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Old 09-19-2011, 08:14 AM   #1
thoughto
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Unhappy EJ20K Head gasket probably gone

Looks like one of my head gaskets has gone. Would love to hear it is something cheaper, but not expecting it.

Checked the diagnostics on my JDM Version 4 STI yesterday morning, to make sure nothing was malfunctioning. [Was about to fit K&N intake, and wanted to know everything was working beforehand.] No error codes at all.

Symptoms:
Went for short drive, 8-10 miles.
Arrived home, turned off engine, opened bonnet to look at the intake install. Heard a gurgling sound from the coolant header tank. Removed lid of overflow tank, noticed bubbling gas coming through (the first time I've seen this).

Let car cool a bit. Removed lid of header tank, noticed was no longer full. Added water to fill up.
Restarted car. At idle the level of the header tank quickly dropped to the level it was at before refilling, and after a while bubbling resumed in the overflow tank. The car is decatted (in case it matters). I checked the exhaust gas, it became white, and seemed to have water vapour in it (condensation in pipe).

Have I lost a head gasket? Is there any way of fixing this economically, or is it an engine out only job? I checked the thread about using gasket fixer of some sort in the coolant. Does not seem to be a good idea in the long term
I pushed the car back a few feet this morning, and noticed a couple of dark marks under the car on the passenger side. In the JDM (RHD) car, this is the side with the battery and screen wash reservoir. I know everyone says you have to do both at once anyway.

If I have to pay someone to fix the head gaskets, is it worth me trying to remove the engine myself and bring it to a workshop? In other words, is it harder to get the engine out and then put it back after than it is to change the gaskets, or if I can successfully get the engine out is it a straightforward job to change the gaskets?

I have plenty of time but not much money, as I am unemployed. I don't have an engine hoist, but I might be able to get one. No engine stand either.

Sorry for long post, thanks for any help. Tom
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:07 AM   #2
Poppie
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You will see bubbles as the turbo coolant goes into the header tank and will boil off due to no pressure in the system (when you have the cap off obviously)
May be worth just checking your header cap is sealing properly as mine went on my 93wrx and I could here gurgling noises thought the worse and it just turned out to be the cap not sealing properly.
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:21 PM   #3
TommyAtomic
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The headgaskets can be replaced with the engine still in the car. It is an epic PITA but it is not impossible. I had a shop that did my headgasket replacement that way. It was cheaper for me because they didnt have to pull the engine.

Feel free to replace the waterpump, timing belt and pulleys while your at it. You will save a grip of money later by doing it now.
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:32 PM   #4
thoughto
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Thanks very much guys. I am still not a hundred percent sure, will investigate further tomorrow, but basically pessimistic. My header cap is unfortunately almost new, and fits great, more's the pity. TommyAtomic, you don't know of a webpage showing how to do the job with the engine in do you? Would be very interested. My searches failed to deliver in that department. Tom
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:56 PM   #5
elislider
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another way you can check if your headgasket is going/gone, make sure all the caps and lines and hoses are sealed up and then start the car. squeeze the top hose from the crossover pipe into the radiator, if it feels extra inflated, as if there is lots of pressure inside of it (moreso than usual) then its probably the headgasket, because some of the compression of the engine is pushing into the coolant system
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:32 AM   #6
pmugabi
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My test for a headgasket is to start the car and wait till the fans come on and then turn the engine off. If the top hose is still pressurized 20 minutes after turning the engine off, then it's a headgasket issue.
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:01 PM   #7
TommyAtomic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmugabi View Post
My test for a headgasket is to start the car and wait till the fans come on and then turn the engine off. If the top hose is still pressurized 20 minutes after turning the engine off, then it's a headgasket issue.
This should assume that the coolant system has been properly burped. If there is still air in the system the air will still expand when heated by the coolant and easily maintain pressure for 20 minutes unless its quite cool outside.

Ive seen a few complaints of bad clamps or hoses that allowed air in the system after the engine shut down. Then when the engine was restarted the air was heated and expanded.
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Old 10-15-2011, 08:23 PM   #8
cmyles
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No smoke at all ? Wheres the coolant going then?

