Getting To The Bottom Of The Great Ford Cover-Up - Engine Builder Magazine

Getting To The Bottom Of The Great Ford Cover-Up

Lately I’ve been noticing an increase of instances where an engine may be the same from one year to the next, with the exception of one major change: the front cover, primarily with SOHC or DOHC engines.

Well, we are back this month with an old friend: the Ford 4.6L SOHC engine family and its front covers. I guess we can call it the great Ford cover-up. With as many different issues as we have addressed on this engine, you might think there is nothing to look for any more. Well it’s time to play “Truth or Consequences,” and believe me: there are some consequences to be had here. They are called “Do Overs.”

So let’s jump right into the deep end and see if you sink or swim. Don’t worry: you will find that we have a nice life vest that you’ll want to keep handy when you see a 4.6L SOHC engine come through your facility. We’ll start with the old and work our way toward the new: first passenger vehicles, then trucks, and at the same time note the differences between Romeo and Windsor production.

Passenger Car Applications

1991-’92 Romeo engine applications use front covers CN F1AE or F2AE. These are the “plain Jane” covers that have no cast-in mounti

1992-’95 passenger Romeo engine applications use front covers CN F3AE or F5AE. This is the first cover that has six cast bosses that are drilled and tapped for the tensioner mount and all of the 15 perimeter bolt bosses are for 8.0 mm bolts. Notice that 1992 is a split year, so know which front cover you need prior to shipping.

1996-2000 passenger Romeo engine applications use front covers CN F6AE, F7AE, F7ZE or F8ZE which are very similar in appearance to the ’92-’95 cover. However, the mounting bolts on the perimeter are now ten 10.0 mm bolt bosses and five 8.0 mm bolt bosses. In addition there was a change in one bolt location just under the water pump mounting by about 1/4-inch. Check the blue circle on the chart.


1996-2000 Windsor engines, when used in passenger applications, are using the same front cover as the Romeo above.

1999-2000 Windsor Mustang only uses front cover CN XR3E with a new design four-bolt boss mounting and a new tensioner mount. It’s the same configuration as the 2001-’03 Romeo engine applications.

Ford Trucks

Now let’s take a look at the Trucks: 1997-2001 Romeo used in F-series and Expeditions with front cover CN F65E, has six-bolt bosses that are in a different pattern from the other covers and has ten 10.0 mm bolt bosses and five 8.0 mm mounting bolt bosses at the perimeter.

Windsor engines used in the same years and applications also used the same front cover.

1999-2003 vans with Romeo engine plant production use front cover CN 2L3E. However, the van does not use the 30-degree advance pointer so reports have been that the van covers do not have it. All indications are that this is not an issue, and that the cover, regardless of degree pointer, may be used in either van or truck applications.

1999 vans with the Windsor engine use the cover CN 2L3E as well, and the best information gathered presently indicates 1999 was the last year that a Windsor was used in the van.

In 2002 things get a little unclear. The best information we have now is that the Explorer got cover CN 2L1E that runs through 2005, and this is when the power steering pump location was changed to a higher mounting position on the right side of the engine. According to the OE parts information, that may have happened in 2002 for the Expedition as well. However, real world information indicates this is not true, and that it definitely happened in 2003 through 2005 and used CN 1L2E and 2L2E.

Lastly in 2004, the new body style Ford F-series went to the high-mount power steering pump and used cover number 3L3E. The heritage body style, however, did not; it retained the low-mount power steering cover used through 2001.

Well, I think that should clarify things, but if not just grab the life vest (the chart that’s included) and use the pictures to find what it is that you really have regardless of the year or the application.

Front cover information has now been added to so that this additional identification is now used when required for engine identification beyond the five “C’s:” cylinder block, crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rod and cylinder head.

This column would not have been possible without the help of Doug Anderson of Grooms Engines and Shai Dhanani of Yamato Engines.

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