: Head Gaskets !!!

02-11-09, 05:20 PM
Well, I got a cheap 97 Catera knowing it had chocolate milk built up in the oil fill tube. I did the research (thanks to you guys and the forum) and decided to check out the oil cooler in the top of the engine. The top plate had corroded a tiny hole through the white metal and was leaking coolant onto the top of the engine, slowly draining the coolant. (Previous owner ran it dry.) I installed an external oil cooler behind the Caddy grill. I filled it up with coolant and oil and tried to start the engine. Would not start, but coolant was spitting out the exhaust. I knew it was probly head gaskets or cracked block/heads. Took the engine apart today.
Found this on the drivers side....
Same for the passenger side....

So now its time to rebuild. Got to go to the part store and get new head gaskets, head bolts, and a piece I broke while wrestling the pass side head out. Can't wait for the sticker shock to set in....

02-14-09, 01:49 PM
Welcome. I did a head gasket replacement around Thanksgiving. Besides the head gasket kit and head bolts, I also put in new timing belt and tensioners, thermostat, water pump, some new hoses, had the heads refaced. I might be forgetting some other minor stuff. Anyway, it cost me $700-800 doing everything myself (minus refacing). It runs like a champ though ;)
Good luck

02-19-09, 02:44 AM
R-Caddy, did you use the timing set tools to reset the cam timing? The tool sets seem expensive ($500). I found one place on the internet that rents them for $129. How did you do it?:hmm:

Thanks for any help you can provide.

03-02-09, 09:51 PM
I did my timming belt myself an i used small c-clamps.And it worked great

03-04-09, 08:34 PM
Well, as an update, I bought the Fel Pro gasket kit for the top end rebuild (HS 26189 PT) for $168, new timing belt ($103) and a new thermostat ($68). These are canadian prices. Included in the Fel Pro kit is everything I needed, and some parts I didn't. Heads are on, cams are in, and cam covers are on, thermostat is in. The bolt for the thermostat coolant extension pipe was a b***h. Just finished assembling the back end with the coolant cross over, and all the wires and connectors. Tomorrow it will be the rear timing cover and the belt, and all the intake stuff on top. I still have to read up on the timing sequence, but I have the factory manuals, so they will help.

03-08-09, 03:05 PM
I did my timing all the way from ground up, sine I replaced tensioners and so on. I just followed the instructions provided by my manual and the timing kit by Gates. Worked out pretty easy. And a 30mm socket to turn the tensioners helped as well.

04-30-09, 08:52 PM
Another update....

Got it all back together, started it up, and it purred like a kitten for a couple hours. Then smoke coming from drivers side... I thought I blew the head gasket again. Took it all apart a second time (drivers side only), to find out head gasket is fine. I ordered new gasket and bolts and put it all back together again. Turns out it is oil running out the cam cover on drivers side and burning on the exhaust manifold.

Thats a minor issue, I can handle that.

Take the intake setup off and gave her a good thick bead of gasket sealer all around and put it back together. Start it up, runs like a kitten again, and... still has oil leaking down onto manifold.

Now I'm pissed.

I took it out for a 100 km (60 mile) ride today and no issues other than the oil leak. Yehhhh (pats himself on the back) !!! It runs !!! Pretty good for $500 initial cost for the car with a "blown" engine, and about $1500 extra including 4 new tires.

05-01-09, 03:23 PM
Where are you guys getting your service manuals?

05-04-09, 05:14 PM
Ebay or if you want new go to Helms.com

05-04-09, 09:10 PM
Turns out it is oil running out the cam cover on drivers side and burning on the exhaust manifold.

It might seem minor and easy to fix but the reason for the leak is not so obvious. The cause is a clogged crankcase breather box. Without a path to relieve the building pressure the crankcase gasses push the plastic valve covers up and oil leaks out.


Read the following for instructions:

Taking the Plenum off gives you access to the breather.

Per Marks_DTM_Calib:
Cleaning the breather can be done without removal though it is easier with it removed as it can all be put on the bench and worked on.

Disconnect the throttle cable (1 small locking clip and rubber bung into the throttle cable mount))
Disconnect cruise actuator cable (a further clip and cable is mounted using a set of plastic tabs that need to be pressed in to release).
Idle valve wiring and feed pipe need disconnecting.
EGR feed pipe and mounting bracket bolt need removing (if fitted).
Inlet trunking jubilee clips need slackening and pipes popping off the throttle bodies.
Remove the 4 bolt cover caps and slacken and remove the plenum bolts.
Disconnect the brake servo vac pipe.
Lift plenum up off locating dowels and ease forward so you can disconnect the rear multiram vac feed and wiring.

Article with step by step pictures:

That should be it....there might be some additional bits on a Cat to meet local emission laws...

Next is the actual cleaning.

From the Omega Owners Forum (UK):
See the black plastic bit on middle of plenum - it has a logo on it? This is a thin cover, flick off (just the cover, not the whole plastic bit, to reveal a screw. Remove this screw, and the 2 you can see on the plastic leading to throttle body. Mark and remove the 4 rubber pipes at back of this plastic bit, then remove the plastic bit and thoroughly clean in with carb cleaner.
Those 4 pipes you removed? The 2 outside ones join and go off to a 'breather box' behind left bank (looking from front) - passenger side for you boys who drive on wrong side Wink. Remove this rubber pipe, and clean with carb cleaner.
One of the little rubber pipes also goes to this breather box, clean this as well. Where it enters breather box, there is a tiny hole. Make sure this is clear - but don't insert a pin too far.
Remove the throttle bodies, and clean with carb cleaner.
Refit is reverse method, renewing any gaskets that are past their best.

One final thing. Plastic camcovers have no place on a Cadillac. Some owners in Great Britain have replaced theirs with alloy covers fron the Vauxhall Vectra. Here those covers come on the Saturn LS 3.0 V6. The oil filler is in a different spot but other than that they are a perfect fit. Being aluminum alloy they are 1000% stiffer the our pathetic plastic ones. Call around the junk yards and get a pair. you'll never have them leak again. Now remember, the breather still has to be cleaned or that pressure will find another seal or gasket to blow.

Look under the intake manifold:
NOTE: I couldn't find a good picture of the Saturn V6. The first picture shows a Vauxhall V6. The other is a Saturn V6 transplanted into a Saab. It's dirty but they can be chromed, anodized, polished, powder coated, or painted. Or you could just leave them as is. Still better than plastic.