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Old 01-15-2007, 06:12 AM   #1
TexTruck
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1995 Cavalier

Hi guys I am looking for advice in replacing the head gasket for a 2.2 litre Manual Transmission 1995 Cavalier. Below is where I am now!

- It's a project. The biggest I have undertaken to date. I bought the car for 300 bucks and drove it home it was diagnosed at a garage before I bought it.

- I have the haynes manual and have reviewed the procedure

- I will be buying my new torque wrench on the day I have the all clear to take over the garage for as long as it takes.

- Is there anything else I should be looking for when I pick up the gasket kit and head bolts.

- Are the there any FYI's that I should consider also are there any things in particular I should be expecting? i.e. When you remove x then y will pop across the room.

Any help would be appreciated!!

Thanks
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:48 AM   #2
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Hopefully I am not just taking a log here. I'm expecting that I may need advice as the event transpires. Things have moved faster than I thought I now have the garage for the duration of my adventure. I have the gasket kit and the bolts and a brand new torque wrench. Hopefully I will get some actual work done during this week or so.
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Old 01-16-2007, 01:30 AM   #3
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My advice to you is to make special note of every wire and hose that you take off so you'll know exactly where it goes. Be careful and take your time. Dont hesitate to ask questions. If possible I'd even advise you to take pictures of everything before you take it down, and as you take things apart, just incase you get confused when trying to remember how everything went when you put it all back together.

It's not that big of a job, but mistakes can be made for first timers. But not if you go by proceedure and pay attention, and ask questions.


Good luck.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:42 AM   #4
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i would look here http://www.j-body.org/ for advice
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:49 AM   #5
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Right on guys! Thanks. I'll take the picture advice........it seems like a no-brainer now but I never thought of it! I just took off the cover I was gonna drain all the fluids i.e. oil and anti-freeze. I am sure about the antifreeze. Iis the oil a good idea too?? I gave up though as it's late and I am stuck at draining the rad. I went looking for the drain plug and all I can find is an empty bolt hole on the bottom of the drivers side of the rad (Canada) What's up with that?? Should there the something there? If so is it the drain plug? If not what is it? If so I guess that explains any hot running scenerios the girl I bought the car from might of had??? What about the head gasket diagnosis the mechanic gave her?? Ya think he'd be just guessing based on coolant loss or worse just making work??? I hope these aren't all dumbass questions??
Weather the gasket needs replaceing now or not I'm doin it though.
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexTruck
Hi guys I am looking for advice in replacing the head gasket for a 2.2 litre Manual Transmission 1995 Cavalier. Below is where I am now!

- It's a project. The biggest I have undertaken to date. I bought the car for 300 bucks and drove it home it was diagnosed at a garage before I bought it.

- I have the haynes manual and have reviewed the procedure

- I will be buying my new torque wrench on the day I have the all clear to take over the garage for as long as it takes.

- Is there anything else I should be looking for when I pick up the gasket kit and head bolts.

- Are the there any FYI's that I should consider also are there any things in particular I should be expecting? i.e. When you remove x then y will pop across the room.

Any help would be appreciated!!

Thanks
You're in luck. The 2.2 is one of the easiest cylinder heads around to R&R. here are a couple of tips from someone who has done SEVERAL (possibly over 100) as opposed to some of the other "advisors" who most likely have done none.

1. I'm sure your manual probably says something to the effect of "remove and tag vacuum hoses" etc. What it may not say is to pay special attention to the EVAP canister purge hose under the intake. Not so easy to see, easy to damage.

2. Again, the manual probably says to remove the intake and exhaust manifolds from the head. Don't do it. Leave them attached and remove them AFTER the head is out of the car. Do the same thing on assembly.

3. Make sure you perform a good inspection on the deck for any damage and get the head professionally checked for straightness and resurfaced.

4. Make sure your head bolts and holes are properly prepped and FOLLOW THE TORQUE SEQUENCE EXACTLY. After you've reached the torque to yield portion there is no going back. If you have to remove the bolts for any reason, it's time to shell out for a new set.

5. Make extra sure you bleed the cooling system properly so you don't have another overheat and blown head gasket.

Have fun, good luck.

P.S. Have you determined what caused the original head gasket to let go? If not, you need to do so prior to start up.
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:55 PM   #7
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Thanks vwhobo
No is the answer to determining what caused the initial gasket crack. Any suggestions? I will take you advice though in regards to the head removal. Thanks again!
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexTruck
Thanks vwhobo
No is the answer to determining what caused the initial gasket crack. Any suggestions? I will take you advice though in regards to the head removal. Thanks again!
Well., ideally you determine what the root cause was BEFORE teardown, but it seems we're past that point, so...

First we have to determine if the old head gasket gave up due to overheating, improper assembly or possibly old age. You can substantially figure out the last two simply by knowing the mileage on the engine and the repair/maintenance history of the vehicle. You just bought it so you may not know either.

That being said, a set of experienced eyes looking at the engine components as they come apart can give you volumes of information. Are there fasteners missing and hose or electrical connections cobbled together? Those (and others) would be a sign of sloppy workmanship that if the heads had beed off previously could most certainly lead to a blown head gasket.

On the other hand, does the oil smell burnt and is it caked inside the top of the cylinder head? What do the coolant and the cooling passages in the block look like? Has the wax pellet in the thermostat literally exploded from heat? Is there even a t-stat installed? These would be signs of an overheat condition and in the case of the last one, someone misguidedly attemting to "rig" the engine so it won't.

