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Old 04-03-2020, 04:41 AM   #1
Ccrussell
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Default Sl1 blown head gasket

Hello,
Well yesterday April 2, I was planning on taking my SL want to work, recently did tires brakes and struts, 347K on the car now. Checking the oil level and fluids as I always do I found a thick chocolate mud in the coolant reservoir.
The car did in fact for some period of time ,seem to be losing coolant although I never saw any leaks . This will be my second go around with changing a head gasket. Do not believe any damage has occurred as operating temperature on the gauge still reads normal.
Just read Oldnucs tip on flushing The contamination.
Lately the Saturns have been giving me a beat down, different faults, repairs, etc.
But, all in all, I get a lot of pleasure of driving these great little cars and I guess I will press forward. Still cheaper than a monthly car payment.( Haha call me cheap)
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Old 04-03-2020, 08:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

I have used it and it cured my car's blown head gasket for these last 11 years.

https://www.google.com/search?q=blue...hrome&ie=UTF-8

A whole lot easier and it really does work.
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Old 04-03-2020, 12:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

This is an SL1, correct? Is this your second head-sealing problem with this engine? I wonder if the head might have a crack near the cam journal, doesn't that cause this kind of mixing of oil and coolant?
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Hello,
That statement is a bit misleading. Yes my second attempt at changing a head gasket, (second engine in this car).
First engine , that came with the car, was owned by a lady in the Bronx who didn't know about oil changes. Still have the timing set hanging on the garage wall, proof of what lack of maintenance will do to steel parts. Timing set was worn to the point of almost no teeth remaining, among other deficiency's .
Replacement engine that I bought, had 90k on it , has served me for some 150 k miles now needs a gasket. I am at fault here probably , as I never changed the coolant.
Actually cheap to do the gasket , labor is the killer here.

Last edited by Ccrussell; 04-05-2020 at 07:39 AM. Reason: Add content
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Old 04-05-2020, 10:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

I wouldn't mind seeing those timing set parts that are worn... my DOHC timing set I just replaced had 440k miles on it still looked pretty good and was still in spec.

I just replaced my head gasket on my DOHC last week... lots of good information here if you want to do it yourself. But like you said, it takes time.
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Old 04-12-2020, 05:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Helloz
So I have the engine disassembled. It has come apart somewhat easily. What I cannot see so far is where the head gasket failed.
Clearly coolant is full of oil. Engine was running great before disassembly. Curious . Head thus far shows no evidence of cracks.
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Old 04-12-2020, 06:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Post pictures of the gasket and head/block surfaces; then we can help you guess.

Have you removed the cam from the head yet? My understanding is that the crack is under the cam journal; it may be hard to see with the cam still in there.
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Old 04-12-2020, 11:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Look at the number 5 cam journal, towards the exhaust side of the head. For the record, I've never seen a bad head gasket on a sohc engine cause oil to be in the coolant, it's always the cracked head syndrome.
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Old 04-13-2020, 04:03 AM   #9
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Ok,
Will do. Progress during the week is always slower than I would like.
Hoping it is not a cracked head, but sounds probable .
Good news is I have a spare head on another motor in storage, if it comes to that. The rear coolant passages on the block were mostly blocked with crud, as was discovered when opening the motor. Like a scale which easily crumbled away when poked with a screw driver.
I flushed the death cool and replaced with standard green coolant when this engine was placed in service 150k ago.
Updates too follow. Thanks
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Old 04-20-2020, 09:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

OK, so SOHC engines are nice design, but was problem which led to some
cracked heads.
OldNuc discovered a TechServiceBulletin which indicated Saturn devised a NEW
Torquing procedure to rectify that issue. The TSB was 1999, I think.

I do not remember the procedure. I copied it a few times, but serial deaths of OSs & HDDs have lost the bits.

The general issue discovered was too Fast torqueing led to uneven compression.

So proceed with care & try find correct procedure.
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Old 04-21-2020, 08:40 AM   #11
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Ok
So motor is apart. Yes indeed is a bad gasket. Multiple leaks in a few locations.
Lots of crud built up in passages.
Thus far I have cleaned the pistons,cleared the cylinder head and valve area get everything looking nice .cleaned the front of the block etc. all parts Have arrived from rock auto and reassembly will start this week.
Changing the timing set and water pump, all gasket too.
There sure was a lot of buildup in the intake manifold. Brake clean and a shop vac and a wire brush took care of that mess.
Pretty sure this engine will run another 150 thousand miles😁
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Old 04-22-2020, 10:23 AM   #12
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

I would suggest dropping your head off at the local machine shop to have it faced so that it is absolutely flat.

