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The Phoenix is not Dead ?

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02-01-2010, 07:46 PM
I think I found out today why my Metro "died" recently.

It was my fault....probably.

I went to the "Head Shop" where I originally (3 years ago) got The Phoenix's
Head rebuilt - to see what they charge nowadays to rebuild the head.
$135 plus parts. A Gasket "set" is $72.

They will put Stainless Steel Exhaust Valves in if I provide them...

I told them I had had them rebuild the Head in Feb 2006 and I have only about
30,000 miles on the rebuild.

The man said, "did you keep the EGR system free of carbon ?"
"That will burn the Exhaust valves !"

OK - maybe I should open the TB and the galleries and clean them out often....

BUT - as I was leaving I said the Head Gasket is probably leaking Coolant.

"OH Hell" , he says, "That will burn your Exhaust Valves out immediately !"

So I told him I'd be in soon with the Head for another rebuild....

I left and then came back in to ask why the Head Gasket would have popped a leak?

"Did you retighten the Head Bolts after running the engine a while ?"

No...I didn't.

"There you go !"

I had not run the engine and then removed the Camshaft Cover and retorqued the Head Bolts...

I have probably been driving on borrowed time with a head not torqued on tight enough to
prevent the Head Gasket from eventually leaking coolant into the cylinders.

So now, when I go to remove the Head (when weather permits), I'll bet some,
if not all, the Head Bolts will come out very easily.

I have to learn from my mistakes.

You'd think I would have learned a lot, since I make so many of them !

We'll see what we'll see......


Johnny Mullet
02-01-2010, 08:46 PM
I find that strange. I have never "Re-torqued" head bolts since head bolts are pretty much torque to yield. I rebuilt mine 40K ago and it's running strong with no issues. My wife had 10k on her rebuild and no issues. A member on my forum had me rebuild his 13 months ago and he is still running strong after 60K. Never re-torqued a head bolt in my life.

Burnt valves are caused by ignition timing. Using a timing light and advancing it to 8-10 degrees beyond top dead center will ensure less carbon buildup.

02-01-2010, 10:14 PM
I always retorque head bolts, usually twice. First time after 100 or so miles, second time after about 500 miles. They say that if you use new head bolts you can get away without retorqueing but I would still play it safe.

My Swift 1.3 pings like crazy when the EGR passage through the head gets plugged, and that's with the timing set to factory specs.

BTW: I have about 45,000 miles on my rebuild with no problems except the defective valve seals that came in the original gasket set. Had to replace them after a couple thousand miles. Great running little engine with good power.


02-02-2010, 12:41 AM
I love this....after a couple of weeks it will probably be 50:50 to retorque or
not to retorque !

So, being the very careful, anal retentive (as my wife says) person that I am,
I will retorque the Head Bolts - what's to lose ?

If this Freaking Eastern Washington weather would just let up on the drizzle,
I could get on with it.


1951 Buick LeSaber

02-03-2010, 02:22 PM
Yes, I had to have two exhaust valves replaced in mine, last summer too. I actually had all the valves replaced, because I had a set from a rebuild kit. Mine burned, on count of the cat plugging up. I wasn't loosing any coolant and I didn't retorque my bolts either. EGR is not an issue with mine, because I have none. A plugged cat is another thing to consider, if you nuke out exhaust valves.

02-05-2010, 01:21 AM
Thank god I don't have the EGR in my metro's. Hey, Doc have you considered converting it to a non-EGR. Doing that may be more trouble than it's worth but WTF I'll throw it out there. As for the head bolt re-torque. If it is required the manual's WILL say to do so. The Metro manuals I have on hand (3 different ones) do not. This is assuming you use NEW head bolts. BEFORE I SAY THIS NEXT THING: Please do not take any offense to what I'm about to say if you work in a parts store or machine shop... Don't ever take any advice or opinions from parts store or machine shop employee as fact. It has been my experience that many of them do not even know what they are talking about. While some (few) are very experienced others can be very misleading as they think that just because they work there they KNOW IT ALL. For example, I had a smart ass machine shop guy with 20 years experience as he was sure to let me know several times argue with me for 10 minutes that there was no such thing as a 2.3 liter quad four engine and there was only a 2.4. He basically talked down on me like I was an idiot before his boss heard our discussion and told him he was wrong. From what I remember about reading your AWESOME rebuild posts you were very meticulous and did it right. These little engines work harder than most and this happens sometimes. Anyways... I put you some links up on your other post to some good priced parts. Good luck Doc...

02-06-2010, 06:07 PM
The weather got better and I took the Head off....

I have to work outside because my garage is full of crap...

Took Exhaust Manifold off - nuts & bolts turned like butter after using
Sili-Kroil. The nuts were not very tight at all !

Took nuts & Bolts off Intake Manifold - thank God for Sili-Kroil !

Loosened the Head Bolts in the order of tightening. Each one gave that "creak-bang" that I remembered from the original
job - except - they let loose so much easier (used Permatex Anti-Seize on the threads) than before. Number two Head
Bolt let go very easy.


