3.4 L Won't start after head gasket replacement. [Archive] - GrandAmGT.com Forum

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danderryberry
05-03-2012, 11:44 PM
2000 Grand Am 3.4 liter, 177,000 miles -- Wont start after replacing the head gaskets. Will turn over but not start. Upper intake is getting warm but the exhaust is still cold. Turned the crank to clean up the pistons a bit and wipe off some carbon build up but did nothing to the timing chain. Car was running prior to this, but had a nice cloud following it from a blown head gasket at Cylinder 1.

Heads were pressure checked, milled, and guides replaced due to the heads being slightly warped. Intake and exhaust push rods were put back in the exact order they came out, so I am confident that is not the issue. Checked for fuel pressure and am getting pressure to the rail. Have not compression tested as of yet. Need the gauge. Checked, double checked, and triple checked all electrical connections. At a loss at this point. Thinking the timing is off, but like I said I did nothing to the lower end or timing chain to throw it off. Correct me if I am wrong but the coil pack clearly indicates which plug wire is to be connected where. Frustration in abundance!! Need to get this thing done so my wife can have her car back ( I mean, So I can have my truck back :) ). Any help would be appreciated.

locoman99
05-04-2012, 12:06 AM
Almost promise you it is something small. Are you getting spark to the plug? Double check every single connection. Are u 1000% sure your plug wires are routed correct? Dont worry about comp test right now. As long as it sounds like it has a nice even sound while it is turning over u are prob good. If it has an uneven, off rythem sound as its cranking, then check your comp..and start worryin..lol

danderryberry
05-04-2012, 12:47 AM
I am not sure 1000% about the plug wires, but 998% sure. It really is not the hard as far as I know. Number 1 cylinder is the left most rear when facing the car looking into the engine compartment at the front. This means the radiator side of the motor is the even side and the firewall side is the odd side of the motor. Then it is just put on your plug wires and route them to their number on the coil packs. Pretty simple, unless I am missing something.

I am going to quadruple check the electrical connections in the morning and check for a split wire or something else.

The rhythm of the motor when it is cranking over is, for the most part, even until it tries to kick. But it just won't start. It instead just stops. My main concern, and what leads me to think somehow I goofed up the timing, is the UIM gets really warm. Like it got blasted with a hair dryer for a couple of minutes. And on top of that the exhaust stays cold. I would think that the exhaust would get warm at least if it were firing at all. I will check for spark in the morning as well (Opps... forgot to check that. BrainFart!). Thanks for the suggestions locoman.

locoman99
05-04-2012, 02:52 AM
when u say it kicks..what do u mean? does it crank until u let off the key? Or does it crank and then suddenly stop? you said it "kicks" , are u saying it is cranking for a second or two and the engine just freezes or does it sputter?

danderryberry
05-04-2012, 08:43 AM
OK. I have checked all the connections and all is good and in the right place.

Tried to start her up this morning and she started but I have a really rough idle. So bad that it shakes the steering wheel. Not sure what to make of it yet. Going through and checking for a vacuum leak now.

What I meant by it stops is just that. The motor would stop turning over after about 10 seconds. I would have to return the key to the on position and then turn it back to the start position to get the motor to turn again.

fljohnboy
05-04-2012, 09:32 AM
How did you set your valves? Maybe you got them too tight.

surfermatt95
05-04-2012, 10:27 AM
its normal for a rough idle after changing head gasket, if it doesnt go away after a couple days, id take it to a mechanic

locoman99
05-04-2012, 10:57 AM
Id go ahead and check comp on ur all 6...u didnt overtite ur rockrrs? And pusrods in right spot?

danderryberry
05-04-2012, 12:18 PM
Have not been able to get back to it just yet. I have an MRI to go to. I used a piece of card board that I poked holes in to set the push rods in the exact order they came out. As far as the rockers, they were tightened to spec. Followed the excellent walk through here on GAGT. It maybe normal for a rough idle but there is a noise near number one that sounds to me like I might have a bent valve or something. Going to pull compression readings to confirm. Sound and rough Idle goes away at about 2000 rpm so I am not sure. Got a coolant leak I have to fix though before I can do anything. Thanks for all the help guys. I am not done with this by far, but it is nice to see a community willing to help and want to just let you all know I appreciate it.

