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Andjons

Head Gasket?

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I had a great trip to Le Mans this weekend. New oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brakes, tyres, HT leads and even a working air conditioning system. I thought I was in for a fair run at it.

Half way between Calaise and Le Mans I lost 2nd gear. No crunching or grinding. I just lost it. The gear stick appears to engage 2nd, but when I lift off the clutch, there is nothing. I managed to use 1st then straight into 3rd.

That is my first query - any ideas as to what the problem could be?

On the way home I was cruising up the M20 when all of a sudden I noticed my coolant temp was full into the red, and the tell-tale light was on. There were no other warnings - no obvious loss of power or worrying noises. I pulled over straight away and was greeted with lots of hot smoke and steam from the engine bay. After cooling down - me and the car - I discovered that I had lost lots of coolant, which appeared to be sprayed up the back of the car.

Friendly Mr RAC arrived and we put some water in the system. This was some 50 minutes later. No leaks. I started the engine and it sounded like a bag of spanners. Some white smoke from the exhaust. He reckons it's the head gasket.

HELP PLEASE? Is it likely to be the head gasket. What can I do? Do I have to take it to a specialist? I live in Horley- next to Gatwick. Any suggestions? Also, how would you get the car to the specialist?

Aaaaargh!

Edited by Andjons

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Hmmmm - not necessarily head gasket. Depends how full the bag of spanners sounded! Could be a knackered coolant pump?

When you run it (and it's full of coolant) are you getting air bubbles coming up through the header tank?

Daren't comment on the box without seeing it...


British Ambassador to Florida, New York, Denmark and Newfoundland.  And Sweden.

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Box might be a translator rose joint going askew, might be more serious. As Sparky said, knackered coolant or indeed vacuum pump would cause the symptoms. Give Sparky a call, he'll look after you :(


88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

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If you have a compression gauge do a compression check that should tell you if it's head gasket. But look at it this way, whatever the problem with the gearbox it almost certainly needs to come out, so you're already half way the getting the engine out.

Sorry I don't mean to be frivolous but in my experience if the bullet needs to be bitten, best to get on and bite it.

Rog :(


Life is like a sewer, what you get out of it, depends on what you put into it. (Tom Leahrer)

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Filled the coolant header tank again this morning, left the cap off, and started the engine. The coolant/water didn't so much bubble out of the top, as gush. I guessed from that, that the pump is working. I put the cap on the header tank and started the engine again. It ran sweet, and there was no smoke from the exhaust. The temperature rose very quickly - into the red. I turned the engine off. After a few minutes I started it again, and there was a huge cloud of white smoke/steam from the exhaust.

A few minutes later, just for good measure, I tried it again. Started fine and ran with no clanking spanner noises, and the slightest of white smoke/steam. I don't think I'm any nearer to resolving it!

The vacuum pump seems okay, as the air intake flap at the front opens and closes when I turn the knob.

I'm really grateful for your suggestions...

Edited by Andjons

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The steam/white smoke suggests water in the combustion chambers or exhaust, remember your turbo is oil and water cooled too so could be the problem. A compression tester is


88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

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If your head gasket is gone the exhaust gases will be getting into the coolant (hence the bubbles in the expansion tank) and heating the water up. Try not to run it much more, you'll not be doing the cat any favours either if that is the problem. Have you checked the oil cap/dipstick for mayo too?


88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

Evora NA

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My wager is on the head gasket...

And your gearbox problem is the second gear has lost all it's dog teeth and will need to be replaced along with possibly the synchro and misc. other bits.


1995 S4s

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I agree with Jim, also your vacuum pump is electrical so the box of spanners sound won't be comming from that.

Cheers,

John W


Cheers,

John W

http://jonwatkins.co.uk

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Sorry to sound a complete dunce - how do I use the compression tester? The instructions say to remove all spark plugs, put the tester in one socket, and then crank the engine. How can I crank the engine with all the spark plugs removed?!

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It's the electric starter motor that cranks the engine... when you turn the ignition key to fire up the petrol engine ! ;-)

Except this time, you remove the plugs, hence you are sure the engine won't fire up/start, so you can crank it at will in order to carry out your compression test.

Edited by troutrou

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I knew I would sound a dunce - I worked that one out a minute or two after posting it! Can't find my spark-plug socket, so will have to wait until later.

Curiously, when I ran the engine last, there was liquid of some sort apparently seeping between the turbo and manifold, and the manifold below that was wet. There is also a nasty black oily liquid in the bottom of the spark plug No.1 'well'.

The engine oil is a little creamy now, and the exhaust did spit a lot of rather black 'water'...

Edited by Andjons

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Compression testing 101:

1: unplug fuse to injectors

2: unplug low tension wire on coil pack

3: remove spark plugs

3.5 screw in compression tester!

4: check compression on each cylinder by cranking on full throttle

Readings should be 140psi minimum which is 9.5psi. Head gasket failure is often evident that 1 or 2 of the readings are much different to the rest.

Repeat step 4 again after dropping some oil into the cylinders via the spark plug hole. The first test is a good way to discover piston ring problems, the second valve problems.

Another test for the head gasket failure is to test the coolant for CO, your local garage may lend you a tester for this.

With regards to the gearbox, might be an idea to remove the rear cover and check the selector forks.

(With thanks to Dave Massey at Lotus for some help with this! :()


88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

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Given post #13, it now certainly looks like head gasket or a crack. :(


British Ambassador to Florida, New York, Denmark and Newfoundland.  And Sweden.

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Ah, poo! I will still do the compression check when I can find my socket.

In the meantime, would you recommend anyone in particular I could use to do the work? I used SW in Maidenhead before - very happy, but he is a long way. I don't know if there are any specialists nearer (?)

Edited by Andjons

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also check the power steering pump and belt to see if that loose if it snapped then car will get very hot very quickly. and if its worked loos it will sound like a bag of spanners, jack up car get an axle stand under it and slide under it look through the cut away in the under tray and you will be able to see it. if your lucky it could just be this


It's Oogies turn to boogie

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Don't start it again unless you're sure there's no fluid in a cylinder. Too much and it could hydrolock which will bend a conrod or worse.


DanR

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So.. Compression test results as follows:

1 - 110

2 - 130

3 - 150

4 - 150

Curiously - or perhaps not - spark plug 1 was very clean, whilst plug 4 was rather greasy.

I guess that tends to suggest a head gasket problem...

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The results do not conclusively prove the head gasket has gone. You can also get a your coolant checked for exhaust gases; you can send a sample to somewhere like Graham Goode Racing or there are DIY testing kits available (I have never tried one of those though). It might be worth just doing this before committing yourself to taking the head off.

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As per Derek's commennt, there are also other ways for oil to enter the cylinder, and those compression readings combined with no4's greay plugs could hint at other issues, valve stems allwing oil to get into the combustion chamber is another option.

As per Derek, get the coolant tested, but also consider asking a garage to perform a leak down test (or borrow a kit).

It pushes compressed air into the cylinder via the spark plug hole, and along with measuring how much air is lost (at partial piston travel) you can then detect where the escaping air is going , exhaust= exhaust valves, inlet manifold = inlet valves, coolant bubbles = head gasket or head issue, crank case = rings and so on.

Possibly a waste of money (if you were going to pull the engine apart anyway) possibly saves money as you may not need to pull the head off.

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Unfortunately No1 is way out of spec (more than 10% difference between cylinders). Regardless of the current state of the head gasket, you need to take the head off to address that.

Steve

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True, it's very low, but if it's not causing the problem that caused the investigation to start, and it's the start of summer, it may be possible to fix the other issue and continue driving for a few weeks before laying it up for the winter job of head off.

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