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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:44 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
Back around October, my 3cyl Metro overheated hard. It ran totally out of coolant, or at least low enough that it overheated and shut off and wouldn't start again. This was at least partly due to a hole in the radiator's filler neck. Once it cooled down and I put in the 50/50 antifreeze I had with me (thank goodness) I got it started again and drove it to a nearby store to get more for the drive home. I later found the hole and patched the hole and it still drives fine, but it has been losing coolant ever since.

As of today, I'm sure it's burning coolant since there is white smoke which I guess I was too stupid and/or lazy to check for. Or perhaps it's getting worse and I couldn't see it before.

I have always kept it refilled often and I've never overheated it since. In fact the thermostat was stuck open and I had that replaced since I wasn't getting any heat from the heater. I also had the coolant flushed at the same time.

What is the "typical, more often than anything else" damage caused by such an overheat on these engines? Just the head gasket, or head warping and/or cracking too? I know that no case is ever the same, I just some basis of evaluation of where to start from.

A new head gasket is only about $35 (Amazon) but the bolts are another $22 (O'Reilly). However if that's the proper fix, it's worth doing. I dread doing it, but I am pretty well capable. I just hate to throw $50 at it and still have it leaking, if not leaking worse due to disturbing it.

I stopped by O'Reilly and looked at the "head gasket repair" fluids and took a photo (below) of what they sell for my own reference, as I last resort idea. Amazon prices are about 1/2 of what they charge. I'm not a big believer in such products however. My mom used radiator leak fix for her leaking radiator on her 91 Corolla in the 90's and it worked well at least in the short term. I don't remember for sure how long it lasted long term but it worked well enough I think vs buying a new radiator at the time. I think it lasted 6 months to a year at least. On the plus side, such products offer 100% (or more!) refund if it doesn't work.

If it gives me an extra year of life out of the engine, it might be worth trying at the 198,2000 age of this engine with a 3 speed A/T (which just got rebuilt).

Antifreeze is usually not cheap and after 4 bottles at a typical everyday price, I could have just bought the head gasket and bolts. However, I don't want to open a big can of worms on such an aged engine if it might make things worse trying to replace just the head gasket.

Thoughts and opinions welcomed.

(Edit: I found another product with very good reviews, just to throw it out there for discussion/debate: http://www.amazon.com/BlueDevil-Head-Ga ... ket+repair )

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:25 pm 
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Location: texas houston
If you left the engine to cool down you have a 80% chance that the head is good. The only time i screwed a head was when i poured water when it was still hot; But any ways just do it right, Take the head to a machine shop, have it checked and cleaned. And address the issue that caused the over heating in the first place.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:40 pm 
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Some threads I've read about these overheated engines is to also just replace rings and such too. Heck, I may as well get the engine rebuilt totally if I dig in THAT deep.

It sat probably 20 minutes before I got out the coolant and tried refilling it, time enough to call roadside and to sit there a bit before I got out the antifreeze and refilled the radiator. It wasn't a very warm day.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:51 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
eBay is awesome sometimes! I just nabbed a new Beck/Arnley head gasket for $15.97 shipped. Considering they cost 3x that on Amazon and 4x that retail... yeah. :mrgreen:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/331476162377


...but actually. now just after buying that one, I see there's one for $13.90 shipped: http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/3608258337 ... =82&chn=ps

Oh well. Maybe somebody reading this will grab that one since I already bought the other.

Only $2.07 difference.. considering how much they are from Amazon and auto parts stores!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:57 pm 
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At a 198k. You could just do a complete rebuild. Just look at it this way your rebuild is cheap! if you spent $1200 bucks total. Its a good deal you have a engine that will last well into a next decade :) you will out last the body.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:07 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
I can probably get the engine redone for way less than $1200. I had the transmission done for under $1100 and they ended up replacing the bell housing during a warranty repair one week into the new build due to it leaking, when it didn't leak before they had it.

I wonder what that same shop would charge to do the engine... if they ever want to touch that car again after all the trouble the transmission was. haha. They are a trans shop but they have signs saying they do other work.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:59 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
A local place on Craigslist is advertising...

89~01 Geo/Chevy Metro Rebuilt G10L Motor Engine J.D.M / JDM for Sale
18 month / 18,000 mile warranty for $1050

...but it doesn't say if that's installed or not. Seems too pricey for a USED JDM engine if it's not installed for that. They might be worth a call to see what they charge to rebuild though.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:05 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
I wonder... do intake manifold gaskets tend to go bad?

I see that the intake manifold gasket has to hold coolant back from the intake ports too. That gasket (with very THIN sections) is suppose to keep coolant from getting into the intake. Perhaps it's gone bad?

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I want to explore all other possibilities before tearing off the head. That is a possible culprit, even if it's not common. I can remove the intake manifold without removing the head; but I do need to drain some of the coolant first.

