Monday, May 18, 2009

Bummer -- Blown Head Gasket

It looks like I lost the head gasket at the PPIR event a month ago. It slightly overheated and I thought I pulled off the track in time but it appears that I did not. The car shows no symptoms on the street but on the track after extended sessions (20+ min.) it starts to slowly overheat and after pulling off the track the cooling system is fully presurized and spit about a half gallon of coolant. I drove a couple of days at HPR with it blown but it was cold enough (30s-40s) that it was also asymptomatic. However in the 85 degree heat of Pueblo it failed pretty quickly.

My options are:

1. Replace just the head gasket.
2. Replace head gasket and rebuild top-end
3. Rebuild entire motor
4. Swap to used motor

Option One is a bad choice for a track car as the head is likely warped and will need to be surfaced to provide reliable sealing for more than a couple of months. Not gonna do it.

Two is pretty attractive. It's relatively inexpensive, will provide a long-term solution and can be done in a home garage. There is really only problem with this. It's not enough. In addition to the headgasket, I also have a Exxon Valdez style oil leak from the rear main seal. So to get to that I need to pull the engine or drop the trans.

Rebuilding is also attractive -- it seems better than a used motor of unknown history but it is really expensive. This on only really an option if I do the work myself. Labor on a full top and bottom rebuild is well over $5000 and can approach $10k. It appear that this can be done at home for about $3500k in parts and tools

The final option, a motor swap, is pretty attractive, 3.2L S52USs seem to sell for $2500-$3000. This is a little more displacement than my current 3.0L S50US and by using all my OBD-1 accessories it is a simple swap.

The real decision here is: who does the work? I have the technical ability and the tools to do it myself. I just don't think I have the time. I spoke to a local shop and they reccomended the swap as it is the most labor effiecent option. In fact they think the full motor swap is cheaper than a top-end.

So any way you look at it, this is a $2500 -- $5500 unbudgeted expense. Shit.

No comments: