Re-torque Head Bolts - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums

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Old 04-27-2008, 07:16 PM
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Re-torque Head Bolts

When my 91 Spider had about 15K miles I had the local Alfa dealer replace the head gasket. They said Alfa had a new improved head torque procedure and I need not re-torque the head bolts ever again. Well now that I'm losing a little coolant I suppose I was naive believing them. Anyway, I'd like to know what you Alfa-heads say is the best and most correct procedure to re-torque the head bolts.
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Old 04-27-2008, 07:26 PM
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If the head nuts were recently installed you can just re-torque them as described in the shop manual (copied below).

Since you mention it's been 15K miles, the correct procedure is to remove one nut at a time (following the tightening sequence), oil its threads and then tighten to the specified torque. Then do the next nut (remove, oil & tighten) in the sequence.
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Last edited by ghnl; 04-28-2008 at 05:49 AM. Reason: correction - shop manual not TSB
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Old 04-27-2008, 07:48 PM
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Thanks Eric, have you heard of a service bulliten that came out on the S4's that changed the procedure? I think they said something about after running up to temp, let it cool completetly and turn each nut like a 1/4 turn or something, can't remember the exact details.
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Old 04-28-2008, 05:03 AM
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The latest procedure change that I can recall was in 1988, which is pre-S4. But I'll take a look in the 93-95 TSB manual this evening and let you know.
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Old 04-28-2008, 05:35 AM
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I'd like to add to Eric's note:
The TSB, indicates that "Nuts and threads" are to be lubricated. I took it to mean the bottom of the nut as well as both sides of the washer.

Eric's drawing is from the Shop Manual.

TSB #88.02 (5/9/88) sent to me by Papajam shows a different bolt tightening sequence.
(The sequence in the shop manual is basically the same, counterclockwise as opposed to the TSB clockwise spiral) both should work. TSB also states tightening torque of 65 ft lbs period, no range.

Best regards, Elio

Papajam, hope to see you at the Autobahn...and many thanks!
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:09 PM
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The 93-95 TSB manual does not contain a head torque revision so the 1988 TSB is the latest.

You might want to give this thread a read on the sequence and I wrote the following a while ago on oiling the threads.

..............

I put a couple drops of oil on the head where each of the 8 thick washers go. Install the washers with the tapered (or rounded) side up followed by more oil on the top of each stud so it runs down the threads and onto the washer. The same technique applies to the engine lifting hook, which goes on the center pair of studs, with it's two, thin un-tapered washers. Avoid getting any oil in the head nuts as this will cause hydraulic lock and throw the torque accuracy right out the window.

...........

Note that if you can't remove (after breaking it loose) or install any nut by hand, the threads need to be cleaned before oiling.
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Old 05-24-2008, 06:01 PM
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Finally got around to getting the new starter in and re-torquing the head bolts to get the Spider back on the road today. About 6 of the 10 studs leaked anti-freeze when I took off the nuts. I suppose that’s a sign of a leaking head gasket or could it mean something else like the threads on the studs are not sealed?
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Old 05-24-2008, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkWolf40 View Post
Finally got around to getting the new starter in and re-torquing the head bolts to get the Spider back on the road today. About 6 of the 10 studs leaked anti-freeze when I took off the nuts. I suppose thatís a sign of a leaking head gasket or could it mean something else like the threads on the studs are not sealed?
Relax, a little weeping of Anti Freeze is normal on a retorque. The studs are not sealed in the water jacket. The Washers and Headnuts do the sealing.

Some people open the Radiator cap to the first stop then squeeze the upper Radiator hose and close off the cap. This creates a vaccuum in the water jacket making less of a mess.

Dave
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Old 05-27-2008, 07:07 AM
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Just to really make sure, I drained my coolent before I did my retorque. It coinsided with flush time anyway.
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:17 AM
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I've never had this happen, but I am curious to know something. Let's say you discover a minor coolant leak into your oil supply, or vice-versa. Does retorquing the head ever fix such an issue, or is it already too late? I ask because even after ~30 years of 105/115 Alfa's, I simply don't retorque head bolts unless I'm installing a new head. I know the bolts in my '74 haven't been touched since I've had the car ('97), nor have the ones in my '87 ('01), and my '92 I've still had less than a year. last time I had a head gasket fail was '79, in the middle of January in single digit temps, although I moved to the hot south soon thereafter. I'm always careful with engine warmup and keep the revs low until normal operating temp.

Is retorquing the head bolts maintenance, repair, or both?
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:28 AM
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If it ain't broke, don't fix it IMO. I only did mine cause I know the PO didn't after a new headgasket.
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1969 GTV, #AR1530021 - sold 10/72, guess didn't intend to keep forever
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by lowmileage View Post
If it ain't broke, don't fix it IMO. I only did mine cause I know the PO didn't after a new headgasket.
Obviously, that's been working for me, and I'm not likely to change such a habit, but I'm still curious if retorquing the head is ever a viable repair measure. Anyone?
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Old 05-27-2008, 11:42 AM
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I think it'd be a last ditch effort (to re-torque in an attempt to stop a leak). At least it won't cost any money (assuming you have the tools) and it might work. But I wouldn't have high hopes.
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- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
Mebane, North Carolina

L-jetronic Spider diagnosis (1982-1989)
L-jetronic V-6 diagnosis
OK injectors - fuel injector cleaning
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:33 PM
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Well this is an experiment for me to see if it will help. I know I'm loosing some coolant but there is no sign of it in the oil. It is a very slow consumption, probably a pint or two over the entire summer, maybe 3K to 4K miles. I only drive it from about May to October. Maybe retorquing will help. Looks like a chore to replace the head gasket and I don't want to do that right now, too many other projects to finish first.
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Old 05-27-2008, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by DarkWolf40 View Post
Well this is an experiment for me to see if it will help. I know I'm loosing some coolant but there is no sign of it in the oil. It is a very slow consumption, probably a pint or two over the entire summer, maybe 3K to 4K miles. I only drive it from about May to October. Maybe retorquing will help. Looks like a chore to replace the head gasket and I don't want to do that right now, too many other projects to finish first.
You may be alright, as that's a pretty minimal amount to be losing. Some will go to evaporation from the overflow, ou might some some very minor weeping from the seal on the waterpump bearing, etc. If your oil is oil-free, and your coolant is oil-free, just keep an eye on it. As mentioned above, leakage around the studs when each nit is loosened isn't necessarily a sign of impending doom. Buona fortuna!
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