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Thread: Need to do valve cover gaskets, Are there any upgrades I should do?

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    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    Default Need to do valve cover gaskets, Are there any upgrades I should do?

    Hey guy's. My valve cover gasket's are leaky. Look to have been leaking for quite a while. Not bad enough to drip on the ground though, just burns off on the exhaust. Anyways, I notice that on this engine, in order to do them the upper intake has to come off. Good time to put new vacuum lines on (hopefully that will settle the idle a bit when cold. (it surges a bit when out of gear))

    So, been doing some reading online for the last couple of months and found that some people recommend getting a HO upper and throttle body if the old one has to come off anyways. Is this really all that worthwhile for a stock engine? Will power go up any? How about its effect on torque? I do have dual exhaust (with a little bit higher flowing mufflers, but w/ factory 1987! cats) so that may help a bit. Anyone have any numbers? If it's worthwhile, i'll do it. Those are some easy parts to pull off a junkyard stang.

    Is there much of anything else, bolt on I should/could do?

    Overall, I am actually satisfied with the power. Guess I'm used to low performance vehicles... This thing just goes with the 3.27 gears. May need a bit more for highway passing, but since I don't speed much I typically don't need to pass all that much.
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    Road Warrior Kodachrome Wolf's Avatar
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    Swapping the upper intake and TB isn't bad, and the HO stuff will net a little power improvement, but you'll mostly notice better throttle response. That said, finding that stuff might prove to be a little harder. If you do have/get that stuff, you'll need to swap everything to face the correct way for the Panther; again not hard, just needs a little bit of time.

    If you're not wanting to shell out for any of that, yanking the upper intake and knocking out the valve cover in the interim is terribly hard. I'd suggest using FelPro PermaDry valve cover gaskets. Considerably better than the cork stuff and if you're not over-tightening them, you can certainly get away with reusing them should you have to take the covers off again.

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    The PCV valve, the screen and gromet. Any hoses that are easier with the upper out.
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    Wagon Addicted Tiggie's Avatar
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    I’d put the lower intake gaskets on it at this time as well. Get the Felpro set with the blue silicone ends not the cheap cork stuff.

    X2 on the permadry valve cover gaskets.
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    Fastest Box In South Jersey 86VickyLX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiggie View Post
    Id put the lower intake gaskets on it at this time as well. Get the Felpro set with the blue silicone ends not the cheap cork stuff.

    X2 on the permadry valve cover gaskets.
    If you do end up doing the intake gaskets, please be aware that the corner bolts tend to corrode and will break off if you're not careful.
    Also while you got that out, you should replace the pcv grommet, valve and screen. Felpro Permadry gaskets for everything.
    Also note that on the gaskets there is a cover side and head side. Make sure you have them facing the correct way.

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    +2 on the permadry gaskets, they are great. As for the HO upper stuff, the upper intake itself is no biggie, but getting a proper throttle body/egr spacer may prove a bit more difficult. Unless you have the time, money, and patience to procure the necessary bits, you might be better waiting on that. My valve covers have leaked since i got this car, much like yours, they don't drip but i get the burned-oil stank from it hitting the exhaust here and there. If I cared i'd go to the trouble but this engine is coming out in a couple months anyhow so screw it.

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    if your capable and have the tools and time do the valve seals while in there. ( only if you have reason to suspect the seals are hard brittle and leaking very possible if they are OE ) buying a head gasket set, may be cheaper than sourcing all the other parts individually. if your changing out the lower intake gasket also you may as well consider fuel filter and new injectors, cooling system hoses t-stat etc
    The question is how expensive of a can of worms do you want to open.
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    Just re-stating what others have suggested:

    The weight and amount of connections to the upper intake make the effort far more worth it to do more things while you're in there. Lower intake gaskets will need to be done soon if they have never been done - they develop coolant leaks at the 4 corners. The leaks can either go external, internal into the valley (then oil pan, then trash your bearings), or internal into the adjacent intake port (so it will burn).