It could be why I ran so badly out of coolant before back in Sept (not Oct, I was off by a month in my guessing before). I'm not sure I believe that the tiny hole on the filler neck of the radiator is what made it totally run out of coolant before; but then again it might be possible if it all boiled out? I patched the small hole with "JB Waterweld" epoxy so that's no longer an issue.

Also, there are NO bubbles in the radiator, which leads me to believe it may NOT be the head gasket! If it's a leaky intake gasket, it's not under cylinder pressure, only cooling system pressure pushing the coolant into the intake, causing it to burn. This could explain the absence of bubbles in the radiator.

I filled up the radiator again to the top with the engine totally cold today, then I started it with the cap OFF. No bubbles. I squeezed the upper rad hose to make sure it didnt have air. I then let it idle a few minutes long enough to get the coolant warm enough that it was rising and starting to overflow out of the radiator from expanding. Still no bubbles. Then I put the rad cap back on letting the excess overflow from the cap's seal going down in.

I was in a hurry to return home and I only drove a mile away to a store to pick up some stuff, then a mile back, so it didn't get to full operating temp, but the gauge was at mid way due to stop and go traffic but I didn't see any smoke when I got to the store and checked the tail pipe before I shut it off.

I think it only burns coolant when it's at FULL operating temp? Maybe it's when a gasket gets hot and it expands, causing leaks?

The oil is still clean, not milky.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:33 pm 
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It's not an intake gasket. Just not something that ever fails on these. It's very likely a head asker issue, not likely a cracked head. These engines aren't common for head cracking, but it would be in your best interest to have head resurfaced and crack checked if you remove it, as well as 3 new exhaust valves and a cleanup. You really should pressure test cylinders (compressed air into each cylinder with valves closed, see if antifreeze in rad rises or blows bubbles(or system pressure rises). Easy test that confirms the issue.
Unfortunately really if head gasket is gone and engine needs to come apart it should have the standard g10 refresh(gaskets, cam and crank seal, piston rings, possibly rod bearings but often they look like new when inspected, and new exhaust valves), or of course to bump that up in both quality and cost, a true full rebuild with boring cylinders, new pistons etc. I've done a lot of refreshes with excellent results each time, hundreds of them at this point. The catch is either deciding you can handle it yourself and finding a place to do it, or finding someone who will do it for you. Very few places will do a refresh due to not wanting to land up in a warranty situation if anything goes wrong. If they put a fresh rebuilt in, then they can shift warranty liability to the engine builder.
The reasons to go further than just a head gasket is the high instances of both valves burning and oil rings failing on these engines after the 100k mile mark. Many lasts longer of course, but it's almost standard practice or knowledge that to reliably drive a metro to its full life capability one refresh or rebuild will be needed. Overheating is a common killer of rings, basically the oil,rings lose tension and stop pushing out hard enough against cylinder walls and the result will be having to add a lot of oil between changes, as well as oil getting dirty fast. All that said, there is nothing wrong with lifting the head on yours and replacing the gasket, but just with the understanding that there may be more work needed in the future. The beauty of the g10 is that a head gasket can be done in a couple hours and with minimal parts cost. Beck arnley head gasket will be of good quality I believe, as will fel pro and most main brand name gaskets.

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1995 Swift w/16V 4.39s, 3tech cam, Esteem t-body, Header, needs more.
1995 Gt Mustang "Boss Shinoda" package.
1999 F150 4x4 Supercharged
1967 Mustang 428 auto, never ending expensive project
1993 Civic si h22a, fell in my lap, couldn't resist!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:59 pm 
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Another possibility is that it's leaking from the HG into the exhaust and burning there, rather than into the cylinder. A combustion gas leak test would confirm or refute that. I need to see what a shop would charge to do that since the tool is about $60 to buy.

If they charge like $15, it might be worth doing.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:03 pm 
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A combustion gas test would work as well. I wouldn't expect a shop to do it for $15. It can't leak from the head gasket into the exhaust. It can leak from the head gasket into the cylinder then out the exhaust from there

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1995 Swift w/16V 4.39s, 3tech cam, Esteem t-body, Header, needs more.
1995 Gt Mustang "Boss Shinoda" package.
1999 F150 4x4 Supercharged
1967 Mustang 428 auto, never ending expensive project
1993 Civic si h22a, fell in my lap, couldn't resist!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:08 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
codyb76 wrote:
A combustion gas test would work as well. I wouldn't expect a shop to do it for $15. It can't leak from the head gasket into the exhaust. It can leak from the head gasket into the cylinder then out the exhaust from there


Oh? Yeah I guess that's right. Coolant can leak into intake, but not into exhaust. Well why aren't there bubbles in the radiator when totally filled with coolant with the engine running?

