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  1. #1


    YUNG VEEZU's Avatar
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    97 Cobra Blown Head Gasket Help/Tips

    Hey guys, so heres the story:

    A few months ago my 97 Cobra overheated, I wasn't sure why but it was puking coolant out of the overflow tank. So I started with the small stuff and replaced them.

    List of new parts this past year-
    OEM Radiator cap (tried 3 different types and OEM ran the best)
    OEM Thermostat (tried this also 3 different types and OEM ran the best)
    OEM Waterpump
    All Hoses
    New Belt
    Spark Plugs
    Mishimoto Radiator
    Canton Overflow tank
    & properly burped the air out of the system over a MILLION times

    Oil and coolant both look fine, fan works, and thermostat works. The biggest symptom is that I have a ton of white smoke coming out of my exhaust, sometimes more on the drivers side. My gauge also indicates (sometimes) that when I would start the car and drive to work (which is less than 5 miles away) the gauge would stay cold, then shoot all the way up past the "L" on Normal, then would shoot back down to the middle. And occasionally coolant would spew out of the overflow tank. This happens in both city traffic and on the freeway, but while on the freeway the gauge shoots back down to normal faster.

    Here is the video of when it first began happening:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3xWgm5nMc0

    The white has gotten a bit worse this past week, and after all of my hours of troubling shooting it I finally took it to my mechanic. He did a compression test and the compression was fine. He said the labor would cost at least $1800. I decided I was going to do it myself because that price a way too high for me, I'm working full time and going to school. This is truly heartbreaking because I love my car and have owned a few mustangs in the past, but have never had this problem.

    I have spent countless hours researching about the removal/installation of cylinder heads, gaskets, but I am by no means a professional mechanic at all. I have done simple jobs like replace the radiator, waterpump, belt, oil, cooling system, shocks/struts, etc. I have a Haynes and Chilton manual, along with my computer to help me out.

    Here are a few questions I'm having with before I tackle on this job:
    -the drivers side cylinder head is in such a tight space because of the brake master cylinder
    -both camshaft timing chain removal/install (i was planning on marking the teeth, so I wouldn't ruin any timing)
    -is the removal of the exhaust manifolds required?
    How have you guys handled these issues?

    If you guys can send me any tips or pointers I would really appreciate it. Thanks!!



    US ARMY OEF Veteran 11-12 / 49ERs / 97 Cobra / 89 5.0 Notchback

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  3. #2


    lwarrior1016's Avatar
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    With a 4v, pull the engine. Dont try to pull the heads off in the car. That space is wayyyyy to tight. That will be the easiest thing to do, by far. That being said, do you have the proper tools to do the job? Good torque wrench and what not? We can talk you through step by step how to do the work, but youll have to supply the tools lol.


    Side note, you have OEF 11-12, where were you? I was there in 10-11 and 12-13.

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  5. #3



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    There is no space in the engine bay of the 4vs. I would 2nd that you borrow an engine lift or buy used on Craigslist. I did not rebuild my motor but did yank it out and put it back in fairly easy I f you are handy. You need the right tools like an engine lift plus a helper to assist in lowering the engine to avoid scratching bay. I also removed tranny and installed it after the engine and used a tranny jack which costs about $99 @ HF. Not sure how it would go dropping it in with tranny attached to the 4v.

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  7. #4


    YUNG VEEZU's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lwarrior1016 View Post
    With a 4v, pull the engine. Dont try to pull the heads off in the car. That space is wayyyyy to tight. That will be the easiest thing to do, by far. That being said, do you have the proper tools to do the job? Good torque wrench and what not? We can talk you through step by step how to do the work, but youll have to supply the tools lol.


    Side note, you have OEF 11-12, where were you? I was there in 10-11 and 12-13.
    I have pretty much all the basic tools (a million sockets, ratchets, swivels, extensions, etc.) I don't have any "special tools" such as cam retaining tools or even an engine lift. I'm going to try and borrow a friends. I remember swapping out a transmission from a 98 GT and it took us hours just to get to the top 2 bellhousing bolts.

    lwarrior1016, yea I was in Arghandab Valley in 2011-2012 with 4th ID out of Ft. Carson. I'm actually out of the service now and back home in California...loving the civilian life!!

    US ARMY OEF Veteran 11-12 / 49ERs / 97 Cobra / 89 5.0 Notchback

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  9. #5


    lwarrior1016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YUNG VEEZU View Post
    I have pretty much all the basic tools (a million sockets, ratchets, swivels, extensions, etc.) I don't have any "special tools" such as cam retaining tools or even an engine lift. I'm going to try and borrow a friends. I remember swapping out a transmission from a 98 GT and it took us hours just to get to the top 2 bellhousing bolts.

    lwarrior1016, yea I was in Arghandab Valley in 2011-2012 with 4th ID out of Ft. Carson. I'm actually out of the service now and back home in California...loving the civilian life!!
    The most special tool youll need is a torque wrench. Other than that, its basic hand tools and take your time. If you pull the intake manifold, the top two transmission bolts are really easy to get from the top. If you dont pull the intake, then you can remove the transmission cross member and lower the rear of the trans down until you can snake a long extension up there.

