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Old 03-18-2018, 05:27 PM #1
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Think I may have a head gasket problem...

So I was loosing coolant and found my water pump was leaking. Before I dove in to that job, I bought one of those blue dye testers for cheaking for a leaking head gasket. I didn't want to do a TB job only to find out I also had a head gasket leak. I did the test and the dye stayed perfectly blue, sweet...

I did the whole timing belt job and waterpump and I thought my coolant loss problem was gone.

For the last couple weeks, I've been having to add a little bit of coolant here and there to the reservoir (maybe a half inch in the bottle). I thought it was probably just air escaping since I wasn't adding a lot.

I've also had a "rough" engine feel on cold start ups for about the same time I've been loosing coolant. Usually within 10 seconds or so, it's running fine. It was never major but I could notice it was struggling a bit.

Today, it was running a little worse than normal on a cold start up but it actually through a code (P0303 misfire on cylinder 3). After about 10 seconds, it was idling fine and I cleared the code (never came back on).

when I got home, I decide to pull the spark plug on cylinder number 3. I replaced the spark plugs about a year ago. The plug looked pretty dang clean (not good). I then pulled out my video borescope and took a look in the cylinder. The top of the piston was also very clean (also not good).

Just for reference I pulled the two other plugs on that side. One spark plug looked about the same, the other was a little dirtier. But, the tops of the pistons were all full of carbon like they should be. Not good....

I tried doing the blue dye tester again and AGAIN it stayed perfectly blue. To make sure I didn't have some bad dye, I put it by the exhaust and it instantly turned yellow.

So in totality, I'm slowing loosing coolant, I'm having a rough idle on start ups and my spark plug and cylinder #3 are cleaner than they should be. I don't have white smoke billowing out of the exhaust but there is "steam" which goes away after a few minutes (condensation?). It doesn't smell sweet or anything so its hard to say.

So.....I'm pretty sure I have a minor head gasket leak.

I seriously considering putting a can (maybe half can) of blue devil in it and see what happens.

Worse can scenario I have a spare engine I can swap in but I REALLY REALLY don't want to do that if I don't have to. I have very little free time with two small kids.

Thoughts?
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Last edited by thegipper; 03-18-2018 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:30 PM #2
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Spark plug from the questionable cylinder (#3) on the right.

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Old 03-18-2018, 05:44 PM #3
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aw man, I hope not...
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:46 PM #4
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Yeah me too but I thinks it's reality at this point.

Especially since I just put 300 bucks worth of parts on this engine....

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Old 03-18-2018, 05:52 PM #5
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Uh-oh spaghetti-o... More of a problem because you don't have lots of time. A head gasket job doesn't look too hard, just a lot of stuff to take off and put back on.

I just got an exhaust tester for coolant but I haven't tried it yet, I suspect a head gasket problem on my mom's runner because it overheated. There is white exhaust but the coolant level doesn't seem to be going down but to be fair I haven't been driving it much.

Have you done a compression test?
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:09 PM #6
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No compression test yet. Ran out of time.

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Old 03-18-2018, 06:09 PM #7
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Have you looked at your engine oil? Milky or clean? How about a compression test on each cylinder?
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:15 PM #8
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It is leaking. I'm just not into those sealers. It's going to get in your heater core, radiator, hoses, etc. You could give a head gasket job a shot if you want to DIY. There's a nice video on Youtube of how to do it.
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:18 PM #9
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If the blue devil doesn't work, I have another engine to swap in from my 99 parts rig.

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Old 03-18-2018, 06:19 PM #10
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Oil looks fine

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Old 03-18-2018, 07:10 PM #11
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Year and miles?

How long have you owned it?

If you can do the timing belt yourself perhaps you can swap the heads yourself ... Definitely was above my skill levels.
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:50 PM #12
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I'm not interested in swapping heads, I'd rather swap motors.

It's a 97 SR5 with 216k miles. The 99 donor rig has 203k miles but it ran great before I started stealing everything off of it (bought it for the tranny from a member on here).
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Old 03-18-2018, 11:41 PM #13
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Good luck. I would say try the Blue Devil but just be ready to pull the heater core if you want heat in the winter.

With that said I would just go ahead and park it until you have the time for the swap.

Do you have a leak down tester by chance? Can't remember.

Having replaced a few heads in my time (actually presently helping someone pull heads on a Dodge Cummins 6.7) doing such with this engine in the body doesn't look too bad.

Did your brother ever let it overheat?
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Old 03-19-2018, 08:16 AM #14
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Quote:
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Good luck. I would say try the Blue Devil but just be ready to pull the heater core if you want heat in the winter.

With that said I would just go ahead and park it until you have the time for the swap.

Do you have a leak down tester by chance? Can't remember.

Having replaced a few heads in my time (actually presently helping someone pull heads on a Dodge Cummins 6.7) doing such with this engine in the body doesn't look too bad.

Did your brother ever let it overheat?
From my understanding, the blue devil stuff isn't the same as other headgasket sealers that contain solid material and isn't epoxy based. It stays a liquid unless its exposed to combustion gases.

To be safe, I could bypass the heater core if I use the blue devil stuff and after a week or so, flush the cooling system and hook it back up.

Or, just swap engines but I really don't want to do that quite yet.

Oh and yes, my brother overheated it big time when he got the pink milk shake. I knew this full well when I got it from him but everything was fine, that was about 20k miles ago.
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Old 03-19-2018, 08:18 AM #15
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I have a compression tester kit but no leak down tester.

The number 3 cylinder is most definitely washed out. I can read the big "A" on top of the piston in that cylinder. Cylinders number 1 and 6 are all full of black carbon on the tops of the pistons.

The only logical explanation for that and the fact that I'm still having to add coolant (and a misfire now on #3) is a blown head gasket.
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