few other items.

It has been solid, until mid-season. I noticed some spots where it is parked over night. And, I noticed small spots on the street or driveway where I parked for an hour or two, when working. The spots were not consistent -- sometimes seeing them, sometimes not. The oil level dropped, needing to add a quart about every three weeks. So, I knew it was coming from the engine crankcase, not the transmission. The drip location was at the bell housing -- rear of the engine, front of the transmission.

I work solo, and this is my only truck, so I needed to reach the end of the season. I did not want to give it up for repair, so kept watching the oil level closely.

I took it to a local shop last week for a preliminary assessment. The conclusion by two mechanics: Rear oil seal on the crankshaft.

I made an appointment for this week. They expected to have it for about six hours (one mechanic), but the day came and went, without getting it fixed. They dropped out the transmission, and found the rear of the engine dry. The suspected oil seal was not the problem.

They did find a few oil spots on the engine, valve covers, etc, but didn't consider them of significance. They let is run for awhile, took it for a drive, and confirmed the leak when putting it up on the rack again. After closer inspection, they believed that perhaps the oil was coming from the head gasket. A call to a local Ford service garage confirmed their suspicion. They learned that the problem is common on these engines. It area for leakage is the right side head gasket, near the rear of the engine. The dealership said they do a couple of these repairs each week.

The reason for the sporadic spots is that the oil may get too hot and be burned off if the engine has been running for awhile. If it gets started, and drives for a few blocks to the next job, it stays cold, and the oil will drip to the ground, leaving visible spots. When hot, the oil never reaches the ground, hence the spots/no spots pattern.

My mechanic has always worked closely with the dealership service manager, and has confidence in what he says. The pattern has been pull off the heads, get them measured, replace the gasket, reassemble, and put it back on the road. They have never had one return to the shop, nor had they ever had the heads milled.

The problem with this repair is that the engine is stuffed so far back into the cowling, access is impossible without a major shuffling of big parts. Either the engine has to be removed, or the cab has to be lifted. The suggestion is the second choice. Labor is expected to be 10-12 hours.

Does anybody have any like experiences? I've searched threads and I find people with this pickup/engine, or close in model year. I've thought about the tradeoff - replace, or repair, but believe I will take the repair route.

Am I getting a good story that others can back with experiences? Thanks.

Monroe74
12-15-2012, 03:11 PM
I dont understand why the engine or the cab needs moved. I just replaced the head gaskets and put studs in my 04 350 with 6.0 diesel without doing either or removing the hvac housing. Sounds like they are trying stick it to you.

dieselss
12-17-2012, 11:14 PM
Done a ton of those modular motors when I was at ford. I did a few heads in the tks,,but my back started hurting to bad so I just started pulling the motors. I can tell you personally that I could do head gaskets in a tk in 3 days with pulling the motor. Now I talked with ford reps before and they told me that lifting the body is never a ford acceptable fix. What the repair shop wants to do is up to them/you BUT if it was me, I wouldn't want the body off for any reason unless it had a 6.0 diesel in it.
So to finish,,those modular motors had head gasket issues. And its a flip of the coin if yours had headgasket issues
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Roger
12-18-2012, 07:33 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I've read many posts on other forums about this problem, and the procedure used to do the work. Yes, it appears to be a common problem. And, no, there is no consensus on how to do, no removal/no lift, remove, lift. There seems to be some people in each camp.

No decision has been made yet. I'm waiting for the shop to return to me with possible dates. They intend to block out three days. I am working through an independent shop, but having second thoughts about not going to a certified Ford dealership. If this is a common problem, they have made these repairs numerous times, and are better qualified to do the job.

Anybody with an observation about my concern?

dieselss
12-18-2012, 07:39 AM
I gotta say dealer,,,but being a dealer tech,,I'm a little biased
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sjessen
12-18-2012, 07:53 PM
I have the same engine in an F150, same year too. One man's opinion only, but this is a job for a dealership that has done the repair many times. Your mechanic will be reinventing the wheel as he goes unless he has performed this specific repair before. Sounds like it will be pricey with almost all of it in labor. If the engine has to be pulled why not do both head gaskets while you are at it?

