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Ford Explorer 2004 blown head gasket(s)

Hey, I have been informed that my Ford Explorer 2004 6 cylinder with 4.0L head ( I think that is right) with approximately 120,000 miles has a blown head gasket possible two. Also that I have 4 misfiring cylinders and a timing adjustment is needed. Cost $1600.00 plus depending on what else may be discovered once everything is taken apart. Mechanic stated the pistons would need to be checked to make sure any of them did not melt and create residue on the sides of something (I do not really understand). Also, mechanic could not verify any cracked heads or warp until he takes everything apart. I have already spent about a $1000.00 plus in repairs in 1.5 years. Is it worth it or should I start looking to invest in a good used vehicle. The mechanic did state my vehicle runs pretty good considering his suspicion and he is certified and has been making these type of repairs for several years. Either way I feel I am taking a huge risk that I am unable to afford. If I have it repaired and something else goes wrong, I will have no money to purchase another vehice. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Get a second opinion ~estimate.I do not doubt he is wrong, but you might get a better price. You are at a questionable mileage of potential repairs vs trade in for something else. Spend the money to have your car analyzed for upcoming repairs and go from there.

Ask your mechanic if installing a new engine might be the better solution. By “new” I don’t mean brand new from the manufacturer, but newly rebuilt. There are companies who rebuild engines on an assembly line so they can do it for pretty cheap. And I’m told they do a very good job because they have all up to date tooling and the needed machines to verify the rebuild has been done correctly. I think the way it works, they take your old engine in exchange, and give you a newly rebuilt one. The cost to the car owner is often more affordable than doing extensive shop work on the existing engine. Especially true if it is a commonly used engine, which is probably the case w/your vehicle.

The reason I suggested a second opinion is not a concern about an engine replacement but if you have to throw in brakes, trans problems, ball joints, struts cvc joints etc it might be time to cut the losses

@Idybug47 so your check engine light is on and you have several misfire codes?
Your ignition timing is not adjustable, so I’m not sure what your mechanic meant. Perhaps he meant resetting the keep alive memory after the repairs . . .

Are you losing a lot of coolant or oil?
Is the engine overheating or running hot?
Does the engine oil look like coffee?
Is the engine oil level abnormally high on the dipstick?
Headgaskets often blow out when you let an engine overheat (because you’ve not been checking the coolant level and/or you didn’t notice the coolant temperature gauge was reading high).

Does that $1600 cover parts and labor?
For the misfire repair also?
If it does, it sounds okay. Your engine has overhead cams and has 3 chains, so replacing head gaskets is a lot more work than on the older ohv 4.0.

I’m not doubting your mechanic, but he did some testing to arrive at the conclusion that the head gaskets are bad, right?

If overheating was involved then any repair like this should be approached with caution at best as overheating can ruin piston rings which then lead to lowered performance and oil consumption problems.

From the residue you mention it sound like they’re referring to cylinder wall and piston skirt damage due to overheating and a visual inspection of the walls may not reveal everything without considerably more diassembly. This basically means a complete overhaul or junk the engine.

At a minimum both a dry and wet compression test should be performed and even that will not reveal problems in the lower end of the engine, timing chain wear, and so on.
In a nutshell, this could be a roll of the dice.

I think the Ford 4.0 liter used in these and some minivans was about the worst engine Ford ever made. I have personally known several people that have had head gaskets blow on these, two of them with less than 100K on the vehicle. If the rest of the vehicle is in good shape–transmission, body, everything works, it is probably worth the rebuild. But you might start pricing newer/better vehicles if there’s anything else wrong with your Explorer. As others have said, there are tests that can be done to verify the head gasket failure, and I would have these done before spending money on an overhaul.