Possible V6 Head gasket failure - Alfa Romeo Forum
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(Post Link) post #1 of 18 Old 20-12-07 Thread Starter
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Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Hi all ive just checked under the oil filler cap of my 2.5v6 and it is full of the creamy mayo substance, my worst nightmare! The coolant is down and when ive been driving ive had plenty of white smoke pouring out of the exhaust. How much will it cost to put right? Ive spent a fortune in the last 6 months of ownership. New water pump, radiator, plugs, cam belt change, plus more because I love the car. Its black with tan leather and looks stunning. It would be really difficult to part with it but I just cant keep throwing money after it, what are my options? All help appreciated

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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

definately sounds like the head gasket has gone

if you live in north east england you can get the head gasket replaced for £200 including a new timing belt (even after 6 months you do not reuse a timing belt under any circumstaces) from PATS, Blackhills Rd, Horden, County Durham, SR8 4LQ, 0191 518 1001

if you live elsewhere then get quotes from as many garages as possible. it really doesnt take an 'alfa specialist' to do this job properly.
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

well I know the main dealer in NI are looking £700 for this job on the V6 156 as I priced it last week. a good indie will be less than half that or thereabouts and the job will be a good'un!
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Wow - £200 for a cambelt change? I paid nearly 4 times that (included waterpump and other bits) for mine on a V6 earlier in the year. I would have driven up there and got a nice hotel too for the evening at that rate!
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Thanks, that sounds like a very good price is the going rate similar? I was worried I would be looking at a huge bill but £200 is not too bad. Is it safe to drive the car at all? The garage is only about 4 miles away.
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

i expect the 'going rate' will be more, it depends where you go and who you know. if you live in london then i expect £2500 would be the going rate

its safe to drive as long as your coolant loss isnt happening so quickly that you risk overheating the engine. if you do overheat it then the head will need to be skimmed, which adds £30 to the price. keep it topped up and you'll be fine, as many rover K-series owners will testify, plenty of them drive for years with a head gakset leak.
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Are you sure its the head gasket and not just running cold? With the current temperatures condensation builds up on the engine crankcase and if the engine doesn't get really hot, that mayo will appear ... as will white exhaust smoke (water vapour)

What's the oil on the dipstick look like?
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

gazza thats a really good point because the oil on the dipstick looks fine. The engine has been running extremely cold as I only do short journeys, but even on longer journeys the temp needle hardly moves going down rather than up so I believe the thermostat may need replacing. It also idles high on start up at about 1500rpm then settles after a few minutes to just below 1000rpm.(I cant remember the last time the temp needle was above a quarter, it also drops to zero when I drive instead of rising to 90). I had a stat on order to pick up today, in the end I didnt get it because before I left thats when I checked under the bonnet and discovered the mayo under the filler cap. The recent history of the car is that it started to overheat (therefore hiding the faulty thermostat I think). This was caused by a non working water pump which was replaced along with belts, tensioners, pulleys, spark plugs, cam cover gasket basically everything. Once this was done everything seemed ok. Then it started to run cold like I say, therefore my diagnosis of a faulty thermostat. Do you think changing the stat and getting the engine up to temperature would be a good start. Would I need to change the oil? Thanks for all your help as I really want to keep hold of this car. Just had a look at your website, looks like a great resource will bookmark it straight away.

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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

When my thermostat went, my filler cap was 'mayonnaisey'. You need to replace the thermostat anyway, so you might as well do that, take it on a run and see what happens.
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

the thermostat cant explain your coolant loss. if there is not a leak in your cooling system then the head gasket is the only explanation. do a compression test on all cylinders to see if you can spot a head gasket leak.

when a waterpump fails the engine overheats a lot more than the temp gauge shows, that overheating often damages the head gasket seal because the block and head are different metals so they swell in differnet amounts.

in light of the previous overheating i would say a head skim is definately needed when the head comes off. not doing this would be a false economy because it often leads to a bad seal on your new head gasket and then you spend double fixing it a second time.
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

I was quoted £1500 for a V6 head gasket replacement and that was from a very good indie

Turned out my coolant loss was a fooked rad that only cost me £375 parts an labour

Deffo sounds like the heads gone on yours tho
 
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

While not ruling out the possibility of a head gasket failure, it does seem to me that your problem is, quite simply, winter.

Almost any car will suffer, to a greater or lesser degree, from 'mayonnaise' in cold, damp weather, particularly if it's only doing short runs. A good long drive which will get everything thoroughly warmed through will clear it. White smoke from the exhaust? That's just the water vapour which is a natural by-product of the combustion process condensing out in the cold air.

Of course, your apparently knackered thermostat isn't helping matters!
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

how can winter explain coolant loss?
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

The coolant loss is something else but again might not be the head gaskets. I was loosing coolant but couldn't trace the leak ... turned out to be a badly corroded radiator ... mainly behind the a/c condensor. When the rad was changed the core basically crumbled away ... anything over 6-7 years is a good life. The lack of heat in the cooling system meant it didn't produce much steam to trace the problem. A new thermostat soon pointed the way ....

So I'd first change the thermostat then give the rad a good checking out. Pressure testing would help, but may finish the rad core off once and for all! The extra heat in the water should show you that anyway in the form of steam!

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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Thanks for all the advice. Im getting the thermostat changed on the 27th so hope it turns out to be that. As for the radiator, thats only 3 months old so is working fine. Thanks again.
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Well thermostat failure could explain the white gunk under the cap as the engine would be getting over cooled and wouldn't burn off moisture in the engine, or exhaust.
I get a fair amount of steam out the back of mine and that runs fine (even worse when the stat had gone), for you to be getting steam out the exhaust and water in the oil (this is from my experience of rovers so may not be correct) then the gasket would have to fail in 2 places, between the coolant channel and the oil channel as well as into the piston.

Apparently a more common failure point on the V6 that causes water and oil mixing is the heat exchanger. This sits on the back of the engine and has the oil filter attached to it, coolant flows through the top of it and cools the oil going into and out of the filter, apparently they can corrode. I would imagine that you should be able to get it off without too much trouble to test it, as it is only held on by a nut that sits on the tube the oil filter screws too, as well as 2 rubber coolant pipes.

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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Thats good advice ill get my mechanic to look at that. Could that maybe explain a small oil leak i have? Will have to get him to check this out.
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Re: Possible V6 Head gasket failure

Alfa Forza..before you let anyone pull the car to pieces there are two really simple tests for a failed head gasket.

1)Get the cooling system pressure tested. You stick a small amount of pressure in the filler cap and watch the pressure gauge. If you have a leak it will show by falling pressure. Its cheap to do and non invasive. I test gas pipes and systems every day using this test and its very sensitive.

2)Alternatively or as well. Get some coolant testing fluid. It changes colour if it detects acidic products of combustion in the coolant. If it doesn't change colour your head gasket is fine.

All the other comments about the thermostat are true as well. If the V6 has a duff stat it will never warm up, and you will get mayonnaise on the filler cap. A new stat on my V6 made a hell of a difference.

Most likely source of a water leak are the water pump or the radiator. If the rad is any older than 6 years then it is a candidate.

Good Luck

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