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My head warped / blown gasket tonight..?

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So not sure if im up a creek without a paddle here...literally after just dodging Hurricane Sandy...luckily the 02 made it!

I was driving my 76 2002 today and after just about 3 min of driving (going about 30 mph) I noticed the car to shake pretty bad. At first thought maybe sticking brake or bearing etc. But put car in neutral and still the shaking continued, revved the engine and it got worse with higher revs and engine seemed to lack power, so I limped her home a couple hundred yards. I started her again to double check and it still continued while parked, meantime it looked like some whitish/grey smoke, although oil still clean and radiator fluid still green as can be- not hot, I removed the valve cover and nothing seemed out of the unusual.

*Some things to note...the car has had a potential cooling problem when I bought it few months back, the gauge would read near hot after about 15 minutes even though thermo gun would shoot like 160 and engine appeared to be cool, it hasn't been loosing fluids although I have noticed past week or two, whitish smoke and before I could take it to the shop this weekend this happened, also would shoot out cloud of soot every 20 mins on highway back from storage. I feel like it could be a blown head gasket or probably worse a warped head/ cracked block, etc.

Any advice is sincerely appreciated as I want to take it in to get it examined..compression tested, etc and understand the head has to get taken off to really know for sure, I would love to talk and see if people and see if someone experienced something similar, thankyou again, Cheers.

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A lot to take in here but you need to be careful you aren't wrapping a few things up. You seem to be describing a misfire which may have a range of causes. One of the could be Armageddon caused by head gasket failure or it could be something simple like an ignition fault.

Compression check needs to be done but try and identify the problem cylinder(s) by pulling HT leads looking for the ones that do not make the misfire worse. If it appears to be a pair of cylinders not firing and they both have low compression then this could be the gasket torn between the cylinders. Anything is possible but relax and rule a few other things out first.

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.... start with pulling the spark plugs and give us a look

if any don't look like the 'normal' sample?

yer next question is where near New Haven, Conn.

can I get the motor repaired?

Just in time for Winter lay-a-way.

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What Simeone was saying was to rule out an ignition problem by making sure each plug is firing. You can do this by, with the engine running, pulling one spark plug connector at a time off its plug and seeing if it makes any difference. If it makes no difference, it's likely that plug isn't firing.

You can also directly check spark on each plug wire by putting a timing light on it, or pulling the plug connector, sticking in a thin screwdriver like a Phillips, with an insulated handle, and with the engine running or someone cranking it, put the handle of the screwdriver 1/4" to ground such as a valve cover nut or strut nut and verify that you see spark.

If all four cylinders have spark, then you can begin looking at the head gasket. You mentioned the presence of white exhaust smoke. If the white smoke is sweet-smelling, that's almost certainly antifreeze getting into the combustion chamber, either through a bad head gasket or cracked head.

You can visually look for presence of oil in the antifreeze and antifreeze in the oil, and for oil or antifreeze weeping from the head gasket itself. If it's blown between two cylinders, you may not see any of this, but a compression test and / or leakdown test should show it up.

Good luck.

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All that has been said plus check that your brake master cylinder isn't leaking fluid into the brake booster. G

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First off thanks to everyone who chimed in to give me advice, and thanks Simeon as Im sure you can relate, something like that and your heart sinks abit.

After doing both a spark and compression test here is what follows:

Car started up, still the continuous heavy rhythmic heavy vibrations from engine. Motor mounts all good and spark getting to all 4 plugs which were clean as they were just replaced, used a spark tester for autozone but it proved useless so used your method hackmechanic of the screw driver, etc-saw spark to each one.

The compression test was done using a new napa compression tool with all the plugs out and giving 4 cranks per test as per directions, #1=120, #2=75 #3=25 and #4=25, also did one crank per test and got same results. Seems like now I can say that there probably is torn gasket between #3 and #4 , hence when I unplugged 3 and 4 while motor was running nothing seemed to changed till I unplugged 2 and it shut off, which could explain such a heavy and rhythmic vibration....thoughts...next stop is probably machine shop?

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Worth a shot.

