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Advice Desperately Needed: Dried Antifreeze Along Headbolt?? Thanks!


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8 replies to this topic

#1 HobbyWrench

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 02:47 PM

[Oh Great Subaru Masters: Your experience and guidance is needed and appreciated - in the possibility of a worse case scenario (and need for diff't engine), I'm holding off on parts order and reassembly until I can benefit from your wisdom.]

Does overheating due to a blown HG possibly manifest itself as an antifreeze leakage into a headbolt chamber?

I've pulled the heads on a '90 EJ22 with 175K miles, and noticed that the top, rearmost headbolt on the left head (cyl #4, bolt #6 in tightening sequence) had dried white scale along its length, apparently residue from dried antifreeze. The threads submerged into the cylinder are moist.

The headgasket does have a damaged/bulged area for this cylinder at approximately a 5 o'clock position (looking from the head toward the center of the engine). On disassembly, I did not notice this particular headbolt having less torque/difficulty in removal.

Is it possible that antifreeze leakage in this area, under heat and pressure, would make its way upward, around the 'alignment pin/cylinder' that aligns the head with cylinder and surrounds the headbolt, and into the headbolt chamber?

Has anyone else seen this? I'm fearing worse than a HG, such as a casing crack, etc. (Is this possible?)

The overheating symptoms NEVER occurred while idling forever in the driveway, but pegged the heat gauge needle to H after 5-10 minutes down the road. A compression test sometime ago did indicate less in the left head, with cyl #4 having slightly the least. I have seen threads posted where others experienced these symptoms and corrected them with HG replacement, so was hoping for a 'straightforward' solution.

On another note, on the head side of the old HG, "EJ22" is imprinted left of the top center headbolt hole, while "97" is printed to the right of the bottom center headbolt hole. Do OEM headgaskets have year of mfg imprinted on them, and does this "97" possibly indicate the prior owner had to replace the HG's earlier ('97-'98 timeframe)?

Thanks again!!

#2 HobbyWrench

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 03:48 PM

Well, I'm guessing that no replies means I may have stumped you all?!

As an update, I did a simple air pressure test into the cylinder headbolt hole in question, and it seemed to be OK in comparison with others. Shining a light into the cooling area on the top of the cylinder, near the hole, did not reveal any potential problems (cracks, etc.). (The engine is still in the car.)

So, I'm guessing (hoping!) that antifreeze must have sneaked up between the head gasket and head or engine cylinder, and into the bolt hole.

Therefore, I'm driving ahead with my HG replacement, and hoping for the best!

Thanks to you all who have posted to my related questions on reuse of headbolts and exhaust manifold bolt removal!

#3 bearbalu

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 06:54 PM

May be the head is warped around the "alignment pin" area in addition to the 5pm damage you mentioned. Did you get the heads checked out a machine shop for cracks/warpage?
Do that before you put it back in..

#4 grossgary

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 09:44 PM

i would definitely replace the head gasket and forget about the block. i don't know what this motor has been through, but generally the block should be fine in my oppinion. definitely have the heads checked no matter what by a machine shop. they will need to be machined. i have yet to take a head in (even if it didn't have head gasket problems) that was perfectly flat. they always need some amount of machining (mine have all had relatively high mileage, like yours). should have a valve job and new valve stem seals installed as well.

clean every single head bolt and head bolt hole and lightly oil the holes for a good torque reading. do not short cut. clean the mating surfaces (block and head - machine shop will clean the head if you take it to them). do not scratch the block or head mating surface, clean it until it's completely free of anything. do not short cut any of these steps, head gaskets are not something you want to be doing again.

#5 Setright

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 03:31 AM

Unless you've driven far/hard with the temp pegged high, you'll be fine. Cracks in EJ22's are not a common thing.

The bolt may have stretched under the added heat, and therefore be easier to remove.
Also, coolant could easily pass through the layers of the gasket and end up in mysterious places. No cause for alarm.

Do remember that you need to use new headbolts!

#6 Tiny Clark

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 03:50 AM

I don't know first hand, but some head bolts could be in part of the cooling system chambers. I know they are on different model V-8's I have worked on.

#7 HobbyWrench

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 02:53 PM

Thanks to bearbalu, grossgary, Setright and Tiny Clark for the guidance, advice and reassurance.

The car was never driven any distance after overheating, so the chance of additional damage was probably minimal.

I was extremely careful when removing the heads to gradually and evenly loosen them. There appears to be no warpage on these, measuring with a straightedge and feeler gauge (0.004" per Haynes Manual).

This engine apparently has run exceptionally clean - there really is no buildup on the valves. A soft brass wirebrush using Seafoam as a solvent has done wonders to clean the valves and the seats up, along with the mating surfaces.

How can I check the valves, guides, etc., without dissassembly, to determine if they really need machine shop work? Any ideas what the price would be? I'm unemployed, so not wanting to spend lots of $$$ on this.

Able to contact the prior owner (purchased at 165K miles), I learned this was the first time the engine had been gone into. This is amazing engineering!

#8 bearbalu

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 03:54 PM

Are you planning getting the head pressure tested for cracks? Might be a good idea.
If you have valve seals, you can get machine shop to replace them - they will disassemble the valves to do that - the machine shop here did it for 30 additional bucks. Diassembly will get everything inspected including valve guides.

#9 Setright

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 03:56 PM

If the engine has been run on a good oil, that has been replaced often along with a good filter, I doubt you have any valve train wear to speak of. Certainly nothing to spend a fortune correcting.

Often is 6-8k miles, and a good filter is Genuine Subaru - to me anyway ;-)


I use to own a LEgacy with an EJ22. I had to replace the headgaskets at 120k miles, and ten years. I since sold it to a friend, with 186k miles on the odo. He just called today to let me know that he was rolling past 200k miles!

It drinks about a quart of oil between 6k changes. That may be due to some oil slipping by the at the valve stems, but it's not worth repairing.




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