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Old 02-17-2004, 04:10 PM   #1
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Bubbles in radiator: a certain indicator of blown head gasket?

After three months, I reassembled my 351 car, now with ported heads. I have been plagued by cooling system problems for the last two days: water spewing all over the engine, leaks in hoses, running too warm. I have conquered the leaks one by one, and the car now runs warm, but not hot. However, there are bubbles in the radiator. A knowledgeable friend told me that such bubbles do not necessarily equate to a blown head gasket, but I have always assumed otherwise. I just made a test drive of 20 minutes duraton and the car lost no coolant. Opinions appreciated.
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Old 02-17-2004, 04:23 PM   #2
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A leakdown test will show if you have a blown HG.

Have you burped the system??

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Old 02-17-2004, 05:33 PM   #3
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sounds like you've just got air stuck in a few places.

Mine does that every time I drain the entire system and let it sit for a while.

burp it a few times as mentioned and you should be OK.
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Old 02-17-2004, 05:58 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ian
A leakdown test will show if you have a blown HG.

Have you burped the system??

Ian
NO. I don't know what it entails!
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Old 02-17-2004, 06:01 PM   #5
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It is very easy.

Take the rad cap off, start the car, and wait for the thermo to open. It will bubble and burp. Put the cap back on and you are set.

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Old 02-17-2004, 07:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ian
It is very easy.

Take the rad cap off, start the car, and wait for the thermo to open. It will bubble and burp. Put the cap back on and you are set.

Ian
Yes, I had done that already. Thanks though.
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Old 02-17-2004, 09:35 PM   #7
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Re: Bubbles in radiator: a certain indicator of blown head gasket?

Quote:
Originally posted by One GTOneLX
After three months, I reassembled my 351 car, now with ported heads. I have been plagued by cooling system problems for the last two days: water spewing all over the engine, leaks in hoses, running too warm. I have conquered the leaks one by one, and the car now runs warm, but not hot. However, there are bubbles in the radiator. A knowledgeable friend told me that such bubbles do not necessarily equate to a blown head gasket, but I have always assumed otherwise. I just made a test drive of 20 minutes duraton and the car lost no coolant. Opinions appreciated.
my opinion .... if its running hot , get a thicker radiator . You will never be so happy .

One thing I dont fool with , and thats getting a motor hot and cracking heads . Its just not worth it .

Get a radiator .
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Old 02-18-2004, 01:11 PM   #8
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The gasket shouldn't be blown if you just put it back together. What did you torque your heads to? and did you retorque after the motor got warm? I believe the bottom bolts are 110lbsfeet and the top are 112-115lbsfeet on a 351 and make sure you use the correct sequence. Also are you using EFI or a carburator, did you use the felpro 1262 gasket for the intake?
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Old 02-18-2004, 04:51 PM   #9
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get a NAPA block tester, it tells if carbonmonaxide is geting into the cooling system--- 4 years ago i paid 50.00 for mine
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Old 02-18-2004, 07:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by 1bad351
The gasket shouldn't be blown if you just put it back together. What did you torque your heads to? and did you retorque after the motor got warm? I believe the bottom bolts are 110lbsfeet and the top are 112-115lbsfeet on a 351 and make sure you use the correct sequence. Also are you using EFI or a carburator, did you use the felpro 1262 gasket for the intake?
Yes I used the 1262. I have not retorqued, but I wll give it a try. I seem to be loosing coolant too. So the indicators are pretty clear now.
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Old 02-18-2004, 07:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by 5speed
get a NAPA block tester, it tells if carbonmonaxide is geting into the cooling system--- 4 years ago i paid 50.00 for mine
Thanks, that's good to know. I'm pretty certain at his point that the gasket is leaking though. I'll try retorquing. failing that, I will reassemble.
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Old 02-18-2004, 07:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by One GTOneLX
Yes I used the 1262. I have not retorqued, but I wll give it a try. I seem to be loosing coolant too. So the indicators are pretty clear now.
I dont think there is a person alive thats ever re-torqued the bolts after running it

If you are losing coolant , then borrow a pressure tester . If a hose is leaking , it will leak under 16 psi that the tester will load on it .

If you still suspect a gasket , then pull the plugs and see which one is really clean .

