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Posted: 12/22/2005 12:05:05 PM EDT
'98 F-150 5.4L

In September, I blew a plug out while working out-of-town. Got it repaired at a good shop there. The put in a Heli-Coil and a different plug. ~$400. I was happy. Had about 138K on it then.

Last night, same deal. Same plug. Plug came out whole, except for the threads it left in the Heli-Coil insert. Clock now at 150K. Fuck.

Made some calls today. Nobody wants to touch the thing to make another repair. My options appear to be:
1) New head. Probably $1500, P&L.
2) Junkyard engine. Cheapest in Midwest was ~$2500. That's a 75K motor with 185 psi cylinder compression. Plus labor.
3) Remanufactured short block/long block/complete engine. Start at $3500, goes as high as you can imagin from there, plus labor for the engine swap AND putting all the parts together on the engine.

Merry Christmas.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 12:28:36 PM EDT
How the hell do you blow a plug out? Sounds like poor casting. Have you checked to see if there is a recall for the head or associated parts? If there is, you might not be out any money at all. MJD
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 12:31:34 PM EDT
Wow. I'd ditch the truck I think.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 12:34:14 PM EDT
Well, bad news is, no recall for that problem. However, you might want to be advised of this one:

Make : FORD Model : F150 Year : 1998
Manufacturer : FORD MOTOR COMPANY
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 05V388000 Mfg's Report Date : SEP 07, 2005
Component: VEHICLE SPEED CONTROL
Potential Number Of Units Affected : 3800000
Summary:
ON CERTAIN PICKUP TRUCKS AND SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH SPEED CONTROL, THE SPEED CONTROL DEACTIVATION SWITCH MAY OVERHEAT, SMOKE, OR BURN.
Consequence:
A FIRE AT THE SWITCH COULD OCCUR.
Remedy:
BY LETTER DATED SEPTEMBER 12, 2005, OWNERS WERE INSTRUCTED TO RETURN THEIR VEHICLES TO THEIR DEALERS TO HAVE THE SPEED CONTROL DEACTIVATION SWITCH DISCONNECTED. OWNERS WHO HAVE HAD THEIR SPEED CONTROL DEACTIVATED ARE BEING NOTIFIED THAT PARTS WILL BE AVAILABLE AND ADVISED TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO RECONNECT THE SPEED CONTROL BEGINNING IN FEBRUARY 2006. OWNERS WHO DID NOT HAVE THEIR SPEED CONTROL DEACTIVATED ARE BEING NOTIFIED TO HAVE THEIR SYSTEM REMEDIED BEGINNING IN FEBRUARY 2006. OWNERS ARE URGED TO AVAIL THEMSELVES OF THE FREE DISCONNECT SERVICE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF THE SIGNIFICANT RISK OF FIRE. OWNERS SHOULD CONTACT FORD AT 1-800-392-3673.
Notes:
FORD RECALL NO. 05S28. CUSTOMERS CAN ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.


Link Posted: 12/22/2005 12:35:00 PM EDT
Duh...get a diesel, no spark plugs.

Sounds like you need to get a new truck for Christmas.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 1:29:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By highwayman:
How the hell do you blow a plug out? Sounds like poor casting. Have you checked to see if there is a recall for the head or associated parts? If there is, you might not be out any money at all. MJD

There's no recall or TSB for it, but it's a commonly-known problem. Something about the original design of the head where the plug is threaded in. I think in the original design, there are only about 4 full threads engaging the head material, due in part to the tapered seat on the OE plugs. The most common Heli-Coil repair involves an insert with longer threads, and a different plug with a more conventional shuare seat and a lock washer. IIRC, the plug design was changed in '99 or '00 model year.

I've received numerous communications about the cruise control recall. I just got another card from FoMoCo advising me that the repair parts that were originally supposed to be available in Sep 05, then Dec 05, are now supposed to be available in Feb 06.

If there's any way I can get by with just throwing a new head on this truck, I will. It's in great shape otherwise, especially for a 4x4 with 150K on the clock.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 1:31:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dvr9:
Duh...get a diesel, no spark plugs.

Sounds like you need to get a new truck for Christmas.

I wish I could. If I had the means, I would have sold this one after the first plug repair and gotten an '03 Expedition. What I really want is a PowerStroke Excursion, but that ain't gonna happen.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 1:42:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DzlBenz:
...FoMoCo ...



More like MoFoCo. I honestly don't like Fords after MANY bad experiences with my dad's Exploder and my mom's old Granada. Fords are pretty nice up until about 100K, then they just go all to hell. MJD
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 1:44:08 PM EDT
Helicoil it again. Sell it quick and cheap. Tell the buyer what the deal is and sell as-is, no warranty. Get a newer or different truck.

You might find somebody like me that is a wrench and can easily change a head with something lying on their shelf.