Next step? Get a head gasket set ordered and get the tool box out. As for whether it needs machining, again don't assume the worst. The next bit depends how short of cash / time you are. Good practice is definitely to get the head skimmed and crack tested (this is where the 'while you are there...' mentality will get you) but if you are short of money then there is definitely no shame in cleaning everything up, visual inspect yourself and check for flatness in the usual way with a steel ruler and feeler gauge. If this all checks out then put the head back on. You won't lose much beyond the head gasket if you missed something.

Take the time to get everything scrupulously clean, especially the head bolt threads and squish surface on the block and head

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Guest Anonymous

If you end up having to remove your head in order to replace the head gasket and discover your head needs a lot of work ( for example- a crack needs welding or it is time for a valve job or you have serious warping) and it ends up costing serious money keep in mind I have a NEW from BMW of Germany complete E21 2.0 head that fits the 1976 non California 2002. This head can only be bolted to a car with flat top pistons as the 1976 non California model does from the factory. See my ad in the parts for sale section. Unlikely you will need my head but this could be a worse case solution if your head was to cost over $1000 to repair plus you would end up with all new parts. My head is ready to bolt on. I live in western Mass. but do travel to the Hartford area on Tuesday nights often for diner. Good luck with your repair. CALL me if you ever need my head.

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If the gasket is blown and you are getting water in the cylinders you need to deal with it RIGHT NOW! If you let water sit in the cylinders for al little as a day you will start getting rust on the cylinder walls and rings. If you can't get the head off right away drain the water out of the block, pull the spark plugs and crank the engine until you don't see any moisture come out of the holes then squirt WD40 in and crank a few more times and put the plugs back in. Don't let it sit very long or you will be taking the bottom end apart too.

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So just wanted to do alittle update. I have been able to find a machine shop close by that will resurface, pressure check, etc although still looking to see if I can find a shop that would do the repairs as I don't want her sitting for long, if not Veterans Day weekend go figure will be a great time to get my hands dirty and try it myself. However, kind of curious since the car doesn't appear to be burning radiator fluid and oil is fine, could there be possibility that my piston rings are bad and causing the loss of compression? Just an after thought...although that theory still wouldn't explain why it started vibrating so instantaneously. Thanks for the input guys!

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I appreciate you pitching in, I will let you know if Im interested in the head once I can get a closer look and really see what im dealing with, thanks.

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Head gasket failure between cylinders does not have to allow water and oil to mix. It could just literally be between the cylinders.

Unlikely anything to do with rings would effect two cylinders at the same time.

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It is very apparent that you have a blown head gasket between 3 and 4. Not a problem as the are just swapping compression runs crappy but no real range should have occurred. Yank head and inspect. It has to come off anyway so bust out a few wrenches crack a beer and in a very short time your head should be on the bench. Look at the gasket surface and do a thorough check of all valves and cylinders better yet take some pics post up on here and wait for the concensus about your next steps. Honestly if it ran good before this a new gasket should get you back burning gas and having fun. It really is simple. Don't feel overwhelmed by this job. Any of us can do this with some perserverance

Good luck

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And remember: Paul Wegweiser and Ben Thongsai changed the head gasket in Paul's F-Bomb in an hour and 56 minutes in the parking lot at The Vintage in Winston-Salem, starting the repair BEFORE THEY EVEN HAD A HEAD GASKET. So, how hard can it be?

:^)

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So I thought I would give a little update, thanks to everyone for the advice so Far, you turned my Veterans day weekend into a fun filled day off. I was able to strip the engine down to the head and as to everyone's assumption it was a blown head gasket between 3 and 4. I have since covered the engine and took the head to a local machine shop for pressure testing and valve vacuum testing to see if the valves are seating properly, the valves had carbon deposits pretty bad but the pistons weren't too bad, looks worse because the oiley gasket is still on the head. It appears after using a straight edge the head isn't warped so that's a relief.

Already have the gasket set to re-install head this weekend, any ideas of other parts I might need? Im going to replace the waterpump, thermostat to be safe and preventive maintenance and probably some hoses, I have a 320i radiator but not sure If I want to swap it out or not? ...I still need to figure out why the car temp gauge reads hot although appears to run at normal temps with temp gun, it will rise to red after a couple minutes or just below it, either is just a ground problem or something more serious, the owner told me the gauge wasn't working right an gave me thermo gun, but appears he was wrong, always go with you gut instinct! Cheers!IMG_1509.jpg

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