Ford F-250, oil leak on the head gasket
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.