TTAC Commentator sastexan writes:
I have another Ford Duratec question for Sajeev, knowing his enthusiasm [So to speak – SM] for this engine. My 12 1/2 year old daily driver, my first “real” car that I have been driving for 2/3 of my driving years – a ‘98.5 Contour SVT – has a major problem.
I was at Summit Point on Friday, and had oil starvation-no warning-just puff of smoke out exhaust, a loss of power and a noise, then engine quit – clutch in rolled off track just in time for oil to start gushing out. Oil kept dripping the next hour or two. Cannot visibly see damage, but dipstick is stuck. Mechanic today (5 days later) tried to turn over the engine to see if it would spin and if compression – said no compression and it spun a few times then he heard a bang and it locked up. Did zero disassembly.
Question 1 – is that an appropriate way to see if an engine is done for, especially knowing there is no oil in the crankcase?
Question 2 – is it worth finding someone to do a 3.0 upgrade (I don’t have the expertise, knowledge, time, or place to even fathom taking this on)?
I hate hearing the story of a treasured vehicle biting the dust. These V6 Contours are known for oil pan baffling issues at high cornering loads. But I’m fairly certain that yours threw a rod like mine when bits of catalyst from the pup cats (on the manifold) got sucked into the motor, cracked a piston and threw a rod. Since you a Contour nut, scrapping is not an option. It’s time for a 3.0L Taurus swap.
Interesting – one of the cats has been degrading for about 9 months now – started as a CEL light (P0430), but only was an issue when temps were below 45 degrees and the car was fully warmed up. The O2 sensor was reading right on the threshold – limit is 0.45 and it was reading 0.47. I also know it was a cat as I could hear it rattling at certain RPM – and it felt a little sluggish. I all of a sudden noticed about 2 months ago the rattle was gone and the engine felt a little looser – guess finally got all the plates flattened.
I’m inclined to do the engine – I just got laid off, got rugrat #2 due in 5 weeks, and I have an extra car to drive around for a few months (my father-in-law’s old Grand Cherokee – he passed away 6 months ago). But since I’m a gearhead but not much of a wrench turner, and I don’t have a garage or suitable spot to work on the car – I’m slightly leery of finding someone that is trustworthy enough to do such a job.
As a side note on the oil starvation, some have put the Escape oil pan in – which has baffles – others (like myself) have just filled to 6 quarts (factory spec is 5.5) and no issues. I only jumped on oil starvation due to what I’ve read – the problem occurred after a low speed tight turn followed by an immediate accelerating turn that isn’t a high-G turn because of the low entry speed. My mechanic is an instructor at Summit Point, so he was surprised that was where it happened.
I found a guy who builds 3L swaps and sells as a crate or installed. Has done 40-50 installs and 70 or so as crate engines. Talked to him for over an hour, he really knows the engine, issues, and install. Offers a flat rate install (including fluids) if he has the car. He said that the oiling problem with the 2.5L is less the lack of baffles in the oil pan – that exasperates it – but that the heads don’t drain properly if you are in a long, sweeping right hand turn. Hence, when my car puked the rod (after a long right hand turn), which probably punched the block or pan, it didn’t start spewing oil for 5 or so seconds when the oil started coming back down out of the heads. The 3L has different heads so no oiling issue like that.
I’m going to shop transport companies, this is the best course of action – someone who really knows (and loves) the car will give it new life; I’ll get a car back for minimal (relatively) money that was worthless which I know the full history and that it is in good running order. And it will be ready for the track again with a good amount more power and no more weight, as well as duty as my daily driver.
Well, looks like someone doesn’t mess around! Enjoy the swap, that installer has a good reputation so I am sure it’ll be worth the time and money. I was lucky that my Cougar had a good home (with a garage full of Contour/Taurus parts) waiting for it in central Texas, otherwise I’d be in your shoes.
In less than a month, sastexan replies:
Thought I would give you an update. The 3L swap is great. The MSDS headers add to the deep baritone (notwithstanding my exhaust leaks). Maybe in the spring, once I am gainfully employed again, I’ll spring for a full new exhaust – everything under there is in pretty sorry shape thanks to all these years of salt-eating DC roads, even with undercarriage washes. But it feels really nice, maybe even slightly smoother than stock engine, pulls really strong, great engine tone just too much of it.
Damn son, that was quick! About two weeks after your last email, I drove my 3L “hybrid” Cougar (Cougar heads, Taurus short block) from Luke, the guy who technically owns it after I gifted it to him, and it’s a total hoot. There’s plenty of low-end torque, with smooth and strong power all the way to 7000rpm (SVT cams). Very little torque steer, probably thanks to the Quaife in the transaxle. I can wait, but whenever I get it back, I’ll be a happy camper.
No doubt, you are gonna love spending time in your RestoMod Contour SVT. The more time you spend with it, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is precisely what SVT shoulda done from the factory.
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.