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Head Gasket Blown In Mexico

3068 Views 86 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  durk96
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.

Questions:

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.

Thanks!
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Discussion Starter · #81 ·
Noticed a small oil leak near the turbo return tube, hope it is that and not coming from the head! Ordered a new "O" ring, I think I just used the one I had on there before that was only a couple of years old.
 

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Discussion Starter · #82 ·
I went to the car wash and cleaned out the engine bay to help find the leak.
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Looked like it was the part where the head meets the block and the oil drains back from the head.
I took off the turbo oil drain pipe, cleaned it, installed the new "o" ring, wasn't the leak but it was a good thing to do.
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I started the car and saw a very small bubbling leak by the 12mm bolt where the aluminum front cover meets the head. I was able to tighten the 12mm bolt and it seems to have stopped the leak. Some driving around I will know for sure. At least it is not coming from the head gasket mating surface :) I really didn't want to
 
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