This car passed WA emissions a year ago, I should mention. (Tabs are up in April). So it was perhaps not burning coolant at that time. Thankfully it doesn't need testing again until next year, so I have a year's time to fix this.

I am debating if I should just go ahead and buy a new head to install. The problem I have is that I can't pull the head off and leave it off for a week or two while a machine shop has it. I would either need to throw on a new head gasket and bolts if I find it's cracked or warped and replace the head at a future time (plus another head gasket and bolt set), or blindly buy a new head and have it on hand before I removed the existing head. I'd do better to eat the cost of the head gasket and bolts ($37) than to eat the cost of an entire head ($200) if the head I have isn't warped.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:36 am 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
OH!!! One of the loaner tools O'Reilly Auto offers is a "block tester", aka combustion leak tester, to check the radiator for exhaust gasses. You do have to buy the fluid though, of course. They don't even show it online, so I'll have to see how much they charge for it.

I guess I will rent the tool on Tuesday when I go in to buy/order the head bolts and some more antifreeze. I'll also rent the cylinder compression tester as well for good measure.

I hate dealing with the rental tools somewhat, especially if I have to run around to multiple stores trying to find them in stock; but I'd rather do that right now than buy $50-80 worth of tools right now if I can help it.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:54 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
I am now suspecting it may not be the head gasket at ALL... and instead the heater core leaking but somehow not showing any leaking under the car or on the floor. It's losing so much coolant still and had NO smoke today.

One day when it was cold, I did notice the windows fogging up inside but I thought it was due to the temp change inside/out and the heat blowing, plus me and a passenger breathing inside. I don't have A/C so it doesn't "condition" the air the way a car with A/C would set on high heat does if you have the A/C compressor enabled. But... maybe it was steaming up due to leaking coolant... even though you can't SEE any steam coming out of the vents.

I am going to go ahead and check the radiator for exhaust gases tomorrow as well as check the cyl compression, but the absence of bubbles in the radiator combined with audible bubbling/gurgling noise inside the car makes me think it might be losing at the heater core. I am going to try getting some hose and fitting to bypass the heater core as well tomorrow. Then I'll report back my findings.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:38 pm 
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I didn't have the time to get the tools and test today; BUT I did bypass the heater core for the time being to isolate it as a possible problem. The 1/2" hose was original, would need replacing anyhow. the 5/8" is pretty new.

I noticed steam coming from the radiator when driving today and then when I parked and raised the hood, you could see steam coming off of the radiator itself. I think that radiator is simply SHOT and is leaking somehow without actually showing fluid. There's no puddles under the car and I can't find any actual leaks from the radiator; except perhaps from around the (new) cap. I think the radiator is trashed.

It's a "Vista Pro" radiator, so keep FAR AWAY from that brand! It's complete garbage. New regular (non-"safety") radiator caps from multiple sources don't seal it. You can put the new cap on, squeeze the upper hose on a full radiator and have fluid leak out from the cap. I think the safety one may now be doing it too.

Unless this one is just somehow trashed from age or from being overheated that one time by me.... (due to a HOLE in the crappy plastic of the filler neck!) but yeah. I am going to try getting a Spectra Premium radiator and put it on in the next week or two and see if that doesn't stop the steaming and fluid loss. If it does, I'll try connecting the heater core back (though I may try flushing it first if I can somewhere...) since there's no antifreeze on the floor under the heater box.

Also, I need to quit opening the radiator and only fill it from the bottle since it lets air in the system removing the cap. I know the bottle is working since I have seen the level rise and drop. It also STEAMS inside the bottle as if it's boiling in the radiator and passing some of the steam into the bottle. But there is NO bubbles in the radiator OR bottle.. and NO smoke on a clear dry day, so it CAN'T be burning it.

It's not overheating and the fan is operational. So yeah.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:55 pm 
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It's not the heater core, and it can be burning it without any visible signs you keep referring to. For sure replace the radiator first if it's no good, then go from there if coolant keeps disappearing.

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1995 Swift w/16V 4.39s, 3tech cam, Esteem t-body, Header, needs more.
1995 Gt Mustang "Boss Shinoda" package.
1999 F150 4x4 Supercharged
1967 Mustang 428 auto, never ending expensive project
1993 Civic si h22a, fell in my lap, couldn't resist!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:30 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
Yes, the radiator has to be a major part of the problem. It shouldn't be steaming. I ordered a Spectra Premium CU1444 radiator from RockAuto for just under $92 shipped.

Maybe the heater core is part of the problem too. There's no way to SEE it without actually getting the heater core out. I could try putting a small amount of gauged vacuum or air pressure on it to see if it loses vacuum/pressure, though, without opening the heater box.

Maybe part of the problem was filling the radiator and not the tank?

