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Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

 
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Old 19 Jul 2014, 03:12 pm
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Unhappy Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

I've read this forum many times as we have worked on my son's PT, but this is the first time I've posted.

My son bought a 2001 PT Limited from it's original owner with 160k on it. He over heated it last winter on the interstate and I had to bring him water, fill, then limp him home. We garaged the car then talked to a mechanic friend who thought it could be the heater core (windows were fogging/smell in passenger seat area/etc). He suggested that we try BARS Stop-Leak before replacing the core (I know...I know...a horrible plan).

My son and I flushed the cooling system multiple times until the drain ran clear (it looked to have green coolant in it or some combination and I know the problems that can cause), then refilled with HOAT, the stop-leak, and distilled water. My son drove the PT for several months (and the window fog/smell did go away), but then started saying the motor was making acting weird and making a gurgling sound when driving. I recommended he park the car until we could have it looked at, but he decided to keep adding water as needed and driving the car.

He recently borrowed my car for a long road trip (as we knew his was unreliable), and while he was gone I decided to look at the car myself. Sure enough, the radiator was all but empty. When I filled the radiator and ran the car there was a gurgling sound almost right from the start...very strange. I shut it off, topped it off and let it sit until checking the next day and once again the fluid was low in the radiator (I hadn't driven the car at all) although not as empty.

My wife then decided to drive the car for groceries, but it was running so rough that she didn't even make it out of the drive way before parking it and taking our other car. When we tried to pull the car back into the garage (she pulled it only partially back in) the car would not even start.

I called my mechanic friend who came and looked at the car and did a pressure test...we found that the fill neck on the radiator was leaking...very slowly when sitting, but of course much faster when under pressure. So we bought the part, some more HOAT, and towed it to his house for him to work on when he had the time. He called me a few days later to "show me something." I knew this was probably not good news.

When I got to his place I saw the car sitting with a pool of water under it's tailpipe. He fired the car to show me how horribly it was running and to show me the water that was coming out of the tailpipe.

I know that was a long story, but I wanted to give you the background just in case there were details there that would help with the question I have at this point: Is it worth tearing down the top of the motor to see if it's just a head gasket/warped head vs. a cracked block? My friend said his fear is it might be a cracked block and that a full-motor replacement would be the only option if that were the case. One other detail in case it helps: the engine oil has never showed signs of water contamination as I checked that throughout this experience.

Thanks for any advice/thoughts/input you can offer!
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Old 19 Jul 2014, 03:38 pm
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

From my own experience, I'd say it's a blown head gasket.
If you get it fixed, replace the water pump & timing belt also...it all has to come off anyway & shouldn't add any more labor costs. Check around & get prices...I had mine done for $1100.
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Old 19 Jul 2014, 03:39 pm
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

most likely a blown head gasket, the head could also be warped .when you get an estimate on fixing it you need to include timing belt and water pump. whether or not it is worth fixing depends on how much you like the car. what shape is the rest of the car in, and is it cheaper to fix than buying another car?
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Old 19 Jul 2014, 04:02 pm
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

Thanks for the quick replies. It would be awesome if it was just the head gasket...less so if it is a warped head...but both would be better than a block/motor. Thanks for the advice on the water pump and timing belt (my guess is the timing belt has been done by the previous owner).

Quote:
Originally Posted by snapper388 View Post
whether or not it is worth fixing depends on how much you like the car. what shape is the rest of the car in, and is it cheaper to fix than buying another car?
My son really likes the car. It's a stick shift and fun to drive (plus not all that fast, which his mother and I like). It is in really good shape and has been maintained well. The previous owner just had the clutch plates replaced before selling it to us (the first time he had to do this since buying the car).
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Old 19 Jul 2014, 04:06 pm
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

IMO If you were to bring it to me, the following would be done.
compression test
leakdown test
Engine block test
cooling system pressure test
Est. time on a PT cruiser about 1.5 hours.

This will tell you what is needing to be replaced or repaired as far as the long block and cooling system is concerned.
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Old 19 Jul 2014, 07:29 pm
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

The odds are strongly in favor of a blown head gasket. I've been on many PT forums, and there have been many instances of blown head gaskets, but very few cracked blocks ( and those are usually turbos).
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Old 19 Jul 2014, 09:48 pm
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

Thanks for all the replies. So it sounds like it's worth tearing down to see what's going on, which was my original question. I think my friend was trying to avoid tearing it down only to find it's a cracked block (something he has experienced on other vehicles in the past).

BTW, in searching for more information, I think if it is a head gasket leak it's a hot-side leak because running the motor causes a lot of pressure and volatility in the cooling system.

Thanks again for the advice and discussion.
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Old 23 Jul 2014, 11:10 pm
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

So a follow-up question: I went back and talked to my mechanic friend about the possibility of it being a head-gasket only. He agreed (but held out that it *could* still be a cracked block), but still went on to recommend a total motor replacement. He said by the time you tear down the motor, replace the head gasket, mill (or replace if necessary) the head, you'd be better off with a new motor for the same money.

He also said that because he started it once, and we "tried" to start it ourselves, it is likely that the aluminum rods are bent from water pressure in the piston sleeves. He said that trying to start or actually running a vehicle with water in it (like we/he did) stresses the whole low-end of the motor. He's willing to do whatever I want, but is afraid if we just tend to the top-end the bottom end of the motor might "explode" or fail in a short time due to all the stress.

He also said that getting a lower mileage motor (I found one for 133k) when the car has 170k on it is a better idea too. My fear is the unknowns of how the previous motor may have been treated, especially since this was a one-owner car and a known quantity.

Any differing opinions or do you think my friend is on the right track? I can't tell if he's just afraid of a repeat of his previous experience, or if these concerns are well founded.

Thanks for all your thoughts on this matter...we're making the decision which way to go tomorrow.
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Old 24 Jul 2014, 03:59 am
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

Personal opinion would be that the devil you know is better than the one you don't. Exactly as you said-- sure, you could put in a "new to you" engine with 133k on it, but you don't know how the previous owner(s) treated it. It usually costs around $150-$200 at a machine shop to have a head pressure tested (checked for cracks), milled (if warped) and returned to you..
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Old 24 Jul 2014, 05:14 am
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Default Re: Advice: Warped Head/gasket or Cracked Block?

It sounds like your mechanic friend just wants to replace the engine no matter what you say.
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