Best of luck to you. I hope you will keep us posted so we know how it all turned out.

jsslawncare
12-18-2012, 08:30 PM
My Dad had a 1999 F150- 4.6L, It had the same problem. I changed both head gaskets. That was in 2003-4 somewhere in there. It seems like I did it on a Saturday.

Landrus2
12-19-2012, 03:15 PM
If you decide to go to the dealer just ask for price and ask again it will be pricey
Those heads are a little tight pulling engine out is the right way to go
Just pin point your problem before you take any action. If you were close to me that would be a good winter project.:waving::waving::waving:

Roger
12-20-2012, 11:47 PM
Update, as of today.

I was to have received a schedule from the independent shop on Monday. They were to find a three-day block of time to do the work.

No call on Monday, no call on Tuesday, no call by late on Wednesday. I had called Tuesday, left a message, but no return call. My conclusion: They were not interested in doing this work.

Plan B: Call a local Ford dealership. I did so late on Wednesday, and was given an opportunity to bring it to their shop on Thursday morning. The intent was diagnostic evaluation, and develop a plan as necessary. I told them I knew the rear engine oil seal was NOT the problem.

I dropped it off early this morning. I was called late afternoon, "buttoned up, and ready for you to take if you wish, ... needs new gaskets ..."

I had a discussion with the Service Manager upon arrival. Their conclusion is: (1) Head gasket on one side is leaking, (2), Valve cover gasket leaking, albeit it minor, (3) Intake gasket is leaking, (4) Front crank cover is leaking.

(4) was probably the source of the erratic dripping. Apparently, this location is above a rail that was catching the oil, then dripping some of it off when the front of the vehicle is elevated. This was my observation: more dripping if I parked on a sloped surface, so that the nose was higher than the rear of the truck.

Their recommendation is to pull out the engine, and "reseal," that is to replace all the gaskets.

One thing he did warn me about is the exhaust bolts are in a vulnerable place for road spray. This causes them to rust on one side, and have been known to break. This means a drill-out and retap the hole. Obviously, the costs for this excursion comes to the bottom line.

The cost estimate is $2,500, and he needs the truck for four days. Three days might work, but he wants to allocate four days. I paid for one hour of diagnostic time, and brought it home.

Some who have commented here are obviously very familiar with this engine, repair work, etc. What say you to what I have said....?

Also, if the repair is made, is there a high likelihood that other problems will be uncovered? Is there a strong likelihood of follow on problems, say six months, a year, downstream? Are these kinds of repairs at a dealer level pretty sure and certain in outcome, or might I expect more troubles in the aftermath?

Is time to dump this one, and move on to a new truck?

Thanks. I value your insights and comments.

sjessen
12-21-2012, 07:55 AM
You might also consider a Jasper engine or a new Ford crate motor. Please keep us posted as we have the same engine.

AWJ Services
12-21-2012, 08:29 AM
Labor time is 16 hours. Ford manual recomends removing engine. Too remove the engine the Intake has to be removed and for heads to be removed valve covers have to be removed as well as front cover. There should be no additional labor charges for those leaks. Removing the cab or removing the engine is about the same time. There is no way I would put a reman engine in it. Just fix the head gasket. 2500 sounds about right for a dealer. This is not a hard repair. Sometimes the leak never really gets any worse so maybe waitr and see? My wifes 2003 Expedition has over 300k miles with no problems. They are good engines.

Landrus2
12-21-2012, 08:44 AM
The truck is very low mileage for you to look for another truck. The dealer is a good place to have your work done. The price is crazy and if some bolts from Exhaust manifold break price will go up another 200 to 300 plus tax you looking at a repair cost of 3k. Parts for this repair are around 100 dollars. Look up some diesel work shops on your area they are the guys that might give you the best price. Good luck and keep us posted.

Monroe74
12-21-2012, 10:07 AM
2500 sounds about right at the dealership. You might want to have your spark plugs done while your there and have the heads out. Some have been know to break off while getting them out.
Look at your oil pan. The diesels the 7.3 and 6.0 rust from the outside in.

Roger
12-21-2012, 10:52 AM
Thanks for the feedback!! I really appreciate hearing from those who have experience for something like this. I'm good at maintaining my mowers, trimmers, etc, but this is out of my league.

Any more thoughts?

