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Old 10-02-2012, 07:05 PM   #1
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Default Direct Water Injection (i.e., Blown Head Gasket)

196,289. That's the magic number for my little 1.6. Boosted since 181,561. Head and block never separated. Last timing belt swapped at 150K (did not change water pump).

I was "cruising" (ala Sebastian Vettel) to UPS to return a core part for the wife's Mercedes. I thought I smelled some coolant -- but the part I'm returning is a cooling system part, so I don't think anything of it. As I get close to UPS, I have a long downhill stint where I just let the car roll in gear (high vacuum). Back on the throttle a bit and . . . what's this . . . a miss?!? Oh, oh.

Do my business at UPS. Come back out, pop the hood and look around. Nothing amiss. No leaks, no obvious issues with the spark plug wires, etc. Get back in the car and crank -- its starts, but more slowly than normal. And it has an obvious miss. Rev the engine a bit to clear the miss and a huge cloud of steam emerges from the back of the car. Yikes. Babies cry. Women look and frown. I smile and wave . . . what the hell else can I do?

Drive home slowly with the heater turned on and watching the temp gauge. Everything seems normal and as I drive the miss clear up and the steam stops spewing. Wierd . . . self-healing head gasket?

Pull into the garage and it's missing again. Shut down. Let the car cool and take another look. Oil is clear -- there's been no mixing with the coolant. Radiator is way down.

So, now I need to find time to pull the head and see what's up. My initial guess is a head gasket, although it might also be a cracked head. While I'm at it, I'll assess the condition of the cylinder walls -- wish I had done a leakdown before this happened. At the very least, I'll be getting the head rebuilt, new head gasket and maintenance (timing belt, water pump and that pesky little oil leak by the AC bracket that is probably a missing or broken bolt). Don't have a lot of time on my hands right now, so don't really want to get into a full build . . . but maybe I should?

Sigh. I've got too many projects.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:06 PM   #2
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15 year old daughter just walked in. "Dad" she says, "What did you do to MY Miata?" This is going badly.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:27 PM   #3
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15 year old daughter just walked in. "Dad" she says, "What did you do to MY Miata?"


I feel for you, man.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:28 PM   #4
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tell her it's due for an unforeseen, forced upgrade.

If you're pulling the engine to do the work, I see no reason not to do a semi-full rebuild while it's out.

there's an ebay seller (Cylinder heads International I believe is who I got mine from) that sells remanufactured heads for $350 shipped, which includes the postage for returning your old head. Mine arrived in very good shape, although it has yet to actually be put on. Might as well do rings/bearings/oil pump at that mileage as well as water pump and tb while you're at it.

You can find 323 oil pumps for cheaper that miata pumps, even though they share the exact same part number.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:42 PM   #5
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One quick-and-dirty test you can perform is to remove the radiator cap and then insert a leakdown tester into each cylinder one by one. If pressurizing any cylinder causes bubbling at the radiator cap, you have a pretty good indication of a head gasket failure.

For what it's worth, I can't recall ever hearing of a head failure on a B6 that involved a crack allowing coolant to enter the combustion chamber. Unless there's some overriding justification for a full teardown, I would honestly be predisposed to just pop the head off and replace the gasket. (And, of course, the water pump while you're in there.) You can go ahead and check the head for straightness and maybe pop off the valve springs and give them a few twists with some valve grinding compound if you're feeling bored, but I certainly wouldn't tear down the whole engine for something that is hopefully quite simple.
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:11 AM   #6
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I'm predisposed to do the quick fix right now (plus a TB and WP). I need to pull the heads off my Fury too (broken exhaust studs). Might be able to get a package deal somewhere local if I drag in 3 heads.

I promise to post entertaining carnage pics this weekend.
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:41 AM   #7
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Ew. Just buy a 1.8 longblock for $400 and a new manifold and happy it up
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:45 AM   #8
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I hear ya'. And, it's in my nature to tear into it. But my problem isn't funds, it's time. I really just need to quick fix this (assuming a quick fix will do, which it probably will). If I go the route of pulling the engine, then an endless list of items become available for "upgrades" and I know that I'l just "have to." Sound familiar Fae?

Anyways, here are my cheapo Autolite's after 15K miles at 10psi. They look pretty good. It looks like my water injection isn't finding its way to cylinder #4 very well (or maybe I just have more wear in cylinder #4 -- pretty common given our stock cooling system). Hard to see any effect from the coolant leak here. Maybe on cylinders #1 and 2?

Warming up the wrenches for the Saturday head pull!!
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:13 PM   #9
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just run more boost, it will help seal the headgasket
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:22 PM   #10
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I hear ya'. And, it's in my nature to tear into it. But my problem isn't funds, it's time. I really just need to quick fix this (assuming a quick fix will do, which it probably will). If I go the route of pulling the engine, then an endless list of items become available for "upgrades" and I know that I'l just "have to." Sound familiar Fae?