I've seen a intake gasket leak a couple times . When they leak it will blow smoke out the pipes on Decell .... slowing down ....
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Old 02-18-2004, 08:16 PM   #13
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So are you saying that re torque is a waste of time. I don't know about you but when I spend the kind of money it takes to run one of these cars I don't like to take chances. Also will the spark plug be clean if the leak is not on the combustion valve, or if it is will the plug have a yellow to green color. Now I am confused. Before you pull the motor apart check the back side of the lower intake for oil or anti freeze. Also on the firewall where the heater hoses connect make sure you didn't break one loose from the heater core. If you did you will be able to turn it with your hand, and air will be able to enter the system there. NOT saying that it is the cause of your trouble but may eliminate any other areas where air can enter the cooling system.JMO
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Old 02-18-2004, 10:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Musclestang
I dont think there is a person alive thats ever re-torqued the bolts after running it

If you are losing coolant , then borrow a pressure tester . If a hose is leaking , it will leak under 16 psi that the tester will load on it .

If you still suspect a gasket , then pull the plugs and see which one is really clean .

I've seen a intake gasket leak a couple times . When they leak it will blow smoke out the pipes on Decell .... slowing down ....
I retorqued, it was worth a try.

I have no coolant leaks now, nor have I had any for a few days.

The plugs are uniform in appearance.

I am not worried about the intake gasket.

I still have bubbles in the radiator, though.
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Old 02-18-2004, 10:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by 1bad351
So are you saying that re torque is a waste of time. I don't know about you but when I spend the kind of money it takes to run one of these cars I don't like to take chances. Also will the spark plug be clean if the leak is not on the combustion valve, or if it is will the plug have a yellow to green color. Now I am confused. Before you pull the motor apart check the back side of the lower intake for oil or anti freeze. Also on the firewall where the heater hoses connect make sure you didn't break one loose from the heater core. If you did you will be able to turn it with your hand, and air will be able to enter the system there. NOT saying that it is the cause of your trouble but may eliminate any other areas where air can enter the cooling system.JMO
I had had a problem at that hose location but I fixed it early-on. I simply bypassed the heater core altogether.

There is no water in the oil so I can run the car, but I still think it's likely I have a head gasket leak. Other signs are present: bubbles in radiator, losing fluid, running too warm, smoke out the exhaust. Each of these could be caused by another problem but collectively they point in one direction. I'll probably try to organize a hydrocarbon test, that would be definitive.
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Old 02-19-2004, 07:38 AM   #16
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I'd monitor the coolant loss for a few days. Bubbles should quickly go away after say 2-3 thermal cycles and a drive or two.

I'd take the recommendaation you got above by 5speed. Get a CO detector to see if you have exhaust gas in your radiator. Do you smell antifreeze in your tailpipes when running?

How do you know if you have water in your oil? The only way to check it is to crack open the drain plug and watch the first few drips. IF they are oil, your ok. If they are water- you'd better pull her apart again.

I retorqued my heads after 15 min of running when I installed my AFR heads. Unfortunately, on the first drive the thermostat stuck closed and I had a small head gasket leak which plaqued me for a few weeks till I finally decided to take it apart again. Confirmed a leak then, but by that time the antifreeze ate up my bearings.

Be sure you don't have a leak or you'll be pulling more than your heads off! Take my word for it!
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Old 02-19-2004, 07:54 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by One GTOneLX
smoke out the exhaust.
you never mentioned this .... that leans more towards a head gasket , yes .
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Old 02-19-2004, 08:00 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by 1bad351
So are you saying that re torque is a waste of time. Also will the spark plug be clean if the leak is not on the combustion valve, or if it is , will the plug have a yellow to green color. Now I am confused.
I didnt say its a waste of time , I said nobody ever does it . Atleast nobody I've ever worked with , and I've been a mechanic for 16 years .

The plug will have a green tint .... sometimes .... But dont be fooled . Exxon , and Shell ? puts all kinds of crap additives in their gasoline , that makes the plugs have a tint .

So pull all of the plugs to compare . 9 times out of 10 , you will see a noticible difference on the bad cylinder .

If a headgasket blows between the cylinders , no coolant loss , but 2 cylinders will have very low compression .
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Old 02-19-2004, 08:02 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Leadsled Coupe


I retorqued my heads after 15 min of running when I installed my AFR heads.
just wondering ..... were any of them loose ?
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