Gen 1 Head Gaskets....The REAL PROBLEM EXPLAINED

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A lot of people seem to think there is a problem with the Gen 1 head gaskets.... Wrong, the head gaskets are a symptom, of the REAL problem - which is the steel cylinder sleeves were poorly designed and they slip!!!!!

The solution is a Arrow rebuild...which I had done (lucky me) and here is what they did (they sent me this "Failure Report" as they call it):

ARROW RACING
ENGINES INC.
FAILURE REPORT

RV102991

Upon receipt of your engine, we found several things wrong. Both cylinder head gaskets were leaking coolant and the thermostat crossover was leaking too. The main housing bore was out of spec from .0001" to .0003" and had to be align honed to repair it. The flywheel also needed to be replaced.
The block was sent back to the original manufacture for counter boring and redecking.
The engine was then reassembled using all new parts including the crankshaft, camshaft with lifters, piston/rod assemblies, cylinder liners, timing chain set, front cover with oil pump, thermostat, water pump, rod and main bearings, spark plugs and wires. With new gaskets and seals, the rebuild is complete.
The engine was then sent to our dyno shop for a two-hour break in period with three W.O.T. power runs to confirm the engine met the rated horsepower and torque numbers. These were both exceeded @ 425HP and 510# of torque. A cylinder leak down and compression test was preformed, and a special oberg oil filter was inspected and after a final check for any external oil leaks the engine was prepared for return shipment.

NOTE: The second paragraph...remachining counter bores. This is the major work required to correct the design defect of the cylinder liners. It provides a means to lock tem in place so they cannot move and cause any future failures.

Look at all of the other parts that were installed by Arrow...Nearly everything in the engine is new!

I hope this helps clear up the myth that you can correct this problem by replacing the head gaskets only. That is like puting a band-aid on cancer. You didn't cure the problem.
 

MaxedGTS

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Im on the fence about teh head gaskets though. Arrow builds strong motors but people still have had problems after the 1st rebuild later with the older head gaskets requiring them to do another rebuild later in time. Not blaming Arrow for that, just the old head gaskets were [email protected]

Max
 

kverges

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Nicely done. You have attempted to transform your anecdotoal situation into a belief that all Gen I cars are doomed to have engine rebuilds at massive expense.

Is it your goal in life to devalue every car by $10K or more because you were lucky (or unlucky?) enough to need a rebuild?

Many, many people (I'll bet the vast majority) have no engine problems at all. My 1993 Gen I had 22k on in when I traded it for my SRT with many track miles including water temps of 240 with not coolant problems or head gasket problems at all. I'm not the only one, either.

Do you have one iota of statistical evidence? If so, I'd like to know (1) the total number of engine rebuilds due to coolant leaks or sleeve shifting; (2) the affected model years; (3) the total number of returns on the engine rebuilds and reasons for the returns; (4) the total number of head gasket replacements and affected model years; and (5) the total number of head gasket returns.

Do any of the head gasket/rebuld whiners even consider the fact that the rest of the world reads this stuff and takes it as gospel that most or all Gen I cars have defective engines or gaskets? If you have statistical data (not anecdotal) that's one thing, but to be so vocal about your problem and some limited number of others does a disservice to the Viper community as a whole. For example, I got $29K for a perfect 1993 Gen I car, and that included Penske Coil Overs, Aluminum radiator, P/S cooler and StopTech Brakes. The car was cosmetically perfect, too.

And I hope the head gasket whiners don't mind when other enthusiasts bash the Viper as a piece of junk - you folks are contributing to the image.

Let's have some stats or shut up about it being a pervasive problem. I am not saying don't share your experiences, as that is useful for others who have similar problems, but don't spout off with unsupported claims that "all" or "every" car must have a similar issue.
 

joe117

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"The main housing bore was out of spec from .0001" to .0003" and had to be align honed to repair it."

I've seen more than a few posts of letters from Arrow saying that the crank bore was off one to three ten thousanths.
I'm not so sure how important that is. I suspect that although perfect is better than good enough, this isn't something that would cause any trouble had it been left as is.

Arrow makes and sells equipment for measuring this. I'm not surprised that they fix it when they see it. They get paid for what they do.

The head gasket problem, as far as I can see, is real. The problem seem's to be the material that the gen1 gaskets were made from.
The new all metal gaskets are the fix. I don't remember hearing about any failures after the gaskets were replaced with the new type.

