July 20

2008 Ford Explorer Exhaust Manifold Replacement

Podcast2018, Ford


Mark: Hi it's Mark Bossert producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast, and we're talking cars with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. How you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well this morning. 

Mark: So we're talking about a 2008 Ford Explorer, the kind of infamous Ford Explorer. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop with an exhaust noise coming from the right hand cylinder bank and the exhaust manifold, gasket was basically blown on the right hand side.

Mark: Is this a common issue with this SUV?

Bernie: Extremely common with this SUV and also extremely common with F150's, we replace a lot of manifolds and gaskets. They leak and cause noise all the time.

Mark: Is this a particular engine that's doing this?

Bernie: Well, this is a 4.6 litre V8, which is basically similar to the 5.4, 4.6 similar, they're all kind of the same family of engine. And for some reason the manifolds warp, they leak, the studs break, there's a variety of things. And you can pretty much count on having to do them on pretty much any model. 

Mark: What is involved with doing this job?

Bernie: Well for this particular job it was just the right side that was leaking, we'd actually done the left a year or so ago for this customer. So what's involved is removing the exhaust manifold, generally replacing all the studs, there's studs coming out of the cylinder head so there's eight in total. We replaced the studs, nuts, gaskets, manifold. It's wedged in there, it's a very tight fit to get them out, it's a lot of work, but that's sort of what's involved. 

Mark: So if this is such a common issue wouldn't Ford make an engineering change to fix it?

Bernie: I don't know what they've done on the newer ones, we never know what things are like until a few years elapse. Things like recalls they wouldn't put anything like that out unless it's a safety issue, or any sort of extended warranty, they'll only do that when they think they have to save face for an issue. Like on Nissan they had a lot of problems with the transmissions, the CVT transmission they had a lot of issues with those. So, they extended the warranty for a number of years on those kind of things, sometimes they'll do that. For exhaust manifolds it's really not that high ticket of an item enough to get people to not buy Fords anymore. As far as re engineering hopefully they have done something because there's many years where this issue occurred. Any of these '08, 2010's a little older a little newer they all seem to have leakage problems. So, hopefully they've redesigned it.

Mark: And what's the reason for these manifolds and gaskets to leak so often?

Bernie: Well, I see a couple of things. The issue in and of itself is that there's a lot of heat and temperature differentials, it's aluminum cylinder head, cast iron exhaust manifold. Sometimes the studs will break and that's an issue that's been happening a lot, it's happened on a lot of different variety of vehicles with this particular type of design and it's very common. There's no reason why because it's an aluminum head and a cast iron manifold that it should have a problem, but there's a lot of the way it heats and cools. Often the studs will break, that's usually the first thing that happens. The studs nap and then of course the manifolds not held down tight, it eventually starts to leak and warp the manifold. 

Also sometimes the replacement kits that you buy, the aftermarket ones they don't have the best quality gaskets in them. I believe the owner had said this one had been done a few years ago, and it had the cheaper quality gaskets in it, which we never use. So that's another reason they can go even after they've been replaced. 

So I'll show you a couple of pictures here. I'll start here with the manifold. We'll talk a little bit about the gaskets in a minute. So here's the new replacement manifold. You can see this is the part that bolts the cylinder head, this bolts the exhaust pipe over here. So there's eight studs that stick out of the engine, and they go in this particular area, and there's one gasket here, one gasket in this area here. 

2008 Ford Explorer Exhaust Manifold Replacement
2008 Ford Explorer Exhaust Manifold Replacement
2008 Ford Explorer Exhaust Manifold Replacement
2008 Ford Explorer Exhaust Manifold Replacement

So for our next picture we've got the ... This is the old manifold we took off. So we measured it with a straight edge bar, so the straight edge bar and that's this black thing here, it's basically just a bar of metal but it's extremely precise. There's absolutely no deviation in this metal surface it's completely flat. So we use this to measure things like cylinder head warpage, exhaust manifolds. And you can see that at this point it's touching and on this area here there's a humongous gap. So what's happened is this manifold is warped quite badly, and it could be resurfaced but it would take an awful lot of material and metal, and for the cost of the manifold it's just better to replace it. I'm not showing the rest of the manifold as we saw in this previous photo here. This straight edge bar's being placed cross one of these services here. 

Gaskets, we mentioned gaskets. So this is a good quality gasket. I'm just losing my thinking this morning. It's basically two pieces of metal composite together. The cheaper quality gaskets they're like a metal clad fibre material and unfortunately I don't have sample to show in this picture, but this is the right gasket to have for this job. This is like the OEM Ford style gasket. And as an example of what you see here, this is sort of a side vie of the gasket. You can see there's two ... It's a multi-layer steel, that's what it is. So there's two layers of steel here so they can actually change with temperature and it does a much better sealing job than the other designs of gaskets. So, there's a bit of a gap here but once it's all bolted together it squishes. But again, this is the best type of gasket to have. 

Mark: Alright. Is that generally what ends up happening when you have these leaky manifolds, you replace the exhaust manifold?

Bernie: Most of the time. It depends from vehicle to vehicle. This is such a common issue that the manifolds are readily available. There's a number of good quality after market manifolds available and the price is not that high. Some of these from Ford are actually pretty expensive. And as I said, you can take them to a machine shop and they can flatten it out, like they can resurface it so it's completely flat. Again, it's sort of a cost type of thing. When we're doing the work it takes a day to send it off to a machine shop, a day or longer so the vehicle's kind of tied up. To do the job in a time efficient manner it's often better to replace it then the cost is not a lot more than getting a new manifold. Also of course every time you resurface it you're removing some material, and the less material you have the easier it is to warp in the future. So better to replace it really for the most part, provided the price is not too outrageous for the replacement part. 

Mark: And overall, how are Ford Explorers for liability? 

Bernie: Well, we talked about Jeep Liberty on a recent podcast. To me they're kind of in that vain of American vehicle reliability. There's a number of things that happen with these. You've got these manifold issues that probably shouldn't happen. I mean a lot of other vehicles similar type and design you never get leaky manifolds. They're pretty reasonably priced and they're a good vehicle overall, but there are a lot of little things that go wrong and can cost a bit of money here and there. 

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for service for your Ford Explorer, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112, they have a lot of experience with your vehicle. Or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube search for Pawlik Auto Repair, or hopefully you're enjoying our podcast and again thank you very much for listening. Thanks Bernie.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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