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Coolant Drip From Head Gasket (I think)

2123 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  carsdlt
About 250 or so miles into a complete rebuild, a little coolant began dripping from somewhere. I believe it's from the head gasket near the rear on the engine. There does not appear to be any coolant in the oil nor oil in the coolant. It appears to only do it when hot and only a few tablespoons puddle while the engine cools.

Not owning a torque wrench or versed in the proper operation of one even if I did, I had an Alfa mechanic torque the head to see if it would stop it. It didn't. He didn't loosen the head bolts and re-torque. He only torqued them (in the proper sequence) to 65 lbs.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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Loosening the head bolts and then re-torquing them to spec's is the 'right' way to do it. However, since the head was recently installed, merely re-torquing them might be OK.

Why not buy yourself a torque wrench and D-I-Y? Then you'll know it was done right. And it'd probably be cheaper than paying a mechanic to do the job (and then you'll have a torque wrench to call your own).

Alfa did issue a TSB about adding a 'stop-leak' additive. If proper re-torquing doesn't help then you could try that.


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Although most people do, you don't really have to loosen the bolts to re-torque the head, but it is key that it is re-torqued to 65 lbs and not over-torqued... (A good mechanic will tell you immediately if there is an issue with re-torquing a head... There really is nothing to learn to using a torque wrench BTW.) Re-torquing is not the issue here, though... Certainly the original work is suspicious. What was done during the re-build and is the engine builder experienced? Did the mechanic do the re-build or did you have someone else do it? Was the correct shape head gasket used? Is the head straight - was it re-surfaced? Could one of the pins not be seating properly? In any event, it certainly sounds like you need to have the head pulled, checked, and the head gasket re-installed.

Best regards,
Before you blame the head gasket, make sure the coolant isn't coming from elsewheres and just showing itself near the back of the head.
Other than the head gasket towards the rear of the engine, where would you look (i.e. what else back there (down low) carries coolant)?
Look everywhere in the engine bay. Coolant can spray out under pressure from a loose hose clamp or cracked hose and merely be hitting the rear of the engine. (OK, not likely but merely possible...). Any evidence of coolant on the underside of the hood? There is a hose for the heater that runs along the firewall - behind the engine. And the gasket for the intake has to be coolant-tight, too.
Yah, intake needs to be checked for seal, and it's not beyond the relm of possibilty that one of the heater hoses that travel back there has a small leak or loose clamp and it's mearly dribbling back that way before it finally drips off. (and then there's the bleeder on the intake, and the T-stat gasket though those would be a little more obvious if they did leak......)

Heck, depending on what was done to the head while it was off, it could even be one of those mondo allen plug thingies on the head dribbling a bit.

Still, it might not hurt to contact the builder and ask what kind of head gasket he used, and if he put sealer around both sides of the rearmost ports in the headgasket. (which is apparently a good place for a leak if it's a specific gasket make)
I just got done changing my head gasket. Make sure that all of the coolant sensors are tight, I had a couple that were loose. Also, check the intake like the others have mentioned. There are two hoses for the heater, one in and one out, that are behind the engine.

See if you can borrow a coolant pressure tester. You can pressurise the system without running the engine. That's how we found the leaks.

Good luck!
Pressurizing the system & checking CAREFULLY around the suspect area is the
best way to isolate the leak. Do a search under "head gasket" & you will find some important info regarding the proper type of headgasket design.

If you do go with a stop leak additive, one that works well & won't clog the rest of the cooling system is the one that Subaru supplies it's dealers. They had a "seepage" problem for a few years on their cyl. heads & developed this for that problem. Comes in a little square blue plastic bottle - sold over the counter at Subaru dlr. parts dept. - less than $5. It solved the problem of seepage on my Alfa & Fiat engines. Good luck.
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