Head gasket changed - engine wont start - Nissan Forum
B13 91-94 chassis 1991-1994 Sentra and 1991-1993 NX

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#1 Old Sep 28th, 2004, 09:19 PM
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Head gasket changed - engine wont start

Hello to all members! I recently took on a large project that I may regret... my stepdaughter has a 92 Sentra SE that was purchased this past Spring. It overheated and blew the head gasket on Sept 12th. I got an estimate from a local garage here in CT, and the price was $900 for the head gasket repair and an additional $700 if the head required milling! We paid $1400 for the car, so basically it was a write off if I did not attempt the repair myself. My past experience was helping to rebuild a couple of Honda 4 cylinder motors, so I figure why not try the repair... well, to make a story shorter, I did complete the head gasket replacement this past weekend, and followed the instructions to the best that I could (crappy Haynes manual used) - to be honest, I found out more by reading various threads... anyway, everything is back together, but engine just turns over and will not start. I aligned both timing chains per specs, set the #1 piston at TDC (compression stroke), replaced the distributor and rotor, plugged all connections as before - all were marked with tape... I checked the plugs - there is spark, the cylinders are getting fuel, but no start!! engine turns over well, but I am thinking that it may be IC, or other related electrical... any suggestions??! just a note.. it was running very rough prior to the engine being dismantled... maybe running on 3 cylinders? Thanks for any help!!
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#2 Old Sep 28th, 2004, 09:53 PM
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Time for a compression check?

Is this forum still full of n00bs learning that you can't boost your daily driver on a part time retail income?
#3 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 12:33 AM
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How long did you spend trying to get it to start?

Just this last weekend I finished rebuilding a ga16, and it took quite a few turns of the key to get it to actually catch and stay running.

It ran really rough at the beginning, at least until I fixed the ignition timing - now it starts right up like it always used to. I do have what appears to be exhaust coming out of the radiator though, which is quite perplexing and a bit disheartening at the same time.

Did you take a good look at the valves while the head was off, and make sure they weren't burned or chipped?

Did you check the cyclinder head to make sure it wasn't warped?

Hope you get things up and running again!
#4 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 10:03 AM
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thanks Steve... I did check the head and it is not warped... the valves all looked good, and I did clean the engine the best that I could... I kinda believe that it is still a timing problem or something is shorting... just a couple of questions - IC resistance is indicated as being around 13... I believe that I got a 10 reading... would that have an effect?, and would the timing adjustment at the distributor being off a few degrees have a really bad effect? the rotor was positioned as close as I could see to #1 wire at TDC... any comments from others? Thanks!
#5 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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Time for a compression check?

I would like to complete a compression check on all the cylinders, but the recommendation is that it is done after the motor is at operating temperature - do you know if it would still give an accurate reading on a cold engine?

I am going to play around with the timing again tonite and will keep the board updated...
#6 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 06:47 PM
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Did you find any of the four cylinders filled with coolant? Look at the old head gasket and see where it is shot to determine what went wrong next. Did you change the oil or the milkshake in your engine and check condition of old spark plugs? Check the coolant condition also and distributor (timing) you moved something you weren't supposed to. You can do it!! Good Luck !
#7 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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Thanks for the support Twiz... the leak originated at the front of the block - in front of cylinder 4 - the coolant did originally leak into 4 and that caused all the white smoke. The gasket was in bad shape overall, and my thinking is that since it was the original gasket, 12 years old, and 132 K, it was possibly due for problems...

anyway, I am still at square one, I tried adjusting the timing again tonite and could only get a slight firing of the cylinders... there is no doubt that something was moved and it is taking forever to correct it...

I am hoping for a better day tomorrow!
#8 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 09:55 PM
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I love staring at my engine for hours... I'll have a look into it trying to simulate a head gasket swap.
#9 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 10:40 PM
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Last winter I flooded the engine. Just could not get it started. The extra gas in the cylinders washed the oil off the cylinder walls. Towed it to my mechanic. He thought it did not have compression. He squirted oil in each cylinder, installed plugs, and it started (and smoked alot). I had even replaced the coil with no success. Lesson I learned, even if you have spark and gas, oil on cylinder walls is needed for compression.

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#10 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 11:27 PM
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Hope this helps you check your timing.