Lifted the Head up and out.

Here is the Block Surface.

Close-up of Cylinder number one on the Head

Close-up of Cylinder number two on the Head

Close-up of Cylinder number three on the Head

The Exhaust Manifold Gasket

Intake Manifold Gasket

I have the Stainless Steel Valves and Special Head Bolts coming from the outfit that Johnny Mullet recommended -
they are in Canada.

Looking at the Valves - I don't think I needed to do a valve job....I don't see anything wrong with them.

My original guesstimate of a leaking Head Gasket looks correct to me -
like maybe it leaked into all three cylinders ! A complete breakdown...a "Catasrostroke" !

Am I wrong ?

Makes me wonder why I'm not supposed to use any gasket sealer with the Head Gasket !

...and - are some Head Gaskets better than others ?


PS - This Advertisement is at the top of the Forum....anybody ever use it ?
Seems "Too good to be true" to me...

Metro Mighty Mouse
02-06-2010, 07:14 PM
From the pictures I would say the leak was into the #2 cylinder. All the clean metal is from the water washing out the carbon.


02-06-2010, 07:33 PM
Then why was the Compression test result - 95 psi, 140 psi, 145 psi ?

Cylinder Number 1 was low.

Unless some chunk of crap happened to be lodged in the valve opening....

Anyway - even though I might not need it, I'm going to have the Stainless
Steel Valves put in and put 'er back together - I miss ma 'baby'....

...and I will retorque the Head Bolts at 100 mi and at 500 mi....just for the grins of it.

This 17 mpg thing with my Nissan Pathfinder (5,200 lbs empty) is killing me !

Oh - and yes Lord, I won't kill any more mice that get into The Phoenix ! Promise !
I'll trap 'em live and let 'em go...


Johnny Mullet
02-06-2010, 09:51 PM
If you remove the camshaft and lifters, this will have all the valves closed. Put the plugs back in and turn the head upside down so the valve faces are pointing up and level. Now fill all three combustion chambers with kerosene or even water and look for leakdown through the valves. This would demonstrate a compression loss.

The stainless steel valves will take a lot more time to lap in..............


I do notice some carbon buildup in that engine. This can be caused by ignition timing. I like to advance the ignition timing to about 8-10 degrees advanced instead of the 5 recommended by the factory. This keeps carbon somewhat under control. I also like to use Seafoam in my engine to keep the carbon from building........

I cannot tell in your pics, but is the little oil check valve still in the block on the passenger front corner? Here is a pic.............


Also I do notice the cheap head gasket you used does not have the proper sized oil return holes. Apex and other brand head gaskets all have this issue. I use a Felpro or Dealership gasket, but always compare before buying. Note these pics.........

Wrong size oil return holes..............


Correct sized holes..............


02-06-2010, 10:04 PM
The Head Shop should lap in the SS Valves - I will make sure they do.

The Head Gasket I used 3 years ago - I THINK - was FelPro.
The Head Shop sold me a "set" for about half the store price.

I'd have to go back thru my old, old Thread on the rebuild to find which brand
Head Gasket they sold me....I tried to note down everything.

WHY are you not supposed to use a Gasket Compound - like maybe Permatex
Copper Spray-A Gasket on the Head Gasket ?

I don't understand that.....

If I remember right, I had the timing at what you recommend - fairly advanced.

I will go out tomorrow and look at that little check valve.

The Head is sitting on some newspapers in the garage.

Would it likely be in the Head or the Block right now ?

I think that in my '93 the oil return hole in the Gasket was about the same
size as the hole in the block and head.

I will check that later.

Thanks for the information !


02-06-2010, 10:06 PM
The Head Shop should lap in the SS Valves - I will make sure they do.

The Head Gasket I used 3 years ago - I THINK - was FelPro.
The Head Shop sold me a "set" for about half the store price.

I'd have to go back thru my old, old Thread on the rebuild to find which brand
Head Gasket they sold me....I tried to note down everything.

WHY are you not supposed to use a Gasket Compound - like maybe Permatex
Copper Spray-A Gasket on the Head Gasket ?

I don't understand that.....

If I remember right, I had the timing at what you recommend - fairly advanced.

I will go out tomorrow and look at that little check valve.

The Head is sitting on some newspapers in the garage.

Would it likely be in the Head or the Block right now ?

I think that in my '93 the oil return hole in the Gasket was about the same
size as the hole in the block and head.

I will check that later.

Thanks for the information !


02-07-2010, 12:00 AM
Hi Doc there are alot of speculative claims here is another permanet fix sealant.


Some have sworn by it...maybe the pro's here can weigh in on it.The folks where you are getting your parts from are very knowledgable...heavy duty.Maybe you should put an performance economy cam in it they have them even better milage...or if i recall they will do yours.They are not expensive at all.