    Even if you don't upgrade any parts in the process, doing that gasket job is a smart idea. Yes, a couple of the bolts are breakage risks as they go through coolant passages. It's smart to have bolt extractors on-hand.

    +1 on the FelPro Permadry gaskets. Particularly for the valve covers, they are more accommodating of surface imperfections on the valve covers, and it's not unusual for them to no longer be perfectly flat.

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    Can confirm on the LoPo valve seals. It plagues all of them eventually, might as well do them while you're there. Just sucks that there's a whole lot of "while you're there" to go around haha.

    Swapping the EGR spacer & Throttle body isn't the big concern, what is is that the bracket for the throttle linkage and such from the LoPo TB has to be swapped over to the HO TB. Also, if you're going to do this, try and find an HO TB with no air bleed hole in the throttle blade. That or make sure it's the smaller one (similar to LoPo diameter) otherwise you'll have a high idle condition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kodachrome Wolf View Post
    Swapping the upper intake and TB isn't bad, and the HO stuff will net a little power improvement, but you'll mostly notice better throttle response. That said, finding that stuff might prove to be a little harder. If you do have/get that stuff, you'll need to swap everything to face the correct way for the Panther; again not hard, just needs a little bit of time.

    If you're not wanting to shell out for any of that, yanking the upper intake and knocking out the valve cover in the interim is terribly hard. I'd suggest using FelPro PermaDry valve cover gaskets. Considerably better than the cork stuff and if you're not over-tightening them, you can certainly get away with reusing them should you have to take the covers off again.
    So for the most part, just better throttle response? If there was some (worthwhile) extra power it may be worth it, but if it's just throttle response... eh. Throttle response as is, is ok. I've read about this a lot, but forgot about some of the changes needed for the linkages and the egr junk. Sounds like for me, its not worth it. Not worth spending the money or the extra time. Unless I tear the engine down and re-cam it or make it an HO.

    Yea, doing the work wouldn't be a big deal to me. I'm pretty capable in the garage/shop.

    It's "terribly hard"??? lol. You mean its not terribly hard, right? Sure don't look too hard to me. Already got the gaskets. I think the permadry is what I got for the valve covers.


    Quote Originally Posted by jaywish View Post
    The PCV valve, the screen and gromet. Any hoses that are easier with the upper out.
    DONE. I did that about a month after all the "catch up maintenance" I did on the car. I found (after driving the car for a month) that it was eating oil and first thing I checked was the PCV. I pulled it all out a cleaned it up. Really wasn't all that bad, but when I was done that screen was shiny.
    Yup, hoses are on the list of things to do.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tiggie View Post
    Id put the lower intake gaskets on it at this time as well. Get the Felpro set with the blue silicone ends not the cheap cork stuff.

    X2 on the permadry valve cover gaskets.
    Really? Pull the lower intake? Huh, didn't expect that. I'll have to order another gasket just for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by 86VickyLX View Post
    If you do end up doing the intake gaskets, please be aware that the corner bolts tend to corrode and will break off if you're not careful.
    Also while you got that out, you should replace the pcv grommet, valve and screen. Felpro Permadry gaskets for everything.
    Also note that on the gaskets there is a cover side and head side. Make sure you have them facing the correct way.
    Oh shit, they tend to break!? What's the best way to be careful on it and successfully remove them? Or is that one of those things that's up to "luck"?
    PCV has been dealt with.


