Possible Head Gasket crack? on 1996 Lincoln Town Car

Just a couple days ago I went to wash my engine at the car wash for the first time since I owned it (3 years). I used the engine wash cycle no high pressure stuff. Car ran fine on the way home however a few hours later I noticed it was running rough. It kind of sputters as I accelerate and it also chugs when it is in gear but stopped. Someone just told me today that there is some white smoke coming from my tail pipe as well as water. The smoke is not very thick though. Also my coolant level was about half what it was the day before............it was suggested that I have a cracked head gasket. Does this sound like the case to you and where is the head gasket located so I can see if I see an issue?

by in Colorado Springs, CO on March 15, 2011
2 answers 2 comments
ANSWER by on March 15, 2011
You would need to remove the cylinder head for gasket inspection. I doubt that a car wash cracked the head or gasket. I have seen where the exhaust manifold did crack when sprayed water on a hot manifold. The misfire you experienced was likely water on plugs and wires and cap if has one. Can also get into injector connections. If you have a damaged head gasket or two then would see alot of white smoke. The smoke you saw was likely related to the misfire. By "half the coolant level" what do you mean? In the resevoir bottle? It is not uncommon to see water actually leave the tailpipe when engine is running, this is a by product of condensation that can be in the exhaust system.
COMMENT by on March 16, 2011
Thank you for your response. As for the coolant issue, yes, half was gone from the reservoir bottle in a matter of one day. So would you recommend that I pull all my plugs to check if they are wet?
ANSWER by on March 15, 2011
Not a head gasket issue. What is likely to have happened is that you got water into your coil packs and ignition wires. The wires are arcing. Remove and replace your ignition wires. Dry out the coils as best as possible - if you have compressed air at your disposal that's the best way to try and dry the water out. Good luck!
COMMENT by on March 16, 2011
Thank you. Might you know where the coil packs and so on are located in a 96 town car? I have been to sooooo many sights looking for diagrams or videos and just end up frustrated due to the lack of information available for my vehicle. Again, thank you for your help!
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