I'll see about getting the loaner tools tomorrow for sure since I should have the time I didn't have today. I'll pay cash so I don't have to wait on a debit refund. I hate that.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:47 pm 
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Heater core leaks are very rare on these models. You would be getting antifreeze leaking on floor and/or a very distinctive smell and windows fogging up in any case if that was the issue.

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1995 Swift w/16V 4.39s, 3tech cam, Esteem t-body, Header, needs more.
1995 Gt Mustang "Boss Shinoda" package.
1999 F150 4x4 Supercharged
1967 Mustang 428 auto, never ending expensive project
1993 Civic si h22a, fell in my lap, couldn't resist!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:52 pm 
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Location: Tacoma, WA
One day they steamed up but hmm.. maybe it was just due to temp changes from opening and closing the doors etc. I don't have rear window defogger which is a big problem. I end up opening the driver's window to defog it.

I didn't see the steaming from the radiator itself before so maybe undoing the heater core helped make that show up more. I did see it in the reservoir bottle though. Maybe the steam was partly hiding in the heater core when it was hooked up. Now it doesn't have that, so it's escaping from the bad radiator.

A friend was riding with me today and he saw the same as me... it was coming from the radiator when the hood was raised. It couldn't have been coming from anywhere else.. unless it was still overflowing from the bottle still since the hose was pointing over that way.

By the way, what is the "proper" way to check coolant on these cars? When hot or cold? What should the level be like when hot vs cold.. etc.

EDIT: Ah, I found it in the FSM. It says NEVER open the radiator to check the level .. only use the bottle. So I guess I'll try that until my new radiator comes next week and I can hopefully get it put in within a couple days. I have always been opening it and checking it, which hasn't helped matters much I guess. My new thermostat has the rattle piece through a hole so it an bleed air on it's own, at least.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:51 am 
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not really related, but I put a ''vista pro'' rad in my bosses kia.......it failed 2 years later. aluminum row, plastic top and bottom tanks...failed where the aluminum was crimped to the plastic, had small cracks in the plastic tanks. that rad was $300 (almost $1000 from the dealer!!) bought another rad from a different supplier, doorman select fit, almost $500.....but the new one has more cores ( 2 row vs 1 row) and fully soldered top and bottom tanks. big upgrade, if it springs a leak I could always fix it.
only rads I have replaced on my metros have been from lack of being maintained (plugged cores) or damage on the lower sections from ''road rot'' (lower sections of these rads are prone to damage from road debris and salt)
that being said, maybe if it got hot enough it damaged the rad at the crimps (warped from heat?)
have you put a pressure tester on where the rad cap goes? a simple and effective tool to find leaks in the coolant system. i have used mine faithfully to find leaks that were otherwise non-apparent, from bad water pumps to bad intake gaskets and head gaskets on a wide variety of vehicles.
but like cody said, if it was overheated really bad you might need an overhaul. might just get away with rings and a cylinder head refresh. all depends what it looks like inside when (if) taken apart.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 4:40 pm 
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Ta-da. It passed the block test. (See photo below). Yes, I did fill it a bit past on the tester, but I ended up pumping it for a good 3 minutes for good measure. No change. The head gasket is not blowing exhaust into the cooling system.

Initially, I had a false positive due to not draining a bit of coolant out of the radiator like the instructions say, so it sucked some up into it. Then I got a $4 siphon hose at O'Reilly and moved the excess coolant from the radiator to the bottle with the engine running.

Then I tested again and it passed with flying colors. I held up the bottle of fluid next to it (not in the pic) to be sure. It didn't change tint at ALL.

I ended up skipping the compression test for today since I had a couple more stops and I'm past due for lunch, so I can do it another day.

I should take a pic of how screwed up looking the inside of the filler neck looks on this radiator too, so you can see that perhaps that's why it's not sealing properly.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:02 pm 
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Argh. I may not have even BEEN losing coolant. :thwack:

I was filling the bottle to "FULL" when cold which always seemed to overflow it at full operating temp, leaving it with a "low" level when cold. The FSM doesn't really explain how to fill properly. I checked the crappy Haynes manual and IT actually states that you fill to slightly above "low" when COLD. :thwack: :thwack: :thwack:

So it seems Suzuki did a really stupid thing and labeled the bottle poorly. It should be marked "COLD" and "HOT", not "LOW" and "FULL".

I cleaned up the bottle as much as I could. It was really nasty inside. (Pic below). Now I can actually see the fluid level inside the bottle without opening it.

I will be replacing the radiator next week sometime most likely which should solve any fluid loss that may be happening.

I will connect the heater core back as well, however I did keep hearing gurgling from the heater core when it was hooked so maybe it's got blockage or leakage somehow without it showing up? Or maybe it's because I kept opening the radiator to fill it before, so it chronically had air in the system. Who knows? I'll try connecting it back and seeing how the fluid level does by watching and filling only the bottle once the new radiator is installed. I can always bypass it again if I have to.

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