Question about 1998 Ford Windstar

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Low compression in 1 cylinder

I have a 98 ford Windstar 3.8L engine with the middle cylinder (Firewall side) failing. it's not burning oil but there is a black soot mixture that sprays out of the tail pipe when I start it up in the morning, smells like unburned gas. The mechanic that I took it to said the spark plug he removed was covered in oil and that the cylinder has a 30 PSI lower then the other 5 cylinders. What I don't understand is, shouldn't it be burning oil (blue smoke)? The mecanic also mentioned something about backflow pressure, causing the airfilter assembly to leak oil, so he rerouted the valve cover hose away from it to a container that catches the small drops of oil it spills, smells really bad... My question is, could it be more of a valve issue than a cyilder block/rings issue?

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  • geo3castillo Jun 04, 2009

    could a bad head gasket cause excessive crankcase pressure, and low compression? The gas smell is actually coming out of the tailpipe.

  • geo3castillo Jun 04, 2009

    You're right, it's not over heating. I really would like to keep the vehicle, I guess I need to consider the difference in having the engine overhauled Vs finding an engine replacement.

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It sounds like you have a broken piston ring This condition allows compression gasses to enter the oil pan and pressurize it, causing blowby that will find it's way into the air cleaner. A bad valve will not do this as compression would be blown either out the exhaust or intake, but no oil. It would usually be accompanied by a "blapping" noise in the intake or exhaust and a lot of engine shake while running. If you have lots of miles on the engine consider repowering it or buying a new vehicle as the repair will be quite expensive.

Posted on Jun 04, 2009

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  • Richard Scordino Jun 04, 2009

    a failed head gasket could give you a similar problem but you would likely have some overheating along with your other symptoms. I considered that before I answered and pretty much ruled it out by experience. Though the gasket could fail into an oiling port, it is so rare as to be a non-issue.

  • Richard Scordino Jun 04, 2009

    If you have the time and inclination, pull the head and look inside...That will tell you more than anyone can. If you are going to pull the engine, if it's real bad, you don't need to buy anything cause you won't be fixing it. (shops have an "edge" here as many now have bore scopes (a small camera they can stick inside a plug hole and actually look around)...wish I could afford one!

  • Richard Scordino Jun 05, 2009

    Rebuilding an engine can get expensive. However, the end result is usually a better engine than the one in the car when it was new...After heating up and cooling down over several years, the block takes a set, and does not change...a new one changes dimensions till this "set" takes place. The key to a good rebuild is exceptional care in assembly and use of quality components.
    On the other hand, a used engine is far less costly...if you get one with low miles that was well maintained, it should be fine, but it is at best, a gamble, sometimes a good one sometimes not. Just thought Id give you this insight to help you decide which way to go. A lot also depends on what you find when you open yours up. It is possible to replace one piston, but that is not cheap either!

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I think you could be right. Leaking valves could create this same problem as well.

Posted on Jun 04, 2009

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