Great thread :smile:

02-10-2010, 08:09 PM
I just received the three Stainless Steel Exhaust Valves and eight hardened
Head Bolts from 3Tech Performance in Ontario, Canada.


Tomorrow I will take the Head into the Shop where I had it worked on before
and have these SS Valves put in and the Head worked on (whatever it needs).


02-11-2010, 07:59 PM
Took the Head and the New Stainless Steel Exhaust Valves to the Head Shop today.

He said that, indeed, the Head Gasket had blown thru on number two cylinder right by
the interface by number three cylinder

It should be ready on Monday (he doesn't observe President's Day !)

Maybe by next Saturday I'll be back tooling around in The Phoenix (II) !


What...me worry ?


02-13-2010, 08:03 AM
The reason you're getting two different stories about re-torquing head bolts is that there are two different kinds of head bolts. The stock ones stretch as they are torqued, should not be re-torqued, and should not be re-used. The ones you just got from 3Tech are much stronger, they should be re-torqued and should be re-used.

Your head gasket does show the typical wrong sized holes, if your new one looks like that, open them up a bit. You also might give some thought to new lifters, they get sticky and contribute to burned valves. EGR is not the AHA factor some claim it is because a clogged EGR system is exactly the same as no EGR and the early cars didn't have EGR and don't have this problem any more than the others. If you have it, keep it clean and working, but I think advanced timing will do more for valve life than most other factors. Burning oil or coolant can burn valves quickly.

For maximum valve life, use SS exhaust valves, new lifters, never use anything thicker than 5W-30, advance your ignition timing to 10 degrees, and don't run it over 70 mph for any extended period.

Metro Mighty Mouse
02-13-2010, 08:09 PM
and don't run it over 70 mph for any extended period.

I'm going to vote pish on this particular statement. I drive 75 on the freeway all the time, hit 80 to 85 fairly regularly and have been above 90 for short periods of time on multiple occasions. I've had the car for over 10 years, about to roll 250,000 miles on the chassis, JDM motor at 160,000 and previous motor expired due to total oil loss from a failed crank seal, (still ran fine for months after being driven some distance with 0 oil pressure), used to live in Texas and ran the AC on a regular basis and no valve problems on the current motor and any on the previous motor I would attribute to the oil issue. I would say that nothing compares to the extra horsepower from the cheap JC Whitney aluminized cherry bomb style muffler, and it sounds cool as well.


02-14-2010, 05:43 AM
Okay, never mind, worked for one guy so it must not be the rule anymore. Oh wait, two engines? Well then, you don't really know, do you? :sarcasm1:

Metro Mighty Mouse
02-14-2010, 06:21 AM
Wait, what rule, there is nothing in the owners manual about keeping the vehicle under 70 mph. If the engine is working correctly there is no reason it should not be capable of running 70 to 80 all day long. These are incredibly durable little motors and I will back that up by pointing out it is a popular experimental aircraft motor. My dead engine, which I still have so I can rebuild it when the time has come to replace the motor currently in the car, died around 3 months after having 0 oil pressure for probably a good 15 to 20 miles of driving. Even if it has burnt valves I would relate the problem to the lack of oil causing multiple problems. It actually broke the timing belt when it decided that the damage that had been done and it was time to retire. Up to that point the engine ran perfectly. I suspect the free flowing exhaust also helps to keep the temperature Down helping to prevent burnt valves. The rest of your suggestions were spot on but limiting the cell phones

Keep rolling

02-14-2010, 10:32 AM
Typical overhaul schedule for an ultralight is 500 hours or so, well under 50,000 miles in equivalent automotive use. Sure, none of us would have valve problems if we replaced the valves every 50K.

Don't recall saying anything about cell phones, I'm often working two of them at once while driving my manual transmission car in traffic and smoking a cigarette.

Metro Mighty Mouse
02-15-2010, 04:59 AM
Um, yeah, er, the cell phone thing was apparently a cut and paste thanks to the touch pad on the laptop and had nothing to do with the conversation. :shakehead

Anyhoo, for most of the time I have owned the car I have had about a 100 mile a day commute, mostly done at 75 mph. It had around 50,000 miles on it when I bought it, and it is about to roll 250,000. It went from Texas to Michigan, picked up two additional passengers for three total, and then drove to Longview Washington. It has been used to tow an old Jeep postal vehicle on a few occasions. My point is, if running this engine at around 4000 rpm were a cause of burnt valves, I would have burnt a bunch of them by now.

Power to the Phoenix!!


02-27-2010, 04:51 PM
The weather improved and my life is more back to 'normal'.

Took the head out of the plastic bag and took photos.

The Exhaust Valves are now of Stainless Steel.
I got a "Complete" gasket set via the Head shop - ITM.

Here is what the Exhaust Valves looked like with about 30,000 miles on them.

Pretty sure the center one was from the Number Two Cylinder.

Here is what the Block looks like - I will vacuum the carbon and crap up
with my Shop Vac.