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  11. #6


    96blak54's Avatar
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    You're gonna need to deck the heads and double check the deck of the block. To bad you dont live closer...id help you out!

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  13. #7


    Nighttrain's Avatar
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    Its easier imo to pull motor and trans together. You can pick up a engine hoist from hf pretty cheap too. Depends on the weight rating. The smallest one they have is like 1000lbs, they go for $100-$150. Like 96blak54 said gonna have to have the heads plained, and need to have the block checked too. If youve been driving it with the head gasket blown you need to check your main, rod and cam journal bearings too. Coolant will reak havok on bearings. So an engine stand would be benificial too. You can get a torque wrench pretty cheap, you'll definetly need it. You got some work but its rewarding and imo fun. I love building motors.
    If you need help we can walk you through anything, just ask. Good luck and let us know what you need, we're here.
    Timing is easy, the gears and chains are already marked. Set #1 to tdc before tear down and youre good.

    95 boss gt
    Mac cai
    3"Magnaflow cat back
    Gutted h pipe
    Hurst short throw
    Gt40 H/C/I
    3.73 9" rear
    "RIP"

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  15. #8


    YUNG VEEZU's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nighttrain View Post
    Its easier imo to pull motor and trans together. You can pick up a engine hoist from hf pretty cheap too. Depends on the weight rating. The smallest one they have is like 1000lbs, they go for $100-$150. Like 96blak54 said gonna have to have the heads plained, and need to have the block checked too. If youve been driving it with the head gasket blown you need to check your main, rod and cam journal bearings too. Coolant will reak havok on bearings. So an engine stand would be benificial too. You can get a torque wrench pretty cheap, you'll definetly need it. You got some work but its rewarding and imo fun. I love building motors.
    If you need help we can walk you through anything, just ask. Good luck and let us know what you need, we're here.
    Timing is easy, the gears and chains are already marked. Set #1 to tdc before tear down and youre good.
    thanks for the support and tips, I'm definitely going to get an engine hoist ASAP.

    US ARMY OEF Veteran 11-12 / 49ERs / 97 Cobra / 89 5.0 Notchback

  16. #9


    Nighttrain's Avatar
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    HF has stands too, inexpensive for the ease of working on them. After you drop the trans off the motor you can check your clutch and bearings easy too........oh dont forget a load leveler. Motor and trans will have to come out at an angle.

    95 boss gt
    Mac cai
    3"Magnaflow cat back
    Gutted h pipe
    Hurst short throw
    Gt40 H/C/I
    3.73 9" rear
    "RIP"

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  18. #10


    YUNG VEEZU's Avatar
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    Yes, I'm planning on getting help from a friend. Just to double check, after removing exhaust and driveshaft and pulling the engine/trans out, are these the proper steps to get to the cylinder heads?

    -drain coolant
    -drain oil
    -remove battery
    -remove strut tower brace
    -remove radiator hoses
    -remove radiator fan
    -remove radiator
    -relieve fuel system pressure
    -disconnect fuel lines
    -disconnect all wiring harnesses
    -remove alternator
    -remove belt (if necessary)
    -remove intake manifold
    -remove intake runner control manifold plates?
    -clean intake manifold surface
    -remove exhaust manifolds
    -remove timing chain cover
    -? ? any safety precautions/tips ? ?
    -remove cylinder heads (while not rotating crank or camshaft)
    -clean cylinder head area while covering
    -take to a machine shop and have the heads checked and redone
    -replace gaskets

    -reinstall everything back together

    what do you think about this kit:
    FR Head Changing kit: http://www.americanmuscle.com/frpp-c...-kit-9604.html

    was thinking about getting these as well:
    timing chain cover gasket: https://lmr.com/item/LRS-6020CK/1996...ver-Gasket-Set
    intake gasket set x 2: https://lmr.com/item/LRS-9486F/1996-...-Intake-Gasket

    Am i missing any important steps?

    US ARMY OEF Veteran 11-12 / 49ERs / 97 Cobra / 89 5.0 Notchback

  19. #11


    lwarrior1016's Avatar
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    Put the crank in "safe mode" when you pull the timing chain tensioners. The keyway on the crank should be a 9 o'clock. That puts all the pistons below the deck for when you remove the timing chains. The cams will probably move some once the chains are removed.

