1991 2.3L Grand Am: How to remove the head?

I have a 1991 Grand Am with the DOHC Quad 4 2.3L engine
A small amount of water started to appear in the engine oil awhile ago, but I thought it was due to short starts/stops during the Fargo winter.
Unfortunately, a recent oil change now shows a *large* amount of water.
Question #1: Am I right in assuming that either the head gasket is bad, or else the head is cracked? Is there any tests that I can do to doublecheck? What else could it be?
I've never replaced a head gasket before, but I'm bright enough to follow instructions and can page through a Chilton's and a Haynes. When I started to look up the procedure, Chilton mentioned something about releasing springs on the Exhaust manifold before removing the fasteners.
Question #2: What is Chilton's talking about? Springs under the nuts? Help!
Question #3: A quick inspection of the exhaust manifold shows some rather rusty nuts. Any suggestions/tips?
Question #4: Since I have the engine partially apart, is there any cheap maintainance steps I should also take?
This isn't a valuable vehicle, but for being a Minnesota car, its *relatively* free of rust. I'd rather not pay a mechanic to do the work, since I want to extend my skills and I possess more free time then money.
Thanks in advance for the help. I haven't posted to this newsgroup before, but I've read a lot of the posts here, and there seems to be plenty of knowledgeable and experienced people here.
Jesse Meyer
PS: Do you have any other advice for me?
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It sounds like you have little mech experience better leave it alone.Some jobs are best left to the pros.
Rey
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Can't get experience if I don't try. ;)
Anyways, the car isn't worth paying to be fixed. So I can either experiment before hauling it to a junkyard or not.
I am curious about the springs on the nuts for the exhaust manifold. When did that become standard operating proceedure? They don't seem to be on the 2.5L engine...
Jesse Meyer
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OK I have been down this road before so heres what I had to deal with. I had a 91 GA with the same engine and the automatic. I got the car for a song cuz the engine (head) was shot so I did the same thing that you want to do. Get a good service manual. Actually go to the library and get a copy of what the book says. It can be done and its not that hard 1 Dont drive the car untill its fixed, with the water in the oil your going to destroy the bearings (rod and crank), the kid that owned the car before I did drove it like this and I ended up getting a new crank and bearings as well as having the rods checked out. 2 You may as well say the head is shot, save your self some time and just order a new/rebuilt head it will cost you about 300 bucks but its worth the time and aggravation http://www.headsonly.com / 3 the rusty nuts and bolts on the exhaust manifold are nothing to wory about, . Spray them down with Liquid wrench the nite before you want to start working on the car. They will pop loose when you put the wrench to them 3 Replace the water pump while you have the head off, you have to pull the pump off anyway to get the timing chain cover off and the pumps bearings have had water in the oil so you may as well save your self some time and pain now. When you have the timing chain off you should change the chain as well, Autozone sells either a three piece kit (chain and sprokets ) or just the chain, your choice if you want to change the sprokets.. Be very carefull with the cam timing, this engine is an interference engine, meaning the valves WILL hit the piston if the cam timing is off (found out the hard way and had to pull the head to replace all the number one cylinder valves) This is just the start of what you are going to deal with. It can be done, Hell I did it in my little one car garage. Feel free to email me with any questions about this, as I said you can do it if you get the book and have a good collection of tools
Good luck Steve

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I found removing all the bolts, the attaching a chain to my fork lift, and bouncing the car wildly does the trick::)
Seriously Quad 4's can have a mired of surprises for you when you start tearing in to them. Best advice is to spray every bolt and let it sit over night. This includes the head bolts, spray them while removing. I had one car where 2 head bolts snapped at the fastern head, and one bolt bent (see Fork Lift comment). The 2.3 Quad 4's have problems with galvanic corrosion. Which occurs between aluminum and steel. It looks like white powder, or in extreme cases like white smoke coming from a bolt as it is loosened.
With a Quad 4 you should really use a GM factory service manual. You should replace the water pump, timing chain with gears, and have your head pressure tested.
Plan on taking your time, and if you get stuck, ask a question here.
Charles A part aint stuck until I run out of tools, and equipment and vehicles to remove it with.
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