GM replaced the head to my 96 Cavalier about 60,000 miles ago under
warrenty. Now I'm suspecting that it is going again.
Car had been in storage the last year and after I started it up and
let it run for a while I caught a wiff of antifreeze from the
tailpipe. The exhaust seemed sweeter than normal, but no tell-tale
plumes of white. The car didn't overheat but it was about three
quarters of the way toward hot. Thought I had fixed the problem last
year with Barrs. Last year the car had been oveheating quite a bit,
and I saw bubbles in the coolant reservor. The oil is fine. My
thought was that there was a hole somewhere forcing air into the
coolant and visa versa.
My guess is that this is what they mean when they say warped head/
cracked head/bad head gasket. How bad of a job is this? And when I
get it taken apart, how would I know what the problem is? Maybe it's
a warped head as the car had overheated a few times.
Also, I meant to mention that I've been hearing a clicking sound that
seems like its coming from the valve cover but I can't be sure as it's
hard to pinpoint. Very rapid clicking sounding something like when
you're a kid and clothes pin a baseball card so that it clicks in your
spokes. Didn't know if that was related to my problem or yet another
GM modified their manufacturing process when making the 2.2l OHV engine in
Rather than cast the aluminum heads individually, the heads are cast in a
billet, then cut up with a saw into single heads. (check it out, if you
remove the manifolds, clamps, hangers, connections, et al from the 2.2l
head, you find saw marks on the ends!). This makes the engines cheaper to
make, but introduces stresses into the material that will eventually lead
(10 years or 110,000 miles - whichever comes first) to the head bowing
upward in the middle (compression stresses at each end). If your
replacement head came from an "auto recycler" (ie: wrecking yard), and was
not machined flat before being installed on your engine, then the problem
wasn't actually fixed...
I realise that it sounds highly unlikely that a GM dealer would install a
*used* head on a warranty replacement...but either that, or they didn't
actually replace the head at all...they just swapped the head gasket for a
new one. This approach will only fix the problem for -- well, about as long
as it appears to have lasted on your car.
Now, as to how easy/difficult this is to do yourself...
If you happen to live anywhere near Surrey, BC...I'd be happy to come on
over and walk you through the process. The Cavalier is a fleet car; which
means it is cheaply made, BUT very easy to take apart. For example,
removing/re-installing the head on the 2.2l OHV engine does not involve
re-setting the valves (they use self-adjusting hyd lifters), or removing the
timing chain (camshaft is inboard in the block next to the crankshaft).
Getting the intake off can be a little tricky...you may need some swivel
sockets or "bent" spanners to get at all the nuts. There is an intake
manifold brace that is easiest to remove from *under* the car (you might
need an assistant and a mirror for that one). Apart from all that, take the
head to a reliable machine shop after you get it removed, and have it
"shaved" flat. There are two roll pins at opposite corners that help to
position the head...make certain that your machine shop doesn't re-install
them in the wrong holes. When re-assembling the engine, keep all mating
surfaces clean and dress the gaskets (except the head gasket) and facing
surfaces with Permatex sealant.
Oh, and BTW...the first item in the Haynes manual procedure is to disconnect
the fuel pump (it's under the tailpipe)...whatever you do, DON'T forget to
plug that sucker back in when you're all done...
You can take the head to a machine shop and they can tell you if it is
if you hear a bad valve sound, itmight be you had overheat the valves
and they went bad. if you hear something normal, ignore it.
if they broke a bold and try the fixt the tread, i know it is not a
good thing to fix a bolt in a head since thye ave a thendency to go
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