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Head is away!

Discussion in 'A4/S4 forum(B5 Chassis)' started by Mr T, May 8, 2009.

  1. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 8, 2009]
    Hey guys,

    Just joined yesterday and already have hit misfortune.

    Just been informed by the garage that my head cylinder is scrap on my B5 1.8T A4!

    I have the AA repair cover and hope that it assists me with this but even at that the cost will be over and above any assistance they give me, if even the maximum.

    So need a bit of advice from you guys. My options are apparently to;
    • Put a second hand engine in the car - which would costs £450 then approx £500 labour
    • Get a second hand engine and strip the head from it and put it in the car instead of an engine overhall - same cost for engine but around £300 labour
    • Source a second hand head from a reliable source
    The breakers yards that have been contacted refused to split the engine and sell the head seperately, which is understandable I suppose.

    Can anyone offer me any advice with this or point me in the right direction to obtain a second hand head from a reliable source? I am in Belfast.

    Thanks for any help.
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  3. jcb
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    jcb Active Member VCDS Map User

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    [May 8, 2009]
    why is it scrap? timing belt?
    even a few bent valves are repairable I have some valves you could have from a head I stripped.

    would have a spare head but have decided to rebuild one and swap it out rather than keep it as a spare.
    I shipped a crank and pistons to N. Ireland so shipping isn't an issue.
    should be able to find someone on the numerous GTi or Audi sites with one for sale.
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  4. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 8, 2009]
    Thanks for the speedy reply mate.

    Apparently it's corroded and nothing can be done. Timing belt and that is all well just was finding it difficult to start, then clear white smoke from exhaust, losing water, overheating etc
    Brought it to garage and right away he said the head was gone but after stripping the engine down he found it to be scrapped.

    He is ringing the AA this afternoon to see what assistance they can give as I have already had a patrol out looking the car over.

    Really don't have the sort of money this will cost that's why I am looking at a second hand head.
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  5. mikeya4
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    mikeya4 Member

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    [May 8, 2009]
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  6. aragorn
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    aragorn "Stick a V8 in it!" Staff Member Moderator VCDS Map User

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    [May 8, 2009]
    sounds rather suspect to me, its very rare for a head not to be recoverable by skimming it...

    But then i'm always cynical of garages, they're all a bunch of tossers :p

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Cylinder-Head-Audi-VW-1-8-20-Valve-Petrol-code-AEB_W0QQitemZ170317154744QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_CarsParts_Vehicles_CarParts_SM?hash=item170317154744&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1683|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

    Its a bit pricey, but presumably it will come with a warranty etc seen as its a company thats selling it?
    #5
  7. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 8, 2009]
    Thanks again guys.

    Garage just called me there to say that AA not covering the breakdown because the part was "corroded" lol.

    So gonna take it to their complaints department now as it became corroded because of a mechanical breakdown of the part surely.
    Only 74,000 on the car.

    What's your views on this?

    aragon: that seems quite reasonable for a fully reconditioned, mint, head does it not? But is that the correct one for a 1998 1.8T?

    Really appreciate the assistance guys.
    #6
  8. jcb
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    jcb Active Member VCDS Map User

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    [May 8, 2009]
    mate, sorry for being blunt but that all sounds horseshit!

    The AA don't inspect parts. you are either broken down and they can fix it or they tow you (membership allowing). I don't know about the repair service you mention but if you mean the recovery service where they will try to repair it to get you going then they wouldn't touch it as it is already been dismantled.


    as for corrosion.....I would be calling the Trading Standards people on your garage.
    In 20 years of messing with Aluminium cylinder heads I have never had one that was unserviceable because of corrosion. bent, warped, cracked, melted....yes. all of those!

    unless you are running it on Nitric Acid the Aluminium forms a thin layer of Aluminium oxide on all surfaces. It is some of the toughest stuff you can find. they use it in ceramics insulators and abrasives because it is so tough.


    can you get some pictures of the head?
    Think your garage are either:
    a) taking the piss
    b) don't know their arse from their elbow and should go back to frying chips.