I have heard about Arrow rebuilt Gen1 engines having repeat problems with head gaskets.
I don't know, but I suspect that these were the result of Arrow replacing old type gaskets with new, old type gaskets.

All in all, I would rather have an Arrow rebuild than not.

By the way, my 94 ran 95k miles before having the engine replaced due to gasket failure. That was before my time with the car.
 

VIPER BAZ UK

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MY Head gaskets have just gone 20k is it a case off just the gaskets?
How many other people had the liners re done?
what about the cars not under waranty (like like mine) how and what did they do?
 

Ron

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Paul,

Since you now know your flywheel horsepower and torque, how about stopping by our friendly Noblesville, IN based Dynojet to help resolve our flywheel to rear wheel conversion factor dilemma. Might need to do a pull soon otherwise your engine HP might climb as it breaks in and distort the results.

Let me know if interested @ [email protected]
 

dansauto

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This is too funny, off by .2 mls!!! just because they can measure doesn't mean the tolerance caused the failure. I think arrow makes a great motor, but the above is nonsense!! The real reason is that the gasket material was ****. They used the same material in 95-97 neons and they were prone to fail also. (maybe they also had cylinder creep :rolleyes:
 

joe117

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You know, I do remember a buddy of mine who had a Neon with head gasket problems. I thought it strange at the time. Now it starts to make sense.
 

RobHook

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How long ago did you have this rebuild done? If I'm not mistaken, someone else posted that EXACT same report about a year ago. I haven't looked for it in the archives but I remember we discussed the idea that anything that's a few TEN THOUSANDTHS of an inch off is probably not really a problem at all. ****, the metal probably flexes more than that when it gets warm.

Anyway, it may have been you who posted that in the first place so maybe it's a moot point.

--Rob
 

HP

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I think tolerances in the range of 0.0002" for cylinder bore alignment accuracy,
would be a testament to good quality control. I'm sure than minor temp
variations, transmission and front accessory bolt torque distortion - account for more.
 

HP

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Since there is questions about when the corrected head gaskets hit the
market - does someone have a part # 's for the beginning run of good gaskets?
 

Lee00blacksilverGTS

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I think Mamba meant well, he was only trying to inform and he's been jumped on here. But I also don't see how how he does his deductive reasoning, the tolerances don't seem THAT far off and seem a comment by Arrow that they corrected this during the rebuild, not a diagnosis that this was the original problem. Now, what we may be missing is that maybe Mamba had some CONVERSATIONS or other information with Arrow about this and that is where he is getting his info. If that is the case I would like him to come back and clairify, cause I've got a green/saddle Gen 1 on my short list.
 

SNKEBIT

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I agree,,, don't be scarin' people!!! :shocked: Until substantial proof of bad sleeves can be proved, don't be goin' off on a rant that all Gen. 1's are gonna **** out!!!!!! :mad:
I don't even want to be worried about my car costin' thousands to fix & it isn't even paid for yet!!!! :eek:
 

Rich Carlson

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I have a few questions for Mamba on the statements you made:


(A lot of people seem to think there is a problem with the Gen 1 head gaskets.... Wrong, the head gaskets are a symptom, of the REAL problem - which is the steel cylinder sleeves were poorly designed and they slip!!!!!)

How was this steel cylinder sleeves poorly designed?
Can you define "slip" for me?

The counter bore sleeve design does provides better sealing to the block but the original design still works very well. The only time this issue is brought up on the Discussion Board is when someone thinks they have the total answer or solution to everyone's problem. Everyone does not have this problem. As Keith stated, the majority of the Gen 1 motors have never been apart. A reason that the head gaskets can fail is due to the lack of maintenance of the cooling system. I am not saying that you did not maintain your vehicle but I do know of a number of failures due to the lack of maintenance.

(Look at all of the other parts that were installed by Arrow...Nearly everything in the engine is new! I hope this helps clear up the myth that you can correct this problem by replacing the head gaskets only)

So what does that mean....Arrow needed to replace all the other parts because of the sleeves? How did the "Poorly Designed" sleeves cause all the other parts in the motor to fail?
 
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I have had many of these engines apart to change the head gaskets. The majority of them failed due to lack of cooling system maintenance ( you need to change the coolant every two years, pull the block plugs and run the correct ratio of coolant to distilled water and add a anti-corrosive). Having said that , the early composite gaskets highly subject to deterioration. The new tri-metal gaskets are much better. Of the many engines I have had apart, only a few had liners that were too high or low. This has been a problem on some motors but only a small minority.
 