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  21. #12


    Nighttrain's Avatar
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    Pull fuse for fuel pump, crank motor till it stops trying to kick over. That clears all the lines and injectors of fuel. Drain coolant and oil while motor is still in car. Block rear wheels!!. Even if its flat you dont want that thing rolling when you drop your drive shaft. Disconnect battery, pull it out of the way. Pull your hoses, radiator, fan. Disconnect your fuel rail( youll need a fuel line disconnect tool or make one). Even though most of the electrical connectors are straight forward i like to mark them all with masking tape and a sharpy so there is no confussion. Once upu have the fuel rail, intake, exhaust disconnected from the headers, tranny mounts, motor mounts, heater core hoses you should be able to bolt your lifting plate down and yank it. Do you have long tubes? If you do youre gonna have to pull the steering shaft more than likely. Power steering hoses...always a good time for a flush. Any questions let us know, ill sub this that way i dont find it buried.

    95 boss gt
    Mac cai
    3"Magnaflow cat back
    Gutted h pipe
    Hurst short throw
    Gt40 H/C/I
    3.73 9" rear
    "RIP"

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  23. #13


    Nighttrain's Avatar
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    Once you have the motor out on the ground, keep it hooked up to the hoist so you dont damage your oil pan, take the headers off, take the trans off(forgot to include in the above post you have to disconnect the shifter before the trans will come out).
    If you have help its much easier to pull the trans off the motor. Unbolt your clutch and pressure plate from the flywheel then youre clear to bolt the motor to a stand. After that its just disassembly. Valve covers, timing cover, set the crank to 9 oclock, timing tensioners, timing chains, heads, check your pistons for damage, flip the motor over take the pan off, remember its been run with a bad head gasket for a while so checking your main and rod and cam bearings is a must. You already have the motor out, its only like 12 or 16 little bolts to check these.

    95 boss gt
    Mac cai
    3"Magnaflow cat back
    Gutted h pipe
    Hurst short throw
    Gt40 H/C/I
    3.73 9" rear
    "RIP"

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  25. #14


    Nighttrain's Avatar
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    Oh almost forgot clutch cable gotta unhook that too.

    95 boss gt
    Mac cai
    3"Magnaflow cat back
    Gutted h pipe
    Hurst short throw
    Gt40 H/C/I
    3.73 9" rear
    "RIP"

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  27. #15


    96blak54's Avatar
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    This guy ^ is good

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  29. #16


    YUNG VEEZU's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nighttrain View Post
    Once you have the motor out on the ground, keep it hooked up to the hoist so you dont damage your oil pan, take the headers off, take the trans off(forgot to include in the above post you have to disconnect the shifter before the trans will come out).
    If you have help its much easier to pull the trans off the motor. Unbolt your clutch and pressure plate from the flywheel then youre clear to bolt the motor to a stand. After that its just disassembly. Valve covers, timing cover, set the crank to 9 oclock, timing tensioners, timing chains, heads, check your pistons for damage, flip the motor over take the pan off, remember its been run with a bad head gasket for a while so checking your main and rod and cam bearings is a must. You already have the motor out, its only like 12 or 16 little bolts to check these.
    awesome tips, you are the man. I will take pics and keep this thread updated as well

    US ARMY OEF Veteran 11-12 / 49ERs / 97 Cobra / 89 5.0 Notchback

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  31. #17


    Nighttrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YUNG VEEZU View Post
    awesome tips, you are the man. I will take pics and keep this thread updated as well
    Cool! You should have it out in a few hrs.....maybe an afternoon. You do this enough, you get really good at it. Lol

    95 boss gt
    Mac cai
    3"Magnaflow cat back
    Gutted h pipe
    Hurst short throw
    Gt40 H/C/I
    3.73 9" rear
    "RIP"

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  33. #18


    96blak54's Avatar
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    Yes ^
    I dont even pull the radiator anymore.

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  35. #19


    Nighttrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 96blak54 View Post
    Yes ^
    I dont even pull the radiator anymore.
    Lol im too worried about screwing it up

    95 boss gt
    Mac cai
    3"Magnaflow cat back
    Gutted h pipe
    Hurst short throw
    Gt40 H/C/I
    3.73 9" rear
    "RIP"

  36. #20


    YUNG VEEZU's Avatar
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    I've ordered a few parts from AM and LMR already, but still shopping around locally for the engine stand and hoist. Would you guys suggest I use the local O reillys/Autozone thread, gasket sealer/ cleaners etc? Or is there a specific brand I should stick to like Royal Purple or equivalent?

    US ARMY OEF Veteran 11-12 / 49ERs / 97 Cobra / 89 5.0 Notchback

 

 

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