I previously survived two stress inducing incidents in Baja Mexico with Saabrina (Fan Temp Sender and Clutch hose failure). I was in Baja Mexico for Thanksgiving in my '89 Saab 900 Turbo and the car started to overheat on the drive back. I pulled over to find that the coolant reservoir was empty, I'd checked it before I crossed the border and it was a little low, but I did not think too much about it.
The car had been a bit difficult to turn over that morning and was running slightly rough at idle. As we drove on towards the USA border, I began to ponder the possibility of a leaky head gasket. My suspicions were confirmed when I could see steam and water drops coming from under the exhaust manifold and clearly, liquids were leaking into one of the combustion chambers. Three gallons of water and a short border wait back and I was relieved to make it home to San Diego.
Later that evening, I pulled the #3 plug and sure thing it was filled with some coolant/water. I ordered a head gasket kit, timing chain, exhaust studs, timing chain guides and new cylinder head bolts.
1. Can the timing chain cover be removed with the engine in the car? Or can the guides be replaced without removing the engine? I replaced the harmonic balancer and seal 2 years ago and still have the modified socket.
2. Does anyone know a good machine shop in San Diego for cleaning up the head. From what I've read, the head can be milled, hot tanked and then gently lap the valves at home.
3. Do you think that the Swedish Dynamics ECU upgrade (which I love) 1yr ago hastened the demise of the head gasket that may be original at 250k.