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Engine - General, Exhaust & Induction Topics about the general engine items, exhaust system discussed here & Improving the intake tract - air filter to intake valve.

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Old 12-15-2007, 11:47 AM   #1
Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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Tim_K is keeping the peace
Got a problem in my '93 Shadow ES 3.0 V6 / 543 5 speed car. I think a head gasket is leaking coolant into a cylinder.

Problem started 2 days ago, wasn't sure what it was at first. Temperature gauge started moving around a bit but didn't get over the normal range bars. But that is unusual for this car, so I started looking for trouble.

I needed to add coolant to the radiator. Also very unusual for this car.

Since then, I've taken the heater core out of the cooling system by bypassing it with a loop of hose, filled the radiator several times (1 quart gets me about 10 miles or so most of the time, other times it doesn't need coolant added), and I've been looking for problems.

There's no leaks on the ground under the car even after idling for several minutes with the engine warmed up.

I get a lot of bubbles out of the radiator. I fill the coolant to the top of the radiator fill neck, and watch the bubbles go crazy. After a few minutes, the bubbles and coolant level goes down. Add more coolant to refill it, and the bubbles come back!

This engine is a 77,000 mile motor, when I put it in 4000 miles ago, it had the heads redone, 5 angle valve seats and backcut valves, Crower custom reground cams, and the heads were pressure tested for leaks and cracks. I left the short block alone, and put the motor back together with an "Evergreen" brand gasket kit from eBay. That might have been a bad idea, but Advance Auto Parts wanted a fortune for a Fel-Pro kit!

I don't want to think of what's next. I don't have the time, place, or money to tear down the motor and put in new head gaskets in freezing cold weather. If this is the problem, there's a good chance I'll soon part the car out, as it has a lot of valuable parts on it, like a complete V6 5 speed setup and an almost new TU clutch assembly.

Can Bar's Leaks do anything if a head gasket is leaking into a cylinder? I don't use that stuff ever, but if I need to here I will, as I still have a 60 mile daily round trip to work.

What would the spark plugs look like if they are getting coolant on them?
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Old 12-15-2007, 02:06 PM   #2
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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pull them all out and see if they fall anywhere in this chart

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Old 12-15-2007, 02:07 PM   #3
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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oh and with the plugs out spin the engine over and see if it spits coolant all over.
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:13 PM   #4
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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coolant on a plug will wash it clean. Any white smoke coming out the tail pipe. Engine missing? The amount you say you keep adding and the bubbles do look like a headgasket. What does the open radiator smell like.
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Old 12-15-2007, 08:21 PM   #5
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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head gasket sounds like the most likely cause of the missing antifreeze also could be a cracked or warped head. also check your oil the antifreeze could also not be leaking into the cylinders but under the intake. i probably wouldn't use bars leak, it is more for preventing a problem than fixing one, it could get you through though for now. but i wouldn't take chances like that you are likely to end up with a broken car on the side of the road.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:17 AM   #6
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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I think I found the problem.

Today I pulled out 5 of the 6 spark plugs. Not the one under the alternator. Too much effort for that one. While doing it, I had that old Sesame Street song going through my head:

One of these things is not like the other;
Which one is different, do you know;
Can you tell me which thing is not like the other;
And I'll tell you if it is so.

Well, all 3 plugs on the front bank were normal looking and dry. Center plug on the rear bank was dry and normal looking.

Rear spark plug (towards transmission), on rear bank (towards firewall) was all wet and had a slight antifreeze smell to it. All its carbon deposits were gone, it was just dark colored all over and wet.

So naturally, it's the worst possible situation. If it had been the front head, less disassembly would be required. Since it's the rear head, I pretty much have to tear the whole motor down to the short block.

Ain't got money for 2 new head gaskets and intake gaskets.
Ain't got a good place to do the job.
Ain't got a HEATED place to do the job.
Ain't got the money to pay a mechanic for the job. Not until tax refund time 2 months from now anyhow.

So it looks like Bar's Leaks and stocking up on antifreeze, mixing it 25/75 for fiscal economy on my part, and checking the radiator frequently.

Since Christmas and New years are on Tuesdays this year, and I still have 1 personal day and 1 vacation day at work remaining, I only have 7 work days left in 2007. So that helps a little. 7 60 mile round trips, plus miscellaneous other driving, so about 1000 miles total, give or take.

I don't know if I'm going to bother fixing it, other than Bar's Leaks. The drivetrain in the car is in great shape and just had a lot of work done this past summer, but the car itself is getting old (196,700 miles) and I'm seeing more and more rust, so maybe it's time to find something else and part out this car.


Lots of good stuff in it, like a complete 543 5 speed assembly, the 543 was rebuilt and has new diff bearings and pin savers, TU clutch with 4000 miles on it, new TU urethane shift cable ends, New TU solid bobble strut, etc. And the 3.0 is now a 77,000 mile motor, with custom ground Crower cams and fully redone heads, fully ported intake and 52mm throttle body, putting down 165 HP to the wheels at the dragstrip, so once it gets new head gaskets it should be good also.

A "parting out" announcement will probably be coming soon in the Cars for Sale and 3.0 forums.
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Old 12-16-2007, 01:25 PM   #7
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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i hate to hear that over a gasket. i would probably try to get money to fix it before i sold it. Probable better to fix than sell in the long run
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:30 PM   #8
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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It's not so much the gasket, it's the time, money, and effort required to change the gasket.

And the way things have been going for me so far this month, all I can think is "Yeah, so what if I do all the work to change the gaskets and the heater core, then if something else goes wrong, what will I do then?".

Not happy right now.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:12 PM   #9
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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I put a bottle of Bar's Leaks in it last night. The black stuff with the pellets in it.

I read about 5 different more expensive can labels at the local Advance Auto Parts, and they all said they were not compatible with antifreeze. What? This stuff is supposed to work in cooling systems, how can it be not compatible ?!?!?!?

Finally, I got down the row of radiator sealer bottles to the $3-1/2 Bar's Leaks, and it said it could go right in with the antifreeze.

Drove the car about 10 miles last night after it went in.

Got up this morning and drove a total of about 80 miles, used hardly any coolant at all, the engine didn't miss or sputter or run rough even when it was cold.

I don't know how long this stuff will keep it sealed, but it'll probably be on a cold sub-freezing night on a back road somewhere on the way home from work when I find out.

And my formerly beautiful clean antifreeze is now a horrible yucky brown color, too.:(
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:02 PM   #10
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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sometimes headbolts strecth out, you should re-check with a torque wrench that each one has 80ft-lbs on them, maybe one of them loosened up a bit?!

Good luck
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:56 PM   #11
Re: Looks like a head gasket coolant leak to me.  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roguetrip View Post
sometimes headbolts strecth out, you should re-check with a torque wrench that each one has 80ft-lbs on them, maybe one of them loosened up a bit?!

Good luck
That kinda tough on a 3.0 without removing the rockers. Unless you have a long 10 mm allen.
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