2.0 TS Spider "Headgasket" Problems??? - Alfa Romeo Forum
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(Post Link) post #1 of 27 Old 10-09-09 Thread Starter
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2.0 TS Spider "Headgasket" Problems???

Hi all. Newbie Alfa owner and first post so I hope I've put it in the right forum.

After years of talking about getting a Spider (1998) but not having the bottle cos of Alfa reputation, I finally took the plunge. A lovely looking (but very dirty) black Spider with a "blown headgasket" came up at the right price so I jumped on it. I figured that even if it needed a recon engine fitted it was still worth the money.

Anyway to get to the point, I got the car home, topped up the coolant (just water at this stage). There didn't appear to be any oil in the coolant but there is what looks like copper filings. I dont know if that's what it is but its what it looks like. The filler cap does have the dreaded mayo but she had been stood under a tree for a couple of months before I got her. I started the car and left it idling for a while to warm up. Sweet as a nut!! No overheating yet. I took her for a spin round the block and sure enough she overheated. So new headgasket required.

Then when I was going throught the pile of history that came with the car I noticed that there was an invoice from May 2008 for "remove head, skim and refit with new gaskets - supply & fit timing belt kit - water pump - balance shaft belt". No mileage shown on receipt but MOT was done less than 2 weeks later with mileage of 66771 miles. She's now done 71088 miles.

I also found receipts for new radiator and thermostat from March 2007. I reckon mileage then would have been around 58000.

So before I go steaming in like a bull in a china shop, I'm hoping that you experienced Alfa owners can maybe give me some advice / suggestions. Surely even an Alfa wouldn't blow a headgasket in such a short time or would it?

I've given it a wash and polish and only driven it a short distance but I'm "in love" already and can't wait to get her back on the road ASAP.

Thanks for reading this and looking forward to your opinions.
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(Post Link) post #2 of 27 Old 11-09-09 Thread Starter
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Is it possible that the headgasket hasn't replaced properly? I've just read that the cylinder head bolts need replacing if the head comes off as they are the "stretch type". Theres no mention of new head bolts on any invoice.
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What condition is the radiator in?
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Old coolant can corrode both cylinder head and gasket sealing. Needs changing fairly frequently, unless you have total faith in the new 'Longer Life' OAT products? ASTM MNL 6 manual on the selection and use of engine coolants and cooling system chemicals?
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(Post Link) post #5 of 27 Old 11-09-09 Thread Starter
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From what I can see of the rad, without taking fans off, it seems fine. No signs of corrosion or leakage.
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Not sure why so many suffer rad problems here. Salt corrosion can obviously attack the exterior aluminium components, but all this clogging of radiators internally, has got to be down to the coolant, with corrosion inhibitors, not being changed regularly enough, imho? :
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(Post Link) post #7 of 27 Old 11-09-09 Thread Starter
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Not sure why so many suffer rad problems here. Salt corrosion can obviously attack the exterior aluminium components, but all this clogging of radiators internally, has got to be down to the coolant, with corrosion inhibitors, not being changed regularly enough, imho? :
So what do you think? Do I take the rad off, flush it and see what comes out? Or, do I stop messing about and take the head off. I'd love to get to the bottom of this as looking at the car sat on my drive and not being able to get out in it is doing my head in
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I'd certainly flush the whole system for starters, see what comes out of it, after using a good flushing agent, and then proceed from there? Lengthy old process if you do it correctly, but worth the effort and it it woud give you a start deciding if you have other problems?

I've seen so many cooling systems that have some sort of fluid in the header tank that looks like something out of a cess pit, time after time! :
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There didn't appear to be any oil in the coolant but there is what looks like copper filings. I dont know if that's what it is but its what it looks like
Looks as though someone has used 'K Seal' in the past, to solve whatever problems they were having! Best to give the whole system a good flush, replace with good quality coolant (use distilled water when diluting), see how you go from there.

With regard to the previous head gasket work it may be worth having a word with the garage to see if they have re-tighten the bolts. No harm in asking and also getting their opinion of current problems!

I'm sure you'll get it sorted and really enjoy the Spider. They are unique Alfa Romeos, they exude charisma and class, once sorted you really will have fun!

Good luck
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Cheers guys. Gonna make a start now. Want to get out in it while the weather is decent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zulu ferret View Post
Not sure why so many suffer rad problems here. Salt corrosion can obviously attack the exterior aluminium components, but all this clogging of radiators internally, has got to be down to the coolant, with corrosion inhibitors, not being changed regularly enough, imho? :
Thats what i thought until it happened to me. The radiators collapse internally and block the flow of water and bits can come out and even jam the waterpump apparently. Mine suddenly went, was not really a gradual thing.
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Aye! I wouldn't worry aboot the radiatore at the moment. First of all, work out what's happening to the old donkey.

The beast sounds like it had a new gasket alright.. but it wouldn't need new bolts .. I think stretch bolts are not that common any more (a Rover thing?). The bolts should have just been tightened down in sequence and then re-torqued after 600 miles.

If the head gasket wasn't replaced properly, then it could have failed again prematurely.. but frankly there's not much that you can get wrong when fixing a head gasket. As long as the gasket faces were clean and the head skimmed etc. then it's pretty much a bolt-it-back together job.

The fact that it's overheating again and there's odd bits of rubbish in the header tank and that the matey sold it as a head gasket failure, hints to me that the beast is not suffering from a head gasket problem.. more likely there's somwthing else wrong, such as a cracked cylinder head or other damage. The head gasket may have been changed as a mis-diagnosis of that other problem, or it may have failed and caused the other problem.

