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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got my car back for the replacement head. The tick is completely gone and the car is as quiet as it was on day one. I am very happy!

For starters, I want to thank Hunter. He is the member that prompted me to get the warranty-covered replacement head and, after what I know now, I am very glad that I did!

Background:

I had developed a tick that was evident on cold starts only. Within a few minutes, it would go away. It could only be reproduced when the car sat overnight, meaning that EVERY OUNCE of heat must be out of the engine before I started it up and then it would exibit a faint tick. This did not concern me because my first 03 Cobra had the exact same thing and I beat the snot out of it for 10,000 miles without any new symptoms.

But with my new 03, the 'cold start' tick progressed. It got a little louder and became audible during normal driving operations...not just when cold.

This made me concerned and so I made an appointment and brought the car into my local SVT dealership. The SVT foreman listened to the car and did hear a suspicious tick. So an appointment was made.

During the diagnosis appointment (which took two days), the Ford dealership opened a case with SVT and went through a troubleshooting procedure to isolate and diagnose the tick. They put the car on the lift, listened to it all over with a stethascope, disabled certain cylinders, etc. When finished, they told me that my tick was due to a design flaw in the driver's side head. They told me that SVT was aware of it and that a redesigned head would be released within two weeks and, at that time, they would order me one and replace the head.

About a week later, Hunter posted the TSB that is listed as a Sticky Thread in this forum. When I read it, I called my Ford dealership, gave them the TSB # and they researched it. Sure enough, it was the fix that I was waiting for. They ordered the head and contacted me when it came in.

The appointment was made and the head replacement was very successful. The tick is completely gone and the car feels great.

Please do not ask me if I brought my car into the dealership with any alterations. OF COURSE NOT!!! It was completely stock.

Anyway, I was talking with a very qualified professional about the replacement head (not from the dealership). Here's what he has told me:

The TSB is for a replacement head...meaning a REDESIGNED head. This does not mean that the valves were installed incorrectly in some units. It means that the design of the head is flawed and causes problems.

Technically, the water passages in the head are too close to the valves and, with enough heat, causes the valve seats to become loose and creates this deteriorating valve guide issue. There is not enough 'meat' between the water passage and one of the valves. Perhaps those that pulley or mod their 03's are making more heat in the head and bringing on the problem faster.

Because this is a DESIGN FLAW and not an assembly issue, this problem exists within ALL 03 COBRAS and not jus those that are exhibiting a tick.

I asked about the other head and was told that it is not an issue, because there is a slight deisgn difference between driver and passenger heads. There is no problem with the passenger head.

This person told me that the redesigned head should be a RECALL and not just a TSB. But Ford is quietly warranty fixing only those cars that exhibit the tick.

But the valve seat/guide problem exists in all cars...whether they have a tick or not. This person told me that it is a blessing in disguise for those cars that have the tick. He said that even without an audible tick, there could be damage happening in the valves due to this design flaw. I asked him what all other 03 Cobra owners should do and he said, "I have two words...EXTENDED WARRANTY".
 

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Did the person you talk to say at what point Ford has switched over to using this new head design for their production line? My Cobra was built in April of this year and I would feel better knowing if it came with a fixed head.
 

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The Ubiquitous Jimmy V.
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Great info Rich..I heard about the water passages before.The guys who don't tick should atleast run water wetter to keep heads cooler.
The early Cobra always ran leaner in #7..I wonder if that was there problem also..My 96Cobra ticked but used no oil for over 100K hard miles.
P.S. I heard 03's that tick on both sides..WTF is up with that??
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, there was definately some date signifigance there. I believe the TSB lists it.

Apparently, Ford began to put the redesigned heads on cars that were made after a certain date...so for those guys, it won't be an issue at all.

But for the rest of us...it's something to watch out for.

More good news, I asked the SVT guys to look my engine over very carefully with the head off. They said my pistons and rings look like brand new!

PHEW!!!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Jim Vaccaro said:
P.S. I heard 03's that tick on both sides..WTF is up with that??
Jim, I was concerned about that also. And, when my car went in for initial diagnosis, I got a phone call that it appeared to be in the bottom half of the engine!! They thought that the oil pickup was rattling or something.

But they later learned that the tick can be very misleading and can resonate throughout the entire engine, from top to bottom and it is very difficult to pinpoint until they go through an exact procedure with SVT.

I would have sworn that the tick was coming out of both sides of my engine, as I could hear it in both wheel wells. But with the driver head replaced...it's gone. And BELIEVE ME, I listened carefully!
 

