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EA81 Engine question


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6 replies to this topic

#1 jeffroid

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 04:51 PM

I posted last week with questions on getting a used engine. I've done a lot more reading in this forum since, and now I don't think I need to do that. My situation is that I've got two '83 GL wagons. One is wrecked with a "good" engine, the other is intact with a bad head gasket - it overheats and coolant gets in the oil.

I broke down and bought a leakdown tester - I've always wanted one. The results for the good engine in the wrecked wagon are as follows:

#1 - 10% (ring leakage)
#2 - 10% (ring leakage)
#3 - 30% (ring and exaust valve leakage)
#4 - 10% (ring leakage)

The results for the engine with the bad head gasket are as follows:

#1 - 10% (ring leakage)
#2 - 15% (ring leakage)
#3 - 20% (ring leakage)
#4 - 10% (ring leakage)

Nothing on the test with the engine with the bad head gasket really showed anything that would point towards the head gasket, but I know it overheats, goes through coolant, and dumps it in the oil.

What should I do?

I could just swap the engine out of the wreck and start driving. The one bad cylinder is still pretty moderate at 30%, and indications are it's just an exaust valve and not bad rings.

I could do head jobs on one of the two engines. I don't think I'd try to do the one in the intact wagon without pulling the engine, so it really doesn't matter which one. If I decide to do the heads, which engine should I use?

Mileage on both is unknown, but I drove the "good" one for a couple of years, and only drove the one with the bad head gasket for a couple of months until the weather warmed up and I couldn't get to work without overheating.

What would YOU do?

THANKS ! ! !

#2 NorthWet

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 05:28 PM

How long have these engines been sitting? Some of the leak-down may be from parts not sealing well due to lack of use (gummy, not well oiled, whatever). My EA81 has a valve that sticks a little in its guide if it sits too long.

If you have access to an engine hoist, I would say go for it! and just swap engines. Not that hard, really.

Overheating could just be the radiator dying of old age, or a couple of other things in the cooling deaprtment. What constitutes "water in the oil"? Icky mayonnaise on the dip-stick or when you drain the oil, or just some crud on the filler cap? (Or like when my ea81 lost its HG and the oil level rose several quarts!)

#3 stngllhm

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 05:31 PM

i think i would pull the engine out of the wrecked car and pull off the head with the bad exhaust valve and put the head from the other engine on it if it isn't cracked of corse

just my 2 cents worth

btw you can have the moter out in 1/2 hour if you do it right

#4 jeffroid

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 05:46 PM

Thanks for the reply. They have both been sitting for a while. Nearly three years. Both of them fired right up with only jumper cables, though, so I was pleased with that. I think that's what I'm going to do, just yank the one out of the wreck and drop it in. Perhaps you are right and that one bad exaust valve will settle in, but I did run both engines before doing the leak down test.

I was surprised at the good readings on the engine with the head gasket leak. I'm sure that's what it is because of all the things you said - mayo on the dipstick and oil filler cap, and high oil levels.

Thanks again, I do have access to a hoist. I have done a couple of clutches so I think I know what I'm getting into.

#5 grossgary

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 07:23 PM

a bad headgasket can still show decent compression readings under certain conditions. the water in the cylinder/around the rings can actually make up for the loss in a minor head gasket leak. seems like the leak down would have showed it though.

depends what you want to do with your "extra" motor. if you'd like to keep an extra motor for later or to sell...keep the good one and just replace the head gasket(s) on yours. better to have a good motor than a bad one sitting around. that will also allow you to pull the heads while the motor is in the car. i did EA82 heads this summer, there is ample room in the 4 cylinder motors to do those head gaskets easily and quickly. i'm used to XT6's, the 4 cylinder was awesome, very easy to do.

if you swap motors - i'm guessing your motor has similar HLA's for the valves that my XT6 has - i'd assume one of those is frozen or sticky. i just wrote a really long post about addressing them a couple days ago or yesterday or something. maybe you can find it under "lifter noise", "tapping"...or just search my posts, you should be able to find it.

#6 NorthWet

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 09:39 PM

... i'm guessing your motor has similar HLA's for the valves that my XT6 has - i'd assume one of those is frozen or sticky...


GG, EA81 = pushrod, no hydraulic lash adjusters. Though I did read a post recently that said some later EA81s had hydraulic lifters, but I do not know.

#7 jeffroid

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Posted 10 October 2004 - 12:39 PM

a bad headgasket can still show decent compression readings under certain conditions. the water in the cylinder/around the rings can actually make up for the loss in a minor head gasket leak. seems like the leak down would have showed it though.

depends what you want to do with your "extra" motor. if you'd like to keep an extra motor for later or to sell...keep the good one and just replace the head gasket(s) on yours. better to have a good motor than a bad one sitting around. that will also allow you to pull the heads while the motor is in the car. i did EA82 heads this summer, there is ample room in the 4 cylinder motors to do those head gaskets easily and quickly. i'm used to XT6's, the 4 cylinder was awesome, very easy to do.

if you swap motors - i'm guessing your motor has similar HLA's for the valves that my XT6 has - i'd assume one of those is frozen or sticky. i just wrote a really long post about addressing them a couple days ago or yesterday or something. maybe you can find it under "lifter noise", "tapping"...or just search my posts, you should be able to find it.

Thanks for the reply.

A couple of things - some have posted that it's a pain to do the head gaskets without pulling the engine, and in the long run probably easier to just yank the engine. Looks doable to do it, however.

Second, I wonder what driving around for who knows how long with that oil/coolant sludge did to the bearings and everything else in the engine.




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