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Old 10-15-2009, 09:32 PM   #1
BRIAN41920
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Default 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

Hi everyone,

I have a 2001 SC1 with a 1.9 SOHC with around 130,000 miles, over the past year or so I have had a very slow coolant leak. (about every 3 months I would have to add a very tiny bit of coolant). Recently I had a low coolant light and I added coolant. I admit I added way too much, the next day I got home and steam was coming out from under the hood. Coolant was flowing out and dripping down on the exhaust (not on the headers) from the back of the block. I jacked it up and it appeared to be running down the back of the block and across the tranny and then was dripping on the exhaust pipe. I figured that I had added too much and had triggered a pressure release. So I checked the coolant, it was normal, no discoloration, nothing. I checked the oil, no coolant in the oil. So I took some coolant out of the tank and let it cool off, the next morning the low coolant light was on, so I added a little and it went off. Went to work, all was ok. About 2 days later it was leaking bad again, in the same spot. I have looked and looked but I couldn't find the spot (i am guessing it is under the intake runners at the head gasket). I then decided I would get some stop leak and put that in (I know...a cheap, quick fix, that probably isn't great, but I don't have a lot of money and thought it might work). I got some BAR'S radiator stop leak that said it was also good for gasket leaks (this was a gold coppery looking substance). I put half the bottle in and followed all the instructions. Still no luck, so I put the rest in and it still was leaking. This leak wasn't that bad, I would have to add coolant about every 2 to 3 days (about 3-4 ounces). Earlier this week, I get to work, I smell coolant. When I get out of work and start it up the light comes on and goes off, start driving and in the middle of the drive the low coolant light comes back on, now I know it is leaking worse because it never has done that before, most of the time the light would come on and when it got up to full pressure and temperature the light would go off, even when it was a little low. I get home and pull off the reservoir cap and the coolant is brownish (which i am not sure if it is oil or is from the stop leak) and the coolant has air bubbles in it. I have been reading the posts and have seen about head gaskets going and also about heads cracking on the drivers side around the 4th cam journal. I know that from 1994 to 1999 the 1.9 SOHC was prone to cracking heads, mine is a 2001, so could that be the problem? I am hoping that it is just a head gasket with a small leak that I made worse by adding too much coolant. Like I said I have no coolant in the oil, no white smoke from the tailpipe (the only white smoke is from coolant burning on the exterior of the exhaust and on the block), about 2,000 miles ago the intake gasket was replaced, I have checked the water pump and I am pretty sure it is not leaking (plus I don't know how the coolant would be making back over to the drivers side on the tranny), the car burns about a quart of oil every 1000 to 1500 miles, and it is not sputtering lagging or having any symptoms of coolant getting in the combustion chamber. When I have owned the car it has never overheated and runs fine. I hope to get some help with this and get an idea of what might be wrong. Like I said the leak appears to be coming from the back of the cylinder head, but I can't see it. I am hoping its not a cracked head, but it may be.
Thanks for your help,
Brian - Ashtabula, OH

PS: I posted about a slamming into all gears a while ago, thank you for all the help on that and I was able to replace the line pressure solenoid without a problem thanks to you guys and this forum...
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

I'd check the water pump.. Sounds like it to me at least.. Your leak seems to have been a bit worse than mine.. Water pump leaks start off slow and get worse..mine did. It could make it onto the areas you mentioned. Check the weep hole on the pump on the bottom of the pump near the pulley.. might be wet!! which is great news cause the water pump is 25$ at advance auto. or maybe its a bad hose... but regardless check it after it runs for 15 minutes.. not to hot not to cold.
ya gotta look..
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

Also I am getting the sound described in this thread:

Odd Liquid Pumping Noise on Startup?

It has made the sound like water gurgling back for as long as I have had the car, but it usually only makes it once when I accelerate hard or I am accelerating on a hill

sorry i can't post the exact URL because I haven't made enough posts
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

forgot to mention, I checked all the hoses, coolant lines, heater core, every possible hose or line I could think of or see and they all look good, it is coming from somewhere on the engine. I will check the water pump again, if you say the coolant could reach the tranny from the water pump you could be right about it .....thanks for the tip
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by BRIAN41920 View Post
forgot to mention, I checked all the hoses, coolant lines, heater core, every possible hose or line I could think of or see and they all look good, it is coming from somewhere on the engine. I will check the water pump again, if you say the coolant could reach the tranny from the water pump you could be right about it .....thanks for the tip
Same problem for my 01 SC2...
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:26 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

Leaking from the back side of the engine doesn't sound like good news. That isn't the water pump. I have the same leak and am pretty sure it is the head gasket, i am beginning the tear down this weekend. I'll post pictures of what I find, and hopefully of just a bad gasket and not a bad head.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

The car I have the same leak with is a 2000 SOHC, also a 3rd gen engine.
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Old 11-21-2009, 06:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

My '99 has been gurgling on startup for 2-3 months. Whatever you figure out will probably help me out as well. I purchased a head gasket set so I could investigate, but haven't actually gotten a chance to take it apart yet.

I do wonder if combustion chamber pressures are pushing exhaust gases into the cooling system. That would make sense to me, anyway.
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Old 12-07-2013, 03:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

I know this was a while ago but what ended up being the problem here?

I also have a 2001 Saturn SL1 SOHC 1.9L with the same problem...around 150,000 miles.
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Old 12-07-2013, 03:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

It would be interesting if you get a response after 4 years.
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Old 12-07-2013, 03:40 PM   #11
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

The back of the engine sounds like it could be the intake gasket, A coolant passage passes just to the side of Cylinder 4 intake runner its right by the EGR passage, Adding stop leak was a bad idea that stuff can block up your radiator...
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CHECK YOUR OIL!
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:38 PM   #12
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

Well, for me at least, it is not the intake gasket. I've taken the intake manifold loose from the head and the gasket looks fine. I actually already replaced this gasket (around 60k miles ago) due to the high idle problem.

I have not used any stop leak in my coolant system.

I am going to check the head gasket next. Are there any good threads with instructions for this? (2001 SL1, 1.9L, SOHC)
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:40 PM   #13
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Default Re: 1.9 SOHC Cylinder Head/Head Gasket..... Coolant Leak

indianajones
any luck on your fix?
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