Not doing so could see you repeating this exercise in the not too distant future

Highmile
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Old 04-28-2020, 05:13 PM   #13
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ccrussell View Post
Helloz
So I have the engine disassembled. It has come apart somewhat easily. What I cannot see so far is where the head gasket failed.
Clearly coolant is full of oil. Engine was running great before disassembly. Curious . Head thus far shows no evidence of cracks.
You have to have a shop test the head to find the crack, which will likely be the #5 camshaft journal. 1999 heads were not known for cracking, like the 1991-1998 SOHC head was, but your symptoms are leading into that direction.
...
"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:54 AM   #14
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Hello,
Ok I proceeded to to all the work described above , in my haste , I did not bring head to a machine shop as advised. This now may be a regret.
The car is running fantastic, and quiet I may add. Still got oil in cooling tank.
I have flushed the cooling system with Dawn dish soap, but I am thinking , (hopefully ) that there is just residual oil in the cooling
System. Should I be flushing with liquid dishwasher soap only?
, I am hoping I don't need to redo the head/gasket, process.
How much liquid dishwasher soap per gallon of water.
Thankyou for thoughts or bashing.
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Old 06-11-2020, 08:45 AM   #15
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

I would definitely clean/rinse the block/head/expansion tank further
because it should establish a clean 'base line' from which you can proceed.

The DOHC heads leak, but only rarely. As long as installed with new gasket,
clean mating surfaces, new torque-to-yield bolts properly, I'd run it until
it demonstrates clearly that it needs help.
correction:: I forgot you're SOHC.
My first Saturn was a 96 SOHC which I bought used and only ran a couple hundred miles because
of leak which suspected was a crack issue (and dealership advised was a frequent problem).
Just to suggest that chances of crack are much more common than in DOHC.

The PROPER TORQUE procedure is critical... if not known find in Search, or go very slowly.

Saturn suggested to use powdered automatic dishwasher dish detergent for routine cooling system flushes, because it works well and is readily available.

It might be worthwhile to use a proprietary cooling system cleaner
(I think Prestone still sells some) since you Do have a bit of a mess in there
(and cleaning it will indicate whether/when a leak develops). If, after next attempt to clean, there is abundant oil residue, Then you likely should pull the head again, and see if it can be repaired.

I had to give my block Several rinses -- it became obvious that the dealer, when installing a new radiator, did not initially drain the block: There was a distinct Pink color to the first few flushes, in spite of the fact that green prestone was used for the coolant fill up.

So, incidently, the Dexcool coolant (which performs very well in some vehicles) is Not good in the Saturn S series. Some years ago, an engineer or chemist engaged with OldNuc in a discussion, explaining how Dexcool can cause a reaction which generates an 'organic' acid in the coolant mixture, which, in turn, dissolves the material of the head gasket, resulting in leaks.

Also, on topic, a year ago somebody here (maybe Highmiler, or general Hogan) had a discussion with a rep from Federal Mogul... who reported that the FelPro headgaskets now sold are mostly downgraded 'aftermarket' types
-- that there are still OEM headgaskets, but they might be harder to get, or more expensive.

After the block washout cleaning procedure, do at least two distilled water
rinses. My Saturn dealer specified to use GM cooling system tablets designed originally for aluminum block Cadillac motors whenever filling a block after a clean-flush procedure. He indicated to use Two for a clean/fresh fill.

The cooling system tablets are the only thing that all GM dealers stock, and which are cheaper at the dealer than aftermarket auto parts shops.

Some people even use them on cast iron engines, since porosity of castings can be an issue with them, too.

But don't overdo it. Two is plenty in a clean block; one might be adequate iff no signs of leakage.

Last edited by TomM96; 06-11-2020 at 08:57 AM. Reason: typo -- messed up SOHC vs DOHC
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Old 06-11-2020, 04:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: Sl1 blown head gasket

Thanks
Another flushing sessions tomorrow night.
Will post result
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