OMG! Head gasket going out? - Alfa Romeo Forum
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OMG! Head gasket going out?

This is the story: Everything perfect last 4000miles since I bought the car 6 months ago. Did change the oil and all filters 2000 miles ago.
Never had noticeable coolant loss, was always 1-2mm below MAX, never had high engine temperatures or white smoke. In summer it was at 90șC all time, in winter I had 70șC (thermostat a bit worn).
Two weeks ago I made a trip, 200 miles in motorway, at a slightly happy speeds (95-100mph).
When we reached our destination, I went to the gas station to have a coffee, and checked the fluids/oil, just in case, it's something I always do after long runs!
I found that the coolant was leaking on the hose clips, when I removed the cap there was a lot of pressure built inside.
I added 1L of coolant to have it fixed for the moment (I still need another liter to reach the max, but it was crazy expensive on the shop, so I just got 1L) and left the coolant cap slighly loosen to stop it building pressure. We spent few days of holidays by walking around the city, then we went back, no coolant loss (I assume because the loosen cap).
Then I started to read a lot of horror stories: Head gasket, head gasket, head gasket... omg, this just can't be happening to me, I always have the worst problems on my alfas!
I made a short video:

The whistling noise at the start is the exhaust gasket leaking because it was cold, it always does the first minute or so, when it warms it goes away, so I'm leaving it as-is until it worsens.
Notice the small they look like a leak from the HG?
Will this quickly turn into a serious HG problem, drinking coolant or mixing oil, or can it last just like this if I use the the pedal smoothly?
I read somewhere that a workaround when it's not a big leak it to make 1/4 of turn on the head bolts, and in some cases it works for a long time.


Last edited by dabyd64; 04-04-16 at 14:59.
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Is this your 166? If so, this is the wrong section.

Looks fine to me but I would get a coolent sniff test done.
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Loose cap will lead to coolant loss due to evaporation. System needs to be pressurised to increase the boiling point of the coolant.
Sniff test kits are cheap to buy and easy to use. Assume this is a Ts?
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First thing I woud do is buy a new coolant reservoir cap. I have had one fail before and gave similar symptons -pressurised system. Then get sniff test done for exhaust gases in coolant. Check there is no water in the oil also.
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Hot coolant systems are under pressure - that is the design. If you drive the car hard, then stop, the water will get briefly hotter - there is no cooling flow, and the block/head are still at 200+ C internally, that heat has to go somewhere.

So if you drive, then stop to refuel and loosen the coolant cap, you will get coolant everywhere. Which is why there are all sorts of warnings about not taking the cap off when the car is hot, because water at 100C+ really does hurt.

1) Check the hose clamps that are leaking - are they tight, and are the hoses in good order?
2) Is the engine running OK? Good idle? If yes, worry less.
3) Is the oil milky or does it look like oil. If it looks like oil, worry less.
4) Once you have stopped the hoses leaking, does it use any coolant? If no, stop worrying.
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something else to consider if you get a sniff test and its definitely combustion gass in there
is the egr cooler, seen posts of fractured tubes/welds on astra Vectra sites in the past.
ive also seen posts on here on the later 2.0jtdm plastic egr cooler but I think that was more for housing cracking or leaking, no idea on its design so don't know if it could do the same.
but similar to head gasket if they fail they can let high temperature and pressure exhaust gas pass into the coolant circuit, and at lower pressure like off throttle might let coolant leak into egr cooler.
not saying it is but something else to consider before condemning hg.
worth phoning a good indie for advice like autolusso
but if your egr is blanked at the valve it could make the issue worse as the pressure still builds in the egr cooler. see what the pros think but id be tempted to blank the egr flow at the exhaust manifold with a thicker plate and possibly remove the small elbow.
if it goes away its that if it doesn't look back to hg.

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I didn't see anything in the description that matched the symptoms on my TS when the HG went. I was losing a lot of coolant and constantly going to max on gauge even when the airflow was good, but it would often drop again. My guess is it was causing vapour locks and the gauge was flying up when it hit gas/air not coolant. There was a small external leak at the front corner of the engine at the gearbox end.

What clinched it for me was the smell of fuel/exhaust from the header tank (coolant was cold and literally a "sniff" test!!) and finally the puddle that was in one cylinder when I pulled all the plugs and had a look in! There was a very slight increase in oil level (oil never entered the coolant) towards the point where the head had to come off.

I don't think tightening the head bolts again is a good idea .. they are torqued twice and turned through 90 degrees three times for a reason.

Sort out the fooked thermostat and get a new pressure cap.

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