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97 Town Car cracked!

So, for reasons not even entirely clear to myself, I’m a (relatively) young guy driving a '97 Lincoln Town Car. I thought the car was in pretty good shape and, with tinted windows, I can pretend I’m a mafioso.

Unfortunately, the darn thing started gurgling and crunching under acceleration. It was off to the front right as you sit in the driver’s seat.

Both the dealer and an independent guy agree, it’s a cracked intake manifold. It’s over on the passenger side, toward the rear, and is a small plastic bit that enters the engine block. And, indeed, looks cracked.

Basically, I’ve been told that I have a ticking time bomb. It could blow any minute, spewing all the coolant out, and instantly overheating and seizing my engine.

I’ve been quoted a price of $1500 by the dealer, and $800 by the independent.

My problem is, is that the darn car is only worth about $4000. And, it’s already eaten my entire car budget for the year.

Should I fix it? Can I leave it be and just keep adding coolant? Help!!

First of all, I would not run it that way. I have a 98 TC. Haven’t had the intake crack YET. Have priced them at NAPA & ORIELLY Auto parts. Intake alone is $220-230 where I’m at, MO. Quite abit of labor involved. About 5hrs for a good mehanic experienced with the 4.6 Ford eng. There was a class action law suit on this but, sorry, is long gone as far as you and I, is my belief. Personally if the rest of the car is in good shape with reasonably low miles (120-140k) I would fix. Mine has 71k. So mine would definetly be worth the fix. Hope this helps some. The guy with the $800 price is about right if he knows what he’s doing!

Ok, I admit, $800 to me is a whole lot of money. So, I’m writing this with some fantasy that someone on this forum will say that it isn’t so bad (although I suspect it is, especially in light of what rexy44 said).

I’ll also admit that this car has been making this gurgling noise (that I now know to be the cracked manifold) for a really long time. In fact, I myself have driven the car over 700 miles before I had this checked out.

So, here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. This isn’t so bad, after all.


  1. I’ve just gotten incredibly lucky.

By the way, rexy44, my car also has about 70K miles on it. So I’m leaning toward the repair…

Well your way past the actionable date for a Ford reimbursement, but you might want to take a look at the ‘mega’ link below, Dorman make an upgraded manifold for about the same price as the NAPA part. By the sound of it, it should eliminate future problems. It might also help your resale value when you decide to offload the car.|BMW|Buick|Cadillac|Chevrolet|Chrysler|Dodge|Eagle|Ford|Geo|GMC|Honda|Hyundai|Infiniti|Isuzu|Jeep|Lexus|Lincoln|Mazda|Mercedes|Mercury|Mitsubishi|Nissan|Oldsmobile|Plymouth|Pontiac|Saturn|Subaru|Suzuki|Toyota|Volkswagen|Volvo|&modelsHidden=Continental|Mark+Series|Navigator|Town+Car|&yearsHidden=2008|2007|2006|2005|2004|2003|2002|2001|2000|1999|1998|1997|1996|1995|1994|1993|1992|1991|1990|1989|1988|1987|1986|1985|1984|1983|1982|1981|1980|1979|1978|1977|1976|1975|1974|1973|1972|1971|1970|1969|1968|1967|1966|1965|1964|1963|1962|1961|1960|1959|1958|1957|1956|1955|1954|1953|1952|1951|1950|1949|1948|1947|

Yes, you need to fix it, and you should do it soon. Eventually it will begin to leak coolant into your oil causing all sorts of lubrication issues. The car is well worth fixing. There’s nothing like a Town Car for posh ride. Unfortunately they can also be hard on your wallet.

Well, I would agree with MG McAnick, it’s not a bad car, overall. Of course, that’s assuming there are no further “hidden” problems.

By the way, would one of the commonly available “radiator stop leak” coolant additive products help any?

Now, I mean just as a temporary solution until I can collect the $800, and get the thing to the shop…

No, stop leak won’t help. You should replace it ASAP, you are past due for full failure. Or, you can wait and add a towing charge and maybe more damages to the bill.

Forgot to add: Dealer replacement cost for mine was about $900.

I had the manifold replaced in my dad’s 97 Crown Vic last summer for about $1000 (Canadian,) after it decided to blow apart on the highway. It’s much better to replace it now than to wait for it to blow apart when you’re on route to something. Like a job interview. Which I was. By the way, I didn’t get the job. Dammit.

It will run as long as you are willing to put coolant in it. But I wouldn’t recommend putting it off. As long as there is a leak in the intake manifold you will be introducing too much air into the system. It will drive all the engine sensors crazy and will cause the engine to run lean which can damage internal components.

Beefy, what you fail to understand is that while it may be a small crack now, these have a habit of suddenly breaking wide open. All the coolant spills out and the throttle no longer meters the air. The car will stop dead at that point, no matter how much coolant he puts in! The intake is plastic, and there was a design flaw that causes them to fail. The replacement part is redesigned and the high stress part of it is now metal.

So, about the Dorman 4.6 SOHC Intake Manifold mentioned above. I showed it to my main mechanic, and he wasn’t impressed. He agreed that the intake is metal, but the rest of it is plastic.

If I go with the Dorman part it’ll run me $175 on Amazon. A cheaper mechanic wants about $500 for labor.

In any event, my main mechanic is offering me what he considers a reliable aftermarket part (not Dorman) that puts the whole repair at about $900, or a dealer part that makes the total $1100.

But, if I go with the Dorman part, and the cheaper mechanic, I can get it done for $700 or so.

My question is, should I be quibbling over $100-$200 on this? Or is this too important, and something where I should use the guy who’s more expensive, but I know is high quality, and guarantees his work?

Like I said, I’m going to have to keep this d*mn car for a while…

I don’t know anything about the after-market part, so I am not qualified to advise much. Maybe someone else can chime in. Personally, I would go with the advise of the guy you consider to be high quality. A year from now, saving $200 here won’t have made any difference to you, but having the car break-down again will.

It sounds like this manifold broke where they don?t usually tend to. Usually they break in the coolant crossover in the front. Often this is at WOT. Often when this happens they puke enough coolant on the alternator to ruin that.

A little history on plastic intake manifolds. They are lighter, less expensive and flow better then the aluminum ones they replaced. Unfortunately, the original experimental plastic manifolds had this flaw mentioned above. The replacement has a metal coolant crossover inserted into the plastic.

The only complaint that I have seen about the Dorman unit WRT to the Ford replacement is that it does not have metal inserts to attach the coils. The screws go directly into the plastic. There is, AFAIK, no all-metal replacement. I have seen no complaints about the functionality of the Dorman at There is a lot of discussion of this problem there as you might expect.

For the record, mine too broke in a not usual place. In my case, it cracked around where the heater hose tube came out of the back of the manifold. At least it didn’t leave me suddenly stranded.

That and the t-stat housing have to be competing for second place.