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Help!! !i may have hydrolocked engine after head install!!!

This is a discussion on Help!! !i may have hydrolocked engine after head install!!! within the General Help forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; OK here is my situation: 1. Installed AFR 210 V2 heads on my 98 LS1. (I removed coolant plugs on ...

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    Unhappy Help!! !i may have hydrolocked engine after head install!!!

    OK here is my situation:

    1. Installed AFR 210 V2 heads on my 98 LS1. (I removed coolant plugs on both sides of block and cleaned out all bolt holes/prepared everything right so I thought)

    2. Apparently used wrong head gaskets (although they were .040 MLS LS1 gaskets, 3.910 bore) as I had coolant leaking from both sides of heads (rear/back location), after I attempted to start the car several times. (yes I bolted ARP bolts down properly)

    3. As I was trying to start it, I heard popping noises/large thumps/engine shake during these attempts .Coolant did leak into the cylinder's when I took the AFR's off (especially #5 cylinder bore area) about 2-3 weeks later.

    4. So, 2-3 weeks later (the last few days...), I uninstalled top end/heads/gaskets..removed coolant/oil from engine. Used GM AFR suggested head gaskets #12498544 for re-installation.

    5. During Re-installation I made sure to get everything correct; torque specs/re-checked all ARP bolts......Everything buttoned back up..Car starts right up... then starts shaking after about a minute of idling perfectly. I shut it off thinking its a bad spark plug wire (I did have a bad boot/wire!). Replace the wire, attempt to start car again, and back to shaking/struggling/loud pop upon start up...now no start at all....the starter engages/fuel pump primes, but no start. I have NO LEAKS coming from anywhere on engine....Is there ANYONE who can help me figure out my problem????

    I'm thinking I hydrolocked a rod/bearing/ring and or the engine, from letting the coolant sit too long in the cylinder bores....I have no coolant in my oil..........HELP PLEASE!

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    is the engine turning over now and just not starting or will it not even turn over? I'm having a little trouble figuring out exactly what you're describing. When you say pop was it backfiring or a pop like metal breaking? You say it did run perfectly at first right? If it ran at all, unless water leaked into the cylinder while it was running (which is doubtful), I don't think it's hydro'd.

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    if you hydro locked it I don't think you'd need to ask about it.....it would be pretty obvious. That's a catastrophic failure....I mean it really tears shit up. Also, what size cam are you running? What valves were in the head? I'm puzzled that it ran fine then seemed to take a shit on you.
    Last edited by 0rion; 01-02-2013 at 10:21 PM.

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0rion View Post
    if you hydro locked it I don't think you'd need to ask about it.....it would be pretty obvious. That's a catastrophic failure....I mean it really tears shit up. Also, what size cam are you running? What valves were in the head? I'm puzzled that it ran fine then seemed to take a shit on you.
    Thanks for the reply Orion. Let me try to explain my situation clearer:

    A couple months ago I decided to install/purchase AFR heads & 92 Fast manifold in order to add power to vehicle.

    At the time I decided to add this power, I had already installed a 224R cam and full bolt ons with LS6 manifold. It was running perfect before purchasing/installing new parts.

    5 weeks ago I buy the parts, install everything, and the motor doesn't start. It turnsover, trys to start, but just popping noises/engine shaking. i also noticed that I had coolant leaking from both sides of my heads right after the failed starts.

    1 week ago I decide to take top end off again to figure out the problem. I assumed it was a blown gasket or incorrect gasket. As I dismantled the engine, I saw coolant in 3 of the cylinder bores. This coolant may have been in the cylinder bores from when i JUST pulled the heads off, or from the gasket leak several weeks ago described above.

    This past week I cleaned all bore/cylinders of fluid, clean out bolt holes, prepared the deck surface and used a GM gasket set referred by AFR heads.

    Buttoned everything back up and the engine starts up on the first try...then after 1 minute of idling, the engine starts shaking again. I decide to turn the car off. I attempt to start it again, and it doesn't start. The popping/loud noises start to resurface. The engine turns over/starter/fuel pump engage, but NO COMBUSTION.

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    that really doesn't sound like a hydrolock. When you hydrolock one it bends or breaks rods. As far as what you have going on there.....if you hadn't said it ran fine on initial start up I'd say you had coil packs reversed or something. The popping (backfiring I'm assuming) sounds like a timing issue or a huge ass vacuum leak or something. Gaskets are in the fast intake I take it? I would say the first thing you need to do is go back over your install and make sure everything is hooked back up correctly, grounds are in place, all hoses connected, plugs/wires are ok (check plugs for cracks), and basic shit like that. Start simple. Were the heads assembled and I'm guessing you didn't pull the cam again or anything like that? Intake has gaskets and map sensor installed correctly? Go back over your install and recheck everything real good. Any issues during the install other than what you've said? Anything you weren't sure about as you were doing it?

