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    Thread: Coolant loss

    1. Member cghag1's Avatar
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      01-27-2009 02:43 PM #1
      I recently replaced a blown head gasket on my '85. I had the head machined prior to re-installation. Now I'm finding I have a slow loss of coolant! I haven't had the time (or weather) to drain the oil but when I remove the oil filler cap the underside is covered with frothy mocha latte!
      Am I looking at replacing the head gasket once again, or might there be another area where the coolant is getting into the oil? Like maybe the oil cooler?
      The car has been running well with no billowing white smoke from the tailpipe after warm-up. I guess I need to pull the plugs to see what they look like, plus find the time and effort to drain the oil.
      Any other thoughts or suggestions?
      TIA,
      Dave
      Laugh often, it's life's lubricant!

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    3. Senior Member briano1234's Avatar
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      01-27-2009 02:57 PM #2
      If the car is cold then you could have condensation on the valve cover lid some is normal and when hot will evaporate.
      If you didn't drain the oil and install a new filter after the head change then you possibly got A/F in the oil and that can eat bearings.
      Yes a bad "oil cooler" can leave a/f in to the engine and that is why I hate them things.... They are a oil stabilizer and not a true oil cooler. A true oil cooler will leak oil to the ground and not interchange a/f to oil.
      I would run a can of engine flush.... 15 minutes then change the oil/filter out for fresh first.




      Modified by briano1234 at 2:58 PM 1-27-2009

    4. Member cghag1's Avatar
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      01-27-2009 03:39 PM #3
      I did a complete engine (and coolant) drain with the head gasket repair. I planned on another oil and filter change well before the normal 3,000 mile interval just to make sure I got any crap out that may have been lurking in various nooks and crannies. In fact I used a new Fram filter that had been laying around since I figured it would suffice for the 500 or so miles it would be on the car. My new Mann filter awaits the next oil change.
      It has been cold in the morning so I can see some condensation being a possibility, but this appears to be more than that. Besides, I am loosing some coolant somewhere!
      Laugh often, it's life's lubricant!

    5. Senior Member briano1234's Avatar
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      01-27-2009 03:46 PM #4
      Well you could check to see if there is any leakage from the flanges and hose connections.
      Then you could remove the "oil" cooler and have ti pressure tested.
      Also you could do Ron's magic glove test.
      Take the cap of the res, then tie a rubber (latex) glove over the top, and start the car, if the glove don't inflate after about 3 minutes, then your head gasket is probably good.
      Also is the res holding pressure? If after you are running it a bit, do the hoses pressurize where you can't squeeze them? That is a also a sign of a blown head gasket.

    6. Member cghag1's Avatar
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      01-27-2009 06:04 PM #5
      I forgot about the latex glove trick. Tomorrow is my day off and maybe I'll give that a try. That is if the weather is anything better than sucky! I'm not holding my breath though.
      Laugh often, it's life's lubricant!

    7. Member tolusina's Avatar
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      01-28-2009 12:07 AM #6
      Nuh uh on the glove test.
      The glove test on the coolant filler is one quick, easy way to check one thing, and only one result is conclusive.
      If the glove immediately inflates while starting a cold engine, you conclusively KNOW there is combustion getting into the cooling system.
      There's nothing more you really need to know, unless you want to try and pinpoint which cylinder(s) leak to the cooling system with a combination of pressure test and compression test. That will help you spot the failed areas once the head is off. Sometimes a pressure test with the plugs out will visually show coolant in the cylinders.
      Sometimes none of these tests work on a cold engine.
      (Hint, if not all cylinders, it's usually one or both center cylinders, applies to all engines)
      If the glove does NOT immediately inflate, it hasn't told you Jack, you need to keep looking.
      In three minutes of warm up, the coolant has starter to heat and expand, the glove should start to inflate by then.
      ---
      To know about combustion gas in the cooling system (I see no clues to point that way in this thread though) clickety on my sig, find the link to BlockChek, the set is inexpensive and very conclusive about the presence of combustion gas in the cooling system. Waste of time if the glove inflates cold, totally worthwhile if the glove doesn't inflate. The fluid is re-usable too, Block Chek doesn't tell you that, they want to sell more fluid. Simply pump fresh air through the green or yellow fluid until it changes back to the same blue as what's in the bottle.
      ---
      Ok, now I'll read the thread.........
      ---
      Um, yeah, Brian's 1st post is just about what I''ll say too. Cold weather and short trips will allow condensation build up and the latte look. Water doesn't start rapid evaporation until oil temperature gets to about 180°F, of course we know it boils off at 212°F.
      ---
      Head gaskets can easily leak coolant to oil without getting oil into the coolant, depending on if the gasket fail point is between the cooling jacket and the crankcase vent system. Crankcase pressure will never exceed cooling system pressure, so no oil will get into the cooling system.

