How to check head gasket? - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 03, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Marty
 
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Location: Houston, TX
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Can't keep fluid in my cooling system, and am concerned that it might be a head gasket. Checked the oil on the dipstick and all looks good. Have changed the radiator cap and I have an overflow system. Car never gets hot, it just continues to puke fluid out of the overflow. When I checked the radiator this afternoon, it was only about half full! I also noticed that when I shut the car off, I can see bubbles in the overflow and can hear fluid/air moving through cap and overflow tube. Buddy thinks this might be a head gasket and exhaust gases are getting into the system. How do I confirm, before I pull the head?

Marty
69 Camaro, Goodwrench 350, TrickFlow Twisted Wedge heads, Lunati Bracket Master II 292 duration cam (00010)

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 03, 06:47 PM
 
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Pull the plugs in each cylinder and note thier condition. You can normally narrow it down to a cylinder by looking at the individual plug color.

Next would be a compression test and/or a cooling system pressure test to determine the pin point aera.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 03, 08:37 PM
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Remove the radiator cap (engine cool), then fire it up and watch for lots of bubbles building in the radiator. If it is, then definately a blow head gasket. Does there seem to be an excessive amount of moisture out the tailpipes?

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 03, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Marty
 
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Chicane67, I'll pull those plugs and post a picture (they were just installed about a week ago). Pictures of the plugs that just came out of the car are here Plugs

Any thought by looking at these? This was right after I started having the problem. How do I go about doing a cooling system test and narrowing this down?

Travis, I checked the radiator but I didn't see any small bubbles. I did see some small black "moldy" looking pieces floating around - maybe part of the gasket? I haven't noticed any moisture in the tailpipes.

Marty
69 Camaro, Goodwrench 350, TrickFlow Twisted Wedge heads, Lunati Bracket Master II 292 duration cam (00010)

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 03, 12:49 PM
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The top right plug doesn't look healthy at all!! Is that moisture in the picture built up on it? Rust even?

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 03, 03:43 PM
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second plug from left, top row, could be a sign of a coolant leak in that cylinder. note how clean it looks, compared to the rest, (which look pretty bad, by the way, shame on you ,j/k), even a small amount of water in the cylinder will do that. at this point i'd look at that cylinder, and do the things chicane suggested, compression and pressure tests. good luck with it

Sean

1968 rs with an old school 354" SB2.2 pump gas motor.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 03, 04:25 PM
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Don
 
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There is also a shade tree method without the need of test equipment.

Drain coolant down to thermostat level.
Remove thermostat housing and the thermostat.
Take off the belt that drives the water pump.
Start engine for a short time.
Watch for bubbles in the coolant.

Then of course change out both head gaskets.

Don ~ TC Member #15 ~
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 03, 04:50 PM
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Bill
 
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Marty,
Any up to date auto shop should have a combustion gas anylizer. You take the radiator cap off, place this device in its place and run the engine. The device has a clear tube filled with a special fluid. If the fluid changes color, there is combustion gas getting into the cooling system. Very simple test. Some guys use an AC leak detector, but I am not certain as to its accuracy.
Hope this helps,

Bill Koustenis
Owner
Advanced Automotive Machine
Waldorf Md
1971 Chevelle "Heavy Chevy" original owner


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old Oct 10th, 03, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Marty
 
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Thanks for the help guys. I'll check it all, but from the reaction I see here, looks like an engine stand and hoist are in my future. What the hell, I have been thinking about going to a thinner head gasket anyway to get the compression up a bit on this Goodwrench short block. Give me a good excuse to check what Lunati cam is in it at the same time!

Where were you guys when I posted the spark plug pics about a couple of weeks ago!?!?!

I'll post what I find...thanks again.

Marty
69 Camaro, Goodwrench 350, TrickFlow Twisted Wedge heads, Lunati Bracket Master II 292 duration cam (00010)

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