[V6-12v] B4 head gasket replacement

Tom Christiansen tomchr at gmail.com
Tue Jul 15 01:06:44 PDT 2008

James, Clive, folks,

Someone on the list said a while back that Audi don't sell you a car. They
sell you a lifestyle. For the three Audis I've owned I find that to be true.
I love how they handle. I love the German engineering (and in some cases
over-engineering). So it's not just another car to me. But the car is
approaching 15 years showing the signs of age. With it being my daily
driver, I'm always under the gun to get repairs done. So I'm not really
enjoying it. It would be more fun if it was a project car.

I've always said I'd drive it until it was dead. That time has come.

I had myself set on getting a 2005 A4 Quattro, but couldn't make the
finances work. So yesterday I went with a 2006 Golf GTI 1.8T. Phenomenal
car. It's a lot of fun to drive. While it doesn't handle like an A4, it does
handle very well. Getting a car that gets better gas mileage than the 90S is
also a nice benefit. And my toys fit in it...

Thanks to everyone from the list who has helped me over the years. I'll
still be lurking on the list. The mail flow is pretty minimal anyway.



On Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 2:59 AM, James Whitehouse <
james_whitehouse1 at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

> Tom,
> If it's the valley pan gasket, and seeping heads, you may as well pull the
> heads and have done with it; you don't actually have to go as mad as I did
> and replace everything. If it's eating that much oil and leaving a mess on
> the garage floor, I don't think ignoring it is an option!
> I hear what you're saying though. It is a quandary with these cars, because
> they do drive so well when the work's done on them, it's hard to know when
> to quit. When you get to the stage you're at, with fairly major work to be
> done, you do have to decide whether you want the car long term or not. It's
> a toss up between having a very nice car which is definitely worth less than
> you'd be spending on it, but also whether you can afford something
> significantly newer, which won't need all this work soon, and which drives
> as beautifully. Also, whether you actually love these older Audis, or
> whether it's just another car...
> You're certainly right that once you start doing things, the list ploughs
> on and on. I did the head gaskets around 1 1/2 years ago and replaced
> everything, and I mean everything, in and around the top end, including any
> suspect electricals (read knock sensors, etc.), clutch, belts, etc. Then it
> needed a front suspension rebuild - shocks, top mounts, bushes, etc. The
> stiffer new shocks caused the track rods to finally let go, then the ARB
> links needed replacing. If I was being fussy (which I am), I'm going to do
> the rear suspension (now feels too soft when cornering compared to the new
> fronts), repair the central locking, fit a new brake master cylinder and
> bomb, etc., etc. This is all over and above normal servicing.
> Well, let us know what you decide!
> James
> --- On *Sun, 13/7/08, Tom Christiansen <tomchr at gmail.com>* wrote:
> From: Tom Christiansen <tomchr at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [V6-12v] B4 head gasket replacement
> To: james_whitehouse1 at yahoo.co.uk
> Cc: "Audi Mailing List" <v6-12v at audifans.com>
> Date: Sunday, 13 July, 2008, 5:52 PM
> James,
> Well aside from the car leaving a mess in the garage and leaving an
> occasional smoke trail on the road, it's going quite alright. Life's grand
> overall.
> I crawled around under the car yesterday. I didn't have it up on jack
> stands, but I was able to get a better idea of where it's leaking. It seems
> to mostly be the valley pan gasket. That's definitely leaking enough on the
> left and rear sides that it's making a big mess. I couldn't get a good look
> at the rear end of the left head gasket (A/C in the way) but judging from
> the mess, I would not be surprised if it is leaking. The right side head
> seeps a tiny bit. Enough to make the engine black and attract dust, but not
> enough to make a mess. The car goes through 1qt/1L of oil in 3-400 miles
> easy. Automatic oil change... Hey. That's a feature... :-)
> I might declare the car dead, which is unfortunate because it still drives
> well. But I see the telltale signs. The steering is using a bit more fluid
> these days. Not dramatically, maybe from max to min on the reservoir 1.5-2
> times per year. But that's more than it used to. So another "while I'm in
> there" item would be a steering rack + hoses. That triggers an alignment.
> And I really should get new tires before rain season sets in. So it adds up.
> I'm offered $1300-1600 as a trade-in. That's probably what I would end up
> spending in repairs. Granted, the car would run even better after that, but
> still. In about 12k miles it would need a timing belt and associated stuff.
