Head gasket repair

I need to replace the head gasket on a 2000 Mercury Sable Wagon with a 3.0L engine. The head gasket that needs to be replaced is the front head which is located just behind the radiator. I am very mechanically inclined and do most of my own vehicle repairs, but have never changed a head gasket. Can anyone give me tips on what to do/what not to do when making a head gasket repair? Any suggestions would be gratly appreciated.

which 3.0 ? the 24 valve dohc or the 12 valve push rod engine. ?

Sorry, that would be the VIN “U” engine. The 12 valve push rod engine.

Well I think the best and most effective thing to do is simply follow a repair or service manual step by step-that way you’re least likely to make mistakes. That said, things they may not cover in the manual pertain to inspecting parts for re-use. Before you put another gasket on this car you need to inspect the cylinder head and check for warpage and make sure it’s perfectly flat. If it’s off even slightly you need to have it decked at a machine shop. Also make sure the engine block is perfectly clean and prepared before you even think of putting a new gasket on. When installed correctly a head gasket should function properly for a lifetime.

You’ll also need to chase the threads in the engine block where the head bolts thread in. DON’T USE A REGULAR TAP! But instead aquire the proper sized thread chasing tool. Also, when installing the head bolts, apply a little oil to the threads. This will insure that the proper torque readings are achieved.


If you have brown coolant (rusting in the coolant) pay close attention to the head, and block surface. Make sure the surface is not eroded away were the head gaskets seal. My 97 was a nightmare as far as the cooling system. The last straw was when the timing chain cover started puking coolant.

Good Luck

make sure ford doesn’t recomend new bolts. if not check bolts to see if streched.

Other than the advice that has been given my opinion is that both head gaskets should be replaced at the same time. If one has given up then it’s possible the other may not be far behind.
Replace only one, start it up, and Murphy’s Law says the one you did not replace will then give up its life.

A new thermostat should also be part of this job.

If the manual calls for a torque-angle in the final step of torquing the head back down, then these are torque-to-yield (TTY) bolts, and must be replaced once removed. A TTY bolt will NEVER achieve the same clamping force once properly used.