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Heh, don't understand why cracked head and not broken gasket. May be they does pressure test with single engine head?
BTW it can be deformed due to overheating, then milling of surface adjacent to shortblock can be helpful

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Discussion Starter · #62 · (Edited)
Did they explain why a cracked head vs. a head gasket failure? Personally I’d be suspicious at an ambitious diagnosis like that, even if they had looked at it in person (unless there are visible cracks, assuming a cracked head vs head gasket failure is not the logical first assumption).

I actually have a spare head. Also in my area it’s not too uncommon to see them for sale for not too much money.
Heh, don't understand why cracked head and not broken gasket. May be they does pressure test with single engine head?
BTW it can be deformed due to overheating, then milling of surface adjacent to shortblock can be helpful

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Just had a call, again. They told me that they specifically checked for HGF using various techniques (compression test, testing fluid(?)) but they couldn't pinpoint anything, but they started suspecting a cracked head (or worse, a cracked block) when with a cold start the exhaust fumes smelled sweet. Additionally, coolant/gases were supposedly immediately spraying from the radiator with a cold start.
If it is the headgasket after all, then it does not make sense for them to blow any chances to make money on a repair by saying they suspect that it's a much more costly repair like a blown head, which I will be more hesitant to have repaired.

They told me a new head (just the head) would set me back € 3,500 (or $ 4,180), but that they would normally replace everything in it as well (all internal components and all gaskets).
That's just too much for me.

But whether it's the gasket, or the head, or even the block, initial costs will be the same as headgasket replacement (as it would be replaced anyway after removal of the head).
Testing the head would cost about € 1,200 in work and the test itself (but part of that would also cover the headgasket replacement). If it turns out to be fine, and we assume no issues in the block, and after reassembly there are no issues, then fine.
But if the head is indeed cracked, there's no point in putting it back without repairs if I want to keep the car. And just in parts it's going to cost me more than over half what I paid for the car.

The dude on the phone told me, in all honesty, that if it were his car, he wouldn't do it. They saw some things under the car that could mean more maintenance down the road (it was becoming a bit rusty, but that was to be expected considering the mileage).

The thing is, it currently runs. Other than this dumb leak somewhere, it has no issues. I don't dare to rev it, and I don't dare to drive long distances.
But if someone would be interested to buy it as-is, for a decent price, I would consider selling it.

If it was a bone stock MPS, I'd get rid of it in a heartbeat and get another (especially since it's high mileage), but considering the mods (lowered, rims, special muffler with bypass valve, corksport TMIC, EBC Brakes rotors and redstuff pads), it's a very tough decision.

I'm considering asking a second opinion from another dealer closeby.
 

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I think you have to find garage for head removal and make a decision after damaged part revealed. It's much more probably broken head gasket.
BTW, does compression tests with cold and hot engine were made?

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Sorry, I didn’t realise they had inspected the car—I thought they just gave a phone diagnosis :)

That does sound like a tough decision! Since it’s your only car that makes your decision even harder. If you could take your time you could potentially source out used parts and save a bundle, and possibly do the work yourself.

Are you able to get complete used engines? In the US you can get JDM relatively low-mileage engines which run around $2000. You could transfer your mods.

I agree with fedosis, in that you’ll need to get the head off since you don’t know for sure what’s wrong until you can actually see. But on the other hand, you’ll be investing a reasonable amount of money to properly diagnose it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
I don't live in a country where things like engines come cheap. There's some companies that deal with JDM material, but you pay a lot for those parts. It would be cheaper to buy a new car than buy the engine and perform a swap.

I also checked Shop Mazda Genuine Parts | OnlineMazdaParts.com to see the difference (head costs $ 1,263.02, so significant differences, but then I would have to pay import duties and taxes, but I guess it would still be cheaper than straight from local Mazda dealer, about 50%).
But the guy on the phone mentioned there could be differences between the USDM and EDM versions of this car/engine. And that sounds plausible to me (I know that this happens a lot).
Anyone know a place where I can match my VIN to part numbers?

Theoretically, I could have them test the head (which should set me back the aforementioned € 1,200 (or USD 1,455) and then hope it is the head and not the block.), then ask what needs replacement, and see if I can find matching partnumbers on onlinemazdaparts.com.
That way I would have no warranty on the parts, but at least the parts themselves would not be so damn expensive.

Alternatively, I buy another MPS, and swap parts. But that would both cost a lot of time and effort on top of the purchase of a new car.
 