      If a head gasket's fail point is between an oil pressure gallery and the cooling system. oil and coolant will mix both ways. While running, oil pressure will exceed cooling system pressure, oil goes to coolant. Once the hot engine is shut down, oil pressure drops to zero, cooling system pressure remains high and coolant goes to the crankcase.
      ---
      Whew..........
      ---
      Cooler failures are common enough. If you're losing coolant to the crankcase, change the cooler. That's really the only practical way to know if it's the cooler or the head gasket. I've pressure tested known bad coolers that passed all pressure tests I could devise. It took a vacuum test to 100% condemn those coolers, all that testing is beyond the scope of most home shops.
      ---
      Here's a cool cooler photo.........


      That ^^ is conclusive.
      ---
      Sure, not many home shops will have all these, here's the list of cooling system/head gasket diagnosis tools a pro shop should have at their disposal.
      Compression tester.
      Cooling system pressure tester with vehicle specific adapters, cap tester too.
      Cylinder leakage tester.
      Block Chek.
      Exhaust gas analyzer (smog tester).
      Smoke tester.
      Gloves.
      Non-contact infrared pyrometer.
      Coolant hydrometer or similar.
      MityVac.
      There are more, but I'm getting tired here, if I remember more, I'll post them.



      Quote Originally Posted by kamzcab86
      I hate reading: "But I bought this car for $500 and don't want to put another dime into it."
      ____(hey, it's VW AND it's electrical, what's not to fail?) neoBentley+



    8. Member cghag1's Avatar
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      01-28-2009 10:07 AM #7
      Thanks Ron. I can see I have some work to do so I can get down to the bottom of this. Today's weather is ugly with snow and freezing rain, so my willingness to venture outside is nonexistent. Right now there is a sofa, a warm blanket, and a good book calling my name!
      I'll post my findings when I determine the problem.
      Thanks again,
      Dave
      Laugh often, it's life's lubricant!

    9. Senior Member briano1234's Avatar
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      01-28-2009 10:18 AM #8
      Quote, originally posted by cghag1 »
      Thanks Ron. Right now there is a sofa, a warm blanket, and a good book calling my name!

      Is it saying read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley, read the Bentley,

    10. Member cghag1's Avatar
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      02-09-2009 02:27 PM #9
      We've been blessed with some temps in the mid 40's the last couple of days so I decided to take advantage of the situation. I looked under the oil cap and sure enough it was kinda milky. And this was after four 20 minute drives within the past 2 hours.
      So I figured I had time to change the oil and expected the worse. Turns out the oil looked fine. Not at all like a mocha shake or coffee with cream. A quick look around didn't unearth anything unusual either. Admittedly, I only looked from above and didn't take the time to drive up on ramps to take a gander at the underside.
      Any testing of the oil cooler will have to wait till time and really nice weather permits. But I'm open to any thoughts or suggestions.
      Dave
      Laugh often, it's life's lubricant!

    11. Senior Member briano1234's Avatar
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      02-09-2009 11:20 PM #10
      Not to be raining on your parade, but.... depending on how much fluid is intermixed, and where your car is parked and all since a/f is heavier than oil, you could have a slew of it in your pan, and never see it in your oil on the dip stick.
      The only sure fire way is to drain all the oil in to a bucket that you can see through and verify that there is no a/f on the bottom....
      After that I would be checking the "crank case venting system"
      Also you may not be getting your engine warm enough for a long enough period of time to boil the condensation out of there.
      From my experience with blown head gaskets, they rarely on my VW's ever intermixed af into the oil or vice versa.
      But the "oil Coolers" are known to do that and are probably more prone to go bad than the head gasket so instead of checking it, I would just get the piece of mind and replace it.
      heres hopping the best for ya.
      [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

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