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Old 02-10-2018, 03:47 PM   #1
kewlpop
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1995 SL
Default #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

Hello,

1995 Saturn S...almost 180,000 mis., 5 speed manual.

First off, I have a radiator tank leak. Pretty straightforward. I can get a new Klimoto radiator from amazon for $51 and change free delivery. any thoughts?

But more importantly, i've had to change the plug in the #2 cylinder numerous times within the past year due to the fact that it gets severely gunked up within a month. i normally would just replace all four, but today i inspected the other three and they are fairly clean.

Other symptoms...apparent coolant on the oil dipstick. when cold there is little or no oil showing but i know there is oil in there!

after warmup the level on the dipstick heads WAAAAY up the line...at one point almost half the dipstick was covered with 'oil' and possible coolant.

it's leaking somewhere for sure. any guesses? ... gasket, head crack, loose bolt/head?

not sure how to troubleshoot next. probably will remove valve cover and check to see if i can find anything suspicious.


Thanks!

i've read somewhere that saturn did have problems with a cylinder head casting defect and that the crack would normally show up at one cylinder in particular, but don't remember which one.

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Old 02-10-2018, 04:11 PM   #2
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1995 SL
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

one other detail i should mention is that i do NOT see ANY indication of oil in the coolant system, but as i said, have observed coolant mixing on the dipstick (most likely).

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Old 02-10-2018, 04:13 PM   #3
Saturn Night
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1995 SC2
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

Your profile lists as a 1995 SL model.

You did not specify, whether the car has the SOHC or the DOHC engine.

To verify a leaking head gasket and/or cracked cylinder head, proper troubleshooting steps are needed.

First, do NOT check the oil level while the engine is warm and running. Oil level should be checked with the engine cold and the vehicle parked on a level surface.

Symptoms of a blown head gasket and a cracked head can be identical.

You will have one or more of the following symptoms:
Coffee w/Creamer looking oil on your dipstick, indicating that coolant is leaking into the oil

The "Chocolate Milkshake" look inside the coolant reservoir.

Excessive white smoke out the exhaust, even when the engine is warm.

Moisture being spit out of the exhaust.

Misfiring cylinders, rough idle, poor fuel economy.

No hot air from the heater, but engine overheats.

Since replacing the cylinder head involves replacing the gasket, if EITHER problem is found, make sure you get new cylinder head bolts with your gasket kit.

Now, onto troubleshooting:

First, start the car with the overflow cap OFF. You should be able to see a steady flow of coolant from the return line that comes off the throttle body. No coolant flow = Blocked return line/Air bubbles trapped in line

Once the engine is up to temperature, watch for a continuous flow of air bubbles in the tank. If you see constant bubbles, gradually/periodically showing up, this is indicative that your cylinder head is cracked or the head gasket is leaking combustion gases into the system.

And you can always rent a pressure test kit, once you have confirmed the radiator is no longer leaking.
As previously stated, since either repair REQUIRES both the gasket/bolts to be replaced and the head to be removed from the engine, you may as well do the tests and pull the head off and have a reputable machine shop test the head for cracks.

www.car-part.com

This website can be used to source a used cylinder head, from local salvage yards. Don't waste your money on remanufactured heads, as they are not any better or worse at resistance to cracking as the stock GM-cast heads are. In fact, since most rebuilders deck them 0.010" as SOP for rebuilding them, they are probably more prone to cracking from having less metal, higher compression, and higher combustion temperatures putting extra stress on the already-weaker part of the engine assembly.

Do NOT deck the head or the block. If EITHER the block, or the head, are warped more than 0.006", they are to be scrapped and replaced. Amd that is the GM factory service specification tolerance.

...
"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 02-10-2018, 04:21 PM   #4
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1995 SL
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

one interesting thread i came upon just now doing more research is that if the intake manifold gasket is leaking it can exhibit similar symptoms of a head gasket leak. possible cause?

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Old 02-10-2018, 04:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

sorry, it is the base SL model...(where the passenger side view mirror was optional!)

SOHC

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Old 02-10-2018, 04:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

i've got great heat, no overheating issues, and i just went 350 miles on a full tank of gas.

i've had white smoke for the past several years. the car has burned oil like mad. i just wrote it off as worn rings.

the oil on the dipstick has not exhibited the classic 'milkshake' coloring.

haven't noticed excessive moisture dripping from tailpipe, but really have not paid much attention.

the car has been running good as new, except for the aforementioned fouled plug.

one other detail i will throw in the mix is that i very recently replaced the egr valve. the old one was nasty to the point the pintle was completely stuck.

and ironically/coincidentally after i put he new egr valve, is when these symptoms started. but i doubt it could be related.

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Old 02-10-2018, 04:43 PM   #7
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1995 SL
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

from another internet source:

"... These motors are notorious for burning oil if you dont change the oil religiously every 3000 miles. The problem is that the pistons in these motors do not have oil drain back holes to allow oil to fall back down into the bottom of the engine. There are only 2 little reliefs on each side of the piston to let oil fall back down. As a consequence, the dirty grimy oil will gum up and make the oil control rings get stuck, therefore allowing the oil on the cylinder walls to get burned up during combustion instead of getting scraped off by the rings. ..."

