help with a cooling issue...

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Alright, don't laugh at me for this car, but everyone has to start somewhere....especially when they do not have a lot of money :doh:

1991 Plymouth Sundance Hatchback with a 2.2L non-turbo EFI, auto tranny, A/C.(don't know what all you will need to figure out the problem...)

Well, lets start with recent engine repairs
~Head Gasket blew on original engine(270,000km) in late 2003, replaced engine with a used engine(75,000km) in spring 2004
~Alternator replaced shortly afterwards
~Radiator and water pump replaced at around same time
~Have replaced plugs, wires, distributor cap(summer 2004)
~gone through three thermostats, and a few radiator caps(two or three)

I do regular maintenance - oil & filter every 5000km, air filter whenever it needs it(generally every 3-4 oil changes), clean and gap the plugs approximately every 4th oil change(20k).

Once again though, my head gasket blew (about 4 months ago now...)
Engine only up to 92,000km :cussing:

During the time between the engine swap and the gasket going again, I noticed a few strange things happening...and I am wondering if any of them could have been stopped easily and prevented the head gasket from going again....

1. Very odd temperature readings - would go from ice cold to showing as overheating, even if the engine had only been running for a few minutes
2. After I noticed this happening, I would check the upper rad hose...cold.
3. After this, we replaced the thermostat...didn't change anything
4. Figured that it may have been the water pump, or radiator blockage...so we replaced both, along with the thermostat housing gaskets, still didn't change anything.

Several times I noticed radiator fluid being all over the engine bay...without the radiator cap having blown open...

THEN....after all that, the head gasket blew again...and I put it into storage for the winter(if any of you know the area where I live, it is not a good place to do a major engine repair in the middle of winter, at least if you aren't going to pay a mechanic 800$ to get a 50$ gasket replaced...)

Now, next weekend, I am planning on rolling it into the shop(I live on a farm, so I have all the space and tools I could possibly need), and replacing the head gasket.

What else should I look at while replacing the gasket to try and avoid this from happening again? And what causes a head gasket to go like that anyways? (and yes, I have considered totalling the car off for insurance :laughing: )

And as a side note, while I have the engine split open, what would the cheapest way to at least do a semblance of a rebuild on it. This car is great on gas, and the engine has low KMs...I'd love to keep it for another year or two until I am out of school and start a career...

posted by  dodgerforlife

Observation No1 was telling you that there was a gasket or head crack problem. The radiator hose is not going to get hot until the thermostat opens and steam has a habit of blowing any liquids out of the nearest hole (eg expansion tank).

So now all you have to do is ask yourself what may cause a gasket to go.

posted by  Wally

my thought's check the head for warpage or send it to a machine shop and have them check it over for crack's and being warped as well when replaceing the head use new head bolts the old ones will stretch from being torqued

posted by  osborste

good tips guys...ill look into that...


just a few questions though...

why would the fluid, if that hot, blow out of an open port, instead of opening the thermostat?...and expansion tank?...if you mean the resevoir, thats buried on the passenger side of the engine bay, and i had fluid on the drivers side...almost like it was blowing out the housing...except we looked that over when we replaced the gaskets, and there did not seem to be any problems with it...

and

faulty head possibly? the engine in there only has 92,000 kms on it... i know that head gaskets are common to go around the 250,000km mark(other friends and family member vehicles), so how could it be warped or cracked?...thank god my family knows someone who runs a machine shop..i do not want to spend more then i have to on this problem...but if it is necessary to preventing this from happening again, I will spend the money.


yes, I will admit I am still a rookie when it comes to the world of intricate mechanics, but I am learning :thumbs:

posted by  dodgerforlife

Well seeing as you have a qualified mechanic at hand he should be able to fill you in on warped heads from blown head gaskets.

If it's an OHC (and I assume it is) it may not be just an easy lapping exercise, because what most internet mechanics won't tell you is that the tunnels may no longer be aligned. They will also omit a small thing called annealing, which is what alloy heads suffer from when overheated and means the head tension will never hold and you will be forever replacing gaskets.

Now having set the stage for doom and gloom, you may have only managed to blow a gasket and the head may be in good shape and just need a linish job.

Now here is the bad news. You blew a gasket and stored the engine for winter without changing the oil and drying out the cylinders? So now you probably have a nice crystal growth and heavy corrosion on your cylinder walls from all that glycol that escaped into the pots. Your tri metal bearings on the conrods and crank are probably also showing a healthy corrosion and will need replacing. One of the biggest complaints people make is the bigend knock after they replace a head and they put it down to some belief that higher compression has loaded the bearings, whereas it's more than likely glycol in the oil eroding the bearings.

I hope I'm wrong, but let's face it if you are doing up a head you may as well do the rings and bearings anyway (if you are handy).

posted by  Wally

all very good tips i would agree, so far ive been in the trade about 4 years and have done maybe 20 head gaskets on those 2.2L the temp gauge readings is the big giveaway, or coolant residue on the block below the head, maybe it's just my luck but i would chaulk it up to bad design from chrysler, they also had a problem with the waterpump impellar shearing off of the shaft so it would spin sometimes when it catches a metal burr and just freefloat other times causing the motor to heat up quickly, get the heads done up by a good machine shop, they will tell you all you need to know if it's warped or cracked. and check the block for flatness if you have a straightedge(not a ruler) and a feeler gauge, i don't know the spec off by heart, but i can look. great little cars, dodge shadow was one of my first(did the head on that one too) good luck :thumbs:

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

As a general rule the the limit for warpage is .001" per cylinder bore or .004" in any 6" length. Measurements should be taken diagonally where possible. Please allow the flaming to begin from people who think they know the answer.

posted by  vwhobo

if you have family and friends with no troubles on there motor and it got 250,000 km's steal that motor i can't tell you how many 2.2 and 2.5 i've seen not make it to 90,000 km before needing a head gasket and the head not being warped from overheating

posted by  osborste

I'd tend to agree with that.

Some examples of block face distortion maxiumum specified allowances I have worked on recently:

US V8 (Windsor 500mm length) 0.007 over the length or 0.003 per 6";
Jap engine 0.05mm over 300mm
Jap engine 0.1mm over 450mm.

posted by  Wally

Thanks Dude, just couldn't recall, i knew it was very little but the specs are out there and when i need em i'll find em :thumbs:

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

thanks for all the help guys, I will definitely get my head looked at when I have the engine cracked apart. I hope that it isn't warped or cracked, because if it is, I am not willing to spend the money to get a replacement, the car is simply not worth that much anymore....I'll simply replace the gasket and sell the car for dirty cheap. Let it be someone elses headache.


to quote BanffAutospa_sp "or coolant residue on the block below the head"

Had that too.

I wish I had known at the time.

All I can really say now is thank god for Haynes' repair manuals :thumbs:

posted by  dodgerforlife

That's the way to be, just throw it in the Regina Auto Auction (By maxwell's) or the one out by Emerald Park, that way the don't get to test it out or nothing :thumbs:

posted by  88GrandPrixSE

hah guess where i bought the damn car at...


regina auto auction!


me and my dad didn't want it (High Kms and cracked windshield) but my mom said bid on it anyways. got it for cheap, so I guess it will all work out in the end!

posted by  dodgerforlife

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