Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Why does my truck run fine even though it has a problem?

Here’s my real question: What do I need to do to “step up” the maintenance of my vehicle, in light of its issues, in order to keep it running as long as possible?

The vehicle: I drive a 1999 Ford Expedition (4.6L). (big family)

The problem: Years ago (5 maybe?) I was told that it had a cracked head gasket. Since it was very expensive to fix, we decided to drive it as is and get a new car sooner rather than later. But life, a crash and the economy happens. I am still driving the beast, affectionately referred to as “The Millenium Falcon.”

“You know, that ship’s saved my life quite a few times. She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.”
―Lando Calrissian

Last time I got an oil change it was down a quart. They wanted to use a dye kit to find the oil leak. I told them it was a cracked head gasket, which they didn’t believe (tech said he’d just as soon put in a new engine, with all the cost involved in a head). But after 10 days the dye kit did confirm what I had been told years ago.

So what should we be doing? I should top it off between oil changes, right? And take it on longer drives once in a while since I live in town? Anything else?

Keep watch on your oil level. Being down one quart in 3 or 5K miles is no big deal, but no reason to check so it doesn’t stay long for a long period of time. I would also watch the coolant level, because head gasket leaks can leak coolant.

Since doing nothing has worked well, I would continue so long as you are mentally and financially prepared for the consequences.

Thanks, Roy. Doing nothing is one of my favorite pastimes. :slight_smile:

Oil and Coolant levels, mental and financial preparation, got it.
I expect to someday have to buy a new car and/or walk to work. Can’t get much more prepared than that, LOL

Are you sure its a cracked head gasket and not a cracked head? there are three oil return drains in each head, all located along the outside edge of the head near the center. During manufacturing, if the insert on the mill that bores these holes gets dull, the extra pressure can create cracks which might go undetected for years.

Because there is no oil pressure on these holes, and no coolant in the vicinity, the only harm is the loss of oil. If the oil loss isn’t great, I’d leave it alone and just keep the oil level topped up.

The head gasket outboard of these drain holes is very thin. If the head gasket did crack and it is in the center of the outboard side, again I’d ignore it. It wont do further harm as long as you don’t let the engine run out of oil.

Thanks Keith, I’ll double check on that. Either way, it sounds like there’s not much more to do. Thank you very much!

“Last time I got an oil change it was down a quart.”

You should definitely check the oil level in between changes.
At least once a month or every 1000 miles.
This is true of any (piston engine) car, Firefly class or otherwise.

“Firefly class or otherwise.”

One of the best shows ever.

Yes, check between, certainly. Since I drive such short distances 1000 miles might be too long…oh, duh that’s why you said once a month…
Thanks again! Live long and …er I mean…May the force be with you!