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99 RBP RS Coupe
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
First off, I apologize that this is kind of long, but I feel that I might have to go into some details with this so you guys will have a better understanding of the situation and will be able to narrow down the potential problem to help me diagnose what is wrong.

I replaced my head gaskets over a year ago. I did it myself and I also had my heads resurfaced, and cleaned nicely as well. After replacing it, my car seemed to run fine with no engine problem, but then oil started slowly dripping from my passenger side valve cover, and it was because my valve cover threads were stripped from me opening up my valve cover back and forth a couple times to adjust my valves. My only option here was helicoil, and note that when I found this out, I have only driven my car for less than 5 miles.

After this, I took off my passenger side head to rethread the valve cover threads with Helicoil. While I was taking off the passenger side head, I forgot to completely remove my headers from underneath, and I got coolant dripping all over and into it, through one side pipe of the headers only though, not the driver side.

I finally got my passenger side head out, rethread the threads with helicoil. I also got my headers out, dumped the coolant, and let it dry for a couple hours. I thought that the hot exhaust air from the motor will burn out the coolant after a while. After this, I put everything back on but while putting my passenger head back it, I bent the passender side head gasket a little. It was bent to where it would just slightly curve when you lay it on the block. I thought it would be okay to use since the head bolts would tighten the gasket to a flat position on the block anyways.

After putting everything back and started up my car for the first time after a while, coolant was burning from the headers which was what I expected to see. While my car was up, I noticed that white smoke were coming out of my exhaust and my passenger side head like a head gasket failure. First I thought it was only the coolant burning off, but then this seemed like it wasn't going to stop. This got me really confused but I figured that maybe I just needed to rinse my headers with water and let it dry completely before putting it back on. So that is exactly what I did afterwards. I rinsed it completely with water and let it completely dry in the sun for the next 3-4 days. After this I bolted my headers back on.

Even after I bolted my headers back on and started up my car, I am still seeing while smoke coming out of my exhaust and passenger side head. My next thought was to double check that I put my passenger side head gasket on correctly, and torqued the head bolts correctly. So that is exactly what I did.

When I took off the passenger side head, the head gasket was on correctly, and the head gasket seemed to still be in good shape, since I haven't even drove my car more than 10 miles since replacing my head gasket, but my passenger side head gasket was still a little bent. It would slightly curve when I sit it on the block, rather than stay completely flat. I also torqued the head on correctly and all the bolts seemed tight. After this I started up my car, and I still see white smoke, coming out of my exhaust and passenger side head. It also smells like coolant.

So it comes to my question, do you guys think that maybe coolant may have dripped all the way into my cat which is burning coolant, or is my passenger side head gasket no good and it is causing coolant to burn? What are your thoughts? Any help, ideas, thoughts, welcomed.
 

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R56 Cooper S
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1,046 Posts
Well, my first thought after reading this is that I don't think head gaskets are reusable after they're installed.

The sealing part of the gasket is a bit of metal that crushes down to form a seal when the heads are tightened down. I'm fairly sure that once they're torqued down once, the gaskets stay pretty flat, and can no longer form a good seal on subsequent uses.

My suggestion would be to get yourself another head gasket, and replace your passenger side one with a brand new one. Especially because you said it was bent. If it's bent across the sealing part of the gasket then there is an even higher likelihood of the gasket being no good anymore.
 

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Modsterdomus
2000 STM RS Sedan 5spd
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7,849 Posts
I'm with munch. Makes sense.
 

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99 RBP RS Coupe
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so much guys! Yeah after taking it apart a couple times, my initial thought was that it was the passenger side head gasket, but I wasn't too sure as well. I'm quite noob with cars so I just assumed the head gaskets were still usable because they were still in good condition. Thanks again everyone. Now I have a direction to go into to fix my car.
 

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99 RBP RS Coupe
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Also another quick question. Do I have to readjust my valve everytime I take off my head?
 

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3 Posts
yes

If there is a spec for valve lash it must be done. If you have hydraulic lifters/followers there is no adjustment. Just torque the cam caps. Head gaskets are crushed when torqued and must be discarded and replaced. The crush is how a MLS gasket seals.
 

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99 RBP RS Coupe
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I'm back. I replaced my passenger side head gasket, bolted everything back on, and when I start up my car, I am still seeing white smoke come out of my exhaust. I can't imagine it being a bigger problem than something like a head gasket, because my engine was completely fine before I took off the head for rethreading.

Should I change my oil because coolant probably would have mixed with the oil when the bad head gasket was used? Or is it possible and I have drilled and rethreaded a hole too deep that it is causing coolant to leak into the oil and burn white smoke?
 