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Misalignment (actually the engineering terms for this feature are Concentricity and Runout) of .0001/.0003 may or may not be critical. In my case it was. If the runout occurs between side by side journals as much as .0003 this is a lot (which mine did). It is not difficult to hold tolerences of .00005/.0001 between side by side journals and a total runout tolerence from one end of the block to the other of say .0001/.0002 would be not unusual. I don't know what the design tolerences were (Arrow didn't tell me) for the engine but these numbers would not be unlikely. I work in the machining industry of Aerospace and Military Ordnance and can tell you we routinely manufacture much closer tolerenced parts than the above.

I did not mean to imply all the Gen 1's would fail. I was simply told by an engineer at Arrow about the steel sleeve issue and their fix (mandated by Dodge) being the counter bore solution on all engines if they did the rebuild. Note: this also requires a different steel cylinder liner.

The fact that Arrow replaced practically everything in my engine (under warranty) is just because that is what Dodge wanted. Rather than to reassemble the engine using used parts that may later fail (and have to be replaced under warranty again) Dodge just does this for insurance.

I was very pleased. Having returned the car simply for the head gasket leaks, they found and replaced lots of stuff (flywheels etc.).

I did post this before. I had the rebuild done last fall.

Bottom line...If you can get an Arrow rebuild under warranty "Do it". It is much more than you would expect. The cost to do this work would be $10K-$15K if you could get them to do it on your own (which they tell me you can't). They are too backlogged with Dodge work to do an individuals.
 

garolittle

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Nicely done. You have attempted to transform your anecdotoal situation into a belief that all Gen I cars are doomed to have engine rebuilds at massive expense.

Is it your goal in life to devalue every car by $10K or more because you were lucky (or unlucky?) enough to need a rebuild?

Many, many people (I'll bet the vast majority) have no engine problems at all. My 1993 Gen I had 22k on in when I traded it for my SRT with many track miles including water temps of 240 with not coolant problems or head gasket problems at all. I'm not the only one, either.

Do you have one iota of statistical evidence? If so, I'd like to know (1) the total number of engine rebuilds due to coolant leaks or sleeve shifting; (2) the affected model years; (3) the total number of returns on the engine rebuilds and reasons for the returns; (4) the total number of head gasket replacements and affected model years; and (5) the total number of head gasket returns.

Do any of the head gasket/rebuld whiners even consider the fact that the rest of the world reads this stuff and takes it as gospel that most or all Gen I cars have defective engines or gaskets? If you have statistical data (not anecdotal) that's one thing, but to be so vocal about your problem and some limited number of others does a disservice to the Viper community as a whole. For example, I got $29K for a perfect 1993 Gen I car, and that included Penske Coil Overs, Aluminum radiator, P/S cooler and StopTech Brakes. The car was cosmetically perfect, too.

And I hope the head gasket whiners don't mind when other enthusiasts bash the Viper as a piece of junk - you folks are contributing to the image.

Let's have some stats or shut up about it being a pervasive problem. I am not saying don't share your experiences, as that is useful for others who have similar problems, but don't spout off with unsupported claims that "all" or "every" car must have a similar issue.

Keith, Do you still sell that air purging system?
 

Vip-RT10

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Hey Paul, you are dead on.....That is the reason I changed my engine to a Gen II. I was using so much oil and anti-freeze that my Viper was a 2 ****** Viper!!! Upon removing the heads, the gaskets were fine @15K miles. The problem were that 2 pistons (one on one side and one on the other) were completely clean (steam cleaned). Thanks goes out to those putzes at Lamborghini for designing the Gen I engine.

I stayed away from another Gen I motor and found a Gen II that Vipermed and I installed.
 

SNKEBIT

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O.K. guys,,, I want somebody to show me some documented #'s on
bad sleeves, bad gaskets, in relation to how many Gen.1 engines were sold! so far I've counted 3 bad sleeves and a bunch of bad gaskets out of how many thousands of gen. 1's!!!!!!!!!
 
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OK...Here is the bottom line!

There is no "Head Gasket Problem" in the GEN 1.

It is a design issue in the engine...DC knows it, and that's why they authorized Arrow to do all of the above on my motor (and every other one they work on under warranty).