I did check out the crate engines. They seem to be focused on performance applications. Driving my trailer/mowers through residential neighborhoods is not very exciting. Driving more than 40mph is pretty rare. "Laying rubber" was of interest 55 years ago, but now ... not so much.

sjessen
12-21-2012, 10:57 AM
Thanks for the feedback!! I really appreciate hearing from those who have experience for something like this. I'm good at maintaining my mowers, trimmers, etc, but this is out of my league.

Any more thoughts?

I did check out the crate engines. They seem to be focused on performance applications. Driving my trailer/mowers through residential neighborhoods is not very exciting. Driving more than 40mph is pretty rare. "Laying rubber" was of interest 55 years ago, but now ... not so much.

There are some crate engines on Ebay.

slowleak1
12-21-2012, 11:25 AM
I dont understand why the engine or the cab needs moved. I just replaced the head gaskets and put studs in my 04 350 with 6.0 diesel without doing either or removing the hvac housing. Sounds like they are trying stick it to you.

Im calling BS on this one. It is 100% IMPOSSIBLE to change head gaskets/studs without pulling the cab or motor.

dieselss
12-21-2012, 02:17 PM
Well if the tk is paid for, and its in good shape, I'd say go for it. Likelyhood that something else goes wrong,,,,that's a coin toss. The manifolds are common,,,make sure you request stainless steel nuts and studs. And fyi there replacing alotta gaskets when they tear it apart. Only a few they won't replace, oil pan, front and rear oil seals...
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dieselss
12-21-2012, 02:18 PM
Slow. I'm interested as well

Monroe74
12-21-2012, 07:31 PM
Well mr slow leak please take a look on youtube and you will see with your own two eyes that it can be done as videoed by srmastertech.
I also have the ford shop manual that gives step by step instructions.
Lastly ford motor company doesnt pay for techs to remove cabs on superduties from 03-07 it wasnt till 08 that they started to pay on those model years and newer. Or if you like bring your truck on down here and ill show you.
If you have lift yeah sure removing the cab is nicer but it doesnt have to be done.

Monroe74
12-21-2012, 07:38 PM
As for installing the studs you dont install them into the block first. The four studs that have interference on the right you tie off so they dont stick thru the bottom. Then use an allen wrench to tighten then install the rest of your studs. On the left there are two studs that have interference that you would tie off and install the same way. It really isnt that hard

Monroe74
12-22-2012, 06:27 PM
Man you struck a nerve slow here are more people that have put studs in without pulling the cab or motor. http://www.competitiondiesel.com/forums/showthread.php?t=97296

slowleak1
12-23-2012, 06:04 AM
Nice link to a thread full of people saying to either pull the motor, pull the cab, or use CUSTOM MADE tools. And an allen wrench? on head studs? Let me know how long that allen wrench lasts when you try and torque the studs.

AWJ Services
12-23-2012, 10:40 AM
Nice link to a thread full of people saying to either pull the motor, pull the cab, or use CUSTOM MADE tools. And an allen wrench? on head studs? Let me know how long that allen wrench lasts when you try and torque the studs.

You do not torque the stud, you torque the nut on the stud. Studs must be installed hand tight!

Monroe74
12-23-2012, 01:04 PM
You use the allen wrench to install the studs then you tighten the nuts with a torque wrench and the snap on SRD35 torque adpater witha 18mm 12 point socket, you obviously have never bought arp head studs in your life nor have you seen them. So this argument is mute.

Monroe74
12-23-2012, 01:13 PM
I thought you'd like that link it just proved that you don't have to pull the cab.

Monroe74
12-23-2012, 01:17 PM
Guess posts 5 and 6 dont say anything on that link?

Monroe74
12-23-2012, 01:56 PM
A video no studs in there but more people talking about not pulling the cab or motor.
http://www.powerstroke.org/forum/general-6-0l-discussion/209313-time-lapse-6-0-head-gaskets-cab.html

Roger
01-01-2013, 10:24 AM
Update:

I have decided to do nothing right now. I know there is a problem, but manageable for a few months, at least. Between Dec 31 and Mar 15, I only drive 300-400 miles. I go through one tank of fuel during Jan and Feb.

I've driven very little the past two weeks, and don't see any spotting.

