Expedition leaking oil

I have a 2000 Expedition that is leaking oil with about 80k miles. It has that burning smell, but doesn’t seem to be burning a lot of oil. I had my mechanic look at it and he says it is leaking some oil out of one of the heads which will require basically taking apart the engine to fix - $2000 +/- to repair. He said he would honestly wait until the problem got worse before putting the money into fixing it and this is a relatively common Expedition problem. He said maybe a thicker oil could help slow leaking a bit.

Is this OK to let something like this go if I watch the oil level? Also, do Expeditions of this vintage have a lot of problems where I should just sell this and run before pumping $2k into the car?


Follow your mechanic’s advice. Drive and monitor the oil level.

I do not recommend “thicker” oil. Use the oil recommended by the owner’s manual.

Ditto to what McP said.

However it also couldn’t hurt to clean the engine and see if you yourself can locate the source of the leak with a good worklight. Or even some dye and a blacklight. If it’s leaking from the valve cover gaskets it could be a simple PCV valve replacement.

The vehicle is 9 years old in a market that’s really weak for SUVs. I’d monitor the oil level and keep driving it. As long as the level stays above “min” it will not suffer from lack of lubrication. The oil pickup tube draws oil from well below the top of the pool.

I don’t know if I would call it common, but it is a known problem for the 1998-2000 Romeo-built 4.6 L. Oil can weep from the right hand rear or the left hand front of the engine where high pressure oil flows. Since you are smelling it burning, probably the Right rear side. Ford does not consider it detrimental to engine performance or durability. They say it may be caused by metal chip debris lodged between the head gasket and the block, chips between the cylinder head and the head gasket, or by damage to the cylinder head sealing surface that occurred during manufacturing.

I too seriously doubt the worth of fixing it. The factory manual calls for 13 h to replace one head gasket. The head bolts alone are pretty costly ($5 each) and the gasket is $126. It could come apart only to find that the head or block is damaged so that it would not be fixed with a new head gasket and TTY head bolts. At that point, you will find yourself wishing that you had not started or had just swapped in another low-mileage engine from the scrap yard. No, not worth it unless it is leaking a lot.

I don’t know about the Expy, but the 4.6 L is pretty reliable, not withstanding the little oil leak issue. Be sure that you put in the correct, probably Mercon V transmission fluid in when servicing that every 30 K or less. You may have a torque converter drain plug in the 2000 so it is pretty easy to do a pan drop and drain all the fluid, just be sure to ask the mechanic to drain the torque converter as well.

This is a COMMON problem. The original all-nylon composite intake manifold tends to rupture the coolant crossover right behind the alternator. The original molding process did not work very well and the part did no “knit” well in that area. The thermostat tends to sink in its housing and begin to weep coolant there as well. The support is not robust. Ask your mechanic about that as well. It may well have been replaced already. If it does blow, it can take the alternator and a couple of ignition coils with it since they don’t like showers.

Based on this one issue, you have a good, honest, and knowledgeable mechanic.