> How long does one keep pushing on?
> As far as rusted bolts go. The car was driven for the first ten years in
> California. Then in Washington State (Seattle area) since then. So it's
> never seen salt. There's no rust. Except for one of the exhaust hanger
> bolts, I've never had a stuck bolt on that car.
> Anybody interested in a parts car?? (half serious here).
> Thanks,
> Tom
> On Sun, Jul 13, 2008 at 2:39 AM, James Whitehouse <
> james_whitehouse1 at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>> Hi Tom, how's it going?
>> I did both my head gaskets a year and a half ago, they're not too bad a
>> job on these. Worst aspect is access around the engine bay; do you have
>> air-con?
>> Regarding the diagnosis; just check that there's no oil seeping down from
>> above the head gasket line, and make sure it's not the rear cam seal
>> dripping, however you're getting a leak in a classic place for the head
>> gaskets to start seeping on these (rear/ rear sides of the heads).
>> If it is the head gasket, there's nothing I'm aware of that will stop it
>> leaking apart from pulling the head and replacing the gasket. However, if
>> it's not causing any other problems apart from making a mess, and smelling
>> because of burning oil, you do have the option to leave it and just keep
>> topping up the oil - how much is it losing? Just check that it's not blowing
>> through into a water channel, or you're losing compression (look for either
>> oil, or air bubbles in the coolant expansion tank).
>> If you decide to do the head gasket, personally I'd do both sides while
>> you're in there and seriously consider replacing the hydraulic lifters while
>> you're at it. It's given my V6 a whole new lease of life and it genuinely
>> drives like new.
>> I would get the heads re-ground, it's not usually expensive and will save
>> you having to potentially do the whole job again if they're not true. They
>> don't tend to warp on the V6, but the gasket does wear into the head a
>> little and it's just safer when you're going to all that trouble and
>> expense.
>> Variable amount of seized bolt problems, apart from the downpipe-cat
>> bolts, where the studs usually come out with the nut (not a problem, just
>> put it back the same way, or replace the studs while you have the heads
>> off). Generally depends on where the car has been (i.e. rust inducing
>> environments, etc.) and who's worked on the car in it's history. I've not
>> heard of any problems with the actual head bolts breaking, etc. though.
>> Only special tools you'll need are the cam/crank timing tools, but you
>> should be able to hire those. I wouldn't attempt it if you don't have some
>> means of raising the car up a ways (axle stands, etc.) because you do have
>> to get underneath to loosen off the exhaust, etc.
>> You could think of it as a good opportunity to go in there and replace
>> some bits you otherwise wouldn't be able to get to easily. Definitely
>> replace the *&£)*@ing valley pan gasket, you should get that gasket with the
>> head gasket set. Make sure to replace valve stem seals and injector seals
>> while you're in there too; they sometimes don't come with the head gasket
>> set, so check. I renewed my knock sensors while I had everything apart, they
>> are such a PITA to get to otherwise.
>> Time wise? Hmm... well it depends how many 'difficult' nuts/bolts you
>> encounter really. If you have an easy time and don't encounter much in the
>> way of seized parts possibly two or three days, factor in time to get heads
>> re-ground, etc. If you have a few seized bolts, etc. say a week, or so?
>> Anyway, let me know if you need a detailed breakdown of the job. I can
>> give you a blow-by-blow, or send you manual pages if you're definitely doing
>> it.
>> Cheers,
>> James
>> --- On *Sat, 12/7/08, Tom Christiansen <tomchr at gmail.com>* wrote:
>> From: Tom Christiansen <tomchr at gmail.com>
>> Subject: [V6-12v] B4 head gasket replacement
>> To: "Audi Mailing List" <v6-12v at audifans.com>
>> Date: Saturday, 12 July, 2008, 2:33 AM
>> Folks,
>> The left side head gasket on my 1994 90S is leaking about 1/3 of the way
>> forward from
>>  the rear end of the engine. At least I assume it's the head
>> gasket. Oil is dripping onto the heat shield above the exhaust.
>> Is there a way to tell for sure if it's the head gasket?
>> Is there a cheap ghetto fix that would make it stop leaking for another year
>> or two?
>> What am I in for if I decide to attack the head gasket replacement? Broken
>> studs? Heads that will need to be planed? I'm pretty mechanically inclined,
>> have half a clue, and have the tools (except for tools to extract broken
>> studs), but I've never attempted anything this involved. How much time
>> should I expect it to take to complete the job on my own?
>> Thanks,
>> Tom
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