Going to take my time, as always.....have an Exam to grade for my Chemistry
Class and rifle shells to reload (303 British, 8 mm Mauser and 30-30's).


02-27-2010, 05:00 PM
That head looks great doc. There nothing like good head!:naughty:

02-27-2010, 07:39 PM
Doug2060 - That's funny...I have a friend named Doug who would say that
exact same thing ! (I agree with you, but I will just leave that alone...)

I scraped the Block surfaces clean with a single edged razor blade.

Then, using paper towel, I wicked out all the Coolant that had gotten into the block Bolt Holes
and wiped the block surface dry of Coolant and/or oil.

Vacuumed the cylinders out and any stuff on the block surface.

I placed the two Guide Tubes (Arrows) into the Block (Upper left - Lower right) and placed the
Head Gasket on the Block.

Gently lowered the Head onto the Block....and Put the Eight Hardened Steel Bolts into
the Head after applying Permatex Anti-Seize Compound.

Then started tightening the Head Bolts in the proper sequence (Chilton Manual) a little at a time
going around the Head....First hand tight then with the Torque Wrench.
But I didn't go to the 54 Ft Lbs required - just somewhat tight.

I decided to leave the Head that way until tomorrow to let the Gasket compress overnight.

I'll take the bolts to 54 Ft Lbs tomorrow and continue on with the Exhaust and
Intake Manifold Gaskets at that time.

Besides - I'm hungry and it is time for a Beer !


02-28-2010, 12:28 AM
Looking good Doc. You may want to take that shop vac to your battery when you get a chance. It has a bad case of dandruff from looking at the photo. When you get done you should take a bottle of mean green to the rest of your engine compartment to make it as pretty and shiny as that head.

02-28-2010, 05:10 AM
STOP BILL !!!! Take it back off and trim the head gasket to fit the holes in the block. As usual, the gasket is covering up the blowby return ports at the rear corners of the block.

Try to figure out what was causing all that carbon build up. Valve two is the only one that looks right for 30,000 miles, and the carbon in cylinder three is a disaster area.

02-28-2010, 08:34 AM
Whoa DOC! I must vote with Woodie - pull the head back off and enlarge the oil drainback holes in the head gasket. I have read way too many horror stories about redoing the head only to have the car look like it was fogging for mosquitoes a few minutes down the road.

Here's a thread with a picture http://geometroforum.com/topic/2834549/1/ scroll down to the shot of the head gasket on the block and compare the top two holes (on a plane closest to the firewall) with yours and I think you will see what I mean about the hole size. Those two holes allow the oil to drain back into the crankcase after performing its lubricating duties for the top end of the engine. If those holes are too small then oil pools up while trying to drain down the holes and tends to get sucked out through the pcv system resulting in the afore mentioned mosquito fogging and potential bad things due to oil consumption/loss.

Also I had always read that to get the most accurate torque you don't want to use an extension between the torque wrench and the socket or at worst use the smallest one you have to. Does it really make a difference? I don't know but why risk your work?

02-28-2010, 10:41 AM
Alrightie then......

Are these the holes of which you speak ?


I wondered Why The F**k an established Gasket Manufacturer would make the Gasket with
such small holes up there !

But then I thought - who am I to question automotive Manufacturing Corporations....
I don't question the Gods ! Most people think I arrogantly ask too many questions anyway.

We all should contact them instantaneously and set them straight !

It they are too small - why are not the Coolant holes (slots) also larger and some more holes (slots)
at the opposite side of the cylinders ?

Will taking the Head back off screw up the $50 Gasket ?

HOW do I cut the holes bigger - with an Exacto Knife ?

Tightening the Bolts w/o an extension....hmmmm. Like picking your nose w/o your finger....

doug2060 - That "Dandruff" that you see on the Battery is not corrosion - it is Bicarbonate
of Soda ("Arm and Hammer" Sodium Bicarbonate) which I pour on dry after I neutralize the
Battery Acid with Bicarb dissolved in Hot Water (until all fizzing stops).
This procedure keeps any Battery Acid neutralized.

It works very well ! Looks like Bejesus, but it works !


02-28-2010, 11:25 AM
That gasket almost completely blocked it off...

02-28-2010, 12:56 PM
Wait a minute fellows.....why didn't you tell me to open up those holes BEFORE I put the Head Back on ! ?

That ITM Head Gasket I just used was tacky.

I'd do this, but if the Head Gasket in there now gets messed up, I gots ta pay another $50 to buy one at SCHUCK's.

I looked up FelPro and Altrom (all I could find photos of quickly) Head Gaskets and ALL three Manufacturers
have the same size holes up there....!

So none of you have purchased Gaskets that you hadn't modified before.

I've asked crvett69 what his opinion is. I trust his experience - he works on fleets of Geo's.

To me - He is like the POPE of the Church of Geo Metro Care & Service !

No offense meant, guys.