Any road up, get the beast compression tested so you have an idea where the grief is. Almost certainly you'll have to take the head off for a peek, so you'll drain the radiator and cooling system then (which is why you don't have to fiddle about with it now).

Depending on the damage, it could be a second-hand motor is the best route.. but whatever you replace, change the water pump itself if that wasn't changed at the same time as the other work. It's probably okay to use the other new-ish belts and stuff.

Also make sure the cambelt tensioner is a new (or recent) one and probably you can re-use the cam-belt (howls of horror! ) if this and the tensioner were both replaced (as they probably ought to have been) when they fixed the head gasket.

Ralf S.

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(Post Link) post #13 of 27 Old 15-09-09 Thread Starter
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Thanks Ralf
I was starting to think the same myself. I don't reckon the bolts were retorqued. I'd already drained the coolant by the time I read your post It was all pink and clean with very little rubbish in there, just a few tiny bits which you would expect and "copper dust" which spider95 reckoned was K Seal. The water pump was replaced at the same time as gasket, belts etc.
One last thing, do you know if CF1 engines and CF2 engines are interchangeable as I seen a 56000 mile CF2 for 275. Not checked it out yet but it seems like a good price if its in good nick.
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I think the CF1 and CF2 have hoses coming and going on different sides of the engine, so it would be difficult.. but I'm not an expert on the 4-pots.. someone else will know for sure in a moment.

Did you do a compression check on the cylinders? You have so many new bits on yours it would be a shame to bin the motor if it's fixable. If you do get a new motor though, I suppose your new bits could be transplanted before you fit it.

Ralf S.
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(Post Link) post #15 of 27 Old 15-09-09 Thread Starter
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No not done a compression check yet. Need to get myself a compression tester. Will pick one up tomorrow. Like you say it would be a shame to bin it if it's fixable cos even if I did get the engine I've seen, I'd still have to replace cambelts tensioners etc. I'll keep at it tho. Thanks for the advice.
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(Post Link) post #16 of 27 Old 24-09-09 Thread Starter
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Ok! I've finally got round to doing basic compression test. Cyl 1 160 psi, Cyl 2 120 psi, Cyl 3 125 psi and Cyl 4 185 psi. So looking like a headgasket problem. Just ordered all the parts n I'm gonna get the head off tomorrow & hopefully complete the job over the weekend but who knows what else I'll find?
Cheers for your help so far. I'll keep you posted.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaston View Post
Ok! I've finally got round to doing basic compression test. Cyl 1 160 psi, Cyl 2 120 psi, Cyl 3 125 psi and Cyl 4 185 psi. So looking like a headgasket problem. Just ordered all the parts n I'm gonna get the head off tomorrow & hopefully complete the job over the weekend but who knows what else I'll find?
Cheers for your help so far. I'll keep you posted.
Might be worth getting the head skimmed. Means it wont be completed over the weekend but while the heads off.......
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Good point. It was supposed to have had the head skimmed last time but there again it was supposed to have had a new headgasket too.
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Just a word of advice that may save you a lot of work.If you havent stripped anything yet,just slacken the head bolts and retorque them and try it.
We have had a lot of similar cases when twinnies had been to "normal" garages for head jobs and the bolts werent tightened properly.
It may not work,but its worth a try,it only takes 1/2 hour.
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I'll give that a try. I've not stripped anything yet. Acording to the manual, you torque all the bolts up twice then tighten further 90 + 90 + 90. Does that mean do each bolt in turn 90 degrees then repeat 2 more times?
Thanks for the advice.
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I've only just bought my Spider... and after reading this Im worried. What do I have to look out for, please? x
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yes,but do them in the right sequence and starting from the centre
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I've only just bought my Spider... and after reading this Im worried. What do I have to look out for, please? x
If your Spider has service history of cambelt & oil changes and it's running well then I wouldn't worry about it too much. I bought my Spider knowing it had a major fault and it was only after reading the history that came with it that I wondered if there was a different problem (ie. easier / cheaper to fix) to the one I believed it had. Any car can blow a headgasket or snap a cambelt (if it has one) if they are not serviced properly and regularly. Enjoy your car and look after it and I'm sure you'll have loads of fun in it.
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Aye Spidergirl... The main thing that preserves the head gasket is the state of the cooling system.

You must keep the coolant at the correct concentration of anti-freeze:water and make sure that you replace it every 2 years. The new pink stuff is supposed to last 5 years... but don't trust it that long! As well as looking pink or blue (don't mix the two types!) and stopping your engine freezing, it also prevents corrosion inside the engine (and head-gaskets have a steel reinforcement layer, so you do want to prevent corrosion).

Try to keep the old donkey cool while its running. He wants to be no hotter than 86C most of the time so make sure you have a good rad' and a good thermostat and that the fan works and cuts in at around 92C to cool the beast down again. If the water pump is good, the temp will return to normal soon after moving again (if you get stuck with high temperatures in traffic etc.)

Keep an eye out for any sluggishness in the cooling system.. either overheating, or slower than usual to warm up or cool down, using coolant for no reason, or spitting it out.. that's all a sign that something's not right, though usually teh demage has been done by then! Any overheating (>95C) , stop the engine and do not be tempted to run a bit further to the nearest garage etc. as running on an uncooled engine will warp the head and make it more expensive (even impossible) to fix.

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Thanks for that, Ralf and Kaston -
Really useful stuff. So much so that I've printed it out and keep in with my garage folder.
Appreciate your time! x
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