By Roy Berndt
Q. Does anyone know how the 1997-’99 Ford 4.6L and 5.4L cylinder heads can be identified, and does it have something to do with the intake manifold gasket? I have even seen two different heads on the same engine that have the same casting number.
A. If you’re talking about the Windsor applications, we extend our deepest sympathies. Why? Because there are a number of different right answers. The Windsor Plant production cylinder head in question is F75E 6090 C20A. It was used on the 4.6L, 1997-1999, SOHC, VIN 6 engines, primarily in the Expedition, light-duty F-Series trucks and E-Series van vehicle applications. The casting was also used in some 1996 and early 1997 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis models. All 4.6L applications came from the factory with the intake gasket alignment pin holes below the intake ports or "inside the rubber gasket," as noted in Ford’s parts information.
That same casting was used on the 5.4L, 1997-’99 NPI (non-power improved) SOHC VIN L engines in the Expedition, F-Series truck and E-Series van, both light-duty and super-duty. The 1997 5.4L cylinder head had the intake manifold alignment pin holes below the ports, identical to the 4.6L. In 1998 and 1999 the NPI 5.4L intake gasket pin alignment holes were moved above the intake ports or "outside the rubber gasket" as noted in Ford parts information.
This upper alignment pin configuration of the same casting number (c/n F75E 6090 C20A) was also the service replacement cylinder head for both 4.6L and 5.4L engines.
Ford’s recommendation when purchasing a new cylinder head is to order an intake gasket for that particular head, not for the vehicle application. Now, if you are replacing only one cylinder head, be it 4.6L or 5.4L, if it originally had the lower alignment pin holes the new service replacement head will have upper alignment holes. You will need to use a different intake gasket on each side of the engine.
Is everyone shaking his or her head yet? Well, we’ve included some pictures, part numbers and helpful notes so that it all makes sense.
Oh, one last thing. When purchasing a bare cylinder head, Ford recommends changing all the valve springs which have all been superceded by one part number (p/n XL3Z-6513-AA). That is the same spring currently being used on the PI (power improved) heads.
Per OE fiche notations, valve springs for 4.6L and 5.4L SOHC Windsor engines (p/n F1AZ-6513-A to F6AZ-6513-AA to F6AZ-6513-AC) are superceded by p/n XL3Z-6513-AA.
As seen by the illustrations, part numbers and their supercessions, the purchase of a new cylinder head results in replacing the intake gasket as well. However, if replacing only one cylinder head the intake manifold gaskets may be different from one side to the other. Ford fiche indicate with use of a new bare cylinder head both the updated intake gasket, and valve springs are required. The valve springs are the same as PI head. EB The Production Engine Remanufacturers Association (PERA) offers Core ID (CID) Software which is a unique engine identification program that provides casting number identification to manufacturer specific applications, as well as detailed descriptions of those casting numbers. It also provides visual photo capture for an absolute definitive identification where required. For additional information on both the software and PERA, call 847-439-0491; fax at 847-439-7294; or find more information at www.pera.org.