02-28-2010, 01:31 PM
Hey doc, I called a friend of mine who works at the local Cadillac dealership out of curiosity over this subject. He told me that when they do this that they do it for a reason. It's easier to move the hole on the machines that make these gaskets than modify the size or some shit like that. I'm not sure if it applies to the Metro or not but he said they do this to reduce the flow. Maybe they want to keep a certain level of oil in the head etc. Why would so many manufacturers make the same mistake and do it for so many years. I really don't know what to tell you here. When I did mine back in Sept/Oct 2008 my hole was half blocked and I left it alone. 54K since then and not one single engine issue.

When these companies make these they make them according to the original manufacturers design specs. If the manufacturer makes a change for whatever reason so will they. The early gakets and original gaskets did not have what we see now. It's very possible this positioning and size of the oil hole is intentional and all you guys stretching them out may be doing the wrong thing.

Let me contact some manufacturers for you in the meantime. Who made your Doc?

02-28-2010, 02:14 PM
OK - let us do some REASONING here....no offense meant, fellows.

Have you ever opened the oil filling cap on top of the camshaft cover when the engine is running ?

If the oil return holes were too small, would not the oil being pumped up into
the Camshaft to lubricate it, fill that chamber rather quickly and have oil,
under pressure, wanting to squirt out the oil filling cap ?

The oil in the Camshaft Cavity drains quite quickly when I fill the Geo at oil change times -
and I allow a can to drain upside down - and it is COLD and viscous.

Oil only splashes out if the oil cap is off while the engine runs.
No oil is visible pooling inside there while the engine runs.

Additionally - "...only to have the car look like it was fogging for mosquitoes a few
minutes down the road."

This did not happen the last time I rebuilt the Head and I had not modified the oil drain
holes then, either...

In further addition - "Then why did they make those holes in the Block so big ?" How 'bout this...
Maybe they found out that the holes didn't need to be that big (costly to modify the mold
for the Aluminum Block) so they simply designed the Head Gasket Hole Punch smaller -
a Cheap Fix which could be modified or adjusted anytime later if experience supported it !

They had a reason for this oil drain hole size in the Head Gasket !

If not - then why is this engine designed so damned well ?!

I have a feeling that this is a non-issue.

Otherwise a hundred gozillion old faithful Geo Metros out there would be running badly,
emitting gobs of Mosquito Fogging smoke - every one. Not happening.....

Derived from - "...it seems like a good thing to do..." - without data and facts to support it.

Sorry, but rather than running off half cocked, I'd rather run off fully cocked.

It makes for a better outcome, as it were....


02-28-2010, 02:37 PM
Hey doc, I contacted Federal Mogul with this issue. They are the makers of Fel-Pro gaskets. To make it simple:

"If we make it this way there is a reason for it. It is not a mistake."

"I'm looking at it now and cross referencing it with the revision history. There are clear and INTENTIONAL changes in the design."

"When we design our gaskets they are not only designed to meet but exceed the original manufacturers specifications."

"I can advise you to not make any changes to the gasket while it may not cause any problems the gasket as it is will provide maximum efficiency and performance"

My personal OPINION is that you should not change it Doc.

If you would like to hear it from them yourself for peace of mind you can contact them here:


When I did my last head gasket I used a Fel-Pro from the local Advance Auto Parts. The holes didn't match up either. I was concerned because I had forgotten the advice to change the holes. I have yet to have any problem with it. As I recall the lifters were quieter. Maybe it was because there was just a tad bit more oil up there. On the same hand they were probably louder from the overheating.

02-28-2010, 05:05 PM
if you pull the head back off you will need a new gasket. i never mess with the holes and never have a problem with it. just bolt it together and run it

02-28-2010, 10:34 PM
Doc can be the community tester. I have reviewed some of the other posts I read making me concerned about the oil drain back holes; example here http://geometroforum.com/topic/1987137/1/ and it appears it does not happen every time so there must be some combination of factors that cause the behavior. While some will consider the evidence anecdotal I see no evidence indicating that larger holes are "bad" and smaller holes are "good", leaving the question still up the interpreter. As for me if I have the motor opened up I will be enlarging the holes in the head gasket...

03-01-2010, 01:30 AM
I would too, probably, but for the fact that I was told after I had put the Head back on.

Plus - why go against the designers of the engine ?

Do you put on Exhaust pipes that are larger ?
Mufflers that are smaller or larger ?

Drill out the plug holes to put in bigger plugs?

Add heavier oil - change to larger or smaller Oil Filters, etc ?

I will not risk boogering up that $50 Head Gasket, now that it is between the
Head and the Block.

Too bad - More often than not folks wait until someone is done before telling
them they did it wrong.


PS - Community Tester - Ha ! I'd test a new Beer or Cigar for you guys...

03-01-2010, 04:42 AM
That's why I screamed Doc, wanted you to hear it before you torqued it down all the way. Johnny Mullet told you to open up those holes on 2/9 in this very thread, included pictures of what a good and bad head gasket look like. The reason Doug2090 got that answer from Fel-Pro, "clear and intentional changes to the design" is probably because someone brought it to their attention and they fixed it. I don't see how #3 is going to get enough cooling water to the head either.

