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Old 09-06-2016, 02:22 PM   #1
kazo
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Default going for HG job, need advice..

Bought the car two years ago with small (and persistent ingress of oil into coolant- many coolant flashes) compression, leakdown tests and sniff test came up negative. Put over 10kkm on it without much problems, but she was oil hungry (leaks from under rocker covers & symptoms of compromise valve seals) and was loosing coolant as well.
Eventually lower radiator hose broke (could have been an effect or a root cause) and it overheated (overheating become apparent-on the gauge, only after after I stop the car).
Now it displays the HG symptoms: coolant pressure rises up to 20psi, sniff test positive and overheating.
I have an appointment next week for HG +TB, valve seals, cover seals etc. job.
It is to be divided into three stages:
1st -compression & leakdown test - to determine possible ringlands problem;
and here is my 1st question, with a blown HG obviously both test on some cylinders would show diminished reading, is there a way to differentiate the cause for it?;

2nd - ($700) take the engine out, heads off to have look at the cylinders if there is some visible damage and make a decision if to go ahead with HGs and the rest (3rd stage);
but what kind of a test can be done at this point to determine that the block is OK?
I don't want to dish out >$3k to find out that I have a major problem.

What relevant questions to ask a mechanic at this point? , they are specializing in Subarus and are of good reputation. Did a clutch job for me.
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Last edited by kazo; 09-08-2016 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:02 AM   #2
kazo
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150 hits and no word of wisdom?, where are you Gurus?
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:03 PM   #3
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I've never had to worry about head gaskets, but from what I have read, it will cost ~$2500 for the Dealer to replace head gaskets. There have been numerous threads on it. Price will vary depending on your area and who does the work.

I *think* other than disassembling the motor and having the block magnafluxed, there is no way to tell for sure if the block is 100%. That does not mean it is not, but magnafluxing will help find cracks in the block that one would not normally see with the naked eye

Better question to ask yourself, " Do you trust these mechanics? "

If you do, just ask them what you are asking here:
- Is the block OK?
- What do I need to worry about?
- If this was your motor, how would you proceed?
- How much is this going to cost me?

Don't dive into having the work @your scheduled appointment done until you have the above answers.

Having the heads refreshed, and having a weak motor, can cause more problems than you have now since refreshing the heads will increase chamber pressures due to the better valve seals, etc.

Depending on what their answers are, you may find it more appropriate to buy a pre-built short block from one of the Vendors here. IAG gets a LOT of positive responses.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kazo View Post
...was losing coolant as well.
This is the biggest indicator of HG failure when you have no external coolant leaks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazo View Post
...sniff test positive and overheating.
And now it is confirmed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazo View Post
...with a blown HG obviously both test on some cylinders would show diminished reading...
Compression will likely hold with a HG failure. Leak-down may, as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazo View Post
...heads off to have look at the cylinders if there is some visible damage and make a decision if to go ahead with HGs...
Pull the pistons/rods and inspect. If you remove the heads, you have made the decision to replace the head gaskets - easy as that. You cannot reassemble the engine properly at this point without replacing the head gaskets and machining the block/head surfaces accordingly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazo View Post
What relevant questions to ask a mechanic at this point? , they are specializing in Subarus and are of good reputation. Did a clutch job for me.
You need to decide if you want OEM or metal head gaskets and OEM bolts or studs. I recommend the latter in both cases, but the mechanic will need to pass along relevant surface smoothness specifications to the machine shop for the heads/block halves. If you go with a metal HG, the specifications should come from the gasket manufacturer, NOT the FHI/Subaru specs (though they *may* be the same).

Aluminum blocks/heads need to be like glass to seal - omit this step or allow the mechanic to be a little lazy here and you'll have another HG job to do in 15k miles.

Now - onto the concern about the block:

A cylinder wall inspection and pulling the pistons out for a visual inspection of the ring lands is likely the best thing to do - beyond this, you're getting into fairly rare problems. Most block issues will be very prominent in a visual sense - any bearing issues would have shown up long before you started pushing coolant from a HG failure. Personally, I would try to avoid splitting the case halves if you don't need to (I do not know if this is possible with surfacing machine work).

While I would replace the valve cover gaskets while the heads are off, valve stem seams can be a bigger job, but I'm assuming you just mean removing and replacing the seals themselves - no valve guide replacement.

Last edited by mrsaturn7085; 09-08-2016 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mrsaturn7085 View Post
While I would replace the valve cover gaskets while the heads are off, valve stem seams can be a bigger job, but I'm assuming you just mean removing and replacing the seals themselves - no valve guide replacement.
If the OP wants to replace the valve stem seals, company 23 makes a pretty handy valve spring removal tool as I'm sure you know. If the heads are off OP might as well replace the seals.

