Head gasket replacement question

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 30th, 2021 1:30 pm
Deal Addict
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Dec 6, 2008
2314 posts
Acton, Ontario

Head gasket replacement question

Could use some advice if possible

My father has 2009 Ford Econoline 350 6.8L V10.

He kept getting cylinder misfire code, changed all spark plugs, same code returned after a month.

But now the engine is burning off coolant, big white cloud from exhaust, bad smell, it burning off whole reservoir in about a month.

To top it all off check oil came on, and I check it for him, engine oil was pretty much undetectable on the stick, had to pur in 5L to get it back to normal, last oil change was 5 months before.

Checked the oil a month after adding it, and so far its not milky.

Im not as knowledgeable in mechanics, so not sure if it means head gasket change, as that is what the mechanic is implying needs to be done.

Not sure if the car is a wash, and move on, or to repair it (mechanic is checking what needs to be done to let us know on the cost, hes not sure how much work is needed on this specific engine, didnt want to throw a number out of the blue)
6 replies
Deal Guru
Jul 7, 2017
10015 posts
SW corner of the cou…
How much would the van be worth if i running condition? Might be cheaper to scrap it. Shop will have to take it apart to have a look. Could be a head gasket leak, or cracked head or engine block. Not sure about intake manifold on these things. The oil disappearing doesn't look good either.

Looks like a remanufactured engine run about USD4k.
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Deal Addict
Oct 1, 2015
3689 posts
Barrie, ON
That truck is done. I wouldn't waste a cent on it.
Deal Addict
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Nov 7, 2016
2708 posts
6.8s are good for leaking oil cooler...
Deal Addict
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Oct 2, 2018
3005 posts
Cost is going to be very large and with the age and residual value of the vehicle i would tend to agree and time to let it go, find a replacement.
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Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
35107 posts
You can get what's called a "block tester" to easily check if the head gasket is leaking: ... 0007ZDRUI/ ... 06VVBSFTF/

They're not exactly expensive but not that cheap either. But, I mean from the sounds of it one (or both) of the head gaskets is almost certainly leaking.
Oct 28, 2011
62 posts
Aurora, Ontario
If engine and coolant leaked, then you should see milky engine oil and coolant. Drain a little of engine oil from the oil pan, as well as top up the coolant, and see the coolant from the top of the radiator after warm up the engine.

White smoke could be due to cylinder misfire that you indicated. I just done a most complicated random cylinder misfire last 2 months, and I can share:
1. Clear CEL light with car scanner. Buy one for $10 from Amazon/Kijiji if you don't have one. It runs from cellphone
2. With engine running, disconnect, manually disconnect spark plug wire one-by-one to confirm which cylinder is misfire
3. If you can hear the engine rpm/noise changed, then you pretty much isolated the problem cylinder
4. If you can't hear the diff, then use the cellphone car scanner to scan the code. It should trigger CEL light in ~ 1 min
5. For my car, I have to remove 1 good cylinder's spark plug wire (disconnected), and then disconnect additional spark plug wire in order to hear the engine rpm diff. In other word, disconnects 2 spark plug wire. This gives me immediate result instead of "walking" back and forth between cellphone car scanner, and engine bay. You can use this technique as it is more convenient
6. If you want to do the repair yourself, then you need to read more
7. If you want to send to mechanic to repair, at least you can talk to them with the exact problem. After they fixed it, you can use above procedure to confirm it resolved

FYI, 2009 Econoline ignition doesn't only has spark plugs. Following are the components involved:
1. Spark coil module
2. Fuel injector
3. Spark plug
4. Fuel pressure regulator
5. Fuel pump
6. Ground wiring
7. Spark coil relay
8. Fuel pump relay
9. ECU/PCM computer module

For the intermittent cylinder misfire issue, it took me 2 weeks to narrow down to ECU/PCM computer failure, as it is soft failing and causing all above giving false alarm (failure). Car dealer could be asking me for a $5k-10k bill to replace everything above, as PCM module failure is very rare


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