We're not going against the engine designer, we're going against the half assed aftermarket part designer. An yes, people often put on bigger exhaust, thinner oil, bigger filters, K&N type air filters. It depends upon your particular use and what you want to get out of the car. Many decisions the manufacturer makes are purely for cost and spending a little more makes sense if you love your car and are going to keep it. I would never dream of driving a Metro with horrid tires the factory put on there, they scare me to death.

Johnny Mullet
03-01-2010, 09:40 AM
I had a few members complain of engine smoking after letting off the gas after high speed interstate driving. This all happened after a head gasket replacement or rebuild. What happens is at high speeds, the oil pressure is high and when you let off the gas, the oil does not drain properly or fast enough causing smoke. It will get sucked through the PCV and into the TB.

Some people have had no issues and others have. None of my customers have had this issue because I use a gasket with the proper cutouts or modify the gasket.

03-01-2010, 10:56 AM
Johnny and Woodie - For the sake of all those who might be reading this and
who might be doing a Head Rebuild, who sells a Gasket with larger holes in it ?

I am not going to dump that $50 Head Gasket now - but others might be willing
to seek out any specific Brand of Gasket with larger oil drain holes rather than
trying to cut larger ones themselves. :banghead:


PS - You are right - Johnny had told me and I missed it. I get an "F" in Metro repair
this time. Getting older and stupider. Now where did I put my glasses ?

03-01-2010, 11:00 AM
just so everyone knows there are 6 (not 2) oil drainback holes in the head. if you look at his pictures the 4 holes in the head closest to the front of the car and the long slots in the block are oil drainback passages, i not sure making one small hole bigger is really going to affect how fast it drains back

03-01-2010, 12:01 PM
crvett69 - I was wondering what those big slots were for !

Alright then...you have convinced me not to worry any more.

Until some SCIENTIFIC studies are done to support opening those holes up,
it seems to me we shouldn't worry about it.

If someone who works on zillions of old Geo Metros were to rebuild two metros
and open up one and not the other and then compare outcomes after several
ten's of thousands of miles of driving - then they would have a leg to stand on....

So much is done by very weak logic - "It sounds good to me!" type stuff.

I wish Federal Mogul would open up their books and let us all see those revision
and the WHY's of the revision...at least something HARD (data) might convince folks.

W/O scientific testing, we are back in the Dark Ages making wild guesses.

Sorry Johnny and Woodie - I am not making light of your comments, but don't
you think some hard factual data is appropriate to this issue ?


PS - Now I have to get back to finishing up The Phoenix II so I can park the "Gas Hog"
and buzz around in the Blue Devil... Lost several days waiting for this discussion to
resolve what I should do.

03-01-2010, 07:22 PM
If I were you guys, I think I'd look at the ORIGINAL FACTORY head gasket and match the holes to it...we all know how long the 1.0 runs with the original parts...I think I'd do that. (& I probably will...XFI rebuild is coming up this spring)...one other thing...the older 1.0's were made to use 10W30, where most of us are using 5W or 0W....the newer oil may make it back down through the smaller holes, where the 10W30 may have pooled when cold....just a theory....

03-01-2010, 08:27 PM
Doug7x - "I think I'd look at the ORIGINAL FACTORY head gasket..."

Mine is a 1993. Is that Geo or Chevrolet ?

Where would you find one of those "Original" things at ?


03-01-2010, 11:09 PM
Speaking first hand, from experience, if I were you I would alter that gasket. I still haven't fixed mine. After beating my head against the wall I figured a solution, short of pulling the head. I leave the dipstick out and put a downward pointing hose on the dipstick tube.
The oil does build up in the head and into the pcv tube. You wouldn't believe how much smoke comes out when it gulps that little bit of oil

03-01-2010, 11:39 PM
Doug7x - "I think I'd look at the ORIGINAL FACTORY head gasket..."

Mine is a 1993. Is that Geo or Chevrolet ?

Where would you find one of those "Original" things at ?


Yours is a geo....they started putting the bow tie on them some time after '95,...BUT...my '91 XFI (& my '95) has the Geo emblem on the car, but the title says "Chevrolet GeoMetro"...so, I guess they are all "Chevys and Geos"...if you don't still have your original head gasket, I'd go to a chevy dealer & ask to see one, or look at a pic in an original FSM...might get lucky.....good luck

03-02-2010, 03:07 AM
did you use the same gasket you used the first time and did it use oil or spit it out everywhere like everyone seems to think it will?

03-02-2010, 05:37 AM
Yours is a geo....they started putting the bow tie on them some time after '95,...BUT...my '91 XFI (& my '95) has the Geo emblem

You can also find them called Holden Barina, Maruti Cultus, Subaru Justy, or Pontiac Firefly. Doesn't really matter, they're all Suzuki's. The place to find the original gasket is in an original engine, even what the dealer stocks now could be tainted by aftermarket mistakes.

