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Old 01-29-2016, 05:24 AM   #1
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Blown head gasket?

I just acquired a project boxster for quite a deal, and was wondering if anyone had an idea as to what exactly is going on with it. At first it wouldn't start, and I narrowed that down to a bad fuse. The top's back window was torn out, but I replaced the top, but now the last and biggest problem is ready to be faced. The previous owner warned me of the low compression in the motor, and that didn't really bother me (hey, there are $800 motors for sale on this website), and so I took the car.

Right now, as the starter cranks, the motor isn't catching, but I'm pretty sure that's a crank position sensor, but that's besides the point. The passenger side cylinder bank can be heard puffing air out of it as I crank the starter, and the crank position sensor must not be allowing ignition, because gasoline drips out onto my garage floor when the car is cranked.

Should I suspect a blown head gasket if there's a leak like this? Or would a leak that severe sound like a cracked head or block? Would cylinder liners cause any kind of leak? I want to take it to my mechanic to have it professionally done, but I'd like to know what I may be getting into. Thanks!

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Old 01-29-2016, 05:29 AM   #2
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If you have a blown head gasket, you have the first one I have ever heard of since these water cooled cars were launched. These engines use multi layer steel head gaskets, which are much stronger than the cylinder heads or engine cases.
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Old 01-29-2016, 05:30 AM   #3
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So it's safe to assume that I've got a sizable crack in either the block or the head itself?
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Old 01-29-2016, 05:55 AM   #4
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So it's safe to assume that I've got a sizable crack in either the block or the head itself?
This is from rabys website. Intermixed Oil and Coolant Repairs

He doesn't say there what the issue is, but it could be a few things which you can find by searching. It is likely not a head gasket as those are rock solid on the m96 engine. Either way, I'm going to guess you're either in for a complete rebuild or spending the coin to send the car to Jake. You are likely better off finding a used engine and putting that in the car.
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Old 01-29-2016, 06:06 AM   #5
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If you hear air puffing out there are only a few things it could be as what you are hearing is compression escaping when the piston is heading towards TDC.
Spark plug, is it in securely? This is a best case scenario. More likely a cracked cylinder wall or something like that. Either way I'd shop for a used motor.
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Old 01-29-2016, 06:20 AM   #6
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So it's safe to assume that I've got a sizable crack in either the block or the head itself?
Possibly, but you need to do some diagnostics to find out.
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:02 AM   #7
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The previous owner warned me of the low compression in the motor, and that didn't really bother me (hey, there are $800 motors for sale on this website), and so I took the car.
$800 motors????? Yea sure
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:05 AM   #8
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I know there was one listed here, it was high mileage, but it was $800
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:31 AM   #9
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Did you check that there is a spark plug in every cylinder?
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:45 AM   #10
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I know there was one listed here, it was high mileage, but it was $800
Umm...I wouldn't touch an 800 dollar m96. You aren't going to find one for less than 3000 that's worth paying someone to put and even then that's really pushing it a factory motor will cost 18,000. So most used motors are going to run 5-8k. A really good reputable rebuilt will be closer to 10. Welcome to why the low priced "steals" aren't so much deserving of that title. Your car now has a 20,000 dollar boat anchor in it and even with a used engine you'll be totalling it by putting one in.
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Old 01-29-2016, 09:47 AM   #11
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Umm...I wouldn't touch an 800 dollar m96. You aren't going to find one for less than 3000 that's worth paying someone to put and even then that's really pushing it a factory motor will cost 18,000. So most used motors are going to run 5-8k. A really good reputable rebuilt will be closer to 10. Welcome to why the low priced "steals" aren't so much deserving of that title. Your car now has a 20,000 dollar boat anchor in it and even with a used engine you'll be totalling it by putting one in.
You're throwing out numbers from $3k to $20k...emerald city, eh? Is that in Colorado?

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Old 01-29-2016, 11:06 AM   #12
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You may have a substantial exhaust leak which creates the sound that you're hearing...
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:13 AM   #13
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The last long block that I bought had 90K miles and dyno'd at 190rwhp. It cost $1800.

I can find them consistently for $2,500. These engines are throw-away consumables. There is no reason to over pay. Don't buy into the hype that these are hard to find or special in any way. There were over 220,000 Boxster's sold so there are more than enough used engines and many of them sell for very good prices.
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Old 01-29-2016, 12:39 PM   #14
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So:
It's very likely not the headgasket.
It could still be fairly minor, or need a replacement engine.
You need to troubleshooti further.
Engines can be had for ~$2,500.
A wrecked boxster with a donor engine can be found for not much over the price of a used engine.

How is the oil? Without completely draining it, you can pull the filter and get a look.
Depending on the problem you may be able to replace (just) the complete head fairly cheap.
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Old 01-29-2016, 01:22 PM   #15
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Clearly worth checking oil water for intermix.

What engine 3.2? Year?

2000 known for cylinder head cracks.
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:27 PM   #16
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Did you check that there is a spark plug in every cylinder?
clean or replace your spark plugs and try starting again if you have spark. My engine is perfectly healthy and I've flooded it and you would have thought it had zero compression. I had to put my gas pedal to the floor and crank until it started firing.
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Old 01-30-2016, 03:47 AM   #17
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I'll add that I flooded mine once and it acted much like it had a broken timing chain or toasted IMS.
I also blew out a spark plug in one of my old VWs once and produced that strong sound of puffing air when cranked. Sounded awful!
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Old 01-30-2016, 04:58 AM   #18
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Not to turn this into a "price of an engine" thread, but I usually get $2500-3500 for a motor. The price depends more on the mileage more than the size. I've sold them for cheaper for various reasons and I would be very wary of a $800 motor.


"The passenger side cylinder bank can be heard puffing air out of it as I crank the starter" That's very odd to me. I would think sparkplugs are missing or loose, leaking exhaust manifold or a hole.
"because gasoline drips out onto my garage floor when the car is cranked". Where is it leaking from? Car's not going to start if it's not getting fuel.
Fuel, air & spark
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Old 01-30-2016, 05:19 AM   #19
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It's a higher mileage engine, but I guess I'm the guinea pig here. There doesn't sound like any ignition is happening, from either side. I can only here the starter cranking it.
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Old 01-30-2016, 06:22 AM   #20
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Not to turn this into a "price of an engine" thread, but I usually get $2500-3500 for a motor. The price depends more on the mileage more than the size. I've sold them for cheaper for various reasons and I would be very wary of a $800 motor.


"The passenger side cylinder bank can be heard puffing air out of it as I crank the starter" That's very odd to me. I would think sparkplugs are missing or loose, leaking exhaust manifold or a hole.
"because gasoline drips out onto my garage floor when the car is cranked". Where is it leaking from? Car's not going to start if it's not getting fuel.
Fuel, air & spark
Thanks Woody I was hoping you'd weigh in. My statement of engine prices from earlier seems to be more accurate than some would think. If I recall the crate price from the factory was 18k for a new motor.

Cornontherob I thought you had stated you had oil coolant intermix? If not, what is your main basis for suspecting cracked head/cylinder/head gasket?

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