I had my eye on a 2012 F-250XL, but the dealer never followed through with getting me final information. I suppose they were so busy pushing out vehicles near the end of the year, a $27K vehicle was not worth the time. Also, in talking with my financial folks, the changes in taxes for 2013, I may be better to take the hit in 2013, not 2012. Putting a new vehicle on the road during the Winter months for so little driving was probably not a good idea either.

However, I am still thinking the $3K repair may be the best path for me. I will know better my long-term plans by mid-March, and the need of a work truck. I will be 72 next time around, and need to start making plans to wind down.

Thanks so much for all the comments and contributions to my thread. I appreciated the input.

sjessen
01-01-2013, 04:55 PM
Much wisdom in your thought process. Appreciate your sharing it with us.

Would love to read your thoughts about winding down as I am not that far behind you in years and am thinking towards the future myself.

All the best.

jsslawncare
01-01-2013, 07:11 PM
Nice link to a thread full of people saying to either pull the motor, pull the cab, or use CUSTOM MADE tools. And an allen wrench? on head studs? Let me know how long that allen wrench lasts when you try and torque the studs.

You don't torque the stud's, you torque the nut's that go on the stud's.
I would not buy any replacement motor to replace this problem. I'd say that 3 out of 10 rebuilt engines are JUNK. Patched together junk.

72? That change's everything. I'd trade that peace of junk in for a rocking chair!

Patriot Services
01-01-2013, 07:33 PM
You don't torque the stud's, you torque the nut's that go on the stud's.
I would not buy any replacement motor to replace this problem. I'd say that 3 out of 10 rebuilt engines are JUNK. Patched together junk.

72? That change's everything. I'd trade that peace of junk in for a rocking chair!

Are you really busting his chops about being 72 and able to do this kind of work?
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jsslawncare
01-01-2013, 07:37 PM
Are you really busting his chops about being 72 and able to do this kind of work?
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No, not at all. Calm down. Go lay on the beach or something. There's no way I'll be able to do this work when I'm that age.

Roger
01-01-2013, 08:31 PM
... Go lay on the beach or something. ....

Nah, no laying on the beach. The beach would be a good place to go if it wasn't for all the sand.

No rocking chair here either, no Lazy-Z-Boy, or any other such sitting furniture. Some of us don't "sit" very well.

However, we do like to drive our pickups, repair things, tow a trailer, ... be productive.

jsslawncare
01-01-2013, 09:16 PM
Nah, no laying on the beach. The beach would be a good place to go if it wasn't for all the sand.

No rocking chair here either, no Lazy-Z-Boy, or any other such sitting furniture. Some of us don't "sit" very well.

However, we do like to drive our pickups, repair things, tow a trailer, ... be productive.

I understand. My Grandfather had a grading/plumbing business from the end of the Korean war till about 1997 or so. Retired sat down and went down hill. Other then burying a dead cow or horse here and there he didn't do much. I miss riding in that ol' dump truck with him. He passed away on 6-29-12.

Roger
11-07-2013, 10:03 PM
Update: I opted to do nothing about the leak. I changed oil in early Spring, and have driven it about the same as last season -- about 5,000 miles per year, mostly pulling a single-axle trailer filled with mowers and equipment.

I still get a very small leak, small spots on the driveway where it is parked, but only periodically. I changed oil in mid-Summer as well. Between the Spring change, and the Summer change, I added one quart to top it off. Since the mid-Summer change, I have added one quart. So, I am loosing about a quart every 2,500 miles, over a three month period. The leak does not appear to be progressing.

I now believe I made the right decision to do nothing. I'm more than happy to add one quart of oil now and then, rather than having spent $3,000 on the repair. Actually, I am happy to add the one quart, knowing I didn't spend $3,000. A couple of quarts of oil is very cheap, over against the repair.

sjessen
11-07-2013, 10:07 PM
Shoot, Roger, my F150 uses a quart every 2000 miles and it doesn't even leak. Sounds like you are taking the correct course of action. One thing to watch, though is make sure the oil does not drip on anything electrical ie starters, alternators, etc.

unkownfl
11-07-2013, 11:26 PM
You probably started driving easier once you knew the problem was the head gasket. If you start turning a lot of RPMs the oil builds up in the head and causes the leak to temporary get worse until it drains back. Highway speeds will cause this too if you travel long at high highway speeds.