Ford Escape Exhaust Manifold Leak -- DIY or pay?


First off, I’m one of the recession’s casualties – pay cuts due to the recession, so I don’t have as much money to pay for stuff like car repairs, yard maintenance, lunches in restaurants, etc, as I did 2 years ago.

The exhaust manifold in our V6 Escape is leaking. We can smell the exhaust inside the car. It’s the back manifold, which does make the job harder. Alldata says it’s a 3.5 hour job (the estimate I got was for $340, plus parts).

Can I do this job myself? I have done some complex work on cars – fixing sunroofs, changing starters, speedometers, struts, brakes, transmission internals – always with success. Crawling under that Escape to that part of the car, though, doesn’t look easy.

There is a chance that the manifold might be cracked, too, or that a stud needs to be fixed. I don’t look forward to a stud repair on that part of the engine.

If anyone with experience working on the Duratech 3.0 can offer advice, I’d be much obliged.


340 plus parts.
that’s a sneaky way to get you into the shop, Then slam you with the kicker ;
That manifold is a cat converter too ! $ cha ching $

Prove your leak first, maybe just a gasket.

Nuts&Bolts-wise it should be no problem, ( unless there’s a stud broken ) but shop around for parts.

Ford shows a production date difference in part number & price for unleaded fuel u.s. vehicles ;
Pre 10/02/01 # YL8Z-5G232-DA $ 811.13
After date # 5L8Z-5G232-CC $ 1199.98
gasket, manifold to head # XW4Z-9448-AD $ 16.91
Gaskets, manifold to Y pipe & after Y pipe # YL8Z-9450-AA $ 10.75 ea.

( these are list prices, ask dealer for discount if you know them. Check parts houses and exhaust shops too. )


Well, shameless bump here. Took the car in to be fixed today, and the mechanic told me the manifold is cracked. It has to be replaced.

Ordinarily, not a big deal, but this has a built-in catalyst, and looks like it’ll cost upwards of $700.

Basically, I’ve had it. I want to fix this thing and get rid of it. I don’t think it’s ethical of me to sell it with this major a defect; it has to be fixed.

Can I legally put a used cat in a California (if that makes any difference) car? Part of me thinks, Who’d ever know? I can get one for $300 or less. That helps; every little bit helps.

Any advice out there?

Is this possibly related to the mileage problem about which I posted yesterday?

Following up: I found one at a local auto dismantler for $150; I’m goin’ with it.


If you know someone who is selling used catalytic converters, that’s against EPA regulations. So you who knowingly purchases used catalytic converter can be fined up to $20,000 for doing so. And the establishment who is selling the used catalytic converters can be fined $20,000 for each used catalytic converter sold.

Sorry! I have to forward this post to the EPA. Because someone is making money doing something illegally at everyone’s else expense.



Well, I’m sorry to hear that. But look in eBay; used cats for sale all over the place there. Lots of retailers with their addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information all over the place.

Don’t get me wrong, but I think the EPA has bigger fish. If I can find the part for 20% of retail, and the car passes smog afterwards, and people inside the car are breathing less exhaust, then what is the problem?

Go ahead and turn me in.

Honestly, I’m not even taunting when I say that. Someone needs to take me to one side and show me what I’m doing wrong, because I do not see it.

Found a document at the EPA website, and I’m not sure you have it right. Please read this and give me your opinion:


I’m not a lawyer, but this language – copied directly from the document at your link – seems pretty clear. After explaining how to identify a certified rebuilt converter, EPA says:

"EPA considers it a violation of the policy to install a used converter from a salvage yard or sell it for reuse unless it has been properly tested and labeled. Similarly, it is a violation to install an untested used converter brought in by a customer, even if the customer insists that the used converter came off his/her vehicle.

“Salvage or junk yards also would be considered liable for causing tampering if they sell converters that have not been tested or do not meet the requirements outlined in the policy and if the converters are subsequently installed by parties named in the Clean Air Act as prohibited from tampering.”

Tester might be wrong in one detail. Rather than $20K fine, the document says “The installation of non-complying converters by a named party will be considered a violation of section 203(a)(3) of the Clean Air Act, and the violator may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each improper installation.”

Perhaps you, as a private party, are not a “named party” or “prohibited from tampering”, but maybe you would be abetting the salvage yard.

And if your state has emissions testing, how confident are you that the salvage yard converter will work properly, and that you won’t have to do the job again when a CEL code pops up or after your next emissions test?

If you experienced Los Angeles smog around 1960, you would understand why the regulars on this board tend to support anti-pollution regulations. I think you are unfortunately caught between a bad financial situation and doing the right thing. As my son said three years ago (for regular readers, this is the son who had the adventure delivering a Chevy Tahoe to Alaska a couple of summers ago): “If you don’t use your conscience regularly, it won’t work when you need it.”