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Compression test ...... Measured up to 30 psi then dropped to 0 on two cylinders, but the engine fires up without hesitation
Whaat? You have 30 psi or less on two cylinders? If yes, then a rebuild is definitely in your not-too-distant future. Or if that was a false reading then tell us what the real compression numbers are.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Whaat? You have 30 psi or less on two cylinders? If yes, then a rebuild is definitely in your not-too-distant future. Or if that was a false reading then tell us what the real compression numbers are.
I can't believe 30 psi or less on two cylinders, I have never seen a 4 banger run smoothly with such bad compression on two cylinders - so it will take a while since we're in the meat of the work week, but I'm expecting my compression tester is a goner.

All is great advice posted.
Let's say you and I were having a conversation over coffee, and my first question to you would be, "Do you want short term or long term solution?" Followed by, "How many miles on the engine?" You can go the short solution by replacing the head gasket, front and rear seals, valve cover gasket/seals". If you remove the transmission, you could find yourself needing a clutch plus any machine work to the flywheel. Taking the head off to fix the orings there will get you into a valve job. Things start to pile up quickly. What if the injection pump is leaking from underneath? Then you will follow that trail to resolve that one.

Long term solution, spend the money and rebuild the engine. You get a reliable engine and a fun car to enjoy. You only rebuild engines once unless you drive a lot. " While you have the trans out you can have that rebuilt as well back to like new again. So I would say, "Why skimp?
I'm absolutely in agreement - and have several donor engines sitting around waiting to be rebuilt and swapped in, then perhaps a gearbox too if I can get past my fear of inspecting the internals of that. I have even done a complete engine teardown to get familiar with all the internals. But that's not a job I can accomplish in the short term. I know at the earliest I'm looking at summer of 2020 if I'm going down that road, and I think I should get comfortable with the work I have proposed here before I do something so bold as a complete overhaul. Build the right skills and have a rewarding experience while doing so. I believe it to be 125,xxx miles on the engine, so I am under the impression I have time - but aim to keep the car running in top condition and ensure the obvious wear components have not been suffering any neglect unbeknownst to me.
 

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I can't believe 30 psi or less on two cylinders, I have never seen a 4 banger run smoothly with such bad compression on two cylinders - so it will take a while since we're in the meat of the work week, but I'm expecting my compression tester is a goner.



I'm absolutely in agreement - and have several donor engines sitting around waiting to be rebuilt and swapped in, then perhaps a gearbox too if I can get past my fear of inspecting the internals of that. I have even done a complete engine teardown to get familiar with all the internals. But that's not a job I can accomplish in the short term. I know at the earliest I'm looking at summer of 2020 if I'm going down that road, and I think I should get comfortable with the work I have proposed here before I do something so bold as a complete overhaul. Build the right skills and have a rewarding experience while doing so. I believe it to be 125,xxx miles on the engine, so I am under the impression I have time - but aim to keep the car running in top condition and ensure the obvious wear components have not been suffering any neglect unbeknownst to me.
My engine has 120k on it and is running excellent. I am not sure how long these engines last, but the key is not to drive a high mileage car like you stole it.


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Discussion Starter #25
I'm in northeastern Ohio, I know I've ran into a couple of Alfisti up here but don't have any contact info.

Progress is slow these days, between work projects and the slow process of installing my garage heater. Really I need a decent way to jack the car up, I'm frankly being lazy as all four of my jack stands are taken by my donor car and I haven't gone out and bought another pair yet.
 

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I only skimmed through the discussion so forgive me if this has been covered.

When you remove the plugs in these engines some of the valves will be open. Sometimes a piece of carbon will dislodge and land on a valve seat. It can affect the results of a compression test. Put the plugs back in and drive the car around the block. Test the engine while it is still warm.

This time, remove the distributor cap and rotate the engine until it's at TDC with the rotor pointing to cylinder number one ... both valves will be closed. Remove the number one plug only. Rotate 180° and remove number three plug, then TDC again and remove number four. Finally, rotate another 180° and remove number two.

Before screwing in the compression tester, make sure the valves in that cylinder are closed. If a couple cylinders are still low, put a couple tablespoons of engine oil in each cylinder, crank it over for several seconds and test again. If the rings are worn, there will be a noticeable improvement after adding the oil.

Worn rings will increase crankcase pressure increasing the rate of oil leakage past the seals and gaskets and oil burning. Worn valve guides will increase oil burn.
 
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