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So Hammer you removed your KB and every other mod you have before it went to the dealer or it went there before you started modding , i am confused!
 
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What I am getting from the info Hammer posted...is YES...the car was totally stock when it went in. Look no further into it, than that. If Hammer says it was stock...it was stock. Nuff said. Carry on.

Thanks for the info Hammer.......

Harry
www.HotRodHarrys.com
 

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Rich,
I understand that you took your car in stock. However, If someone with the tick, took their car in with mods on, could Ford say the tick was caused by the MODS and not this design flaw?..
 

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I have a very *slight* tick on the drivers side, not very loud at all. 2 Dealerships have diagnosed it as "normal valvetrain noise." Guess I'm not getting warrantee work on that around here until/unless something breaks. *sigh*

I wonder how much a redesigned head costs?
 

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Excellent, excellent information.

So according to the TSB posted in the "sticky thread" some cars shouldn't have to worry.

ISSUE:
Some 2003 Mustang Cobra vehicles with engines built before 11/1/2002 may exhibit an unusual engine tick noise that is present at all temperatures during idle.
 

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Thanks for the info Rich. We got the tick.

Did they remove the engine to do the head like some dealerships are doing or did they lower the k-member?

Also, don't really want to take our car back to the dealership we bought it from for service. What's the best one in NJ to goto?

Thanks :)
 

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I don't remember what the exact date was on the new head update for production. I think it was sometime in November of last year. All of the new heads have BLUE PAINT sprayed on them.......not totally painted blue but enough that if you look at the head closely it can be seen rather easily.

HAMMER if you look at your new head closely you will see it is painted blue.

Oh yeah......retail cost of the new head is like 1400 bucks, cost is $850. The head comes complete with valves, springs, cams, etc.

The old head can be updated to correct the issue. According to an engine builder that was involved with Ford on this issue the fix is actually a water passage issue between the #7 and #8 cylinder. The old head has a $150 core charge......if you want to keep it for future use talk real nice to your repairing dealer and they may let you pay the core and keep it.

I don't know exactly what the repair costs for the old head....but it doesn't sound like it will be alot.
 

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would this be down's ford i am guessing? and if you had a chip, what did you do to the computer to make it look as if a chip was never there? sorry for the questions, but now you got me worried ,since i am halfway through my warrantee (18,000 miles), and still haven't had the tick yet (car was built 7/02). and i have heard that downs has a good rep for doing service work and is mod friendly (to a point i am sure). that is also where i bought my cobra.
 

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The way Hammer talked is that all the cars have the problem, at least the ones with the old head design, and what I got from his post at some point all the cars with the old heads WILL have the problem sooner or later, hence why the service manager said get the extended warranty, never know when it will rear its ugly head but it will in time am i correct? Thats why before I go out an put a KB on my car I want to have a new head, my car can easily be put back to stock now but pulling the new blower would be a lot of work!
 

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Let me just say this.......this head design/flaw has been there and known about since 1996. It's not a reliability issue........just that some are noisier and it does slightly affect performance.
 

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I purchased a set of bare 03 heads from Ford last month and while there was no blue paint on them I guess I will find out if there is a “tick”

I am having the heads fully ported with all new valve train so I wonder if that makes a difference…
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
JT said:
Guys,
Can we use our heads here and not post in public potential sticky questions/answers or conclusions.

Take it to PM.

JT
Aaah, the voice of reason!

:salute

Eric, promote this man to moderator ASAP!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
trey193 said:
hence why the service manager said get the extended warranty, never know when it will rear its ugly head but it will in time am i correct? Thats why before I go out an put a KB on my car I want to have a new head, my car can easily be put back to stock now but pulling the new blower would be a lot of work!
Not correct, Trey. The information did not come from any service manager. Please re-read my original post, it has all the answers to your questions.

Is the information 100% accurate? I certainly can't say. And I don't feel comfortable coming off like a 'whistle blower' but it's more important for me to share what I found out with my fellow Terminator enthusiasts, for the sake of supporting the scene. I hope everyone appreciates it!

But, I do agree with your strategy 100%. If you are concerned about the issue with the head, you should get it addressed BEFORE doing any mods, if possible. Bringing the car in for service modded is NOT A GOOD IDEA, we all know that.

It sucks to put your car back to stock after mods but it sucks WORSE to end up with an engine problem down the road. If the information is true, you'll have to swap it back to stock sooner or later...the question is...do you want to be proactive or reactive?
 
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