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1988 Mustang LX

James86

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WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
Wasn't sure if I could tuck this under "4-bangers" or just under a non RBV thread, but anywho, here it goes.

I recently got a 1988 Ford Mustang 2.3L auto for about $250. It's been sitting for 6 years, but we went out, threw in a battery, and managed to start it right up. Now I know it's going to need a lot of work just from sitting (the brakes are locked so it won't move at all), but the main issue is the reason it's been sitting all this time.

My old roommate got it as a graduation present from his Grandma in Kansas before he moved in with me, so it's seen little if any salt, and it ran great with plenty of power, but it started overheating. It gets hot after about 20min or so of driving and the shop he took it to claimed the head gasket was bad and quoted him about $1000 or more to fix it, and lacking funds, he parked it and got a different vehicle. It's sat at another friends farm since mid '06, and the farm owners are kinda sick of seeing it sit there, so I worked out a deal where I got the car. I need to figure out the best way to break the wheels loose to trailer it to my parents where I can at least work on it in a garage, and then get down to figuring out the overheating issue. I know the heater core was possibly bad at one point, because it fogged up the windows, but he put in bar's leak AFTER the overheating issues started, so while not sure if it's relevant, I'll still mention it. Being it's sat about 6 years, nobody remembers if the fan kicks on -it's electric- but the 10-15min I had it running the other day it never kicked on, and it was about 60 or so degrees out. The oil still looks surprisingly good, the coolant is the greenest I've ever seen, and it's full as well. Honestly, we only have the word of the shop that it was ever burning coolant, otherwise it ran awesome and eagerly spun the tires.

Here is the only pic I have handy form the day I went and started it:



Paint is faded to hell, but the body is otherwise sound and there were those who wanted to buy it off him just for the body and a 5.0 swap, but I plan to leave it pretty much stock for now. It's just a project car so time isn't really of the essence, but it's safe to say I've never taken on a project this big.... but we all gotta start somewhere right?:headbang:

I'm thinking of checking the obvious stuff like fan relay and thermostat before I start tearing into the motor.

It currently has 178,000 miles on it.

Any pointers and suggestions appreciated.
 
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scotts90ranger

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4WD
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if the fan does turn on and it still overheats, I say radiator...
 

James86

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WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
Fan never turned on even after about 25-30min today... found oil leak at the front of the head, and a vacuum leak on the firewall. We managed to get the rear drums loose, but the front calipers are rusted tight.
 

scotts90ranger

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Sounds like the fan could be the culprit then

oil leak on the front of the head is most likely a cam seal, or a far reach if it's ever been out the cam sprocket bolt since it needs sealant, or the valve cover gasket.

For the rotors I would suggest taking the tires off and taking a C clamp to the calipers then a pry bar to pry the pads loose from the rotors.
 

James86

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My credo
WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
The oil leak appears on the side where the head meets the block towards the front, so I'm guessing head gasket. I orderred a relay for the fan, since jumping will turn it on, so the fans not bad, so that points to relay. The AC isnt charged, and the compresser was going when it was parked, so the fan won't kick in that way either. Found a new in box set of front pads, so likely just going to completely remove the fornt calipers and replace the pads. I also need to figure out why last time i started it I had brake pedal, but this last time it just went to the floor. Master cylinder looks damned near brand new, so I suspect a brake line rotted or the seals on the calipers are boned. I'm wondering how the shop determined the headgasket was the reason it was overheating, since it never got above normal for us, and never blew smoke, so I'm suspecting it's the fan and a liveable oil leak. If the thermostat was stuck, or the head gasket was blown, it would've heated up pretty fast, especially with us trying to rock the brakes free, right?
 

Mark_88

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I would suggest changing the flex lines also if you are going to do the calipers...they are more likely the cause of the fronts being locked or could be a problem later...best to just do them and be done with it...they are not that expensive...

As for the oil leak...could be the head gasket...or could be like Scott suggested...the cam bolt may need to be sealed...

Oil leaks can be deceptive though...so have a good look at it before tearing the head off...that repair is not expensive since the 88 probably had the reusable head bolts (not torque to yeild which requires new bolts)...and the gasket itself is about $30-50...but then you should replace the valve cover gasket as well...and that does not come with the head gasket kit...

The electric fans are great...until they crap out...caused my Tempo to overheat and damaged the valve on the rad...resulting in having to replace the valve...and eventually the rad...

If you have the money replace the rad as well...sitting is not good for them...unless the fluid was just changed and they used the proper coolant

And, last but not least on my 2¢ worth...replace the water pump...heat is a killer on the heads and the more you put into the cooling system the better...
 

James86

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WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
I was planning on evetually doing all the gaskets associated with the head (intake, exhaust, head, valve cover, etc) and all that jazz. The coolant was changed just before it was parked and still looks good. I'm planning on going thru all the brakes before this ever sees the road.
 

James86

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3.0 Flex Fuel, 2.5L, 3.3 Flex Fuel
Transmission
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My credo
WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
Honestly, I'm surprised it starts and runs so well after sitting so long. After the idle settles a bit, its probably the smoothest sounding 4 cylinder I've ever had sadly....
 

James86

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1999,
2012,
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Ford,
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3.0 Flex Fuel, 2.5L, 3.3 Flex Fuel
Transmission
Automatic
My credo
WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
In the documentation up to 2003, maybe a year before it was stopped driving regularly, rear main seal, front main seal, transmission seals, etc were all done, so it doesn't really have any fluid leaks on it other than the pass. side of the head between about the 1st spark plug and the front corner of the head. Coolant doesn't bubble when its running or up to temp either. I orderred a relay and I'll try that as soon as I get a chance and see if that solves the fan - and overheating - issue.
 
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chilsam

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You scored!

Thats what my son n I have been looking for we picked up a COMPLETE SVO 2.3 & T5 with 70,000 for $200.00 they ARE out there,GOOD LUCK!:icon_thumby:
 

James86

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My credo
WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
complete SVO with 70K for $200?

does it run?

Or by complete do you mean most of the motor was in the trunk waiting to be put back together, because I've seen cars like that too:D
 

chilsam

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85 SVO mustang motor & tranny

complete SVO with 70K for $200?

does it run?

Or by complete do you mean most of the motor was in the trunk waiting to be put back together, because I've seen cars like that too:D
is what I meant. I've been looking for a mustang body like you found to put it in.It does run the guy pulled it to put in a 302 or 351 I can't remember?
 
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James86

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55381, Minnesota
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1999,
2012,
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Ford,
Ford,
Engine Size
3.0 Flex Fuel, 2.5L, 3.3 Flex Fuel
Transmission
Automatic
My credo
WHY DO I KEEP BUYING DODGES?!?!?
Well mine the body is horrbily oxidized, but theres almost no rot in the sheetmetal. It runs, but I can't figure out where they hell they hid the fusebox on the thing since i didn't see it under the hood and a new relay later, I can't get the damned e-fan to kick on. It's 8 miles away for now, so it's not like i can just wlak oustide to it. Also, I have an issue where the spring for the ignition keeps kicking the key back out of "run" so that after i start it, I have to keep pressure on the key or itll turn itself off. New cylinder lock did nada. Is there a spring or inner mechanism fukked up inside the coolumn making the key kick back too far after I start it? It starts fine, but it wont stay in run unless I apply slight rotation against the spring, almost as if the spring is pushing back too soon, if that makes any sense.
 

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