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Orion has hit just about everything.

    Dumb question but did you change the oil and filter after after the heads swap?

    No matter how careful you are coolant will get down in the pan after you pull the heads. If enough coolant gets into the pan it will be the first thing the oil pump sucks up.


    Since you have the heads off already (I'm assuming) get a IIRC 19mm socket and turn the crank over a couple of times. Make sure you see the pistons moving, you should also be able to see if there is any connecting rod damage, etc.


    Once you get the heads back on, and rockers torque to spec, with the plugs out turn it over 2 full rotations. I did this one side at a time so I could verified each rocker was working properly.





    One more suggestion I would make is switch over to MLS head gaskets for the 00-02 yrs. Far better then the graphite gaskets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SMWS6TA View Post
    Orion has hit just about everything.

    Dumb question but did you change the oil and filter after after the heads swap?

    No matter how careful you are coolant will get down in the pan after you pull the heads. If enough coolant gets into the pan it will be the first thing the oil pump sucks up.


    Since you have the heads off already (I'm assuming) get a IIRC 19mm socket and turn the crank over a couple of times. Make sure you see the pistons moving, you should also be able to see if there is any connecting rod damage, etc.


    Once you get the heads back on, and rockers torque to spec, with the plugs out turn it over 2 full rotations. I did this one side at a time so I could verified each rocker was working properly.





    One more suggestion I would make is switch over to MLS head gaskets for the 00-02 yrs. Far better then the graphite gaskets.
    ^this and the crank needs a 24mm socket not a 19.
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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for the responses.....

    1. The engine is already buttoned back up. I know the MAF sensor is not on as tight as it could be...as the opening in the FAST doesn't give you the same hook in the back...I put some sealant on the outside of MAf housing so it would seat...I'll check this......

    2. I just attempted to turn the crank over yesterday...it turned 2-6 degrees, but became difficult to turn because I believe the compression is already established. I also turned the crank over about 180 degrees BEFORE I finished the install two days ago...

    3. All I did was the head swap...never messed with the cam. Oil filter was changed on the first head install/but I didn't re-change it this second time because the car never started up on the first install...I just drained the oil out of the pan before I reinstalled everything.....

    4.Intake has proper Fast gaskets installed.......HOWEVER I just realized something that could be the issue....I MAY not have finalized my torque sequence on the intake....is it possible this would have caused the engine to start, run perfectly for a minute, and then start to stumble??

    5. Reference my PCV system: I have a 98' and the valve covers I purchased didn't have one of the PCV tubes attached to them from my original PCV set up valve covers. I simply plugged off the one hose with a applicable bolt and made sure there were no leaks....I didn't change the valley cover........I hope this wouldn't cause any major issues...BUT let me know....

    6. The heads were pre assembled from AFR.....everything looked correctly installed...I double checked my plugs after I pulled them off...I also inspected the heads and they looked like new out of the box.....

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    4 and 5 I wouldn't worry about too much. I would loosen and retorque those bolts down around the intake. It could be an issue but those only get torqued to like 7-8 ft/lbs ( it's actually in inch/lb's but I believe it works out to be like 7 ft/lbs. Don't crank those down too much.....those bolts snap fairly easily and when they break they break in the head so their a pain in the ass. I normally just use the german torque standard of goodentite. If there's a major vacuum leak there it could cause backfiring and what not but if you put one pass on those bolts chances are that's not your issue. Re-do them though just in case. Look over your coil connections.....I've read where people get those backwards and it gives them fits. The fact your car started and ran makes me think that's not the issue but check anyhow. Basically you just want to go back over the install with a fine toothed comb and hopefully something catches your eye. That MAF would make it run like ass but it should still start and run. You can just unplug it to test and it'll start/run in speed density. I would probably pull the plugs and turn the motor over by hand.

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    If I pull the plugs and turn the engine over by hand, what will this accomplish? Will it increase compression that I may need to start the engine?

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    So Orion, you don't think hydrolocked occurred from the coolant getting into the cylinder bores? I was thinking that since the engine never got up to full operating temperature.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jb3golf View Post
    If I pull the plugs and turn the engine over by hand, what will this accomplish? Will it increase compression that I may need to start the engine?
    It will let the air escape out the plug holes so that there is no build up of pressure. If it binds up while the plugs are out then you have something physical binding.