The coolant lines running to the turbo do take in coolant and circulate after shutdown.
Could be an air bubble in the system, try burping it if you havent already.
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Old 10-16-2011, 05:29 AM   #9
thoughto
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Thanks very much for all advice. I decided the head gasket had gone, and the mechanic confirmed this at cylinder 1.
What apparently happens is that no coolant is consumed until the car hits boost, so at idle all seems well. On boost pressure rises and gas bubbles out through the leaking gasket and fires coolant out of the overflow bottle. This seemed to be the case with my car.
People attach a plastic tube to the outlet of the overflow bottle and run the tube under the bonnet so it exits under a windscreen wiper blade. Then the overflowing coolant can be seen when going on boost.
In my case the plastic tube did not fit perfectly, and I did not see a projectile flow of coolant, but I could tell that was what was going on.
Hope this helps someone else.
Engine gone back together now with new gaskets, all new bearings and stronger later model rods, so will be much stronger. Cheaper than a rod / rod bearing / crankshaft fail anyway.
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Old 10-17-2011, 04:15 PM   #10
TommyAtomic
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Have the timing belt, pulleys and waterpump replaced with headgasket. Its hardly more work for the mechanic and will save you trouble later.
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Old 10-17-2011, 04:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thoughto View Post
Thanks very much for all advice. I decided the head gasket had gone, and the mechanic confirmed this at cylinder 1.
What apparently happens is that no coolant is consumed until the car hits boost, so at idle all seems well. On boost pressure rises and gas bubbles out through the leaking gasket and fires coolant out of the overflow bottle. This seemed to be the case with my car.
People attach a plastic tube to the outlet of the overflow bottle and run the tube under the bonnet so it exits under a windscreen wiper blade. Then the overflowing coolant can be seen when going on boost.
In my case the plastic tube did not fit perfectly, and I did not see a projectile flow of coolant, but I could tell that was what was going on.
Hope this helps someone else.
Engine gone back together now with new gaskets, all new bearings and stronger later model rods, so will be much stronger. Cheaper than a rod / rod bearing / crankshaft fail anyway.
is he doing it in car? if you are doing all those replacement parts, its easier to pull the engine and have all the room in the world to work on it. otherwise your rear main seal is still old and suspect if you're leaving it in the bay. i did a clutch also since its THAT far along anyway! lol. thats the issue with a HG failure, you end up wanting to do everything else just to NOT have to do it again in a couple months.

--keith
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Old 10-17-2011, 04:48 PM   #12
thoughto
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Engine is out. I did nearly all the work to get it out, but my mechanic did a great job bringing a hoist and separating engine from gearbox for me. Nearly everything is getting done, as you both say it makes sense. Luckily my clutch was very good, and even my turbo inlet pipe was fine. Bought a lot of hoses though. Timing belt def changed, pulleys and water pump not sure, but definitely checked.
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:42 PM   #13
kheff46
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gaskets and seals galore! glad to hear you're doing it yourself and saving $$ where you can. helps pay for other stuff, lol!

--keith
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Old 10-23-2011, 10:22 PM   #14
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Op, did you have any evidence of coolant in the oil, or oil in the coolant?

i may or nay not be having some HG issues
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Old 10-24-2011, 03:25 AM   #15
thoughto
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MS, no sign of oil in coolant or vice versa. The overflow bottle was the key. Normally never did anything on my car, but there was bubbling there. That was the first thing I spotted.
Also idling the car may not reveal the problem, due to these engines not sucking in coolant so much as blowing gas out through the coolant.
I hope you are lucky! Tom
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Old 10-24-2011, 04:18 AM   #16
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The gaskets always blow from exhaust side into coolant. There alsmost never is oil in the coolant or vice versa unless you would really continue drive it hard with failing gaskets.
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Old 10-25-2011, 11:07 PM   #17
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hey OP. glad to hear you got it out. do you have it running yet? i'm about to do the same project. i'm pretty good at working on cars, just haven't done anything this big yet.
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