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Old 02-12-2018, 12:35 PM   #8
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1995 SL1
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

Well if you just replace the plug again and it runs well then my guess goes for stuck rings in that cylinder.

You might try the MMO soak although opinions vary on how well it works. At this point you have nothing to loose.

Highmile
'95 SL1 650k and counting

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Old 02-13-2018, 11:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

that's what i'm hoping for...a stuck ring (vs. head gasket or crack).

first things first though. new radiator is scheduled for delivery in the next few days and this weekend i will plan on installing it.

we'll see how it runs after that.

as i've said, there have been no indications of the 'classic' overheating issues associated with head gasket leak.

once the new radiator is in and cooling system properly pressurized i'll analyze engine performance and symptoms and reevaluate the situation.

currently still driving but having to daily top off with water.

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Old 02-13-2018, 01:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

another site suggested a stuck ring could be improved by the procedure below, but i do not foresee this as a viable option for me at this point.

...." After a great deal of me lurking about on automotive sites because of engine smoke (sticking rings...replaced valve stem seals)to find out how to get them freed up without removing them, I decided to come back here, register, and report my success.

Here's what I did that finally worked for me:

The engine is a vertical 4 double overhead cam. Initial compression test was 176-150-176-176 out of a possible 191 max. I did this compression test after a tune up when I discovered one discolored plug (#2 cylinder). The #2 cylinder compression tested low. Right away I added acetone, let it sit a bit, then fired it up. Compression jumped up to 176 from 150. I was now noticing smoking at high RPM with heavy throttle. I believe I was smoking before but didn't see it.

I knew I had a stuck second ring and oil rings likely. I tried every chemical that seemed it may work to clear all the rings up, but nothing was working. My only success was getting the top ring working again. But, here's where I had success: I tried B12 Chemtool

Here's what I did: I drained my oil and left drain plug removed. I put the offending cylinder at TDC and poured in B12. Then, using an air fitting I pumped in 120psi (most I could) air pressure forcing the B12 down through and around the piston. I repeated this several times. I allowed some time between each air shot for soaking to occur. I then returned motor oil and drove. Oil pan did not contain any B12.

After the above procedure, I was impressed with the smoke reduction I was experiencing at high RPM. So...I did it again. This time I bought 2 cans of B12 and was very thorough. I kept soaking and blowing it through. (I also put some B12 on the spot under my oil filler cap to see what it did to varnish. Wow...too bad this stuff is bad for seals and some gaskets.)

I almost forgot to mention I did WOT runs after treatments.

Anyway, now I'm smoke free and plan to treat the other 3 cylinders to match them all up clean wise. Sure would like to see a 180 all the way across. Kinda doubt I'll get much more compression since their all matched up up at 176.

Anyway, that's it. .... "

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Old 02-13-2018, 07:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

well, here i am again. still continually researching what can be done about returning my vehicle to normal operating condition.

the more i stumble across posts about worn rings, the more i really don't think that i have ANY type of internal coolant leak.

thanks to highmile for suggesting to stick with the piston problem.

i'm guessing that the movement of oil/unknown other liquid going up way high on the oil dipstick could be the result of unburned gasses forcing their way into the lower parts of the engine due to lack of combustion.

thus...increasing crankcase pressure. i have noticed that the hose coming from the pcv valve as being shiny and slimy. it should be a dull dry piece of rubber, correct?

thanks to gary proulx, author, for educating me.

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Old 02-13-2018, 07:58 PM   #12
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1995 SL
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

ha...

i found this link interesting. apparently "saturn rings" (not the cosmic kind) DO have quite a reputation for being 'out of this world.'

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/fo.../126677/page1/

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Old 02-14-2018, 04:56 AM   #13
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1995 SC2
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kewlpop View Post
one interesting thread i came upon just now doing more research is that if the intake manifold gasket is leaking it can exhibit similar symptoms of a head gasket leak. possible cause?
Not sure where you are sourcing your threads and articles from, but a cracked intake gasket causing oil/coolant to mix is very unlikely on most inline engines, because oil doesn't flow through the intake manifold.

On GM 3100/3400 SFI V6s, which were produced during the Death-Kill Orange debacle of 1996(3100 SFIs started in the 1995 model year) until 2005, could cause such problems, BUT that is also a "V" engine and overhead valve, which means a leaking gasket could allow coolant to seep directly into the block, via the camshaft area between the cylinder heads.

I think you may need to start showing where you are sourcing your information from.

...
"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 02-14-2018, 05:05 AM   #14
Saturn Night
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1995 SC2
Default Re: #2 Cyclinder plug Gunked up continually, cracked head or leaky head gasket?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kewlpop View Post
well, here i am again. still continually researching what can be done about returning my vehicle to normal operating condition.
Tear the engine apart, overhaul it, and drill the required drain back holes in your pistons; the correct way to actually solve the real problems with these engines.(Something that GM couldn't seem to grasp the entire 12 years of production for these cars, but you can't increase your sales volume and profits by correcting defective designs that blow the engine sky high, can you?)

Oil flow return holes being drilled in pistons is not "new" technology, by the way. Diesel engines have had such designs dating back to WWII military equipment.

...
"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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