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Old 06-19-2019, 11:29 AM   #1
OCMan
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1995 SC1
Default questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Okay so I got done taking my SC1 to a mechanic. They looked at it for about 30 minutes. They are saying they are seeing air bubbles in the coolant, so according to them I have a blown head gasket. The car had the radiator fail about 3 years ago. I replaced that, the thermostat, and the water pump.

It runs fine, although I has recently started missing and throwing a ERG error 32. The mechanic is saying he thinks the ERG error is being caused by the catalytic converter.

They also inspected my exhaust.

Doing all that in 30 minutes could you honestly assess that the head is blown? Or is this more of a guess? Also, could it just have air in the coolant from when I replaced all of those parts in the coolant system?

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Old 06-19-2019, 11:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

There is a chemical test you can buy at auto pats stores to check coolant for exhaust gas.
As for the EGR go to another mechanic for a second opinion.

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Old 06-19-2019, 11:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Usually the SOHC heads crack around cam journal #3. Pretty much the same job as just the head gasket but add's around $250 to the cost for a reman head.

Diagnosing EGR Fault (Code 32): http://www.differentracing.com/tech_...es/dtc/32.html

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Old 06-19-2019, 11:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

One other thing I forgot to add to my original post. The engine will stop missing as soon as the check engine light comes on.

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Old 06-19-2019, 05:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Does it makes sense that if these issues are being caused by a cracked head or a catalytic converter, that once the check engine light comes on it would run fine?

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Old 06-19-2019, 05:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Suspecting a blown head gasket can be diagnosed in several ways. Coolant bubbling can indicate 1) incomplete coolant replacement procedures, 2) overheating or 3) blown head gasket. Since cylinders suck in air/fuel mixtures and compress them, a blown head gasket allows sucking coolant in and blowing the air/fuel mixture into the cooling system. Severe head gasket damage is seen as a chocolate milk shake coolant.

Remove spark plugs and examine them. If they're wet with water droplets, head gasket damage. Another way to test for head gasket damage - leave the coolant cap off and let the engine idle until fully warmed up. A normal 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water won't boil while allowing the cooling system to purge itself of any air in the system. Normal cooling systems after repairs to it may have residual air as seen as lowering coolant level as coolant is topped off on initial startup. It takes only a short drive around a block or two with cap on to let the engine warm-up and purge itself of any remaining air. Once purged of air, couldn't level should remain between the low and cold and hot marks on the coolant container. If you're not aware, the coolant container is pressurized along with the cooling system and the plastic cap is both pressure and vacuum valves just like older metal radiator caps. This is considered a closed, sealed cooling system with only the container having air so coolant doesn't vent at any time unless overheating occurs.

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Old 06-19-2019, 06:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OCMan View Post
One other thing I forgot to add to my original post. The engine will stop missing as soon as the check engine light comes on.
The reason that happens is because the code ALSO disables the EGR so it quits opening. Block it off and see if that stops the missing before the code sets.

The head issue can be lots of things. First thing is have you ever checked that you have a solid bubble free coolant stream returning to the reservoir from the small hose connected to the right rear corner? If there is no flow you are boiling in the head and that would be your bubbles.

Leaking head gaskets can be fixed without replacing the gasket sometimes, depending on the cause.

You do not have the common signs of a cracked SOHC head.

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Old 06-21-2019, 05:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

I had opened the reservoir and looked inside of that little window. I can see flow but it did not appear to be a solid steady stream. My car overheated several years ago. I replaced the radiator and the water pump and the thermostat. The car has never overheated to the point of dying or stalling. It has gotten into the red, and pretty much been instantly taken back out of there by getting moving, or if moving was not happening quickly I had parked and let it cool.

When it overheated several years ago it was the same deal. It never got hot enough to stop working. I always either got it moving and cooled or parked and cooled. After I replaced everything, in my next oil change I asked them if they could look for any signs of a cracked head, as from what I understand you can usually tell something is up with that from the oil. They said they saw nothing to indicate I had a cracked head at that time.

I will attempt to block the EGR the way Richpin shows in his video with a soda can cut out. If doing so makes it not miss any further does that mean without a doubt it is a dirty valve and not the catalytic converter?

Sorry it took a few days to get back to you all. I have been working on that car for over a week straight. And was frustrated so I took a much needed break from it.

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Old 06-21-2019, 06:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Also, in case this info helps. From what I can tell, my coolant seems pretty clean. It does not look gunky as far as I can tell.

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Old 06-21-2019, 08:53 AM   #10
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

If that stream is not solid then you will continuously overheat. To fix it the steel line must be removed from the head and cleaned out. Then it all must be reassembled and visually checked for proper flow. If you have metric tubing wrenches you can do this or it is a shop job.

Chasing any other fixes for overheating will fail until this deareation line is completely functional. It tends to plug right where it attaches to the aluminum head.

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Old 06-21-2019, 12:24 PM   #11
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

OCMan, can you tell if your radiator cooling fan is running or not? Unless the fan was replaced, it's 24 yrs old and possibly worn, running slower. Your fan should be blowing with full force when its on and heard with the hood closed or open. There are several ways to turn on a radiator fan; small wire jumper across the fan relay terminal sockets 30 and 87, directly wiring fan to battery or bypassing the ac pressure switch with a paper clip then turning on ac regardless whether or not ac works. You may have a worn out cooling fan that isn't forcing airflow thru the ac condenser coil and radiator when your temperature gauge goes to red.