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Man, before calculating expences for new genuine parts just remove engine head, check gasket for defects, check head surface. 97% you will only need new headgasket

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
I agree, I first need to know whether it's the head or the gasket, I'm just relaying what Mazdadealer told me.
The logical thing for me now is to just go for a headgasket check/replacement (need to do it anyway whenever the head is removed), and just do a visual inspection of the head.
I could do the € 1,200,- test, but then they still need to put the engine back together and replace the headgasket etc.

Whatever the case, if it's not the headgasket, all the other repairs are currently not worth it.
I could try to source a replacement head, but currently there's only 1 longblock being offered in NL, and it's from a shady company stating that the mileage is 52.000kms (or 32.500miles).
I could also consider the head jsilva mentioned, if he considers selling/shipping to Holland, but whichever way I go, I do not know if either head is "good", until it is mounted (unless J knows its' history).

There's currently about 3 MPS' being sold in NL, one of which is black and barely in my budget. If I cannot salvage my current 6, I could consider buying the other and swapping over parts.
I wouldn't get much for whatever is left of my old car, however, but at least I could sell it while it's driveable.

I want to express my appreciation about you guys thinking with me, by the way.

Also, onlinemazdaparts.com does not ship to NL :/
 

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Visual inspection of headgasket. U will see a crack.
But also important thing is to grind(mill) cylinder head plane. CylHead can be deformed due to overheating.

Also, it is good time for cylinder head maintenance: replace valve stem seals, measure valve clearance, check condition of camshaft beds.

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Are you saying it’s €1200 for a head gasket replacement?

I think fedosis’ thoughts are good, in that if you are going to fix the car you should start with the cheaper and more likely scenario.

I’d be happy to ship the head to you if it turns out you could use it. I wouldn’t want very much for it, though I don’t know how much shipping would be. It’s the head on the engine that came with my car (when I rebuilt the engine I bought a used block and head) and would probably benefit from replacing valve seals and resurfacing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
Are you saying it’s €1200 for a head gasket replacement?

I think fedosis’ thoughts are good, in that if you are going to fix the car you should start with the cheaper and more likely scenario.

I’d be happy to ship the head to you if it turns out you could use it. I wouldn’t want very much for it, though I don’t know how much shipping would be. It’s the head on the engine that came with my car (when I rebuilt the engine I bought a used block and head) and would probably benefit from replacing valve seals and resurfacing.
I agree with going with cheapest things first (I haven't been doing anything else until now), but I'm not sure how much I can reuse the bolts/gaskets if the head needs to be removed a second time.

I'm gonna think about it yeah, however I also want to investigate the possibility to have the head repaired in case it can be repaired. There's some companies close by that are specialised in work like that.

Yeah, the garage I initially brought the car to estimated about 10hrs, rate € 85/hr (including taxes), and the parts as listed somewhere in this topic would add up to about € 350,- (gasket set, headstuds, chain, guides and chain tensioner), that adds up to € 1200. But they are an off-brand I never heard about. Also, that does not include resurfacing of the head.
I would prefer Mazda brand or better. The costs would be higher, but I would trust them more.
But damn, that mark-up...

If it turns out to be the head and if it cannot be salvaged, I'd truly consider another head.
 

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Hopefully you wouldn’t have to do it a second time. When the head is removed you could take it to a shop to to resurface and ask them to make sure the head is ok.

For what it’s worth, when I was considering parts my brother-in-law had recommended a cheap parts kit which included pistons, rods, gaskets, timing parts, etc. He’s been professionally working on cars for many years. I went ahead and used OEM parts (except for the rods and pistons which I used Manley and K1), but that’s mainly because I can get OEM parts for not too much money and I wanted better than OEM for the rods and pistons.

So if the place you order parts from is reputable then you probably wouldn’t need to worry too much about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 · (Edited)
Quick update:

Due to the heat last week I turned off my heater during a trip home from work, and turned the AC on.
Result: While not 100% stable, and though after initial start the temps increased very quickly, the temps settled to an acceptable 93degC after a while. This was after the car (black) had been baking in the sun all day.
Drove the car a similar distance the next day, with no AC and no heater, and temps were even better (fluctuating between 87degC and 93degC). A noticeable drop in temps was visible when the thermostat opened (immediately dropped from 100degC to 85degC after which it stabilised), and again when fans kicked in (alternatively: the coolant temp sensor came into contact with the coolant due to heat expansion).