    worse case is it needs a hot tank dip to clean it up and a skim.
    thats £50 tops
    then:
    new head gasket.
    change your water pump (as that is almost always the cause of the original overheating that casued the head to go in the first place, one overheat and a bit of warpage, gasket fails, seeping coolant boils in the space, gradually lose coolant, white smoke etc etc).
    do the timing belt as a matter of course
    check your thermostat and temp sender.

    see if you can get a second opinion from another mechanic locally before you part with any hard earned to the people that currently have your car in bits.
    I would be seriously worried if they are putting the head back on that the timing is done properly or you will be needing a new head
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  9. ian52
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    ian52 2000 a4 1.8tqs-yellow

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    [May 8, 2009]
    i have done a head gasket on a rover k series engine and the head was badly corroded so it had to be welded then skimmed.
    #8
  10. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 8, 2009]
    lol

    Maybe I should clear this up for you.

    I have the recovery and breakdown repair cover that means if the car breaks down due to a mechanical or electrical failure the AA will pay up to £500 for the repair to be carried out at a VAT registered garage.

    I was very concerned about the way car was driving so I pulled it into the side of the road and called the AA who sent out one of their approved recovery lorries. The guy checked the car over and recovered it to a garage of my choosing as he said that it was not safe to drive.
    I chose this garage because they are reputable and have carried out a lot of work for me on this car.
    The mechanic said straight away that the head was gone but would strip the engine down to see how serious the problem was. It was then that he said that the head was badly corroded and needed replaced.
    He had mentioned that he had welded a few heads before but it was not a preferable route to take as he had one that went again three months later and that it was touch and go.


    lol I take your word for that as I haven't a clue myself but also trust the garage as they have the head sitting there in case the AA sends out an assessor.

    But the AA today said that they would not cover the part as they don't cover for corrosion so I have emailed their complaints dept in relation to this with the argument that the corrosion was the result, not the cause, of the mechanical breakdown of the insured part. Is that the correct thinking here? That head malfunctioned in some way, or the gasket, that allowed the water to get in and cause the damage?
    My understanding is that they think the breakdown of the part was caused by corrosion where I am arguing that it is the symptom of the breakdown not the cause. It's because of the corrosion that the head must be replaced.


    I could try and get the pictures but don't want for distrust to set in between myself and the garage as I have a good relationship with them. But it's not impossible.

    Points noted.

    Though the timing belt and water pump have just been replaced the garage said they would be replacing the belt again. Would the water pump need changing again too?

    Getting the second opinion could be troublesome as the car is stripped at the garage. But I see what you're saying alright.

    Firstly I need to ascertain if the AA are willing to help me. If not then I will have to take it through the complaints channels.
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  11. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 8, 2009]
    How did that work out then?
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  12. ian52
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    ian52 2000 a4 1.8tqs-yellow

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    [May 8, 2009]
    it was my sisters car and it was scrapped about a year after that.not sure if it used any water by then but it worked getting it welded anyway.
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  13. Broken Byzan
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    Broken Byzan Photographic Moderator Staff Member Moderator VCDS Map User

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    [May 8, 2009]
    Well, saerch breaking on the likes of Ebay, i have bought AEB heads before for £120 delivered. Make sure you search in VW as well as Audi as the passat shares the same engine.
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  14. aragorn
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    aragorn "Stick a V8 in it!" Staff Member Moderator VCDS Map User

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    [May 9, 2009]
    i share JCB's views on this.

    It takes a hell of a lot to write off a head, and only if you'd been driving it for miles and miles with the blown gasket, or had a very highly tuned motor at full throttle when it let go would you do enough damage to write it off...

    Also seems a bit suspect to me that it lets go not long after the water pump was changed. The gaskets only tend to fail if the engines been overheated, due to for example a failed water pump or a large airlock, or if the engine has done interstellar mileage. Our motor is on 182k on the original HG...

    The only other way i'd have thaught it would let go is if it was run for a while with no antifreeze, as the antifreeze has corrosion inhibitors in it which help stop things going to ****.

    You say you trust the garage and thats fine, however i wouldnt trust ANY garage, ive seen and heard of far too many cock ups to trust them.