    Quote Originally Posted by knucklehead0202 View Post
    +2 on the permadry gaskets, they are great. As for the HO upper stuff, the upper intake itself is no biggie, but getting a proper throttle body/egr spacer may prove a bit more difficult. Unless you have the time, money, and patience to procure the necessary bits, you might be better waiting on that. My valve covers have leaked since i got this car, much like yours, they don't drip but i get the burned-oil stank from it hitting the exhaust here and there. If I cared i'd go to the trouble but this engine is coming out in a couple months anyhow so screw it.
    Well, if I could find an untouched car in the local jy, I could scarf everything on the top of the engine for cheap. A HO EGR spacer would work right?
    Don't really notice much smell from this car when the hood is opened. My Jeep GW on the otherhand You open the hood on that (before I changed the gaskets) when hot and you got blasted with a cloud of smoke.


    Quote Originally Posted by EaOutlaw1969 View Post
    if your capable and have the tools and time do the valve seals while in there. ( only if you have reason to suspect the seals are hard brittle and leaking very possible if they are OE ) buying a head gasket set, may be cheaper than sourcing all the other parts individually. if your changing out the lower intake gasket also you may as well consider fuel filter and new injectors, cooling system hoses t-stat etc
    The question is how expensive of a can of worms do you want to open.
    Well, if new valve stem seals are cheap maybe i'll just pick up a set to have, and inspect the old ones when im in there. I Don't really suspect them much as I don't get a poof of smoke on start up. The car does seem to burn oil though... Seemed like I had to put a quart in every 800-1k miles, yet no smoke out the back. No smell either.

    Well, already picked up some of the gaskets. Also got a new fuel filter (not installed, haven't seen how to do it yet) and coolant hoses. New injectors? Why? just curious.

    Not really worried about expense, more so about what I should do for longevity's sake and for basic improvements. (nothing requiring altering the computer junk. Don't know much about that stuff yet, I'm more into carburetors than FI)


    Quote Originally Posted by kishy View Post
    Just re-stating what others have suggested:

    The weight and amount of connections to the upper intake make the effort far more worth it to do more things while you're in there. Lower intake gaskets will need to be done soon if they have never been done - they develop coolant leaks at the 4 corners. The leaks can either go external, internal into the valley (then oil pan, then trash your bearings), or internal into the adjacent intake port (so it will burn).

    Even if you don't upgrade any parts in the process, doing that gasket job is a smart idea. Yes, a couple of the bolts are breakage risks as they go through coolant passages. It's smart to have bolt extractors on-hand.

    +1 on the FelPro Permadry gaskets. Particularly for the valve covers, they are more accommodating of surface imperfections on the valve covers, and it's not unusual for them to no longer be perfectly flat.
    So that's why others above have said something about doing the intake gaskets. I was going to ask, but you already explained it to me. That said, that really sucks to see.


    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    Can confirm on the LoPo valve seals. It plagues all of them eventually, might as well do them while you're there. Just sucks that there's a whole lot of "while you're there" to go around haha.

    Swapping the EGR spacer & Throttle body isn't the big concern, what is is that the bracket for the throttle linkage and such from the LoPo TB has to be swapped over to the HO TB. Also, if you're going to do this, try and find an HO TB with no air bleed hole in the throttle blade. That or make sure it's the smaller one (similar to LoPo diameter) otherwise you'll have a high idle condition.
    Well, I guess that's to be expected on a 30+ year old car with unknown maintenance. On this car, looks like it was the very basics that were done. (pretty much oil changes) I had to change all other fluids(including the diff). Most of them (other than oil and trans) were not the correct color anymore. It also had plugs, wires, cap and rotor that were dated 1988 before I got too it.
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    I only recommended injectors if they are OE ( yet another while your in there thing to do if you can swing it ) if not and one or more goes bad later down the road you will have to take much of this stuff right back off. Not the end of the world but replacing the injectors can make the car run better smoother and will be less likely to bleed fuel into the cylinders when not running.
    A little fuel system diagnostic work and injector cleaning may get you many more years out of the injectors that are in there now.

