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Q: exhaust manifold leak on 2002 Ford Escape

I've had a few local shops look at my exhause leak issue, they stated that the problem comes from the manifold area behind the engine. They stated to bring the vehicle to a ford dealer for the repair, can you advice me or provide any info if this is a commond problem on the escapes?
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I looked and don't see any Service Bulletin regarding frequent exhaust manifold failure. The manifolds are expensive from Ford $400 to $500 each retail cost. and labor nearly 2 hours to replace the easy one and 4 hours to replace the difficult one. A company named Dormin may make a cheaper exhaust manifold.
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Exhaust gasses have to "be kept hot" for the catalytic converter to work properly and neutralize harmful exhaust gasses. Failure is just usually due to poor design or poor materials used. Failure can also be attributed to retarded ignition timing or lean air fuel ratio.
number 3 answer sounds wierd. I think they just replaced a gasket and maybe some high temp sealant to fix the leak then charged you all that money. There is no reason for them to hold onto the part and not let you see it.
This seems to be a common problem and should be a recall item as when you operate the heater,dangerous fumes come into the cabin. I searched on line and found a used rear intake manifold with shipping for $260. The dealer wanted $1200. Labor is set at 4 hours for this job. It cost me $406 plus $260 for a grand total of$666. Not bad when it took the dealer over 12 hours to take the old firewall manifold out and replace with the used one. They stuck to the Ford book and only charged me 4 hours.
At 84,000 miles the exhaust maniford cat (part 5L8Z-5G232-CC, cost $531 labor $687.39 parts)and gasket (MS9515, $34.71) were replaced because of "exhaust manifold broken, leaking." This work was done in Redwood City, California, while I was traveling; unfortunately, pre The Midas rep, Mo, told me there was not a recall on this part. When I asked for the part, Mo told me they had to hold the part for inspection by an agency, but I cannot remember
what agency. Hope this information helps.
I had the same problem back in December, It cost me over a $1000! Why does this happen and is this "common"?
The manifold is made of thin sheet metal thick material. It is also covered with a heat sheild, which is supposed to disapate heat, but in acualality helps hold the heat in. Ever since the begining of cars, manifolds that are covered, cast or steel design, after a period of time they crack. This is not a recall item, because it does not put the driver at safety risk.
2002 ford escape same problem exhaust manifold leak on firewall side. To replace this is very expensive.
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