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Old 06-21-2019, 12:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

The fan does turn on and function correctly from what the mechanic stated.

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Old 06-21-2019, 01:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OCMan View Post
Okay so I got done taking my SC1 to a mechanic. They looked at it for about 30 minutes. They are saying they are seeing air bubbles in the coolant, so according to them I have a blown head gasket. The car had the radiator fail about 3 years ago. I replaced that, the thermostat, and the water pump.

It runs fine, although I has recently started missing and throwing a ERG error 32. The mechanic is saying he thinks the ERG error is being caused by the catalytic converter.

They also inspected my exhaust.

Doing all that in 30 minutes could you honestly assess that the head is blown? Or is this more of a guess? Also, could it just have air in the coolant from when I replaced all of those parts in the coolant system?
The 1991-1998 SOHC engines are notorious for cracked cylinder heads, at the #5 camshaft journal.

It usually results in oil being pumped into the coolant.

With your symptoms, it is leaning towards a cracked head gasket and NOT a cracked head.

Is the car overheating, as your title suggests?

Are you periodically adding coolant?

Has the car boiled over?

Code 32 triggers when the PCM commands enriched fuel mixture, due to the EGR being open on periods of acceleration.

A stuck closed EGR will cause your code 32. You can test this by disconnecting your negative battery terminal and clearing the stored code. Then unplug the EGR. You should get a code 32.

As far as your EGR, I would get a used one from the JY. 1995-1998 Saturn 1.9L engines use the same EGR.

Stay away from 1999-2002 models, because the EGR physically looks the same but operates differently internally.

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Old 06-21-2019, 01:57 PM   #14
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OCMan View Post
The fan does turn on and function correctly from what the mechanic stated.
Sometimes it's wiser to check some things yourself. This should be one to check on since you didn't state the fan was replaced. This presumes a 24yr old fan that may be on its last legs, moving air slow enough not to get thru the ac condenser coil to force air thru the radiator.

A perfect example of a worn out fan - I had to replace one of two cooling fans in my'03 L300 after 14yrs of reliable service. NYC summers gets warm enough to use ac. My two fans runs three speeds; low, medium and high. One fan decided to quit two years ago and I had to diagnose a louder high speed fan that was doing the work of two. Once the pusher fan (the other a puller) quit altogether, I replaced it. I don't use ac all the time but this is just an example of fans wearing out long after a new car warranty expires. Some fans last forever but may not be a good replacement from a salvage yard as its on borrowed time. Its a gamble and solely up to the owner to use a used fan for a few more years or buy a new one. My car needs two fans, especially for ac use otherwise ac cooling degrades in hot and humid weather in stop and go traffic.

The next time you see the temperature gauge go into the red, stop and pop the hood to look and listen. The fan should be blowing loudly otherwise its worn out and may be the reason for overheating. Others notice their temperature gauge going into the red then drop below red as their cooling fan cycles on. Moments later, the temperature gauge needle drops, indicating the fan is blowing with force to lower coolant temperatures. You should not have to stop and shut off the engine to cool it down. The cooling fan does that automatically in conjunction with the coolant sensor and pcm. Under normal operating conditions, the cooling fan cycles on as coolant temps rise above approximately 220F (redline) then off when temps drop below 212F.

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Old 06-21-2019, 02:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

As stated the car gets up into the red, but assuming I can get out of the stop and go traffic and moving again it will go down.

My AC has never really worked in the car, but I think I just solved that. The cowl screen was horribly obstructed with degraded leaves and mimosa seeds. I cleared this up and now my vents actually push air out. Could this air intake clog have caused my car to maybe have the overheating issue? I am a car noob to a point. I had no clue where the air intake was till I cleaned that out.

I have no idea if the car has ever boiled over. I have never had steam rise up from the car like you see in movies if that is what you mean. I do not really have to add coolant. I did when I changed all those parts out of course. And I need to add some now, after they have messed with everything. But other than that it usually seems to maintain the level.

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Old 06-21-2019, 02:25 PM   #16
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

The A/C has little to do with overheating and that cowl has no impact at all.

Open the hood and start the car. Turn on the cabin blower to position 3. Push the AC button and get out of the car and see if you can really hear the fan running and visually see if it is even running at all.

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Old 06-21-2019, 03:15 PM   #17
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Will do. I was just asking to make sure that the intake couldn't have been reducing air flow or something indirectly.

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Old 06-21-2019, 06:56 PM   #18
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Nope, entirely different issue.

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Old 06-22-2019, 06:54 PM   #19
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

Currently took the egr off and stuck an aluminum can between to test if it behaves differently with it like that. I am curious. If it behaves better does that mean it is in fact the egr valve that is the issue? And in no way a catalytic converter? I get from what I can tell that a cat could cause an egr error...but would it get better if the egr was turned off and it was a cat issue? I assume that is what occurs when the ses light comes on for the code 32 egr failure.

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Old 06-22-2019, 08:47 PM   #20
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Default Re: questions about head gasket/overheating/missing.

The EGR and CAT are not related in that 95 Saturn.

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