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If you have ever experienced the joy of doing a plumbing project you learn very quickly about how the properamount of heat in the right place will literally leach the solder intothe joint to seal the copper pipe properly – or not. It becomes obvious where youfailed to do so once you open the main water valve and you suddenlyrealize you have a leak.

That is exactly what can happen with the 3.0L DOHC Duratec Fordengines. In particular, those engines manufactured for the 1999 modelyear vehicle applications may have a greater tendency to leak.

It seems that engines built prior to 6/15/1999 used one head gasket andcylinder head/block combination and after that date used another. Allof the casting numbers and details will be coming in an article laterthis year but for right now we are going to give you the basicinformation and images to keep you from having a leaker.

There are three different areas which clearly identify which headgasket is which and a small change was made to the coolant port areabetween cylinders No. 2 and No. 4 on the right bank.

If the wrong style head gasket is used you will have a coolant leak tothe exterior of the engine, which on initial start up changes yourshoulder posture from bold and robust to hunched over and distraught,usually with a small moan connected to it. So before that happens letme give you that "one thing" you need to know: if you have an F5 or F7block use the early gasket; if it is an XW block use the later gasket.

If you look at the pictures you can see why. Firstcompare the head gaskets early and late (Figure 1), noticing the threedifferent color boxes on both gaskets, and corresponding expanded viewswith the same color borders (Figures 2, 3 and 4). All the pictures showthe early view on the top and late view on the bottom. Then look at theexpanded view of the cylinder head (Figure 5) and you can see the minordifference in the castings.

Put the wrong gasket on the wrong head and you’ll have your leaker.figure 1: the early (top) and late head gaskets have distince differences.figure 2: the early view on the top and late view on the bottom.figure 3: the early view on the top and late view on the bottom.figure 4: the early view on the top and late view on the bottom.Figure 5: Casting differences may be minor but they are important.

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