Those two holes are for blowby gases, the oil drain goes through holes on the other side, but these cars have a lot of blowby at high speed and the if those holes are too small, it has to come up through the oil drain holes, thereby impeding the oil drain.

Lots of folks have had their rebuilt engines do the infamous Metro "oil phart" and after addressing this mismatched part, had it no longer. My 89 XFI (a car the manufacturer says doesn't exist) burned the valves at 50K miles, a problem the factory blamed on too thick oil [10W-40] and too small lifter drain holes. Right after I got it back from the dealer, it had the oil phart problem if I drove it 70 mph or more for five minutes or more, never once did it before. When rebuilding it at 165K, we found this type of gasket and trimmed the replacement before installing it, car never pharted again.

03-02-2010, 08:37 AM
hi bill and all,

i thought i'd share my experience too. rebuilt the 91 3cyl last summer @326k and has done fine EXCEPT that i had the billowing cloud at any speed over 60 mph until i modified the head gasket. i tried all sorts of alternative fixes and tests over a month or so but enlarging the upper holes did the trick and it has not 'pharted' since.

however .... the 'original' gasket that was in the engine was also one of the small holed type and it had never pharted for 326k. that fact made me wonder if it was actually the original gasket but i had no other indications that the head had ever been off before i bought the car. i believe it's a subtle combination of factors that actually makes the pharts but the single sure cure seems to be the enlarged holes. bill's test should be instructive given his good close observations .... and it's not the worst thing in the world to replace the head gasket if it fails. best of luck.

03-02-2010, 09:46 AM
3 years ago I purchased a acdelco reman g10 1.0L on ebay. I was so nervous about not knowing if it had the proper size drain back holes in the head gasket and also if the builder put the one way brass oil valve back in the block before assembly, that I acutually took the head of engine to inspect it. Yest the brass valve was in place, but the head gasket needed to be modified. I did so, even reused the head bolts and all if fine 25,000 later.


03-02-2010, 11:02 AM
I'm putting a reman head on my '92 XFi right now, and I have two comments/questions:
1) Is Fel-Pro a good, or the best, gasket to use? A guy who runs a shop specializing in cooling systems said "Use Fel-Pro. It will not fail." before I even asked the question of what gasket to use. The only thing I've seen against Fel-Pro was on eBay from a guy selling some other head gasket. I called the Chevy dealer and they want $85 (Fel-Pro is about $50). I don't know what brand they sell; I'm guessing Suzuki OEM-type, something Japanese. Is that worth the extra $35?
2) Is anti-seize a good idea on the head bolts? The manual and Fel-Pro say to put oil on the threads and under the bolt heads. That's what I've always done. I'm not saying teh silver stuff is bad; just wondering...

03-02-2010, 01:46 PM
This morning before going to work, I torqued the Head Bolts to 54 ft lbs.

How do you re-Torque the Head Bolts again later - just tighten with the Torque Wrench
or completely loosen them and then torque again to 54 ft lbs ?

I got the Intake Manifold back on - no gasket compound - dry.

Here is a hint for folks trying to get that lower right nut onto the Intake Manifold under the
Pipe coming from the Throttle Body...facing the engine.
I cannot get my hand behind all that crap so of course I dropped the Nut down onto
the back of the engine.

I retrieved it with one of those magnets on the end of a collapsible stick in
a multi-head screwdriver.

That gave me an idea - I placed the nut sideways on the tiny magnet and with my left hand,
held it (underneath) onto the bolt back there.
I got my right hand middle finger onto the nut from the right side and got it to spin onto the bolt (just barely).

God bless that middle finger !

Then I could spin the nut down and tighten it with a 12 mm box wrench.

THAT particular nut/bolt is in the most inaccessible place I can think of....

Next - the Exhaust Manifold - after work.....


Johnny Mullet
03-02-2010, 08:20 PM
You can re-check the torque later, but if you are using 3Tech bolts, 50 Ft lbs is all you need and should not have to re-torque.

Do not loosen the head bolts!

Read this...........

Many people have had issues with oil blow-by, engine smoking, and other issues even after a rebuild. This is because some cheaper head gaskets do not have the oil drain ports correctly cut as you can see by these pictures...........



Apex and other brand gaskets are known for this issue, so refrain from the cheaper price and check your gasket before installing it.

Also be sure to take note of the little check valve in the block.............


Another issue with a gasket is the oil pan. If you have a 1996 or newer Metro, do not use an oil pan gasket. The gasket is made aftermarket, but not used at the factory. The aftermarket oil pan gasket is too thick and will make the crank sensor gap incorrect and cause driveability problems. Only use RTV sealant on the oil pan.

03-03-2010, 08:59 PM
Here are some pics from my 1992 FSM that sure looks like at least the upper right hole in the gasket is a bunch bigger than the pencil lead sized hole in some of the pics of the newer gasket. If a car has been running well since 1992, I'm staying with it...