danderryberry
05-04-2012, 05:18 PM
Got the MRI done and then got a chance to run some compression tests. All cylinders are pulling 140 with 2 exceptions. 1 had 160, which is I am guessing from being cleaned from the antifreeze. And the other, unfortunately, is 5 at a goose egg!!!. Pulled the valve cover off and sure enough I have the push rods in the correct place but I am getting no compression. I pulled the rocker arms and the push rods. Connected the test gauge up and started turning the crank by hand and I hear a lovely sound of escaping air. I have reseated my test gauge hose several times to no avail. I know the tester is still good because I brought it new and used it after testing 5 to test 4 and 6 with no issues. So it looks as if I am looking at a botched head job. :( This machinist is not going to like me when I ask for the cost of the gasket kit as well as fixing my head for free that is of course if he did not totally screw it up.

locoman99
05-04-2012, 05:42 PM
Wow...it should of really had a off rythem sound to it as you cranked it...pull the head n u prob gonna find a bent or broke valve. May not have been machine shops fault...remember when u cranked ur engine and it stopped? might have been your valve hitting ur piston.. check your oushrods also may have got bent. update what you find when the head comes off.. Sucks to do something twice

danderryberry
05-05-2012, 07:45 AM
Doing the tear down today. Will post what I find. Got all my fingers crossed that it is something small, ( probably not with my luck), but we will have to see.

danderryberry
05-05-2012, 11:46 AM
Well this is weird. I have disassembled the top end again and found no evidence of a bent valve and it looks like the plain on the head is completely flat to the naked eye, but looking at the head gasket tells me a different story. The area on the bottom of the 5th cylinder has about a 1.5" area with blow by marks on it with minimal compression marks on either side. Kinda scratching my head at this one. I made sure the head was seated properly before I even inserted the head bolts. Hand tightened the head bolts in order and then torqued them to spec in order. I found no evidence of anything impeding the seating of the head to the gasket so I am a scratching my head at the moment.

Could it have just been a bad head gasket? Never have gotten a bad Felpro gasket before. What do you all think?
http://www.holexplumbing.com/images/cylinder5a.jpg

locoman99
05-06-2012, 10:11 AM
Just seen you posted a pic check your block and head surface with a good straight edge. You cant eyeball it

danderryberry
05-06-2012, 12:49 PM
Checked the surface of the head and the block with my straight edge and flashlight. Found them to both be perfectly flat so that is not it. I think I found the problem though. The head alignment dowel seat on the head had a crap load of metal debris in it. I know I cleaned that seating area out before I took it to the machinist, so that means my machinist did not clean it out after he was done. I think this did not allow the head to sit flush and caused the torquing to have no real sealing effect at number 5. I am going to reinstall everything with the dowel seats cleaned out and see if I have a difference. Guess I should have looked closer before I started reassembling things. Opps.

Edit:

I take it back about the dowel. Just reusing the head gasket and torquing down the head bolts to just 37 lbs to create a seal, I reinserted the spark plug and turned the motor by hand to build up compression. Bingo! I hear the same air rushing sound I did before. I covered the intake port with my hand and felt it sucking in on the down stroke and pushing out on the up stroke. That is with no rockers or push rods on. I got nothing out of the exhaust port when I did the same thing. So leads me to the conclusion the valve is not seating correctly. Going to have to take it back to the head shop.

danderryberry
05-09-2012, 05:01 PM
I have taken the heads to a different shop just to have them looked at and evaluated. The valves and the seats were never touched by the previous shop. This shop came highly recommended by a good friend of mine. He has used them several times for different builds and has always gotten an excellent job done. Guess I should have talked to him first before going with the recommendation of the local auto parts store. Going to have them do a complete valve job and re-machine the heads if necessary. I will post after I get the motor put back together.

danderryberry
05-17-2012, 10:01 PM
Project Complete!!! Purring like a kitten again.

Turns out I needed a new head. Not because it was cracked or anything else, but because the first shop I took it to took off way to much on one side causing the valve geometry to be off enough to open the valves when the rockers were torched to spec. I could have ordered a head shim, but I really was not comfortable with that. So picked up a new head and Ta Da!!! She lives again. Did a trans pan gasket and filter for good measure since the pan was leaking a bit. All that is left is to top off the coolant in the morning and we are good.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. :cheers:

chris_gt_74
05-17-2012, 10:04 PM
Project Complete!!! Purring like a kitten again.

Turns out I needed a new head. Not because it was cracked or anything else, but because the first shop I took it to took off way to much on one side causing the valve geometry to be off enough to open the valves when the rockers were torched to spec. I could have ordered a head shim, but I really was not comfortable with that. So picked up a new head and Ta Da!!! She lives again. Did a trans pan gasket and filter for good measure since the pan was leaking a bit. All that is left is to top off the coolant in the morning and we are good.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. :cheers:

Make sure you bleed it.