Anyone who tells you there is a "Head Gasket Problem" is obviously repeating what they have heard and don't know the true story.

I am extremely thankful to DC for what they did. I now have an engine better than was originally designed (and since I plan to never get rid of this car, or buy another).

There is now and will forever be only "ONE GEN 1". The other cars are fine (better in a lot of ways) but you can't change history. Someday the collecting public will wan't the original design!
 

TurboRob

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Wow, kinda seems to me like Paul was just trying to post his particular case and a lot of people got very defensive. Even "offensive" in some cases.

With flaming like that, it might make others less willing to share their particular experiences for fear of being stoned to death.

Just my .02.

-Rob Raymer
 

VIPER1996

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I'm not an expert nor do I understand everything I just read. I can tell you this, I have owned a 94 RT with 28,000 miles and now a 96 RT with 7000 miles and both cars had and have bad gaskets. I can't be that unlucky! I think a lot of guy's don't even know their gaskets are bad because most of the time the antifreeze never hits the ground, it burns off the block 1st and if you have stock exhaust it's pretty hard to see where the head meets the block. All you have to do is get under the car and look for water marks running under the head bolts. I think many people are gonna be surprised!
 

joe117

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I think the proof for the idea that the gaskets are the problem is that the engines have no problem after the new type gaskets are installed.

If the problem were shifting sleeves, the new style gaskets wouldn't solve it.
 
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Talked to my Viper Tech about this yesterday....

He told me that if the head gaskets are found to be leaking (on a Gen 1 car under warranty) then Dodge dealers are told to pull the engine and send it to Arrow!

This is his only option if he talks with DC and doesn't just replace the gaskets on his own.

Question - Why do you think DC would want to do all of that work (see above), if replacing the head gaskets would solve the problem.

Attention Viper Techs - Please Help - Chime in with what you believe DC wants you to do if you find leaking heads!
 

joe117

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I don't think DC has faith in the average tech being able to change the gaskets.
I don't think DC wanted to get a reputation for building a car that their techs couldn't service.

I've seen Arrow reports on other gen1 engines. Every one I've seen has that "out of alignment" stuff. They always replace more things than one would expect.
Is it needed? I don't know but I would guess they are just doing anything that they can find out of spec.
They get paid for what they do. Why miss anything?
 

MaxedGTS

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Question - Why do you think DC would want to do all of that work (see above), if replacing the head gaskets would solve the problem.
Why do you think DC changed the material of the head gasket?
Arrow builds top notch engines! but, why is it that gen 1 engines need rebuilding AGAIN sometime later after Arrow has rebuilt them? Because THE OLDER HEAD GASKETS ****!

Max
 

VIPER1996

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MAMBA does have a good point and it makes sense. I'm also sure there is a lot of truth in what he is saying. I talked to Chuck Tator the other day and he said his 94 started leaking after 1000 miles, he re-torqued the heads at this point and hasn't had a problem since.

I do think what MaxedGTS say's probably makes the most sense! If the rebuild should take care of it why did some guy's have to do it more than once and why did they see a need for a new gasket.

I know in my 94 just doing the heads gaskets fixed the problem -short term- because I didn't put a lot of miles on it after the fact. I'm pretty confident it will take care of the problem for good on the 96.
 

joe117

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Right Max,
The old gasket material was a bad choice.
Before the new gaskets were available, Arrow replaced old gaskets with old gaskets.

That's why some gen 1 cars had multiple gasket problems.
I haven't heard about any gen 1 cars needing gasket replacement again after the new type were put in.
 

Roadkill

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Talked to my Viper Tech about this yesterday....

He told me that if the head gaskets are found to be leaking (on a Gen 1 car under warranty) then Dodge dealers are told to pull the engine and send it to Arrow!

This is his only option if he talks with DC and doesn't just replace the gaskets on his own.

Question - Why do you think DC would want to do all of that work (see above), if replacing the head gaskets would solve the problem.

Attention Viper Techs - Please Help - Chime in with what you believe DC wants you to do if you find leaking heads!

Funny you mention this.. I talked to my Viper tech 3 days ago and he said that the head gasket leaking was not listed by DC as a pull the engine and send it in procedure.. this is for a Gen I of course.
 

