1.8 Brazilian issues - First Generation Forum

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1.8 Brazilian issues
Thursday, March 17, 2016 7:42 AM
Got either way too brave or incredibly stupid yesterday and decided to take the '84 Sunbird for a drive down to Roanoke for a visit to the Pick N Save. Never mind that the axle boots are gone at the CV bands and haven't gotten underneath for a good inspection - but off I go. This amounted to a good hours drive down and another hour back up. Haven't taken the Bird out for a decent run in years, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to flush out the bugs I had been having with the old car.
Surprising the car did get me down and back and didn't disappear in a cloud of steam and smoke along the way, so it wasn't too bad.

While there I stopped at a WalMart to pick up a few things along the way, came out and when I restarted it stalled back out and a little steam came out from under the hood. I restarted and popped the hood to see a trace of steam coming from around the radiator I'd replaced a few years back. Kept a constant check on the oil and antifreeze - everything seemed.

SO this morning I get the little car ready to take to work and wind up refilling about a gallon of antifreeze in it to get it before I started it up.Not leaking anywhere . No puddles. Then all the pieces of the puzzle start coming together. I started it up and as usual the dead miss starts up - but now this thing has my real attention , you know. I notice the bad lifter isn't raising hell till the miss goes away and then it starts ticking away. So now I'm 99% certain I got a sticking valve going on in there. OK. I drive on to work and after getting there I pop the hood looking around while the engine is hot and running. Bubbles???? Bubbles coming up inside the recovery tank while the engine is running...... Eurica!! Now I'm getting somewhere - Compression is finding its way into the cooling system. I look further around and discover the new radiator looks a tiny bit but visibly distorted - I'm betting from the pressure of that compression in the cooling system on that drive yesterday.

So I am hoping some of the Brazilion owners on here have some advice to add. It is no secret these engines were, um, a bit less reliable then the OHV engines. I am wondering if these symptoms would be related to a cracked head, or just a blown head gasket. I have no issues with coolant in the oil. Obviously I'm not trailing jets of steam out the tailpipe - I'd never made it to Roanoke and back (in fact I did drive the car around town after I got home).

Luckily I have a spare engine and plenty of time to work on this . The car is just for pleasure and not at daily so I can take some time and scrounge the internet for gaskets and head bolts. Thank goodness this isn't a V6!! Hahaa! As long as I don't have coolant in the oil and snot the old car can putter around town and the back roads for a spell while I see about getting the 5speed up and running.

So any thoughts? Horror stories? Ideas? Can cracked heads be repaired? Where on earth can you source a 30+ year old head without skipping a mortgage payment?? Gotta love these old cars - gotta enjoy the journey!!


Re: 1.8 Brazilian issues
Thursday, March 17, 2016 8:34 PM
Being it has a cast iron head (right) it could be just the head gasket is the fail point,along with your top side needs to be redone.As for finding a new head I might be able to find some sources that I will share Friday if I find any.

Re: 1.8 Brazilian issues
Friday, March 18, 2016 5:23 AM
The head is aluminum. AutoZone offers a reconditioned head for the car for 269.00 from Moore's Cylinder Head Service. I got one and has been great. Commonly they crack between the seats if they get hot. They can be repaired by a good machine shop but often at a cost higher than a rebuilt. Someone might have a good used one, but I would have it checked first. Moore's gives a 1yr warranty.

Re: 1.8 Brazilian issues
Saturday, March 19, 2016 6:11 PM
Thank You Philip!

I didn't think those stores would carry something rather rare as these. Did some shopping and found them - the Zone has them too....Competition.

The Zone offers a 1 year warranty with theirs- but as the case it would depend on the vender to probably back it up.

Still driving the old Bird around local on the pretty days. I have probably been experiencing these symptoms on the car for a few years now - just haven't been smart enough to know what I have been seeing and hearing. So I'm betting this car will old together till I get the parts collected to do some good work on it.

It is great to know I can get what I need for it!!


Re: 1.8 Brazilian issues
Saturday, March 19, 2016 10:53 PM
http://www.cylinder-heads.com/ Orlen here is another company I trust as many of my friends on my mazda truck site have bought refurbished aluminum heads and had great results and price for the b series were around 225.00.I checked there site for your model year and you have to call for a quote.I did not research there warranty.Just a alternate choice for you to investigate further and see if it fits the cost and any other specifics related as if you have to ship back your core (IDK) but I think you might have to.R

Re: 1.8 Brazilian issues
Sunday, April 17, 2016 11:27 AM
I'm a little late to this party, but yes it could be either the head gasket or the head, and he's right they do like to crack between the valve seats. You probably won't know for sure til you take it apart. The last time I did a cracked head, there was a company on ebay that had some inexpensive but decent rebulit 2.0 ones, but I don't see any 1.8s unfortunately. Here are my couple tips: remove the head with everything (intake, tbi, exhaust man., and whatever else will stay) attached in case it is just a head gasket. Yeah, it's a a little heavy, but it saves a ton of time as opposed to trying to pull the intake and everything else off one by one. And take hope, in my experience of the four SOHC engines I currently and have previously run, after doing a head gasket, they have never gone again. In my opinion just keep them cool and they are good reliable engines that got a bad rap from bad factory gaskets and a poor cooling setup (fan comes on too late, small radiator, etc.) I daily drive them with very minimal issues, and on my 2 door which is being retired due to rust I had also run several bottles of nitrous through the 2.0 and it took it like a champ, and still runs great at 170k miles.

I haven't dealt with this place, but they do list a 1.8 head http://www.americancylinderheads.com/

86 Skyhawk wagon 1.8SOHC 93 Sunbird two door 2.0SOHC 93 Sunbird four door 2.0SOHC
Re: 1.8 Brazilian issues
Monday, April 18, 2016 9:10 AM
Since I am blessed with so many J-Bodies these days.I decided to let the Pontiac sit a spell while I get some other work done. I decided to just pull the head and swap the one I got with the engine a few years back from David. I'll need to get some head bolts and a gasket first. Plan on pulling the head as you suggested with intake intact.

I will know a lot more once I get the head off just what is going on in there.

I also did a little research and decided I am going to ditch the regular plates and go with Antique plates on this car since I don't drive it too much. Here in Virginia a car with Antique Plates does not require annual inspections either. The Antique Plates only cost a one time fee of $50 without an annual renewal fee too. Might be an option for some of the 1st Gen owners with similar options in other states to consider as well!


Re: 1.8 Brazilian issues
Friday, April 29, 2016 4:33 PM
Antique / Historical are the way to go Orlen!

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