VW Golf Hassles - Matt Kelly
Hello all
I have a 1990 Golf GTI - 127,000 miles. Yesterday while going round a roundabout the oil pressure warning light & buzzer came on and then went off once I was back on the straight. It was only 1/4 mile home so I got home & left the car to cool down. This morning upon investigation there's virtually no oil in the sump & a thick whitish substance in the coolant reservoir.
The head gasket has gone hasn't it ? It's going to cost me a lot to put right isn't it ?

Any ideas ?

Re: VW Golf Hassles - Dave
Sorry mate I think you're right.

Shouldn't take you that long to replace the head gasket though. Make sure you clean the head/block off thoroughly where they meet...
Re: VW Golf Hassles - Andy Bairsto
spot on ,what other problems you will find when you take the head of only time will tell.But the actual work is well within any competent diy ,best to get the head skimmed if it is servicable.
Re: VW Golf Hassles - Dave
...and check the head for cracks! I once changed a gasket, then found the syptoms continued. I'd put it back together with cracks around the valve seats.


Luckily it didn't upset me. I just cheerfully did the job again without making a fuss...

Re: VW Golf Hassles - Andy Bairsto
I think this could be a case for a recon motor to be fitted probably cheaper in the long run If you intend keeping the car
Re: VW Golf Hassles - Matt Kelly
That's a possibility I had considered - I'm for keeping the car because I love it. My wife thinks that as we had to replace the rear disks in May it'll be throwing good money after bad. I don't know how much a re-con engine will be. I'll be phoning my local independent VW specialist tomorrow & see what he says. I'm afraid changing the oil, air filter & plugs is as far as I go !

Thanks for the help.
Re: VW Golf Hassles - Phil P

might be worth fitting a reconditioned head if the existing one hadn't already been done - were the tappets noisy? Further to Andy & Dave's comments, suggest you check that the block is true also. I fitted a recon head to my mkII golf only for the gasket to blow in the same place 6,000 miles later because i didn't have the block skimmed.

Block skimming? - David Lacey
I've never come across a BLOCK which is so warped it requires skimming.
Every HEADGASKET job we do we have to skim the head lightly to bring it back flat.

To skim the block face is a huge job - engine out and all.

Re: Block skimming? - Matt Kelly
And how much do you usually charge for it please, if that's not a "how long is a piece of string?" question
Re: Block skimming? - Ben Chapman
If the car has had regular oil changes (5k miles) the bottom end should be in reasonable conditon. While the head is off it would be a good idea to have it cleaned, and have some new valve guides fitted as these arelikely to be worn on a 127k mile engine. Places like hi-spec motor sport in dartford do these for about £7 each. If it was my car, i would spend 250 and have the head ported (price includes guides of course), which should give you 10% more power if done correctly. While the head off you might as well chuck in some new tappets, and a reground Kent GS2 cam. I would replace the cam-belt if it has not been done in the last two-three years, and change the tensioner if you havent already done so. Injector seals are also a common problem so i would change these as well- dont cost much. With the cam you should get a 15% increase, ie around 130bhp.

When you have the head and block resurfaced, you do not want them shinny. The best finish to ensure an airtight seal is like the surface of a stopper on those old glass medicine bottles your grand parents had.

Bit worried about no oil in sump when you got home - Ben Chapman
Re: Bit worried about no oil in sump when you got - Dave
All been pushed into the water???
Re: Block skimming? - Matt Kelly
Thanks for your input - to be perfectly honest, despite being a member of Club GTI & enthusiastic reader of Rabbit I would like to merely put the engine back where it was before it went pear shaped & I'm not really looking for any performance gains.
It has had regular oil changes - both by me & previous owner(s). It's got a 2/3rds fully stamped service book & I've got invoices for the services during the gaps (it appears that of the couple who owned it prior to me, the wife got the book stamped but the husband just kept the invoices) so hopefully things shouldn't be too bad.
When I looked at the dipstick the sump wasn't empty, there was about half a centimetre of oil left.
I suppose it would be better to tow it to the repairers rather than try to drive (the engine runs & I suspect that the gasket actually went on Friday & I was driving it around on Saturday).
Re: Block skimming? - Ben Chapman
Phil P is right. Its crucial you take the car to somewhere that knows what they are doing so they can prepare the sufaces properly.
Matt: I would still reccomend you have the valve guides replaced though, they are a known weak point on this engine. Just a small amount of oil being burnt on these engines can make them pink. I once foolishly fitted new oil seals to an old 80 1.8s i had. It started smoking again after 4k miles- a false economy. The thing with the head work is that you need to remove the guides to do the porting. So it should not cost that much more to have your head modified than just replacing he guides. A decent head will transform the way the car drives, and will give you the biggest performance increase for your money.

Re: Block skimming? - Phil P
Warping isn't the prob; depending on how long the leak has been going on you can get erosion/pitting in the block surface
Re: VW Golf Hassles - Andrew Moorey (Tune-Up Ltd.)
Before condemning the cylinder head check the oil cooler arrangement where the oil filter goes. The coolant water circulates around the top of the oil filter housing and they regularly rust out mixing oil and coolant.
Good luck!!

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