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  #1  
Old 06-24-2005, 02:00 AM
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Head Gasket? Oil in Coolant and Collapsed Radiator Hose

I've had a leaking head gasket for some time on my 1992 300E (with 103.983 engine), eating a bit of oil and oil on the garage floor.

While on a trip the upper radiator hose sprung a leak. I chopped and shortened it to temporarily fix it, and in doing so noticed the coolant seemed "muddy". Further investigation showed oil in the coolant -- a bubbly syrupy mess in the coolant tank.

I took it to the city's MB dealer who diagnosed it as a blown head gasket. So... $1750 later I had a new head gasket and upper/lower radiator hoses, a new coolant tank, and resumed my trip.

I checked the coolant after a couple hundred miles and it seemed ok upon casual inspection. Also the oil leak seemed to have stopped.

But... today I had the hood up after driving (engine still hot) and noticed the upper radiator hose was collapsed on itself. The lower radiator hose was also slightly collapsed. Opening the coolant tank cap allowed air to audibly rush in and re-expand the hose.

And... the coolant was the dreaded chocolate milk color again. Aaaagh. The coolant does not appear to be as gooey as it was before, but that may just be a matter of time.

Before I take it back in for service, I'm hoping for some wisdom from the forum about what is going on here.

Is vacuum in the cooling system normal after running the car, and the hose collapse is due to softening from oil?

Is what I am seeing in the coolant (see photo below) in fact oil, and is a blown head gasket the only thing that could cause oil in the coolant?
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Oil in Coolant and Collapsed Radiator Hose-hosed.jpg  
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Last edited by Benzwood; 06-24-2005 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:05 AM
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Note: I am now 600 miles from the dealer that performed the work. I plan to have it fixed (again) by an official Mercedes dealer and then try to get the first shop to reimburse the second, or something.

From previous reading here about head gaskets, I inquired whether the head might need machining to ensure it was not warped. He said it would be a waste of time and money as long as the engine hadn't overheated after the gasket blew (which it had not).

I also vaguely recalled reading here about additional work that should be done during a head gasket replacement as a preventitive measure. So I asked him to let me know if there was anything else that should be done while they had it opened up.

He did not get back to me with any additional work recommendation, but when I came home... sure enough I found recommendations on this forum to have a complete valve job done at the same time, as well as replacing the head bolts, and resealing the timing cover. Grr...
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:41 AM
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I think the coolant reservoir tank cap is supposed to vent on reverse pressure - maybe cap is bad? It also took several re-flushes with Tide by the shop to eliminate the brown goo. They did not charge for those return visits, and eventually the coolant was normal.

Steve
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Old 06-24-2005, 03:21 AM
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Thanks! That pointed me in the right direction for the radiator hose. Apparently the coolant caps do have a vent that has been known to go bad (as in this thread). My cap seems like a likely culprit for that issue.

Do you recall if your coolant looked ok for a while, then got brown again? And did it look like mine in the photo above? It seems too brown to me to be just residual, although I confess I've never paid that much attention to it before now.

The dealer said he was ordering some special solvent to remove the oil, although I see on the invoice it just says "soap and water". Maybe a bunch of oil was hanging around in the heater core or something and they didn't do a very thorough job flushing?

Another thought... is the coolant vacuum harming anything, i.e. sucking contaminants into the coolant (like maybe some brown stuff )?
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Old 06-24-2005, 08:46 AM
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Benzwood, the dealer should have confirmed the head was perfectly flat before reinstalling it. As you mentioned, the dealer should have proposed installing new valve guides and/or seals. If it were me I'd have the cooling system flushed/cleaned to remove any remnants of oil which could affect the cooling system efficiency. From your description it appears the Service Department at the first dealer was marginally competent, at best.
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Old 06-24-2005, 09:18 AM
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I had a similar problem myself with my old 300E. I had no oil leak though, so I'm thinking I may have had transmission fluid and coolant mixing.

Anyway, you can flush the system yourself easily enough by disconnecting a couple of hoses and running 'tide' or whatever through there and clean water with a garden hose, take as many hoses off as you can too and either replace, or throroughly clean them.
Then refill with MB or Zerex G05 coolant + water.

