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Old 11-02-2013, 08:42 PM
Left Coast Left Coast is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Oregon
Posts: 314
You may be jumping the gun with this car. Based on the symptoms that you describe, a bad head gasket is not the likely problem. There are a few reasons that the car may be hard to start on a cold morning, and they can appear to indicate a serious problem when acting in combination. Smoke that is smoke, not steam, is not much of an indicator of a blown head gasket. It is amazing how much coolant can disappear if there is a very tiny leak in the radiator that goes unnoticed, more so if you have a faulty radiator cap.

Have the valves been adjusted recently? Had they been adjusted regularly prior to the last adjustment? Are the glow plugs known to be good? Have you tried cycling them a few times before trying to start?

Since you already have a compression tester, it would be a good idea to test. If you have low compression across the board, or a pair of low cylinders that might indicate a bad HG, then you will have more quality information knowing your compression numbers. You should, of course, check and adjust valve lash before you do a compression test. Testing through the glow plug holes will also force you to examine the glow plugs. You might have a bad one, and if you still have the original loop style plugs that would mean that none of your glow plugs are working. For that matter, the problem could be as simple as a bad glow plug fuse.

A pressure test of the cooling system may throw some light on the situation as well. If the system can't hold pressure and you can't find a leak, then you may very well have some seepage at the HG. The point that I'm making is that a decision to pull the head should be made only with a lot stronger evidence than is being presented. OTOH, a decision to get rid of the car may be the easiest way out if other circumstances dictate.
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