03-04-2010, 12:53 PM
As they say, idmetro - a picture is worth a thousand words !

Now - my question is - WTF are most all Gasket Manufacturers making those
return holes smaller ? !

What is the reason ?

They are not doing it to piss off all of us Metroglodites...or are they ?

Federal Mogul even told doug2060 that they have a revision list showing the

Can't be to save gasket raw materials....although they do recycle the donut holes
back into the dough.

This is a bugger all mystery !
Even a Caveman couldn't figure it out....

I really think it really is - just to piss us off !


Dear Lord ! Please protect us from our protectors in the State Capitol !


03-04-2010, 02:15 PM
off topic but if you need any tools Bill, schucks has all powerbuilt hand and power tools 50% off, they are changing to the o'reilly brand

03-05-2010, 01:14 AM
Both the Intake and Exhaust manifolds are back on.

Tomorrow I will hook the Thermostat housing back on and the Distributor.

Day by day as my time and the weather allow.

So far so good.


03-06-2010, 07:47 PM
Saturday - Got the plate behind the Timing Belt Pulley back on.

Timing Pulley on - 96 Ft Lbs (seems like a lot) Broke a screwdriver putting it
into the hole(s) in the Camshaft to prevent it from turning ! Used wood under it
to keep from damaging the Aluminum edge of the head.

Took time to clean the oily grim off of the Head Cover and Timing Belt Cover
and the Distributor Plate between the Distributor and the Head.

Used Permatex Gasket Compound (Tube) on that Distributor gasket.

Used Permatex Grey RTV Silicone Sealer on the Camshaft Cover Plate Gasket into
the slot to keep it from leaking as it did before.
Screwed it on temporarily so it could harden in place.

Will take the cover plate off tomorrow and put ATV sealer on the outer edge of the Gasket in the
corners mostly - where it leaked before.
Maybe I'll leave that until I retorque the Head bolts when the engine is hot.

Drained the oil - no coolant was in the oil !
Letting it drain overnight.

Bought NEW Bosch Platinum Plugs (Four prong) and put them in with Permatex Anti-Seize.

Put the Distributor on and the Plug wires back on.

Have to do some Engine Cleaning with "Gunk" and Hot Water in my Weed Sprayer.
May go to a Car Wash place and do it up right....

Got cold, so I called it a day...

Sunday - Took off the Camshaft Cover and peeled off any RTV that had
squeezed to the inside - don't want it coming off and getting into the oil !

I then applied a THIN layer of the RTV on the outer portion of the exposed rubber gasket.
Also applied a THIN layer of Bee's Wax (Toilet Bowl WAX - Cheap!) to the head edge so the RTV won't
stick and I can remove the Cover later w/o destroying the Bead.

Put cover on and tightened it down.

Changed Oil Filter and added 5W-30 Oil - drained to the pan quickly !

Hosed engine off with GUNK and filled my 3 gallon metal Garden Sprayer with really hot water
and sprayed the grease and dirt off of the engine and Alternator and elsewhere.

More to come.


03-07-2010, 08:18 PM
Sunday - After GUNK'ing and Hot water spraying, the engine is a little bit cleaner.

Here is the Timing Belt ready to go on - the marks are all "UP".


Here is the Timing Belt on. Rotated the engine twice with a 17mm Socket on the
main Timing Belt Sprocket and all came back into alignment....as per Manual.

Here is the "cleaned" Alternator - was almost unrecognizably dirty !

My Battery is five years old ! I always write the purchase date on the Battery
Case with "White Out" - I had not realized it was so old. Lucky it still works....

Notice that I washed all the old Baking Soda off of it when I cleaned the engine.

The engine. Notice the A/C ports from after I took all the A/C hoses off.
How can I cap them ?

Here she is all reassembled. SHIT ! The Battery was dead ! Won't even crank....

It is on the charger here - will buy a new Battery ASAP. Nothing like a Dead Battery.


Tomorrow I will crank it with the Coil disconnected - Frankly, I am scared to try to start her.
Worried I screwed something up....

Tightened the big Timing Belt Pulley on the Camshaft - forgot to do that 3 years ago !

Tightened the TB Tensioner Pulley.

Put the Distributor back in - But forgot to align it with the Key and rotor to the Number One Plug.

Will do that tomorrow.

I will "Time" The Phoenix once I get her running.

Fan Belt is on and tight.

Filled it with Oil and Coolant.

I have 4 bolts left over - I hate it when that happens !


03-10-2010, 05:12 PM
Suddenly got colder than a Witch's parts on Halloween here !

Been trying to figure out how to get the Distributor back on after having
turned the shaft.

It only goes in one way, I think.

Then have to figure out which way it rotates (CW or CCW) and then set the
wires to 1,3 2 firing order when #1 is at TDC....then time it.

Much to do and no time to do it.


03-10-2010, 06:49 PM
take the cap off and turn the rotor while pushing it in and yes it will only go in one way and if your looking at the rotor from drivers side it turns ccw

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