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We ain't found shit!
'05 2.5RS, Blue
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427 Posts
Ok I read this again after I woke up and had some coffee... where were you drilling? I cant really think of any spot where you could cross over into the water jacket while doing head gaskets. Since the jacket runs right around the cylinder walls and nothing drilling straight down would get you coolant...

sent using telepathy. ..
 

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Premium Member
2001 A.W. L
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13,249 Posts
I would def change the oil and filter. Then keep an eye on your coolant levels, if everything looks ok it might just be residual coolant in your exhaust being burned off.
 

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Cluster Specialist
1999 Impreza RS - WRB
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497 Posts
I would def change the oil and filter. Then keep an eye on your coolant levels, if everything looks ok it might just be residual coolant in your exhaust being burned off.
This.

It sounds like some of the coolant ended up in your oil. An oil change or 2 should resolve it on the engine end.
 

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Premium Member
overdeveloped beater
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8,335 Posts
Coolant probably got INSIDE the exhaust at some point initially. It's going to take time to burn off completely. I had this happen to me one race weekend when I replaced some bent valves in a hotel parking lot. The next day it smoked like crazy! Scary at first until I realized it was just coolant collected in the exhaust system. Eventually it quit smoking and all was well.
 

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MY01 2.5 rs Black
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696 Posts
What Storm said. It'll take some while to get all of the coolant out of the exhaust. Especially if your car has the catalytic convertors still. They collect fluids in a serious way.
 

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99 RBP RS Coupe
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Thanks everyone for the much needed and appreciated feedback and help.

So I have done what some of you suggested, which is change the oil and filter. After changing both, I started up my car and let it burn off the residue oil for 5 minutes, and it did seem to reduce the coolant burning white smoke out of my exhaust. Although after my car temperature warms up for a while, I begin to see some white smoke burning again, not a lot out of the exhaust like before but from the passenger side heads. Also I should mention that my top right valve cover bolt is stripped, I couldn't remove the stripped bolt when rethreading the heads so I just left it in there for now, so when my car warms up and burns white smoke, the white smoke comes out of the open stripped hole where the top right valve cover bolt is suppose to be. Also when white smoke burns out, I do get a good amount of clear liquid dripping out of the exhaust. I did also look in my radiator and it did seem to lose some coolant. These past few days, I have just been trying to diagnose this problem. I have started up my car everyday in the past few days and let it warm up, but it just does the same thing which is burn some white smoke out of the exhaust and heads. As far as I know, coolant burning white smoke is one of the main sign of head gasket failure, but I do have on brand new head gaskets.

Now I'm either thinking maybe I did not tighten the passenger side head enough, or there is something else wrong with the passenger side heads. I did follow steps on how to tighten the heads, but I would say I was not completely precise with some steps when tightening the head on, because I am limited to so much little space on the engine bay, so tightening to certain degrees such as 80-90 degrees was not all that precise using a big torque wrench. My last thought would be that I could have possibly bent another gasket, because I did change the gasket myself and removing the passenger heads and putting it back with such little space is a pain of a job, especially when I have to align the gasket on nicely flat first then put the heads with the heads bolts on. I did struggle a bit putting the gasket on with the heads nicely.

Feel welcomed to give me some thoughts or suggestions on this.
 

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Premium Member
overdeveloped beater
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8,335 Posts
It is entirely possible that the gasket got messed up during reassembly.

It is entirely possible that the gasket is not sealing due to improper torque amount or sequence.

It is entirely possible that the gasket is not sealing because it is virtually impossible to properly clean and prepare the surface while the motor is still in the car unless you lift it up past the frame rail for room.

It is entirely possible that you will be doing this job again and will remove the motor to make sure it gets done properly.
 

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99 RBP RS Coupe
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
It is entirely possible that the gasket got messed up during reassembly.

It is entirely possible that the gasket is not sealing due to improper torque amount or sequence.

It is entirely possible that the gasket is not sealing because it is virtually impossible to properly clean and prepare the surface while the motor is still in the car unless you lift it up past the frame rail for room.

It is entirely possible that you will be doing this job again and will remove the motor to make sure it gets done properly.
Thanks you Sir. I will take all of your thoughts into consideration to diagnose this problem carefully. I also had a thought that the gasket is not sealing due to the surface not being clean well, but when I took out my motor to do it the first time, which was a couple months ago, I took my heads for a resurface and clean before assembling it back and bolting it onto my block with new gasket. When I took off my heads and reassembled it a couple weeks ago, I didn't think it was necessary to do much to it so I just wiped the surface with a clean towel to makes sure there aren't any residue.

If all doesn't work, then I will probably just take it to a nearby shop to do it for me.
 
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