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Send Mustang to pasture?

I have a 98 mustang GT. I have owned the car since i was 18 and Im now 28. I am attached to this car.

The odometer stopped at 121k 6 years ago.

I am on my third itake manifold although this one has caused me REAL trouble.

I originally thought the intake gasket was bad, as i had a slow small leak up front on the passenger side. Replaced the gaskets, put it all together and the leak was worse. Took it apart and found it had a broken piece of plastic in front of the aluminum crossover.

This time, instead of shelling out $400+ for the Ford replacement (like I did 8 years prior), I opted for the Dorman intake. ( Read : cheaper)

Well this design has built in gaskets. The directions dont mention anything about RTV sealant so I didnt use it. I torqued to spec in the right pattern. Well it STILL leaked over time.

Being busy at work I had to park it a few days. I then took it apart, used RTV and waited, then retorqued and assembled everything. I went to start her up and CLANG! The engine hydrolocked.

I removed all plugs and wires and turned it over a few times on the battery alone to push out the water. Went to put the plugs back in to test if I blew a rod and of course the last plug (closest to passenger rear) stripped the threads in the head.

Time sert products make a repair kit to drill and tap the heads but its $400. Not good. Its now towed to a buddies mustang shop to see what he can do.

I have a vehicle budget of roughly $2,500. Do I rebuild the engine myself and keep trucking or do I buy a used vehicle for the same money with probably 150k on the clock and who knows what kind of problems?

It would be one thing if you were paying someone else to do the tear down to find out what happened. But if you and your buddy are doing all the work, a $2,500 budget should get it back on the road.


Yeah, Id have to rebuild myself. Ive never done this but I am mechanically inclined and have read up on rebuilding a 4.6 ford. Doesnt seem terribly hard.

Ive grown up being a ford guy so naturally Im looking at other Fords but every Ford engine I research seems to have a spark plug blow out issue or some sort of gasket failure causing a coolant hydrolock ruining the engine.

Is it time to consider chevy or another brand?

I might like to get a truck or suv and park the mustang so i can slowly build it back.

I should mention that Im starting a painting business so a work vehicle would be easier to use rather then a mustang.

If you’re attached to the car and you have a knowledgeable friend, I’d go for it. Since you’re planning on pulling the motor, maybe you can use some performance parts and get rid of some of that plastic.

You don’t have to pull the head or the motor to put in new threads or put in another manifold

@db4690. I know that, Im just afraid a rod may have bent or broken when it got hydrolocked. Made a loud clank when I went to start it. Unfortunately theres no way to test until the spark plug hole is rethreaded.

@bustedknuckles I definitely want to wake it up some more and will take advantage if I decide to rebuild. Typhoon makes a fully aluminum intake manifold (around $600 i think) so i wouldnt have to worry about it cracking any more. New cams and better flowing heads would be on the list as well. No super or turbo charging though, i prefer naturally aspirated cars.

Rebuilding an engine properly requires considerably more expertise and tools than any book may state.
There seems to have been multiple issues with the intake job so what happens if an expensive engine job goes sour also?

I wouldn’t make any assumptions about the rods until I got the heads off. You’ll find out then. You might be lucky. You were, after all, just trying to start it when it locked. There’s a lot less inertia going on then than there is when you’re driving it.

Let us know what your buddy’s Mustang shop comes up with.

If it hydrolocked while cranking with the starter, I don’t think that would damage anything. If it hit on at least one cylinder, then it might.

If you do a compression test, you should be able to tell if the engine suffered any serious damage (and the overall state of the engine) before shelling out for serious repairs. A junkyard engine may be the way to go too.

Also, if the rest of the car is in bad shape (and it sounds like it), it may be time to move on. :frowning:

Dont throw good money after bad,a car is a car,cant return your love,however if you are rich you can afford to be sentimental.No disrespect,but sounds to me like its time to move own,be wary of what you buy next time if reliability is an issue(sounds to me like you want a hot car) I’ve been around Chevys all my life and while they are good its like anything else"caveat emptor" if the" Mare runs then the colt will run,"in other words any make with a history of issues,will probaly not except you-Kevin

If the car is in good shape and you want to do the work, go for it. Pull the engine apart to determine what is wrong and decide what to do from there. You may find yourself money ahead to buy a low mileage used engine or short-block and then install your performance parts. This may free up enough money to have your heads rebuilt with a little garage-porting on your part. Your machinist can then recut the valve seats, sleeve the guides and install the performance springs your new cam needs. Re-assemble and reinstall the engine, reflash the computer and have fun.

Since you are attached to the car…I would try and repair it if it doesn’t cost and arm and a leg. Set a firm budget and if it’s going to cost more than the allotted sum then sell the Mustang as a project vehicle. You should have no trouble selling it.

Thanks for the responses. Money is definitely tight and an issue, otherwise I wouldve bought a new car years ago.

I have about $2,500 to put towards the situation. If I rebuild, atleast itll be a new engine and Ive owned and worked on the car the past 10 years.

Otherwise i’ll have to put that money towards a “new” used car. My car as is would be worth about 1 grand at best so 3500 would still buy me something with high miles and unknown reliability. Thats the gamble.

Everybody seems to assume this engine needs a rebuild

I think all it needs is a spark plug helicoil and another intake manifold

I’m in agreement that a plug hole repair and intake may cure all of the problems but seeing as how the intake job has been done repeatedly it’s time to take a step back, draw a deep breath, and figure out what is being done wrong that just leads to more leaks.

RTV sealant is usually more of a curse than a help.


The intake manifold on those engines is problematic

I strongly suspect that even a genuine Ford replacement manifold is not an improvement on the original part

In other words, a crappy design is a crappy design . . . I’m talking about the manifold only, not the entire engine

The first time the intake failed a genuine ford replacement was used. That lasted 8 years.

As to save money I used a dorman intake for the third and most recent intake failure. This intake still had an aluminum crossover (the “improvement” over the original 1998 fully plastic intake). This however has built in gaskets rather than the ford. Rubbery plastic rings around all the coolant and air passages. The instructions for the dorman were very limited, really only providing torque specs.

After the initial dry install that leaked I followed by re-installing using black RTV sealant around the 4 coolant passages. My friend who works at the mustang shop says their builders use RTV when installing intakes as well.

However with the spark plug issue after the hydrolock I cannot test the seal of the intake until the engine can be run.

Its in the shop right now and I’ll report back if any catastrophic failure was caused.

Great news … ITS ALIVE!!!

Autozone sold me the wrong plugs. They were apparently for a 5.0 fox body mustang. They were too short and apparently the others were just barely in.

WoooHooo! Now, start a rebuild fund for that inevitable rebuild, and go have fun!