Basically you have your homework cut out for you. At a minimum, I recommend replacing the t-stat and flushing the entire cooling system before you start the engine and then bleed it a fast as you can after start-up and watch the temp guage and troubleshoot it from there.



P.S. What did the "mechanic" who diagnosed the blown head gasket say caused it?

P.P.S. Before I hit submit, I thought of something you may be unaware of. If the engine was overheated, they are sometimes overheated to the point that the pistons scuff and the rings lose their tension. If that happens, the engine will never run correcty if it'll run at all until it's been re-ringed at a minimum. It'll also smoke (burn oil) like a chimney.
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Old 01-17-2007, 06:38 PM   #9
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Man am I glad I posted on this site. Thanks very much for your input/advice! Here we go:
I would assume old age tied in with useage is the cause as the car has 305,000K on it or 190,000 miles. However it was 100% lady driven and she didn't come across as the lead footed type (just a guess though).

I don't think the head has ever been removed as everything is in an untouched condition. Actually the only signs of any real under the hood work is a new alternator and battery along witha new set of plugs...but not wires rotor or distrubutor.

As for the oil no it doesn't smell and it actually looks good (on the top side that is, as I only have the cover off at this point) there is no "caking" and it actually is kinda golden in color. I'll have to get back to on the t-stat when I get that far. I have company in town on the weekend so no tinkering for me for at least a week. (Maybe)

I have no idea what the mechanic might have suggested for a cause......dammit I never ask enough questions. But I bought the car as learning experience and already I've learned one or 2 things.

As for the piston rings I think I am good there as I have run the car a number of times before I stuck her in the garage anthere isn't ANY blue smoke comming from it. Can I inspect them some way all the same when I get the head off??

Also I don't know if you saw it but I posted awhile back saying that I sized up the whole rad and could not find the drain plug I did however find an empty bolt hole???? Is that normal or is that where my drain plug should be. I am thinking weird things because of that.......maybe you can set me straight. Also should I drain the oil before I take the head off??

Thanks so much for your advice I am bound to have many more questions so I'll do my best to not have you get fed up with me. Thanks again.
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Old 01-17-2007, 07:26 PM   #10
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Okay, I guess I should have asked this to begin with and forgot, but your last post reminded me. Old age you know. If you drove the car home and you have run it a number of times, what are the symptoms that leads one to believe it has a blown head gasket? Engines may and do run with a blown head gasket, but they seldom run very well, especially a four cylinder. Let's make sure this is what you need to do to fix the car.

Has a compression check or leakdown check been accomplished? Is there oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil? Excessive cooling system pressure? White smoke (steam) from the exhaust? Unexplained coolant loss? Combustion gasses in the cooling system? How far is it from where you bought it to where you live? Unless it's less than a mile, one or more symptoms should have surfaced. Make sure you're fixing the right thing. About 20% of the cars I see diagnosed with blown heads gaskets don't have blown head gaskets. And the more I read in this thread, the more I think your car may be in the 20%.
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:26 PM   #11
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Okay I managed to track down the mechanic. He says it was visible as you can see the coolant leaking out of the back of the engine. I will "TRY" to verify this this evening but as you've discovered by now I may not notice even it is obvious. But you can smell coolant mixed with oil now that I think of it!

Thanks again
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexTruck
Okay I managed to track down the mechanic. He says it was visible as you can see the coolant leaking out of the back of the engine. I will "TRY" to verify this this evening but as you've discovered by now I may not notice even it is obvious. But you can smell coolant mixed with oil now that I think of it!

Thanks again
1. Many things could cause a leak on the back of the engine, a head gasket is but one of them.

2. I don't think so. If there's enough coolant in the engine oil to smell it, there's also enough to make it milky. You said previously that the oil is a golden color. See the disparity?

3. Four words. Cooling system pressure tester. If it's an external leak, and it could well be, this is the way to pinpoint it.

Side note. If the engine has as many miles as you say and the head hasn't been worked previously, you need to budget for a basic valve job as well, or at least disassembly and inspection by a competent machinist.
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Old 01-17-2007, 11:38 PM   #13
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I do like to read that someone is having a go at the actual engine rather than connecting shiny peripheral stuff and becoming a mechanical expert.

Regardless of whether the gasket is knackered or not, it would be a grand adventure to whip the head off and see in real life what's there.

You have a good mentor in VWHobo, so the only advice I will offer at this stage is to make sure you soak any residual oil/water from the head bolt holes in the block (use cotton buds if necessary) and use thread conditioner on the head bolts.
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Old 01-17-2007, 11:39 PM   #14
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How do I do a cooling system pressure test?? Can I do it with out spending a big pile of dough on the neccessary tools? Or do I need to bring it to a mechanic?

As curious as I am about my ability to do a gasket change I don't wanna do it for naught. As for the smell ya I see your point and I am not gonna torment you with it any longer until I get to the root..........I was gonna say of the problem but that is the problem The car runs fine I couldn't believe it when I drove her. I mean I test drove on the highway for at least 5 miles the car runs perfectly the head gasket idea only came from what the mechanic told this lady. Maybe I should just let it be? As for the mileage oh ya she has that many 305,000km. What about the valve job? What's involved? Maybe I can change the scope of my project/hobby.
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Old 01-17-2007, 11:40 PM   #15
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And Thanks Wally!!
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