This car is starting to try my patience... - Alfa Romeo Forum
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This car is starting to try my patience...

On Friday it broke down again.

It had been running seemingly fine, temp gauge normal, fresh from MOT and service. I had also checked over things like coolant level, brake fluid etc last weekend.
On the way home from work, it conked out, losing all power. The only warning light was the engine/injector orange symbol. All gauges normal, I had petrol..
The car restarted after a few minutes, and was running rough but I tried to nurse it home as I was only a mile away. It didn't make it and I had to call out the breakdown guy.

He was a good old fashioned mechanic and went through things methodically, including checking the coolant level which turned out to be a major issue - nothing in there. He put in about 6 pints of water. The car then started and he ran it up to temperature, did an exhaust gas in the coolant check and detected CO2. So that indicated head gasket or other leak.

We got the car home, and I had a quick look this morning - the dip stick shows that the nice fresh oil is now a mayonnaise sludge:



I am assuming that the thermostat I replaced only 18 months ago has stuck closed and caused overheating, even though the temp gauge showed nothing.

There are two fault codes P1691 and P0100.

So the heads are going to need to come off. Is replacing the gaskets a specialist job or could I trust my local indie?

Nick
Red Spider S4 LHD manual 1990, Silver 916 V6 Spider, Suzuki T20 Super Six
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(Post Link) post #2 of 48 Old 4 Weeks Ago
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I know from experience if you are low on water the temperature gauge may not read high. It needs water to sense. Just saying before you blame the sender.
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That's a fair point. I thought there would be a sensor on the engine block as well?

I drained the sump and took out 7 litres of coffee milkshake



I also took the thermostat off for testing. Moving the intake pipes for access showed the gunge has got everywhere, via the breather pipe. Its on the throttle butterfly, and has drained the other way on to the MAF and presumably into the air filter. So its going to need a bit of a clean up!

The thermostat worked fine in a pan of water - it opened at about 70C

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anglospider,,, sorry to hear that, I've had a head gasket go before but that was my fault as I did have prior warning, hot and cold air from the heater and a sloshing sound running around the matrix audible from within the cabin... after that experience I often check my levels by running the heater for a while to make sure it's constantly hot.. when the head gasket blew it was venting out into the engine bay and under inspection there was a very small tear in the gasket.. don't want to add insult to injury but i'm wondering your issue is something other than the head gasket for that volume of water to get inside the engine? hope not though...
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Thanks. Yes, I will be similarly cautious in future!

What are the possible alternative causes if it is not the gasket ? I don't think it was a huge volume of water, the oil capacity is about 5.5l I think, so the total of 7l of "milkshake" means 1.5l of water.

I'm planning to have a go at changing the gaskets myself, as a learning exercise. I'm working on the basis that the engine isn't working now and a s/h replacement might be the way to go. So, if I have a go at fixing it and make it worse then I haven't lost too much apart from time (and some parts costs obviously), and would look for a replacement engine then.
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Yeah hard to tell, to be honest I'm not sure what other parts of the engine failing would fill the engine with water but if you're going to remove the head you should at least be able to verify if it's the head gasket.. When mine let go it went outwards from memory as there was a jet of hot steam jetting out the side of the head, not sure whether it filled up inside the block as well as it was towed directly to Felie's for him to sort out..
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Thanks. Yes, I will be similarly cautious in future!

What are the possible alternative causes if it is not the gasket ? I don't think it was a huge volume of water, the oil capacity is about 5.5l I think, so the total of 7l of "milkshake" means 1.5l of water.

I'm planning to have a go at changing the gaskets myself, as a learning exercise. I'm working on the basis that the engine isn't working now and a s/h replacement might be the way to go. So, if I have a go at fixing it and make it worse then I haven't lost too much apart from time (and some parts costs obviously), and would look for a replacement engine then.
I suppose the other way water and oil can mix is if the seals at the base of one of the liners has failed. I understand that the liners and seals can be disturbed when the heads are off but not sure how common failure of these seals are in normal use. Hopefully it is no more than head gasket failure.
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If it's a twin spark it's worth checking the heat exchanger where the oil filter screws into.
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Thanks. Its a V6, though.

Are there any YouTube type walk throughs of the procedure? I did a search and couldn't find anything.

Also, I have read that there are different quality gaskets available. Alfa Workshop lists the BGA brand, does anyone have experience of these?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by anglospider View Post
Thanks. Its a V6, though.

Are there any YouTube type walk throughs of the procedure? I did a search and couldn't find anything.

Also, I have read that there are different quality gaskets available. Alfa Workshop lists the BGA brand, does anyone have experience of these?
The workshop manual is kindly listed as a series of PDF by Totally Alfa and the first one is probably what you need. If you decide to do it yourself ensure the wet liners are clamped in place whilst you have the heads skimmed so that they do do get dislodged.

TotallyAlfa: specialising in 916 Alfa's parts
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I have replaced both head gaskets recently with the engine left in place. It's not fun and if you have a hoist and the room available I'd remove the engine next time as you need to undo all but one of the engine mounts. unclejam has also recently endured the same pain...

https://www.alfaowner.com/Forum/alfa...e-in-situ.html (CF2 V6 - Head Gasket Replacement - engine in situ)
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Thanks for the link, I'll take a look. I am anticipating some scraped knuckles...

What gaskets did you use, there seem to be a number of choices?
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One was a Victor Reinz, the other was a BGA I think. Both have been fine so far...
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Thanks, that useful to know.

I'm toing and froing in my mind about whether to tackle this. I've been doing a lot of reading and part of me thinks I should be OK if I follow the procedures, whilst the other part is thinking I might bite off more than I can chew!