I did this and hey presto- no more brown goo!
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Old 06-24-2005, 10:11 AM
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Thanks for the fast replies! For those who've had a head-gasket blow... is this much brown goo "normal" after having the gasket replaced?

I'm trying to determine if it's just residue from a incomplete flushing or if that much brown indicates the head gasket is still leaking.

I'm also wondering if I should attempt any fix myself or just resign myself to taking it to my semi-local MB dealer and renting a car while they work on it (I go on a week-long trip leaving tomorrow). If it turns out to be a botched gasket replacement, then I'll want "official" documentation to seek compensation from the first MB dealer.
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Last edited by Benzwood; 06-24-2005 at 10:17 AM.
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  #8  
Old 06-24-2005, 11:09 AM
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If you want to flush out oil, try Dawn ultra. Its the preferred soap for cleaning up birds after oil spills in the ocean.
http://www.homemadesimple.com/saveaduck/
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Old 06-24-2005, 11:12 AM
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You could try flushing the coolant yourself and see if the head gaskette is still leaking. I would take it back to the dealer to see if they can determine where they screwed up.

There is a citric flush that the dealer sells (# 000-989-10-25). You mix it with water and run it through the cooling system in a flushing sequence.
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Old 06-24-2005, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yal
You could try flushing the coolant yourself and see if the head gaskette is still leaking. I would take it back to the dealer to see if they can determine where they screwed up.

There is a citric flush that the dealer sells (# 000-989-10-25). You mix it with water and run it through the cooling system in a flushing sequence.
Sodium Citrate is a common flushing agent for all radiators. I wouldn't necessarily buy the MB part for this, when some cheap Prestone will work just as well. However, the citrate flushing agents are for removing scale and corrosion from the system, not disolved oil fouling. I'd recommend Shout laundry stain remover first....I'd hesitate to use any dish soap, as these are designed to suds and bubble up a bunch, and I'd be afraid of cavitating the water pump with a solution like that...

I say, use a detergent in the system...then run the car, then drain and flush it all out, then repeat until no more brown goo...make sure the heater is on full blast while doing this. If the goo doesn't go away after a couple of tries, then the head gasket is still leaking. Also, I'd consider replacing the radiator, as the majority of oil is going to plate out there.
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:56 PM
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Your coolant seems to have a reddish tint to it in that picture which could indicate a failed radiator. (transmission cooling portion compromised)

Good luck
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  #12  
Old 06-24-2005, 03:46 PM
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Don't know the p/n but there is also a degreaser for the coolant system the dealer should be using. I would say post headgasket failure, they should be flushing adn degreasing the sytem.


Michael
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  #13  
Old 06-25-2005, 01:17 AM
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Thanks all for the advice... I took it up to the semi-local MB dealer here first so I have a paper trail if the first MB dealer botched it in some expensive manner. 4 hr round trip with traffic, grr...

If that fails I'll go the multiple degreasing route myself and see what happens. That degreaser that gpracer posted looks especially effective:

Do you have to tranquilize 'em first before you run them through the radiator?

I'll report back in a week... in the meantime I'm a proud driver of a (shudder) Kia.
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  #14  
Old 06-25-2005, 02:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzwood
.......................
That degreaser that gpracer posted looks especially effective:
.................:

I do these head gasket jobs all the time....
Liquid Tide does the best job.

Need to do it a few times at first and then again about a week later as residue collects in the bottle.

I remove the reservoir bottle and clean with hot water/Tide, in the shop.




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  #15  
Old 06-25-2005, 06:40 AM
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Benzwood, contact the first MB dealer that replaced the head gasket and discuss the cuurent situation. Inform their Service Department that you are extremely dissatisfied with their work and that you expect them to reimburse you for any/all work required to clean up the coolant system. It would be best to have the local dealer communicate their diagnosis of the "brown goo" and their planned corrective action with the first dealer so they know up front what's coming back at them. Oh, the joy of having major service work done on the road by a Service Department that you know nothing about.
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