Also, once the heads are torqued back down to the block, check your valve lash and make sure that the clearances are in spec.
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Old 09-08-2016, 03:34 PM   #6
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...check your valve lash and make sure that the clearances are in spec.
^ This ^

This is TERRIBLE to do with the engine installed between the frame rails.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:08 PM   #7
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here you go guys!, thanks
That's thoughts to chew on..
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mrsaturn7085 View Post
A cylinder wall inspection and pulling the pistons out for a visual inspection of the ring lands is likely the best thing to do - beyond this, you're getting into fairly rare problems. Most block issues will be very prominent in a visual sense - any bearing issues would have shown up long before you started pushing coolant from a HG failure. Personally, I would try to avoid splitting the case halves if you don't need to (I do not know if this is possible with surfacing machine work).
I'm sketchy on the engine anatomy, but to pull the pistons the block has to be split hasn't it?
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:22 PM   #9
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I'm sketchy on the engine anatomy, but to pull the pistons the block has to be split hasn't it?
No. You can remove the pistons without splitting the block. Videos on how to do it are on youtube and in the FSM.

However, you don't need a fancy wrist pin tool to remove the wrist pins. All you need is a smooth 1/4 rod that is a little bit longer than the block (measuring from the crank snout to the back of the block).

All you have to do is:
Remove the four wrist pin access covers. There are two on the front, and two on the back.
Using a socket wrench or breaker bar spin the crank until you see a wrist pin and align it with the access hole. Carefully remove the wrist pin circlip with a long pair of needle nose pliers or circlip remover.
Thread the rod in from the opposite side of the block and smack the end of the rod with a hammer and pop out the pin.
Turn the crank until the piston is at least half way up the bore.
Spin the piston about a 1/4 turn or so (you can use your hands, or I have used the wooden end of a hammer to tap it into the valve reliefs to get it to move). Then spin the crank around and since the piston has changed position the rod will now pop the piston out of the block.
Repeat for the other 3 pistons.

You'll have to play around with it for a few minutes until it makes sense/works. It's pretty fun.

But now since your pistons are out, might as well split the block and replace the bearings.
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Old 09-10-2016, 09:46 PM   #10
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OK, I have arrived at a momentous decision of doing the job myself.
Being a serviceman most of my life (industrial electronics, automation etc.) and quite passionate about fixing stuff, I'm more excited then nervous.
I'm fairly competent with wrenches and having forums like this as a backdrop, plus access to literature, write-ups of hands-on practical experiences of hundreds dedicated professionals and amateurs, plus YouTube I'm positive I can succeed.
Moreover my DIY experience is, that although I may spend 3 X as much time as a trader of building/repairing something, I usually do a better job.
So I'm completing the list of tools I would need, that is already exciting in itself (a man can never have enough tools )and reading voraciously on the topic.
Wish me luck and be patient with some silly questions coming your way.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:14 AM   #11
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Good luck. You'll be fine. Lot of videos on Web to help you through this job. One think that will help when pulling engine is put your jack from the trunk under the tray and lift the tray and engine until the engine mount bolts clear the frame. Then remove the engine. Leave the jack there. No reason to move it until after the engine is back in.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:39 AM   #12
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I also like using an impact gun for disassembling. Some bolt will brake of in the block and the machine shop has to fix those. The impact gun help reduce the chance of bolt snapping off. The ones I had the hardest time with were the 4 small bolts holding the coolant cross over tube. Also the engine mount bolts.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:59 AM   #13
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Default going for HG job, need advice..

The threaded rod for the battery tie down is perfect for threading into the clutch pivot pin to pull it out

I def agree on those crossover bolts... 2 snapped on me and were a real b1tch to remove
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Old 09-11-2016, 03:58 PM   #14
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Just don't forget to find a reputable machine shop that can give you the surfacing specifications you require...
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Old 09-12-2016, 06:46 PM   #15
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no going back; bought engine stand and a lift today, and cleaning the garage; looking at Company23 tools and trying to figure out what I really need, plus some metrology tools..
Read some threads in Built Motor Discussion, and one, Talk me out of swapping pistons on my own`maybe slightly discouraging for the faint of heart
Shopping for a machine shop as well.
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:38 PM   #16
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Excited to see how this goes!
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:00 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ej2007 View Post
One think that will help when pulling engine is put your jack from the trunk under the tray and lift the tray and engine until the engine mount bolts clear the frame. Then remove the engine. Leave the jack there. No reason to move it until after the engine is back in.
I jam a block of wood between the bellhousing of the transmission and the crossmember, that way I can remove the jack. The reason I move my jack is that is slowly loses pressure so if I didn't the trans would drop down. Also it is handy to have the jack out of the way in case you have to get under the car and work on other things while the engine is out.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kazo View Post
no going back; bought engine stand and a lift today, and cleaning the garage; looking at Company23 tools and trying to figure out what I really need, plus some metrology tools..
Read some threads in Built Motor Discussion, and one, Talk me out of swapping pistons on my own`maybe slightly discouraging for the faint of heart
Shopping for a machine shop as well.
If you want new pistons then you are committed to splitting the block if you want to do it right. If you are staying at stock power levels then upgrading the pistons is not necessary unless you can see that they are damaged.

