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Old 01-13-2020, 07:25 PM   #1
amgarb
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Default Coolant Loss... Head Gasket?

Below is my original post that I indavertantly put in the L series forum. I will post a follow up below it...

----

I recently picked up a 1998 SL2 (DOHC) that had a cracked radiator. It was cracked so bad that coolant would drain out about as fast at it was filled. No idea if (or how bad) it was overheated before I obtained it.

I put a new $45 radiator on it and it runs fine... except for a very slow coolant loss that I can't find. I've rented a pressure test kit from local auto parts stores and it leaks down from 15 to 13 psi in about 30 minutes.

Oil on dipstick looks fine. Exhaust looks good too.

Looks like water pump was replaced sometime in the past as I can see red RTV that has squeezed out.

170xxx miles on odometer.

Any suggestions on where to go from here?

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Old 01-13-2020, 07:27 PM   #2
amgarb
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Default Re: Coolant Loss... Head Gasket?

Update, after doing the pressure test, I tried to start the car but it wouldnít run. I ended up pulling the plugs and doing a compression test. Had zero on the first two cylinders and 100-120 psi on the other two cylinders. ☹

So Iím debating what to do. At this point, Iím thinking of getting a leak down tester to see if I can further diagnose it. Or maybe just pull head to see what I find?

Letís assume the gasket is shot but the head is fine. What is a realistic budget to replace the gasket if I do the work myself? I think I need gasket ($20), new bolts ($20), timing cover gasket ($20), valve cover gasket ($10) plus whatever Iíve forgotten.

I did find a sub 100k mile scrapyard engine for $350 about 2 hours away.

Any ideas on what the difference in time and complexity would be to swap in an engine vs replace the head gasket?

Iíve never done something quite this major before. But I have replaced an Elantra timing belt and Ford Focus transmission in my barnÖ So I'm not afraid to try.

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Old 01-13-2020, 07:49 PM   #3
me.theuser
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Default Re: Coolant Loss... Head Gasket?

Easier to replace the whole engine TBH but that also depends if you get at least a DOA warranty on the jy engine

Does the current engine have maintenance records??

If you know this car was well taken care of the I'd probably do the head

From experience If you reuse the head check it for flatness very carefully or have it checked/resurfaced by a machine shop also check the heater core I've twice seen a bad heater core cause a blown head gasket on saturns
also the dohc has a defect with the coolant nipple on the back of the head there is a kit to repair it though..

You probably won't need the valve cover gasket...

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Old 01-14-2020, 10:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: Coolant Loss... Head Gasket?

Quote:
Originally Posted by me.theuser View Post
also the dohc has a defect with the coolant nipple on the back of the head there is a kit to repair it though..
That's only on the 3rd gen DOHC with the black plastic intake. OP has a 98 (2nd gen) with metal intake - unless engine has previously been swapped.

Quote:
You probably won't need the valve cover gasket...
Or a timing cover gasket (it's RTV)

edit: this is an engine swap how-to for first gen Saturn S series, but would be useful for your 2nd gen. Not a ton of differences in the engines in the 3 generations, some small differences, though - you can swap engines between generations with a little work.

You want to use a '98 engine for most compatibility. '97 and older used a different fuel system (you'd have to swap out fuel rail and injectors from your '98 into the new engine). '99 was the first year for the narrower head - some may have used the metal intake still, not sure when the switch to plastic was (may have been mid year running production change)

Others can advise more if you confirm what year the engine is from. There is an engine code on the block, on a plate near the coil packs
http://www.saturnfans.com/photos/sho...smatch/cat/500

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69110

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Last edited by alordofchaos; 01-14-2020 at 10:39 AM..

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Old 01-14-2020, 10:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: Coolant Loss... Head Gasket?

Eh, missed the edit window.

Whats involved in head gasket replacement.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=171851

worth reading the entire thread. How to proceed depends on condition of rest of car and how long you plan to drive it.

if you have the time, money, and inclination - put in the junkyard engine and drive it for now, rebuild the old engine at your leisure (assuming no unrepairable damage). Then put in the old (rebuilt) engine and sell the junkyard engine or rebuild as a spare

...
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11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 151k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 01-22-2020, 09:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Coolant Loss... Head Gasket?

Bumping up to bury the spammer.

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