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Cooling system fault

 
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Old 19 Jan 2011, 10:55 am
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Default Cooling system fault

For over 18 months, I have had a problem with my cooling system (2000 2.0l petrol). At first, the car ran very hot although it did not boil. Everything was then fine for a while, until I had exhaust gas being purged through the cooling system, exiting through the expansion bottle, lots of gurgling. This happen once in a while though. For the past six months, sometimes when I switch off the engine, I hear some exhaust gas making its way up to the expansion tank, but nothing drastic, sometimes itís worse than others. The car does not run hot, never going above half way on the temp gauge.
I have researched this problem for over 18 months, have changed the coolant, pressure cap and have checked the thermostat. There is no water in the oil and I'm not losing coolant. The heater matrix doesn't appear to be leaking. Logic says the head gasket has gone, but how would I get 18 months use out of the car (when gasket's go that tends to be it??).
I spoke to a mechanic today by phone and he said that if it was not the head gasket, then it could be a problem with the EGR system.
Anyone have any ideas, sorry for the long first post, thanks in advance.
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Old 19 Jan 2011, 10:03 pm
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

The head gasket can fail in a place where it will just push vapours out into the cooling jacket but not cause leakage of oil into the cooling system. Let it go long enough, though, and it will begin to leak oil, or the engine will seize. But . . . On PT Cruisers, a clogged radiator will sometimes act this way, when the engine is shut down. I suggest getting that checked first. My 2001 was in that shape when I bought it. The prior owner's Midas garage had used the orange DEX-cool coolant in it.

I've had this head gasket strangeness occur on two cars, one a 1983 AMC Concord 4.2 litre I-6 and the other on a RWD1980 Mazda GLC, which was called a 323 outside of North America. In the case of the AMC, it was caused by the prior owner allowing a hose to leak, while allowing the temperature sender wire to burn against the exhaust manifold, and the overheating damaged the head gasket. Following the car was like following a steam train! Quite simple to fix.

In the case of the Mazda, which I drove for 16 years, it had overheated years earlier, and I'd had the head heli-arc welded. But the idiot that did the work did not reshape the combustion chamber correctly, so that one cylinder had about a 14:1 compression ratio where the other three had the correct 8.5:1. It just battered that head gasket area to bits, but never leaked oil into the coolant, or vice-versa.
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Old 23 Jan 2011, 03:49 pm
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

Bit of an update, borrowed a compression tester to investigate further. Well, the first three spark plugs came out as usual, number 4 cylinder spark plug was very tight, ended up stripping the thread . So now the head's gotta come off any way to 'time-sert' the spark plug hole.

Dont know why it would have been tight though, as I didn't cross the thread when i last replaced the plugs. Any ideas?

Did a compression test on the first three cylinders out of curiosity 12.5. 12.5 and 13. Tester wouldn't even screw in to number 4 cylinder.

It would have needed a new timing belt before long anyway and it hasn't missed a beat in over 5 and a half years, so not a complete disaster. Time for a consolation beer and more self convincing
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Old 24 Jan 2011, 09:40 pm
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

Did you paint a little anti-seize on the spark plug threads last time? The steel threads can gall into the aluminum heads and really seize up.
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Old 25 Jan 2011, 04:36 am
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

Unfortunately not, nothing like learning the hard way!!
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Old 26 Jan 2011, 11:01 pm
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

There's a device called a stud remover that looks sort of like a round deep wall socket. It's used to take studs out of cylinder heads and the like. You can save yourself a lot of expense by first removing the valve cover and trying to get to the spark plug with a more conventional tool and some brute force. If that won't work, then a stud removing tool might work. Unfortunately, it would need to be a big one.

I don't think you would necessarily need to remove the head to get the spark plug out. Since it's actually hollow, it can be drilled (somewhat) and sort of carved out. Getting the shavings out of the cylinder become important, but a vacuum attachment will help there. I'd look at head removal as the last resort.

After a friend's Datsun 410 developed a stuck OEM spark plug in 1968 (I think. It might have been a 1968 Datsun.), I learned to always back the plugs out of even a new car, give them a dab of molybdenum disulfide, and torque them back in. I've never regretted my friend's object lesson.
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Old 27 Jan 2011, 11:00 am
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

The plug came out in the normal way, bit it was very 'stiff'. The threads on the plug were stripped, so I assume that damage was done to the thread in the head a the same time.

I'm out of my comfort zone now, so time for a mechanic to get involved !!
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Old 27 Jan 2011, 11:16 am
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

That the plug came out the normal way is very good news! Stripped threads in the head can be repaired, even by you or me. Your mechanic can do it quickly.

Please suggest that he place a dab of anti-seize on all the plugs, of DIY when you get it home.
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Old 28 Jan 2011, 04:12 am
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

Luckily I've found a very small repair shop that has worked on PT's in the past, just need to sell a kidney to pay the bill that's probably coming
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Old 04 Feb 2011, 09:37 am
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Default Re: Cooling system fault

Quick update.....head gasket had blown, cylinder head gone off to be skimmed and pressure tested. Repair shop will 'time-sert' the dodgy spark plug hole thread and replace any other parts as needed.
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