GA16DE Distributor Installation

-Put Timing Mark At #1 TDC (see attached picture)

-Turn the engine over until #1 cylinder (R.H.) is at TDC compression stroke.

Rotor Position At #1 TDC (see attached picture).

-Install the distributor, making sure the rotor is aligned as shown when fully seated (see attached picture).

-Install the distributor securing bolts and tighten slightly.

- Connect the crank angle sensor terminal.

-Install the distributor cap and tighten the screws.

-Refer to ADJUSTMENT PROCEDURES and adjust the timing.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Distributor rotor alignment Sentra GA16DE.JPG‎ (55.7 KB, 38 views)

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#11 Old Sep 29th, 2004, 11:37 PM
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If you can get it started, here is the final timing adjustment procedure:

1. Start the engine and warm it up until the water temperature indicator points to the middle of the gauge.
2. Operate the engine at 2000 rpm for 2 minutes under no load.
3. Disconnect the throttle sensor connector.
4. Idle engine and check timing. Timing should be 102BTDC. If not proceed to step 5.
5. Idle engine and adjust the ignition timing to 102BTDC by turning the distributor after loosening the securing bolt.
6. Turn the engine off.
7. Reconnect the throttle sensor connector.

Truth alone triumphs, not untruth. :)
#12 Old Sep 30th, 2004, 08:58 AM
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is the engine throwing any codes? I would run the self diagnostic check on the ECU. It would be any easy way to determine if a sensor is faulty
-dave
#13 Old Sep 30th, 2004, 07:19 PM
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Thanks for all the information so far... I just noticed something unusual tonite.. and it still doesn't start... but I knew that it was possibly flooded from the past couple of days of trying to start, so in an effort to get the gas out of the cylinders, I removed the plugs and checked the top of the pistons to see how bad the flooding was... and to my surprise, #1 has a few drops of gas on it, #2 and #3 are completely dry, and #4 has about 1/4 inch of gas on it!!! Now, I am thinking that there is a problem with the injectors, and this is where I need some advice.. can they just be cleaned or do they have to be replaced, and do you think that it is possible for only one cylinder to get the fuel?? maybe when there was overheating, the injectors got "fried"... any comments on this possibility? and how much trouble is it to change them?
#14 Old Sep 30th, 2004, 09:27 PM
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What you described with gas on the cylinders tops is what I saw, except no 1# (the one to the far left facing the engine) seemed to have more gas on top then the rest, but some where almost dry. Can't remember which ones or the amount. I talked to my mechanic, since he replaced injector on cylinder #1 six months previously. He said you would see more gas on some cylinders based on where they stopped in the cranking cycle, or something like that. However, I thought the new injector was putting more gas in cylinder #1. If you saw gas like I did, I bet the cylinders walls have the oil washed off depending on how much you have cranked the engine. I noticed gas in my oil due to all the cranking and flooding, maybe you have not done as much cranking. I don't think the overheating would fry an injector, but I am not a mechanic. I think I had more of a problem with fuel injector cleaner that either damaged the injector or caused it to become clogged. If your car was running smooth on all cylinders before the head job, I would think the injectors would be OK. Currently, I am using a product called Fuel Power. It is a little different then a fuel system/injector cleaner. I am having no ill effects, the engine idles smooth, and is the way I have chosen to keep the injectors and combustion chamber clean. My mechanic changed my injector, but it does not look easy. Not much area to remove them, plus what he charged for the part was cheaper than what I could purchase myself. That is why I am using Fuel Power. Preventative maintenance. If I loose another injector, I will probably have my mechanic replace it.

Truth alone triumphs, not untruth. :)
#15 Old Sep 30th, 2004, 09:43 PM
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The reason I posted instructions on timing/distributor alignment was to make sure they were in the ball park. I had a Mazda truck. That darn cap rotor could go on 3 different ways! Never heard of that before. My luck was, when I changed it, I did not get it right until the 3rd time. So, if your timing is way off, nothing is going to happen. If it was off and you adjusted it to specs, but the gas in the cylinders washed off the oil, then no compression. It seems the things that worked before taking the head off should be OK for now, as long as everything was put back together properly. Before putting the plugs back in, you may want to put a little oil in the plug holes to make sure you get good compression. This is my best effort based on limited experience. Hope it helps!

Truth alone triumphs, not untruth. :)
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