You don't need any bore mics or fancy measuring tools to do this job yourself. Just a set of feeler gauges for setting the ring gaps on the piston rings. You will need a piston ring grinder though.

If you have a good machine shop they can measure the bores and let you know how out of round they may be and what size piston you would need. Do not just drop in a new set of pistons without having the block bored and honed. It's best to get the block bored with a torque plate attached if possible. Most non-subaru machine shops won't have one so you would have to purchase and provide one.

Have the shop measure the crank and see if it is in spec. A light crank polish won't hurt anything. Then you can get a set of bearings and use plastigauge to see if you need to mix and match standard and oversize sets. Or you can have the machine shop torque the block halves together with the bearings in place and measure the distances, and use the crank measurements to figure out exactly what size bearings you will need. Generally if your crank is in spec then you can probably get away with a standard size OEM bearing and plastigauge to check. I'll probably get flamed for mentioning plastigauge but it can be a useful tool. It doesn't seem like you are going for an all out race build.

Keep in mind that the cost of replacing the pistons, machine work, bearings, etc., can add up quickly and start to approach or exceed the price of getting a professionally built short block.
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:46 AM   #18
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If you want new pistons do you mean any new pistons including OEMs? then you are committed to splitting the block if you want to do it right. If you are staying at stock power levels then upgrading the pistons is not necessary unless you can see that they are damaged.
OK, some newbie Qs; I`m envisioning a following scenario:
1st - let's say I find undamaged pistons, smooth bores within specs, but given the low compression ## (see below) is it a practical approach to just slap a set of new rings? - or is it only a theoretical speculation?

Car has only 105kkm, but definitely was hard driven: the 3nd stage Exedy clutch was worn down to the bone..

2nd - after doing compression & leakdown tests I see a bad result on one, #4, it was the lowest last time (when I bought the car) I measured =130psi, the rest wasn't impressive either ~140,145, leakdown results were good <4% across the board.
So I open up the engine and pull out the pistons & find that the block bores are within the specs but piston(s) are compromised - i.e. broken ring land. So can I just replace the pistons with OEM, new rings and be done?, or in practical terms when ring landing is broken does that automatically implies a damaged block and impending rebuilt?
or again this is a impractical speculation?

I don't want to build a race car, although all the mods on it probably were intended for it, but I don't want to compromise:
-APS DR725 FMIC;
-ASP TSR70 Inverted Turbo;
-APS CAI;
-ASP Higth Volume Dual Vent BOV;
-PERRIN Fuel Rails & Lines with Aeromotive A1000-6 Regulator;
-DENSO 2450 (850cc) injectors
-GARRET Turbo Actuator;
-BLITZ SBC i-Color Boost S

--DC SPORTS UEL headers;
-GREDDY muffler;
-Front mount Oil Cooler (brand unknown);
-Unorthodox Racing Uderdrive Pulleys;
-it's ECUTek tuned;
-3st BULLY Clutch recently installed

your thoughts?
Thanks
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Old 03-23-2018, 01:46 PM   #19
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as I hate threads disappearing into the sunset here is a follow up:
due to time constrains I decided to take it to the shop that I used on previous occasions (specializing in Subarus)
Happened to be all 9yards: block (pistons & rings but rods, bearings and crankshaft were ok), heads, TB, valve seals etc. etc.
Engine back in the car waiting for basic map tuneup to start braking it in.
Will end up with > $10.000CND

I pretty much trust the guys, but when all was about to be done I hear from them, that
Quote:
As we move forward my tech just brought to my attention an item we forgot to address. You have an aftermarket oil cooler on the car and just like every other component that has oil flowing through it, it will be contaminated with metal debris. We can flush out the lines but the cooler itself will be impossible to completely clean.
I would suggest replacing the cooler itself. I am trying to source an oil cooler for you that will fit in the same location you currently have yours (to save labour/installation costs).
; they already replaced the OEM oil cooler , oil pickup and some.
to which I replied:
Quote:
"so what you're saying that every car component that the oil goes through should be replaced in this type of repair?, has it been an evidence that there were some metal shaving in the system, or it's it's just a good repair practice?"
I feel it's a right way to go (didn't have time really to research that), but I'm already south of the $$ numbers I thought of spending and it looks like another grand.

Can you share you collective wisdom on this?
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:49 PM   #20
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At the risk of a diverting this thread I would like to ask the following as a new Subie STI owner... similar and related to the subject of this thread...