    I'd ask the garage for the head, and take it to an engineering shop for a second opinion, they'll be able to look at the "corrosion" and tell you how much would need skimmed off it/welded up to clean it up. You can then compare this against the cost of buying a replacement head.

    The price for the reconditioned one i listed on ebay seems pretty good to me for a recon head, but you'd probably be just as well getting a good used one and having it skimmed before fitting.
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  15. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    [May 9, 2009]
    I've come across aluminium cylinder heads, that were so badly corroded, they were scrap.

    One was actually an A4 1,8 20V SE. It was so bad, and pitted, it would have taken the head height out of spec had it been skimmed, the valves would have shaken hands with the pistons at high rpm, even with uprated valve springs to prevent valve "bounce."

    Another from a Peugeot 405 MI-16 was corroded enough for 2 of the valve seats to work loose. The seats were operating with the valves, made one hell of a racket, and once I stripped it down, the combination of corrosion, and the valve seats that had been operating with the valves had destroyed the cylinder head.

    So yes, aluminium cylinder heads can corrode beyond the point of redemption, whereby most garages wouldn't want to take the chance of welding and skimming. I would certainly rather condemn the head, than have it fixed, and offer a warranty on it, if I didn't believe it would hold up for the 12-month period!
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  16. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 9, 2009]
    Appreciate your feedback again mate.

    Thing is though that the old cooler went on me a few months ago and this garage did the work changing the cooler, pump, timing belt etc. Whilst he had it in I asked that he do what was left to do for a service so he changed the air filter and fuel filter and it was just after this, the same day, that I noticed something was wrong as it seemed lumpy at starting a few times. I noticed that the temp gauge was reading over half way at times when the car was started, which I thought was odd, but it quickly went back to half way when the engine was running. Mechanic thought this was a faulty temp sensor and was going to take a look at it for me. Fortunately, or unfortunately, for me when I was on the way to the garage it was reading over half way whilst driving and when I pulled into the garage the temp warning light came on also. This was when he diagnosed quite quickly the head was gone.
    So it is possible that the head had been away for a while and went undiagnosed due to the other work that had been carried out on the engine.
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  17. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 9, 2009]
    Thanks Siena,

    What causes the corrosion in the first place, a faulty gasket? If so what would cause it to malfunction?
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  18. aragorn
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    aragorn "Stick a V8 in it!" Staff Member Moderator VCDS Map User

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    [May 9, 2009]
    corrosion is usually caused by a lack of antifreeze/coolant or infrequent changes of engine coolant.

    The "anti-freeze" part of the coolant doesnt wear out, but the corrosion inhibitors do.

    The last scrap head i saw was from a rover k series. The engineer i was chatting too had skimmed the head for the guy 18 months previous and the guy had rebuilt it and filled the motor with plain water.
    #17
  19. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 9, 2009]
    Well it may be fair to say that that was not the case with the car as it has a full Audi service history right up to 6 thousand mile ago (70,000) and I have had it serviced since I had it.
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  20. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 11, 2009]
    Just had a look at the head this morning in the garage and it is badly corroded to be honest. The mechanic showed me one side of the head and, which was fine, then got me look at the other side and compare and you could clearly see how bad it was.

    Got back in touch with the AA also this morning and they are sending out an assessor to take a look at the head to see what the underlying cause of the failure was.

    I am still arguing that corrosion is a symptom of the insured part malfunctioning. Logically I can't see any other reason as if the head and the gasket had of each done their work then the corrosion wouldn't have occurred. Am I right or is my logic flawed lol
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  21. Mr T
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    Mr T New Member

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    [May 15, 2009]
    Just an update:

    The AA have decided to provide me cover for the corrosion so gonna order the part from the link that aragon provided me with - thanks mate!

    It seems to be reasonably priced and is completely reconditioned. What do you think?

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Cylinder-Head...0QQitemZ170317154744QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Car sParts_Vehicles_CarParts_SM?hash=item170317154744& _trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1683|66%3A2|65 %3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50
    #20

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