JonB

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This whole debate has raged at least 3 times here in past years. But Dan Cragin said it best. How well I remember a fellow here named FRANK, a talented wrench who berated everyone who did not just swap his own gaskets and FORGET the thorough warranty rebuild to which they may have been entitled. It even got UGLY!

Fact is, almost all of the above debate has elements of truth.

Some absolute facts:

-- I can only remember 2 'catastrophic' failures, where hydro-lock occured and motors were ruined. Almost every situation begins with tell-tale coolant aroma and can last for tens-of-thousands of miles. But MANY of those cases.

--Dodge allowed dealers to fix motors til 4/94. Few owners drove a LOT back then. fact. It took almost 2 years to "discover" this frequent problem. At one time, Dodge's warranty records supposedly showed my '93 as the highest (known)mileage Viper in the USA. I drove it a LOT, being PASSIONATELY AND OBSESSIVELY IN LOVE, you see.......

---Then ARROW RACING won the VEWC contract and has done almost all internal repairs since. Only a select few Viper Techs were allowed to do local warranty motor repairs, case-by-case permission required. Dan C was one, as was Ken K.

--Early gaskets were of mediocre quality. Fact. That is WHY they were revised and upgraded, and the old ones discontinued and WITHDRAWN/PULLED from stock. Proof of the inferior status in my opinion. The new ones came out in late 95 as I recall.

--Exacerbating the problem was the somewhat regular occurance of "cylinder liner creep" as mileage accrues.
Discovered by Arrow.

-- In my opinion, and in relative terms, a LOT of cars (certainly not a majority) failed! AND WILL FAIL. But a relatively large number. Maybe 25-30% or MORE. A well-kept secret, but a known number warranty-wise.

--MILES MATTERS. MAINTENANCE MATTERS. I was a founding VCA officer for 1st 5 years, and MANY of the things we communicated to DODGE back then involved this single issue. It was a dialogue. It IS a REAL issue, affecting a large cross-section of 92-95 cars. FACT. But dont shoot the messengers.

-- If you have the heads re-torqued every 4000-5000 miles, you could / can "prolong the demise" of these gaskets. A not-so-simple retorque has also shown many times to STOP or SLOW these seeping leaks.

-- I dont know of ANY 92-94s that went 50,000 miles with no coolant aroma ever. I know far more that have failed. Initial symptoms are a "mystery aroma" of hot, acrid coolant, with no obviuous leaks. Close exam reveals dry, evaporated '****** tracks' down the block at the head-to-gasket seam. Unfortunately, the T-stat crossover gaskets can also smell similarly, but are usually obvious.

-- My 1993, fanatically maintained, began smelling at 12k miles, and we retorqued once at 24k. Went 42k until a warranty rebuild.

-- Some / (many?) cars were rebuilt under warranty before the NEW 5-layer gasket was released. They therefore received the SAME INFERIOR GASKET. But their liners were reset and 'locked' in some process I cannot describe. (sorry) So they NEED REGULAR MAINTENANCE of coolant flush / fill, head-retorque 5000 miles.

-- BUY KEITH VERGES'BLEEDERS. Speedworks (or PartsRack.) HOT AIR RISES. [My dad, 5'9", said that I only grew to 6'3" because 'hot air rises.'] Expanding, trapped air pressurises the motor. Makes situation worse. The heater hose is at the highest point. Placing bleeders only down in the hoses is somewhat of a placebo. A partial fix. If air is way down there, you COULD have bled it sooner from the SpeedWorks Heater Bleeders.

--Interim jury-rig 'fixes' : Bars-Leaks, Stop-Leaks and various other coolant additives have been anecdotally shown to stop / postpone / disguise the situation. We have anecdotes of owners who are 'cash-challenged', and they opted "successfully" for this interim fix. Must Be introduced thru a main hose, as the overflow bottle wont work !!!

But Be Aware: You are glopping up the internals, and when you do flush the system (especially a power-flush) you may flush out not only the glopped sealant but also gasket bits along with it, and end up with a near-catastrophic failure later.

--- In closing, is it a REAL problem ? Absolutely. It is worse odds than russian roulette. Can you posttpone it? ABSOLUTELY. Burp-Flush-Burp-Torque-Burp. Low-miles, seldom-driven cars can even fail SOONER in mileage terms. When you warm the low-miles stored Viper, always go all the way to normal operating temps. Let it run for 15 minutes or so.

Then again, maybe my dad was right............
 

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