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Discussion Starter #1
At the risk of :bdh: on this subject, I need help interpreting the results of this. My gauge showed indication of classic head gasket failure; it would spike up to about 20 psi under hard acceleration and settle down to 16 psi at cruising. That tells me obviously that system pressure went up in correlation to boost pressure, then settled down to the set pressure of the degas cap.

So, here are some other observations and factors to consider:

1) I see no white smoke or coolant at the tailpipe.

2) Engine runs very smooth and strong (no indication of combustion issues due to coolant in cylinders)

3) Pressure does not drop when engine is shut off (except slowly over several hours)

-On this point, if combustion gasses were entering the cooling system when engine is running, would it not also be that coolant would enter the cylinder(s) when the engine is shut off? There seems to be no indication of that in my case, which leads me to my next question: Is there a possibility of pressure building in the system from the intake (boost) side? I haven't done the test for combustion gasses in the coolant reservoir yet, and that seems to be the logical next step, but the coolant and reservoir are staying clean. I want to rule out any other possibilities before I tear into doing head gaskets. Any insight would be appreciated.
 

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The best test for combustion gas is either the test strips or the tester with the colored chemicals. If it is heads or egr cooler it will have to have combustion gas in the coolant.

No combustion gas no head gasket or egr cooler failure period.

Your pressure issue is then one of the other possible causes, coolant overheat causeing extra exspansion of the coolant along with possibily overfull of coolant to begin with.
Pump cavitation can also add some pressure. A bad cap that doesn't vent at 16 psi is also possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Coolant level is kept low - 1/2 inch below min. mark at full operating temp. I'm not having any coolant loss at this level.

ECT is steady at 189-190

The pressure increase on gauge is in direct proportion to throttle input.

At idle, the pressure is steady at 16 psi. That tells me the cap is good. The cap is irrelevant in this case because the pressure shouldn't be going above 10 or 12 psi anyway.

on edit: EGR is deleted
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Anybody else have any input?
 

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Normally with head gasket issues you won't have any excessive white smoking out of the exhaust. Also most times the engine will run perfectly fine with blown head gaskets. As the leak gets worse and worse it will start to push coolant out of the bottle. As far as leaking back into the cylinders when not running think of it like this. You can have a very small head gasket leak that will let the 350+PSI of compression leak by, yet it's not big enough to let the 16 psi of coolant pressure push anything through the head gasket after you shut it off. Make sense? In my opinion you definitely have the start of a head gasket leak, especially since you've already deleted the EGR. Really there isn't much else it could be. Sorry for the bad news!
 

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^^ I agree completely with this. Mine did the same exact thing as yours is doing now and I already had my egr deleted. Once I tore it down I found that the left bank had blown the gasket between 4 and 6 and was working on getting through from 6 to 8. Passenger side was fine not a single leak. My truck otherwise ran like a raped ape never any white smoke or coolant in the exhaust and barely puked at all until more recently before I ripped it apart for gaskets and studs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Normally with head gasket issues you won't have any excessive white smoking out of the exhaust. Also most times the engine will run perfectly fine with blown head gaskets. As the leak gets worse and worse it will start to push coolant out of the bottle. As far as leaking back into the cylinders when not running think of it like this. You can have a very small head gasket leak that will let the 350+PSI of compression leak by, yet it's not big enough to let the 16 psi of coolant pressure push anything through the head gasket after you shut it off. Make sense? In my opinion you definitely have the start of a head gasket leak, especially since you've already deleted the EGR. Really there isn't much else it could be. Sorry for the bad news!
Yes, that does make perfect sense. I guess I'll start ordering parts. I am looking at a stud/gasket kit that uses Black Diamond HG's. Are these recommended? They are supposedly the same as OEM.
 

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Sounds like HGs.. Just get OEM gaskets since they have been tested over and over with great results along with ARP studs. If you want to save a few bucks then try the new gaskets that are on the market and let us know how they work out for you. I would rather pay a extra $200 for peace of mind.
 

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Personally I'd stick with OEM head gaskets. You pay a little more for the parts up front but there are much less repeat failures with them. Also make sure to get the heads checked out. in my experience 95% of the time they will need to be milled.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The parts guy said these gaskets are the same as oem, with an updated coating so they're black instead of blue. They even have the same numbers stamped on them. He said they're way different than Black Onyx.
 

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The parts guy said these gaskets are the same as oem, with an updated coating so they're black instead of blue. They even have the same numbers stamped on them. He said they're way different than Black
Onyx.
I just finished studding and gaskets and looked at black diamonds. Yeah, I read the same thing.

VR has a bad rep on their Black Onyx gaskets. I spoke to a local shop and they stopped using them because they had too many redos. He said they make mistakes but not that many mistakes. I pretty much gathered that researching on the internet forums too. I even saw Black Onyx users recommend using OEMs. I don't think they are even manufactured for the PSD 6.0 anymore, they are not listed on listed in their current catalog. Whatever Black Onyx gaskets are being sold are from retailers that are stuck with them on their shelves. They are even trying to unload them in package deals.

So now for the Black Diamond I think the brochure said they were close to OEM specs. They have only been available since late July this year. Only a few weeks. Here was what I thought. This is a difficult job but doable but not something I want to redo 2 or 3 years from now. There is not enough information on how they perform for me to take a leap of faith with them. Let the sled pullers and drag racers play with them and report how they perform...

If it is any consolation, you also get the updated stand pipes with the OEM gaskets. I think those are around $100 if you by them seperately and something you should consider when doing this job as well as the upgraded dummy plugs.
 

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Yeah, I know there's a new head gasket on the market, just not sure if I want to be a guinea pig for them. They said the Black Onyx's were the sh*t at first but we all know how that turned out.... That's up to you though. Let us know how they hold up!
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Do I need updated dummy plugs and stand pipes for an '03? For gaskets , I'll probably go with OEM anyway to be safe.

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