I will buy the cam lock tools. The workshop manual also suggests various other special tools, e.g. for getting cam pulleys off. Are these necessary or can normal three leg pullers be used, for example?
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I would fish the engine out if you have the space. Getting the heads off in situ is a horrible job that is an absolute walk in the park with the engine on the bench.

Cause is probably head gasket failure, but itís unclear how hot it got. If it stopped because it had overheated and was seizing ... there could be extensive damage. Iíd definitely want pistons and liners out, and check the main and big ends while youíre at it. That volume of water in oil is probably a liner seal that has failed. Do a compression test on it with the plenum off and plugs out.

Reinz are fine, used them on all my rebuilds.
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The P1691 code which came up seems to be a cut-out code which presumably means (he says hopefully!) that it cuts out before it gets to serious damage stage...

I have a double garage so plenty of room, but no lift so dropping the engine out would be tricky. Or are there ways of doing it with trolley jacks etc?

The car started after the breakdown guy refilled the coolant We let it idle for a few minutes and I then drove it the few hundred yards back to my house. There were no untoward mechanical noises so I'm hoping that the big ends etc. are OK. The mixture that came out of the sump was homogeneous and oily, it hadn't separated into oil and water.
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This is a big job, In my opinion you will have less issues and more of a chance with engine out, as in more room less issues with limited space on the rear head, JimmyRea who knows what he is doing has said he would do it engine out next time and i think so to, Its a good as out with all of the dismantling you are going to do anyway, Take a million photographs and label everything
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You need a lift to drop the engine out of the engine bay - you donít need a big one, and they can be cheap enough from Machine Mart or EBay. Iíd get an electric impact gun as well - hub nuts and the like become easy. Youíre going to want to check the liners, so the pistons will have to come out - Iíve done that in the car(GT 3.2) and it is a horrible job.

Other than that - you need cam locks and a competent socket set. The left hand cam wheels pop off with a pry bar, and the right hand ones come off with a brass drift through the back of the cam cover.

Change the belts, water pump, clutch and diff while youíre in there.... .
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Thanks Brad and RXE. Thats good advice ref photos. I did the same when I restored a motorbike, as well as putting all the nuts, bolts etc in labelled freezer bags. My wife is wondering to this day how she managed to use all those bags up...

Yes, it does look like a big job!!

I have had the offer of assistance from a local 916 aficionado who has a lift. I'm now thinking of doing all the dismantling work in my garage, then towing the car to his place to take the engine out. I can put it on an engine stand then tow the car back here so its not in his way whilst we work on the engine.

I've got a good selection of tools, including impact drive, and will order the cam locks.
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When I say lift - I meant crane. You donít need a proper lift at all.
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Ah, so hoist it out over the bay, rather than drop it below. Thanks!

Would you happen to have a list of everything that needs disconnecting/removing prior to lifting it?

I'm assuming:
- all hoses, thermostat
- all electrical connectors
- radiator and cross member. Plus anything else to make space?
- gear change cables
- exhaust. Can the downpipes be disconnected and the manifolds stay on the engine or do they risk being damaged or getting in the way?
- drive shafts (do they just pull out when unbolted?)

What about engine ancillaries like a/c compressor, alternator etc. - can they stay on until engine is removed?

Thanks again for your input. As you can tell, I'd like to get things straight in my mind before I dive in.
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If you go down the crane route: The main issue I had was lifting the front of the car high enough to slide the engine & box out from underneath. I saw some small castor wheels that one of the 156 guys had made to fit onto the 3 x engine mounts which would work really well.

Completely second the opinion about labelling everything and taking photos, putting it back together it took me days to work out simple stuff like how the oil cooler pipes route to the engine.
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Ah, so hoist it out over the bay, rather than drop it below. Thanks!

Would you happen to have a list of everything that needs disconnecting/removing prior to lifting it?

I'm assuming:
- all hoses, thermostat
- all electrical connectors
- radiator and cross member. Plus anything else to make space?
- gear change cables
- exhaust. Can the downpipes be disconnected and the manifolds stay on the engine or do they risk being damaged or getting in the way?
- drive shafts (do they just pull out when unbolted?)

What about engine ancillaries like a/c compressor, alternator etc. - can they stay on until engine is removed?

Thanks again for your input. As you can tell, I'd like to get things straight in my mind before I dive in.
Better off dropping the engine/box out underneath and then raising the car IMO.
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No - jack the front of the car up as far as it will go. Put strap round the engine and move the crane in so the legs are under the engine (short boom). Remove the mounts, and lower the engine. The engine ends up on the legs of the crane, remove the strap and wheel it out.

Extraction process is:

- remove all the wiring and gubbins from the top - easy as yours will be a CF2. Plenum off, disconnect everything you can see.
- do the compression test now
- remove downpipes. Will be hard if corroded.
- ideally remove front bumper, but you donít have to.
- remove bottom of rad support, separate rad from air con rad, remove rad.
- you should have got the air con hoovered out first - disconnect the air con at the pump.
- disconnect PAS at the pump. Anneal the washers before putting it back together.
- unbolt the drive shafts from the gearbox - 6 Allen bolts per side.
- get the strap on the engine.
- unbolt the lower arms and drop the subframe - I think on a GTV this comes straight out rather than having to fanny around with the centre tunnel like a 156.
- unbolt the dog bone, and two front engine mounts
- lower engine.

Roughly....!
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I remember that thread now, Matt - I was very impressed that you managed all that without a garage. So you dropped the subframe with the engine on it? Presumably resting on a pallet or something?
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