Yesterday I drove a similar distance, and though the temps spiked at first, when I was near my house they stabilised again.
Today I again drove that distance, kept my heater off, and after an initial spike temps again dropped to normal levels. Turned on heater and temps spiked again. Turned heater off, and temps stabilised again.
Still a lot of gas/air in upper hose (I relieved pressure by slowly opening rad-cap when I turned the motor off, and while some coolant was ejected in reservoir, I also saw a lot of air/gas coming out of the breather tube), but I feel that coolant was now "touching" the temp sensor, instead of air/gas.

I'm going to monitor this behaviour to see how consistent it is.

Theory: Something related to the heater loop of the coolant system results in air being trapped in the upper coolant system:
  • Either the sudden increase in volume of the system by opening the loop (which makes me wonder if it works via a valve of sorts?), combined with an apparent low coolant level results in the coolant being pulled into the heater loop, leaving too little fluid to fully fill the main loop when heater loop is open (and when closed the volume of coolant is sufficient enough to "sort of" cool the engine).
  • Or there's an air leak in the heater loop (although this does not seem probable as I have no evidence of fluids leaking out).

As standard procedure of an overheating car is setting the heater to max, if the heater loop is in some way connected to the problem, then it would only exaggerate said problem.

Will keep you posted. I would prefer to have to replace/repair the heater loop over the headgasket.
 

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Will keep you posted. I would prefer to have to replace/repair the heater loop over the headgasket.
Hopefully, that is the cause of the leak. I had a similar problem where the car will overheat when idling. The culprit is the fan terminals were connected in reverse. The other one, the upper hose is loose.

I know what I posted won't apply to your case. I just wanted to share it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
So, 2 weeks have passed:

With closed HVAC loop:
  • If I don't push her right after start up, temps will increase fast, but not exceed 95 degrees C
  • If I do give her a little more (±3K rpm), I do see temps increase to higher levels, sometimes to the aforementioned 117degC

With open HVAC loop:
- Temp seems to increase much quicker no matter how careful I drive.

However:

When the engine reaches normal operating temperatures eventually, temps immediately drop to a stable 89degC (with spikes to 93) (also when it was 117 before)
When this happens, no matter what I do in terms of engine load, temperatures stay stable. Although I haven't driven longer distances, I have tried to push the engine to its limit.

Theory:
  • Either I still have a bad gasket
  • Or I simply do not have enough coolant in the system, causing the level to drop whenever I turn on the heater. The quick increase in temps could be a result of trapped air being heated faster, but when coolant expands enough due to heat, it hits the sensor and temps seemingly drop again.

Additionally, it seems that the coolant located in the upper part of the coolant system (upper rad hose mainly) is pushed out every time I run the engine.
I have another small theory for this:
This bend is currently downwards, so if there is air trapped in the system, it accumulates right before the bend. It would then expand due to heating, forcing all the coolant after the bend out of the system.
When the engine cools down, the air trapped creates a vacuum, but as the hose is flexible, it just gives. The result is that the expelled coolant is not sucked back into the system.

Can someone check the following for me?

  • Using an OBDII reader, check how fast temperatures increase from cold start during a short trip (non-, can be a rough estimation (I need to know in terms of #degrees F/C per 10 seconds), or a general indication of "it took me a 10 minute drive before temps were 50% of normal operating temperatures". I want to know how unusual it is that my temps increase so fast.
  • Take a photo of the orientation of the upper rad hose. Specifically of the "bend" in it.
 

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Using an OBDII reader, check how fast temperatures increase from cold start during a short trip (non-, can be a rough estimation (I need to know in terms of #degrees F/C per 10 seconds), or a general indication of "it took me a 10 minute drive before temps were 50% of normal operating temperatures". I want to know how unusual it is that my temps increase so fast.

I have ScanGauge2 but I always drive alone. If I'll have the chance, I'll let my wife to take a record of it. The thing is, I don't know exactly when I'll have that chance. Another thing, I am somehow forgetful of these things but I replied here hoping what I type will help me remember it so I can make a good estimate.
 

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I went out and logged with my Accessport and forgot that I didn’t have coolant temp in my logging parameters, so I can’t give second-by-second coolant temps. I’m sorry.

However I can say that it reached 180°F/82°C in about 5 min with gentle driving. If you need more detail I can do it again tomorrow and log the coolant temps.

Here’s the upper radiator hose.

243217
 
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