- Symptoms of a blown head to exhaust manifold gasket... Help!
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    1. 02-09-2007 12:38 PM #1
      It appears I have a blown gasket between the block and exhaust manifold; that and a lot of loose bolts holding the manifold to the head too.
      I have a strange problem with the car where the turbo seems to have a very hard time generating a steady flow of boost. It is not surging or a boost leak because I have pressure tested and found none.
      I have replaced both manifold to turbo gasket and turbo to downpipe gasket within the last two weeks. Both were blown.
      I have read about the symptoms for a manifold to turbo gasket gone and I can only imagine the head to manifold one creating the same problems, although the search feature did not answer that for me.
      My guess is that back pressure between the head and turbo are such that under heavy load pressure is lost and the rest follows.
      I would really appreciate some first hand experience with this since it appears I will have to dish out some cash to have my mechanic do this for me. I don't have the tools to do this conformtably.
      The current problems I am having right now are: erratic boost. Its better with engine cold, sucks when warm. super slow spool up time. again. temperature makes a difference. Car bucks slightly. I have bad gas mileage and low power all around. It also seems to drive the N75 valve crazy. Almost feels like the duty cycle is out of wack, although I don't have logs to show it.
      Can a simple gasket really be the reason for all these problems?

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    3. 02-09-2007 01:26 PM #2
      well, if some of your manifold to head nuts are loose as you described, then it's likely that you have an exhaust leak between the head and manifold. That doesn't necessarily mean the gasket is toast, but a leak in this area would cause erratic boost pressure. Is this the stock manifold, or have you upgraded? This is a common problem among people who upgrade to ATP manifolds because it's hard to get all the nuts tight because of ****ty design lol. Bent 12mm wrench FTMFW! Anyway, i wouldn't pay a mechanic to swap out the gasket for u man, it's painfully simple. Remove the 3 bolts from turbo to manifold, then loosen all the nuts that hold on the mani, and it will come right off. Just make sure to replace the turbo to mani gasket.
      EDIT: disclaimer.....i THINK the mani will come right off if u loosen the 3 turbo to mani bolts and remove all the mani to head nuts.....but i haven't actually attempted it. My turbo was dropped down by the axle when i did mine, but i THINK it will work. You might wanna ask around and find out for sure before you try it.

      Modified by TurboGTi222 at 10:30 AM 2-9-2007

    4. 02-09-2007 02:25 PM #3
      Thanks for the advice. [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      My manifold is stock. I am guessing that the gasket is gone, simply because the other two metal gaskets are gone.
      In reality all I want is my mechanic to tighten down the bolts. something I was not able to do myself. The top bolts I didn't have a hard time with, neither did I with the bottom side ones. But as you get closer to the turbo it becomes increasingly dificult to get to the bottom middle ones. I am sure with a lift it is easier, but I don't have one and I am kinda tired of having to get under the car every other freaking weekend to fix something. Anyways.
      I forgot to mention that my car amongs other things sounds like a weak subaru. It has this groul when the turbo kicks in, but no power.
      Hopefully there's more input out there.

    5. 02-09-2007 02:28 PM #4
      if your bolts are loose you have a manifold leak for sure this creates a huge exhaust leak before your o2 sensors this will make your air fuel ratio way out of wack and possibly turn a check engine light on u should be able when u first start car to reach behind a feel for the exhaust leak have somebody rev it up while u check but since u pretty much covered all bases for leaks i am 99.9 percent sure it is the exhaust manifold the reason your car runs good when it is cold it is in closed loop which is a rich fuel map when your exhaust manifold is leaking its causing your car to run lean hence the bucking not enough fuel for the air this is a very experienced subject for me i just spent 2 weeks on a custom setup to get rid of all the exhaust leaks change the manifold gasket clear the codes u should be ready to roll with smooth accelleration and faster boost pick up for sure good luck

    6. 02-09-2007 03:30 PM #5
      Thanks for the info.
      In the past I tried putting a rag on the exhaust tips while at idle, but I couldn't hear anything out of the ordinary. Under load and specially once the turbo beings to go at 2000RPM is when the noise really changes.
      I sometimes have had a nasty smell after a hard run, but I always thought it was from the exhaust and not particularly a leak in the exhaust. Since I don't run a cat the smell is the same.
      The mention of the o2 could really be solving a huge dilema for me. For a while I have told people over and over that while both fuel trims and lamba values were not TOO much off, the car ran like poo and wasted a bunch of gas running that way.
      I want to get rid of this subaru thing and have my GTI back!!!
      Hopefully I can start getting my 20% of gas I was wasting back too. I bet Exxon Mobil loved me last quarter.

    7. 02-09-2007 05:59 PM #6
      Yeah the poor fuel economy/bucking/slow spool, etc. can all be attributed to a leaking exhaust manifold. U can TRY just tightening the bolts, and it may seal.....but there's a good possibility that the gasket will be damaged and will need to be replaced. I would get it taken care of ASAP if i were u. Swiss-cheese pistons are never fun....

    8. 02-11-2007 04:04 PM #7
      Well. I had my mechanic take a look at the car Saturday morning.
      It turns out that while the manifold was somewhat loose, the head-manifold gasket looked ok. The turbo housing was cracked on the inside though, so my mechanic suggested I get a replacement turbo and solve the problem once and for all.
      My car has ran like poo for a while. He things the crack has more to do with it that the manifold being somewhat loose. He said the manifold bolts are often times not fitted very tight because they need to expand and what not.
      Anyways, out I went and managed to get a nearly new k03s from an engine that should have had no more than 10k miles at the local junker. I picked the engine myself and had them take the turbo out for me. Looked upchipped too. All clamps were original VW. new hoses and super clean. I was very lucky.
      Before getting it though I went through at least 4 turbos which all had cracked housings so I am now left wondering whether it is common for the housing to crack and whether or not a cracked housing is really all that big of a deal.
      All the turbo's were $450 so I made sure I got something that allowed me to keep the car for a while longer, but I surely did not wake up saturday morning in the mood to burn $1000 in parts and labor.
      What's the word on running with a cracked housing from the vortex community?
      I did a search, but did not find much at all.

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