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Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

Community Veteran
Posts: 13,923
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

A friend of mine tells me that my spare engine will probably suffer a head gasket if the engine has not been stored with coolant inside. Naturally never having heard this I never thought about keeping coolant in it and thus it was all drained before being stored.

 

So, I was just wondering if there is any truth in this and if anyone can explain why it may be so? The engine is aluminium and made by Volvo whos engines are normally solid. The advice came from a jaguar trained tech who normally knows his stuff but he has been wrong on a couple of other things previously despite his very best intentions.

So.. will I be wasting my time swapping out my HG failure engine and putting the spare in?

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6 REPLIES
Community Veteran
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Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

Why not, either, go and see your local Volvo dealership, and speak to the "Workshop Foreman" about it.. ?  he will probably be able to give you some invaluable advice, for free, just by chatting to him, and being " an enthusiastic d.i.y. volvo fanatic"   ! ! !.. . 

 

Alternatively, find an email address, and put the question to him via their service department...  If you feel that way inclined, a phone call, ...but nowt like a bit of "one on one" "mate to mate" chatty stuff to get the best info... ..Wink

Community Veteran
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Re: Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

Make sure to give it a coolant system flush, aswell as a general service (oil, filter, plugs, wires, etc.), most stored engines can be brought back pretty easily, just remember that it'll probably be tight a s a duck's posterior so don't go nuts with it initially...

 

Could be other issues with the engines internals though such as piston rings having rusted to the bores, or the valves being stuck open, so may take some tinkering to revive it...

Community Veteran
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Re: Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

Generally it's best to drain a stored engine of coolant and refill it with fresh. What tends to happen if it's stored dry, is that the parts of the head gasket which are exposed to the air may dry out and shrink. It won't be much shrinkage (probably not even visible) but even a few thou will be enough to do the damage when the engine is eventually re-run. 

 

Even if you do store it with fresh coolant in the coolant should be refreshed after a year or so. It tend to deteriorate.

 

Community Veteran
Posts: 13,923
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

So with that said nozzer, if i were to refill it now for say a week without running it, would it re-expand? How do brand new gaskets avoid this?

 

Or would I be better getting the gasket changed on the spare engine before fitting it into the car?

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Community Veteran
Posts: 16,848
Thanks: 1,133
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Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

How long has this engine been stored?  during the "storage time"... did you "turn it over"  to see if the pistons were movable?  if it was for a long time, then I would recommend replacing the head gasket, on the grounds that it will be easier to do, with the engine out of the car... it "could" blow, just when you are legging it to hospital on a dark wet night, in a big hurry.... ... but more importantly, to check that the "gear" is all moving... not only the pistons, but the rocker gear, etc.. You could find that after installing it, and trying to crank it over, that it is very very tight, or indeed, rock solid, and then you will have bigger problems trying to fix it in the car...

 

By doing it before you put it in the car, you will have the satisfaction of knowing it is in the best condition to start and run properly, when it is cranked up... rather than "Fingers crossed"  I don`t have to haul it out again... feeling.

Good Luck..

Community Veteran
Posts: 2,286
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Registered: 04-08-2009

Re: Head Gaskets / Stored engines.

I think new head gaskets have a very thin film of a waxy substance on them to protect against any changes due to moisture in the gasket material. This gets denatured by the heat from the engine when in use. I personally would change the head gasket before you fit the engine.