    I am lazy and have a bad back so when I do repairs I try to address anything and everything that I can get to while I am in there, yet it is a expensive way of doing things. This being said from what I read your covers are not leaking all that bad yet. If it was my car I would get to know it better and make sure to know every inch of the car to see if anything more import needs addressing first.
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    Hmm. Well, they probably are OE. I really don't have reason to believe they are leaking though. It holds pressure in the fuel rail after sitting for at least a few days. They did seem like they might have been dirty when I first got the car, but that may have been old fuel too. I ran like 4 cans of berryman B12 fuel system cleaner through the thing for the first 2 months. Started easier and quit "acting up" as much when cold.

    Yea, the valve covers really aren't too bad, they just have the tell tale signs of seepage. Noticed it when I did the ignition tune up. It will also be some time before I get to the work relating to this thread. I've got other things to do yet during the winter and apparently some more gaskets to get. Even further out if I decide to put any HO stuff on it because I don't like rootin' around snowy junkyards in the middle of winter. My first choice for them parts will be local. Don't have to pay for shipping if its local, and it helps that I know the owner and the guys at the yard- so I get a little cheaper rate!

    Ok, is there much else guys? Anything else I should be aware of when I get to this stuff? Umm, I mentioned above that I cleaned out my PVC (about a month or so after I started driving it) because it seemed like I had an oil consumption problem. Well, I didn't really notice much of a change. It seemed like it still consumed something like a quart every 800-1000 miles. I have no sign of leakage underneath (other than trans pan seepage) the car and it doesn't ever smell like it burns it. I never see smoke either. Is this normal for a 98k mile engine? I'm glad it has the check oil light as I wouldn't have checked it until I got to somewhere around the 1500 mile mark, and It came on sooner than that. I was thinking that when I change the oil before summer that i'll go up in viscosity to combat it. I have 10W30 High Mileage semi synth oil in it right now. Thinkin i'll go to 10W40- whatcha think?

    When is it a good idea to think about the timing chain on these? Are the gears metal or plastic? The engine seems like it's still tight, it don't act sloppy... (not like my damn Cherokee with a slapping chain in the 4.0 and craptastic fuel mileage cause the computer don't know what's goin on)



    Kinda was hoping that HO upper and relating stuff would yield better results than just better throttle response, seeing how apparently everyone does it lol How about larger ratio rockers? Though, those thing are usually freakin expensive and the "bang for your buck" don't really go to far from my research for other engines I have.
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    I have not kept up with your threads, so I am not sure if you changed the engine oil if it was changed before you purchased it.
    I mention this because someone could have put smokeless oil in the engine to cover up worn engine parts.

    if you do not have evidence of a decent size leak it very well could be just burning the oil. ( do you still have the old plugs? ) could you post a picture of them?

    Have you pulled a compression test? or checked for timing chain slack?

    if the timing chain is original is it on borrowed time. ( to check for too much slop in the chain ) rotate the engine and number one piston to TDC of the compression stroke turning the engine in the normal direction of rotation with the rotor button pointing at #1 and the timing mark lined up at the crank at 0 deg.
    then very slowly rotate the engine backwards while watching the rotor button once it starts to move stop turning the engine over by hand.
    look at the timing marks to see how far the crank was able to move before the rotor moved this shows the amount of slop in the timing chain.

    It has a been a long time but I think anything more than 5 deg shows a chain set in need of replacing.
    Last edited by EaOutlaw1969; 01-25-2020 at 03:24 AM.
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    On the EGR spacer for the HO - you typically get the stock part bored for using stock HO throttle bodies, or use a relatively rare 93-95 Lightning spacer for larger throttle bodies. The stock HO spacer doesn’t have the correct mounting provisions for your throttle and TV cables.

    On the oil consumption - 900 miles/quart was acceptable to Ford and oil usage is fairly common from when these were new. http://www.grandmarq.net/vb/showthre...onsumption-TSB. They don’t all do it but many have since new.