Anyways, here are my cheapo Autolite's after 15K miles at 10psi. They look pretty good. It looks like my water injection isn't finding its way to cylinder #4 very well (or maybe I just have more wear in cylinder #4 -- pretty common given our stock cooling system). Hard to see any effect from the coolant leak here. Maybe on cylinders #1 and 2?

Warming up the wrenches for the Saturday head pull!!
Might not be the WI. That plug just looks richer to me. Mebbe less air? Mebbe just oil dripping down onto it? I am not sure since it looks like you oiled the plug.

To me, pulling the head, getting it redone etc all sounds like A LOT OF WORK. Pulling the motor is easy. Parts Group has a longblock with EVERYTHING for like $500 or something.
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Old 10-03-2012, 06:56 PM   #11
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To me, pulling the head, getting it redone etc all sounds like A LOT OF WORK. Pulling the motor is easy.
?

You can have the head off and on in one day.

Remove accessory belts. Drain and disconnect the upper coolant lines. Remove the crank pulley and timing belt. Remove turbo, but leave exhaust manifold in place. Disconnect intake pipe from throttle body but leave intake manifold in place. Remove head bolts, and lift the complete head-and-manifolds assembly off the engine. You may need to exert some leverage upon it (hence the retention of the manifolds) in order to break the 20 year old seal between the head and block. One option is to jack up the front end, place a 2x4 between the ground and the manifold, and then lower the car very slowly.

Assembly is reverse of disassembly.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:29 PM   #12
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One quick-and-dirty test you can perform is to remove the radiator cap and then insert a leakdown tester into each cylinder one by one. If pressurizing any cylinder causes bubbling at the radiator cap, you have a pretty good indication of a head gasket failure.
Or, he could fill the radiator to the brim, keep the cap off, and crank the engine while watching the radiator neck. If the water bubbles - or shoots out of the radiator - in this process, it would be time to order a new head gasket.

Much easier, and simpler to do, IMO.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:59 PM   #13
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Yeah, I thought of that after I posted it, and hesitated from correcting myself in the hope that nobody would come along and demonstrate just how much I had managed to over-complicate the procedure.

So thanks for that.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:04 PM   #14
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You're welcome.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:46 PM   #15
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just run more boost, it will help seal the headgasket
I tried this and it was working great, until I hit a traffic signal.

I know, I know, I'm a wimp.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:50 PM   #16
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Or, he could fill the radiator to the brim, keep the cap off, and crank the engine while watching the radiator neck. If the water bubbles - or shoots out of the radiator - in this process, it would be time to order a new head gasket.

Much easier, and simpler to do, IMO.
Head gasket ordered!
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:54 PM   #17
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?

You can have the head off and on in one day.

Remove accessory belts. Drain and disconnect the upper coolant lines. Remove the crank pulley and timing belt. Remove turbo, but leave exhaust manifold in place. Disconnect intake pipe from throttle body but leave intake manifold in place. Remove head bolts, and lift the complete head-and-manifolds assembly off the engine. You may need to exert some leverage upon it (hence the retention of the manifolds) in order to break the 20 year old seal between the head and block. One option is to jack up the front end, place a 2x4 between the ground and the manifold, and then lower the car very slowly.

Assembly is reverse of disassembly.
Props. I like it. I was thinking that dealing with the manifolds would end up being one of the main PITAs on this job. Not dealing with the manifolds is ideal.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:13 PM   #18
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Props. I like it. I was thinking that dealing with the manifolds would end up being one of the main PITAs on this job. Not dealing with the manifolds is ideal.
Much easier pulling the head than the whole engine... i'v done both... several times

A simple "head" job should do the fix. I am sure you will need some new valve seals as yours are 20 years old now. I may know someone who has a built 1.6 head in Granbury if you're interested Rick, we can figure something out either way.
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:02 AM   #19
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A simple "head" job should do the fix. I am sure you will need some new valve seals as yours are 23 years old now. I may know someone who has a built 1.6 head in Granbury if you're interested Rick, we can figure something out either way.
Fixed (added 3 years -- i.e., much older than you!! ).

If I can get a built head for less than the cost to rebuild mine . . . .

But, all conjecture. I need to pull it and see what I have. I've got other nagging maintenance issues to fix also. Plus, there's the suspension.

Heck, now I'm almost glad it happened.
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:33 PM   #20
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When I originally pulled my 99 head off I looked at it and said "well since we're already here might as well rebuild the bottom end", it's just fun tinkering until you have to do more and more of it.

I will check into the head I mentioned so I can give you an idea, I am sure the shop should be much much cheaper but maybe he just wants this thing gone
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