Recently purchased 07 Hawkeye STI - 75 k miles, really great condition Socal car... looks like prior owner just commuted with the car mostly. Has done needed services on time based on service records.

Took car in to a well reputed local indie for a power steering pump replacement... while there the shop said they tested for CO2 in the coolant and saw 27 ppm (hopefully units are right)... thus they said this is evidence the car had been overheated in the past and will need a 'top end rebuild' with new head gaskets to replaced the currently 'breached' ones. Quoted $8,000 to do this engine out service along with 'other things to do while the engine is out' such as new radiator and clutch.

Does this sound right? I have driven the car about 1000 miles including a 450 mile highway trip - albeit in not super hot weather... there have been NO signs of overheating and the engine seems completely normal. This is just a weekend car... will at most do a mild Cobb Stage 1 tune, no more than that.

Also, if the shop is correct, will I further damage the engine if I do not do this major repair for a little while or a long while?

Thanks for any advice or insights from experienced members here.
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Old 04-16-2018, 03:39 PM   #21
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So you just had issues with power steering and no other symptoms/problems and the shop just randomly did a CO2 test and said you need $8k in work? I don't deal with mechanics, but that would throw up a red flag for me. Get a second opinion if you really feel there might be a problem.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:33 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by golfnutintib View Post
At the risk of a diverting this thread I would like to ask the following as a new Subie STI owner... similar and related to the subject of this thread...

Recently purchased 07 Hawkeye STI - 75 k miles, really great condition Socal car... looks like prior owner just commuted with the car mostly. Has done needed services on time based on service records.

Took car in to a well reputed local indie for a power steering pump replacement... while there the shop said they tested for CO2 in the coolant and saw 27 ppm (hopefully units are right)... thus they said this is evidence the car had been overheated in the past and will need a 'top end rebuild' with new head gaskets to replaced the currently 'breached' ones. Quoted $8,000 to do this engine out service along with 'other things to do while the engine is out' such as new radiator and clutch.

Does this sound right? I have driven the car about 1000 miles including a 450 mile highway trip - albeit in not super hot weather... there have been NO signs of overheating and the engine seems completely normal. This is just a weekend car... will at most do a mild Cobb Stage 1 tune, no more than that.

Also, if the shop is correct, will I further damage the engine if I do not do this major repair for a little while or a long while?

Thanks for any advice or insights from experienced members here.
I would just watch coolant level. Check every couple days, first thing in the morning when it's cold. Big ambient temp swings may make it go up or down a little (1/8"?) but that's all.
Checking it when the engine is hot may show a 1-2" rise in the overflow bottle.
Adding a bit of coolant once a year is fine, a quart a month warrants looking further.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:56 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by stoich68912 View Post
So you just had issues with power steering and no other symptoms/problems and the shop just randomly did a CO2 test and said you need $8k in work? I don't deal with mechanics, but that would throw up a red flag for me. Get a second opinion if you really feel there might be a problem.
Ditto
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:15 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by stoich68912 View Post
So you just had issues with power steering and no other symptoms/problems and the shop just randomly did a CO2 test and said you need $8k in work? I don't deal with mechanics, but that would throw up a red flag for me. Get a second opinion if you really feel there might be a problem.
Yes that is underway. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie-III View Post
I would just watch coolant level. Check every couple days, first thing in the morning when it's cold. Big ambient temp swings may make it go up or down a little (1/8"?) but that's all.
Checking it when the engine is hot may show a 1-2" rise in the overflow bottle.
Adding a bit of coolant once a year is fine, a quart a month warrants looking further.
Will do thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by relative4 View Post
Ditto
I am new to Subaru but been a car guy forever... dealt with a lotta indie shops... yes, while this shop seems to have a very good reputation this did seem to raise a red flag for me...
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:49 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Charlie-III View Post
I would just watch coolant level. Check every couple days, first thing in the morning when it's cold. Big ambient temp swings may make it go up or down a little (1/8"?) but that's all.
Checking it when the engine is hot may show a 1-2" rise in the overflow bottle.
Adding a bit of coolant once a year is fine, a quart a month warrants looking further.
So I checked my car which has been sitting overnight and is completely cooled down... the coolant overflow tank is a foot long vertical bottle with a long neck extending downwards. Currently, the fluid level showing is about 25-30 percent up the neck of the bottle... so the overflow tank is mostly empty.

Question -- so if there is a head gasket problem the coolant level in the overflow tank will RISE once the engine has been exercised? or FALL? Of course with heating the coolant will expand which will show some add'l volume into overflow... but I am confused on this... I thought with a head gasket problem car will show a LOSS of coolant, yes? (meaning that coolant will get into the combustion chamber and go out the exhaust with the spent exhaust gases, yes?)

Once again, sorry for the noob question... just trying to come up the learning curve.
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