    On the timing chain, check yours as EaOutlaw described above. I recently checked mine on my well maintained 88 with 245K on the original chain, and it showed zero slop. The timing sets is the later boxes (post plastic era) were decent quality.
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    It is a truism with 30+ yer old cars that taking care of everything nearby that is subject to age related deterioration when you do any job will almost certainly save you time and money in the long run. If it is a car you want to run for some time then it pays to do some extra when you can. It is a good idea to check the chain but as Tiggie said most of the steel ones were good so 100K miles is probably OK, still checking that before you get into many other improvements is a very good idea.

    Get a rear sway in there you will love it.

    If you were in Northern Yonkers instead of Northern Ill. I would tell you to come by and pick up an HO intake which I don't want to ship.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZackN920 View Post
    When is it a good idea to think about the timing chain on these? Are the gears metal or plastic? The engine seems like it's still tight, it don't act sloppy...
    I'm pretty sure 88 was the year they went to the steel cam gear, before that it was plastic teeth. Plastic gets brittle with age as well as mileage/heat cycles, so you may want to verify that gear sooner rather than later, there's lots of examples online 5.0's with those plastic teeth looking pretty scary on inspection
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    86 was steel. 87 seems to be hit and miss. 88+ is mostly steel, except for the ones that are not. I know someone who lost an engine in an 88 from a plastic cam gear. I know of no way to tell for absolute sure without removing the cover, but you can get a good indication of the condition by removing the distributor cap and using a breaker bar to rock the crank back and forth. A sloppy chain or worn gear will show noticeable crank movement before the rotor follows. Good parts won't have that.


    If you want to do valve seals, you can, and there won't be any better time but its not a ton of fun. I don't like oil consumption, so if I'm adding at all between oil changes I want that to stop. Use the later style seals. Parts for say a 1996 Explorer should be the right one. Instead of the umbrella seal, its a style that seals more tightly. Make sure you clean off the valve stems if you do this. I wiped out a set in my own car after doing a cam swap. The only thing I can figure is the extra travel pushed a not-clean part of the valve stem through the seals and destroyed them. Rag with carb cleaner or whatever should do the job, just make sure there is no varnish or other crud on there. I used a Harbor Freight compression tester hose with the check valve removed to charge the cylinders. It mated to my air compressor without any fuss. Spring compressor was just the usual kind parts stores have with the 2 hooks and the handwheel to compress the spring. A small magnet to fish the retainers out is helpful. Honestly the most difficult part of it all was just the back pain from spending so long bent over the damn car. Should have put it on the jack stands for a little elevation.

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    If yours are plastic forget what I said.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZackN920 View Post
    ...Well, I guess that's to be expected on a 30+ year old car with unknown maintenance. On this car, looks like it was the very basics that were done. (pretty much oil changes) I had to change all other fluids(including the diff). Most of them (other than oil and trans) were not the correct color anymore. It also had plugs, wires, cap and rotor that were dated 1988 before I got too it.
    So far, my '88 is still running the OE valve seals. I won't figure they're bad until it starts fouling #8 or whatever like Ashley's '89 was. My car was also sporting original plugs and all that. First thing I do when I get a car is attain ground zero with new fluids & filters everywhere and replace obviously worn or dated things. It's upkeep after that.

    But for what it's worth, Ashley rocks a '92 C1500 with it's original 350 V8 and it doesn't use or leak a drop of oil, 205k on the ODO. We estimate it sat for about 10 years before we picked it up just last year. The '95 350 in my '89 K1500 uses about a quart per 5,000k miles. Doesn't start to burn until after 3k. Now the rear main leaks a bit so I expect that to go up. 245k on it and ~160k on the engine. Point here is that the Fords have a shittier design/lower quality part by comparison.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
    1988 Town Car Signature - Current Party Barge

  20. #20
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    My Mark VII with 245k doesn't need oil between changes. It did need intake and valve cover gaskets. Never had valve seals done either. That car had a lot of highway miles though, it wasn't around town little old lady never warming up crap.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

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