Don't keep dumping money into it.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 1:45:41 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 2:36:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
Get a head from a junkyard. Costs you maybe 150 bucks. Gasket set, 20 bucks. A few hours of your own labor, no cost.

Changing heads is NOT that difficult a job.


CJ



That's true, it's not too bad if you've done them before, but it's time consuming and you need tools. If you haven't, then you must pay a mechanic.

The biggest problem would be that you end up with the same crappy head from another 5.4L that may have already blown out plugs, or was just about to when the truck met it's fate.

If it were mine and I didn't have money or technical skill to do the proper repair, I would get a new plug and red-locktite that sucker in place with the intent that I'll never change that plug again before selling, junking, or saving up to fix it right.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 3:10:50 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 3:53:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DzlBenz:

Originally Posted By dvr9:
Duh...get a diesel, no spark plugs.

Sounds like you need to get a new truck for Christmas.

I wish I could. If I had the means, I would have sold this one after the first plug repair and gotten an '03 Expedition. What I really want is a PowerStroke Excursion, but that ain't gonna happen.


Or just buy a diesel Benz lol....
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 4:00:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DzlBenz:
'98 F-150 5.4L

In September, I blew a plug out while working out-of-town. Got it repaired at a good shop there. The put in a Heli-Coil and a different plug. ~$400. I was happy. Had about 138K on it then.

Last night, same deal. Same plug. Plug came out whole, except for the threads it left in the Heli-Coil insert. Clock now at 150K. Fuck.

Made some calls today. Nobody wants to touch the thing to make another repair. My options appear to be:
1) New head. Probably $1500, P&L.
2) Junkyard engine. Cheapest in Midwest was ~$2500. That's a 75K motor with 185 psi cylinder compression. Plus labor.
3) Remanufactured short block/long block/complete engine. Start at $3500, goes as high as you can imagin from there, plus labor for the engine swap AND putting all the parts together on the engine.

Merry Christmas.



It's not the end of the truck yet, originally I missed the part about the threads being stuck in the Heli-coil which didn't eject from the engine. I've done these before, but Helicoils are not exactly the right fix for this head. First remove the helicoil and then get the 'Timesert' kit for your motor.

We use the Timesert exclusively for blown out plug repairs on Ford Triton 5.4's and other aluminum heads. Never had a comeback.

Go to timesert.com and they have a setp by step if you want to DIY.

Good Luck, and Merry Christmas
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 4:23:06 PM EDT
Buy a head, toss it in. Do it yourself and most of the cost is gone anyways, shouldn't take more than a couple hours if you clear up part of a day to do it. (assuming you ahve done it before)



Only option I cna see, if you try to fix it yourself (cut, rethread, insert locked in, then plug) you would have to take it off anyways to deal with shavings
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 4:35:30 PM EDT
My neighbor, 02 F250 100K, blew a spark plug, it actually got stuck on the black plastic boot which caused it to bounce up and down on top of the threads. He torqued them all again after he helicoiled the damaged plug hole.

Two weeks after that another one came loose.

Another friend at work was driving home on the highway and one of his spark plugs flew out of the engine. He had a 02 Expedition.

Sounds like for my have some issues, or the torque spec is not high enough.
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 7:05:09 PM EDT
Thanks to all the responders, particularly oneshot1kill for the Timesert tip. I will bone up on that one. I'm not going to be in a position to wrench this repair myself. I'm slated to be traveling extensively the next couple of weeks.

I'd like to patch this thing up and sell it, but I don't have the excess funds to make another purchase to replace it. At most, I'd be able to get maybe $9K for this truck, and I don't think I can get anything as (otherwise ) reliable as this truck for that kind of money, at least full-size. Anything I get will be newer, so I'm going to get hit on insurance and taxes, too. Right now those two items combined run me less than $350/yr for this truck. I'm not in the position to start making payments on a new(er) vehicle, either. I'm going to have to find a better repair for this one and hope for another year or so of dependable service like I've had from this truck since I bought it new.

Thanks again, fellas!

Now, to watch Futurama and Family Guy!!!
Link Posted: 12/22/2005 7:08:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By oneshot1kill:

Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
Get a head from a junkyard. Costs you maybe 150 bucks. Gasket set, 20 bucks. A few hours of your own labor, no cost.

Changing heads is NOT that difficult a job.


CJ



That's true, it's not too bad if you've done them before, but it's time consuming and you need tools. If you haven't, then you must pay a mechanic.

The biggest problem would be that you end up with the same crappy head from another 5.4L that may have already blown out plugs, or was just about to when the truck met it's fate.

If it were mine and I didn't have money or technical skill to do the proper repair, I would get a new plug and red-locktite that sucker in place with the intent that I'll never change that plug again before selling, junking, or saving up to fix it right.



+1 Lots of things can go wrong. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging....
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