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMWS6TA View Post
    It will let the air escape out the plug holes so that there is no build up of pressure. If it binds up while the plugs are out then you have something physical binding.
    This may sound stupid, but do I need to empty all my oil and coolant before removing the plugs? I just don't want any surprises here....thanks

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jb3golf View Post
    So Orion, you don't think hydrolocked occurred from the coolant getting into the cylinder bores? I was thinking that since the engine never got up to full operating temperature.
    if there was coolant in the cylinders you would've known it immediately.....liquid doesn't compress. It would've locked up pretty much right off. The reason for pulling the plugs and turning the motor is like smws6ta said....just to make sure the engine is turning freely. You say it's turning and just not starting so you really don't HAVE to do that unless you just wanted the piece of mind.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    No the compression is built up in the cylinders *. You can have 3 reasons for hydro-lock = (1) coolant leak, (2) fuel, (3) car was underwater or flooded by water pushing passed the air filter and TB.

    You have a few ways of checking for a hydro-lock - the easiest is pull the fuel pump fuse (so no fuel is added to the cylinders), purge the fuel line using the shredder on the drivers side of the fuel rail and pull each plug. Check plugs first they shouldn't be wet. Wet = fluid. Next you can either turn the crank by hand or bump the starter. Either way will push any fluid that is in the cylinders out. Using the starter method will force the fluid out fast so don't be looking at it or you'll get wet.




    * =
    This may sound stupid, but do I need to empty all my oil and coolant before removing the plugs?
    Here I think you're thinking about a compression test to for ring failure. However you are not there yet. This is just to help give you an understanding.

    To check to ensure your piston rings are still working properly you would have to rent a compression gauge and turn the motor over a couple of cycles with the fuel pump fuse pulled. This will let you know how much pressure is in each cylinder. All should read about IIRC 10% of each other.




    Now to see if you have a gasket leak there is another test kit that lets you hook up to the radiator cap and this is where I get a little fuzzy on the exact details. So I posted this video to help explain it.


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    I agree with 0rion based upon everything I have read in this thread. Go back over everything and see if you can find anything amiss. Even with the plugs out there will be resistance felt in rolling the motor over by hand.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    I've gone over this thread and one thing has popped out that hasn't been mention.


    Did you measure for correct push rod length or reused the stock push rods with the new heads?

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMWS6TA View Post
    I've gone over this thread and one thing has popped out that hasn't been mention.


    Did you measure for correct push rod length or reused the stock push rods with the new heads?
    Yes. Based on my 224R cam base circle (same as stock) and the AFR heads I installed 7.4 Texas speed pushrods. The afr heads were not milled down and are at 66cc's. If I am missing something here PLEASE let me know.

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMWS6TA View Post
    No the compression is built up in the cylinders *. You can have 3 reasons for hydro-lock = (1) coolant leak, (2) fuel, (3) car was underwater or flooded by water pushing passed the air filter and TB.

    You have a few ways of checking for a hydro-lock - the easiest is pull the fuel pump fuse (so no fuel is added to the cylinders), purge the fuel line using the shredder on the drivers side of the fuel rail and pull each plug. Check plugs first they shouldn't be wet. Wet = fluid. Next you can either turn the crank by hand or bump the starter. Either way will push any fluid that is in the cylinders out. Using the starter method will force the fluid out fast so don't be looking at it or you'll get wet.




    * =

    Here I think you're thinking about a compression test to for ring failure. However you are not there yet. This is just to help give you an understanding.

    To check to ensure your piston rings are still working properly you would have to rent a compression gauge and turn the motor over a couple of cycles with the fuel pump fuse pulled. This will let you know how much pressure is in each cylinder. All should read about IIRC 10% of each other.




    Now to see if you have a gasket leak there is another test kit that lets you hook up to the radiator cap and this is where I get a little fuzzy on the exact details. So I posted this video to help explain it.

    Thanks for the post! Very interesting process here...

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    Member jb3golf's Avatar
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    Ok guys I believe I figured out what may be happening. A couple months leading up to the install i was having a fuel pump issue. My fuel pressure wouldn't even get to 30 psi. It always took me 2-3 times of cranking for enough fuel pressure to eventually catch.

    This may explain Orion, why after the install the car took two cranks to start, but then started stumbling soon thereafter. I forgot to mention that. That's probably why the engine started shaking and popping, AFTER idling perfect for about a minute. There simply was not enough fuel to create proper combustion!

    I'm very confident this is the problem. I know I took my time with the install and checked everything! Please chime in if this makes more sense now! Thanks!

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