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Thread: Oil in coolant, leaking coolant

  1. #1 Oil in coolant, leaking coolant 
    Car Enthusiast CF Newbie
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    I took my car in for a routine coolant flush. The mechanic reported oil in the coolant, which he said is a symptom of a blown head gasket (gave me a quote of around $2000 total to fix). This would not be worth doing given the value and age of the car (see profile info). Since the car has been running flawlessly for years, I didn't concern myself too much with it. This was right before I took a 1300 mile road trip across the country. The trip went flawlessly, and I got better gas mileage than I could have ever dreamed of with such an old car (over 30 mpg). Although, not long after the trip, I noticed the "Low Coolant" light came on, which surprised me since I had just gotten new coolant. With a cold engine, I could not even see any coolant in the reservoir, and I noticed the inside of the tank was a bit dirty. After driving around for a little bit, I checked again, and could see a couple of inches of liquid at the bottom of the coolant tank. It was greyish-brown, and appeared to be thicker than coolant is supposed to be (possibly more oil that the mechanic reported earlier?). I filled the reservoir back up with new coolant.

    Any ideas about what could be wrong? It's clear that there is an issue here...since I lost almost all my new coolant over 1300 miles and the remaining coolant didn't look right....but the car is still running perfectly. I always watch the temperature gauge and it never gets very high. But I also noticed the oil gauge spikes all the way up instantaneously every 10 seconds or so.

    Can I get by with flushing the coolant every couple thousand miles? The car isn't used heavily (65k miles over 15 years).
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  2. #2  
    CF BMW consultant CF Senior Member
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    Your mechanic is probably right. If you perform this repair yourself, it's VERY inexpensive. Parts are cheap. It's the labor thats expensive as it's a time consuming job.


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  3. #3  
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    bleh
    Coolant being used at that rate of speed usually indicates a blown headgasket and the coolant will seep off into the oil (thus you get the what looks like chocolate milk shake in the coolant) if you allow a blown headgasket go to long it will warp your head.. and/or blow your engine the will over heat to this point.

    now are you noticing any smoke from your tail pipes remember this

    black smoke = fuel
    white = coolant (will also have a sweet smell to it)
    blueish smoke = oil.

    now your gauge spiking like that is a electrical problem, faulty readings your oil gauge will not spike your not gaining or losing oil that fast however you need to address this problem.

    a engine will only use the coolant when it needs to once your thermostat opens up.. sucks the coolant into the engine to cool it...
    a new headgasket set is about 80 bucks.. they charge you so much money because well they can.. try going to a different location to get the job done.. let me know how this works for you
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  4. #4  
    Car Fanatic CF Senior Member
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    I saw oil in the coolant one time before on a buddy's sbc 406 cubic inch.Wasn't a headgasket,it was a cylinder bore cracked outwards bulging out into the water jacket.No coolant in the oil,oil in the coolant only,and of course,hp was down.It ran good,even ran some good ET numbers for a couple weeks,but we couldn't figure out WTH was in the coolant so we decided a teardown was in order....cracked cylinder wall,had to have the block sleeved on that cylinder and all was good then.
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  5. #5  
    Car Enthusiast CF Newbie
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    I took my car in to get inspected. The mechanic did a pressure test on the cooling system and thoroughly inspected the entire engine compartment. The conclusion was that my intake system gasket was leaking and needed to be replaced (a common problem for GM cars). Repair job quoted for about $560. Still a little bit more than I'd like to invest in the car right now but I'll probably get it done some time in the future. I don't quite have the experience or time to do the job myself.

    Haven't seen smoke of any color coming out of the tailpipe. Car is still otherwise running perfectly and it's been about 4k miles since I first noticed the problem. Got a low oil light the other day which prompted me to finally take it in and get it inspected.

    Couple things I'm interested in hearing opinions on:
    -Oil is leaking into the coolant, but no coolant is leaking into the oil. If I don't get this fixed right away, is it OK to keep driving as long as I flush the coolant more often? The mechanic said I risk some minor issues, such as damaging my water pump.

    -I've seen a product called "K-seal" which is a coolant additive formulated to chemically fill in and seal small holes or cracks in the cooling system. It has gotten great reviews from what I've read on the internet and I'm thinking about giving it a shot.
    http://www.amazon.com/K-Seal-Step-Co.../dp/B001QT9KO6
    http://www.kalimex.co.uk/section.htm...01.04.&pgid=17
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