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  #1  
Old 01-23-2001, 01:48 AM
jim@siliconbeach.com
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I have a "whiteish sludge" in my coolant tank cap (overflow tank for radiator). It may be engine oil (blown head gasket) OR transmission fluid (supposed leak and exchange between tran. fluid radiator and the coolant radiator).

The compression is good. There is NO SMOKE or sweet smell in the exhaust. The previous owner replaced the head gasket Sept. '99. (Maybe it's just residual from the OLD blown gasket?).

Before I found this out (about the previous work) and we only had the gunk to go by: One mechanic said it's a blown head gasket. Another said that's unlikely, since usually with a blown gasket you see coolant /water in the oil but not oil in the coolant/water, since the coolant/water system has higher pressure than the oil system. This guy suggested that it might be tranny fluid in the coolant due to a break in the two radiators that sit side by side. That seems unlikely to me.

What's the best way to determine which is which. The car runs fine, there was just some gummy white gunk on the cap of the coolant resevoir.

Maybe an oil analysis? Should I see emmulsified oil or tranny fluid in their respective cases?

Please also copy answers to my email at: jim@siliconbeach.com

thanks!!

[Edited by jim@siliconbeach.com on 01-24-2001 at 04:06 PM]
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  #2  
Old 01-23-2001, 02:05 AM
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JCE JCE is offline
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Jim:
Welcome to the forum. You might find this thread helpful from the search button on oil or trans fluid in coolant. Regards,

Oil in expansion tank 300E
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  #3  
Old 01-23-2001, 08:10 AM
LarryBible
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Jim,

When my M103 engine overheated on a 108 degree day last summer. I pulled the dip stick and it looked fine. I had to put the car aside because I was headed on a three week European trip. I finally got back to it, to tear it apart. When I did, I pulled the drain plug and got chocolate milk out of it.

My initial thought was a blown head gasket. What it really turned out to be was the aluminum head corroded through. The machine shop welded it up and it was like new. I should have paid more attention to the coolant.

These engines rebuild very well, so you should be able to get by this problem and be very happy with it again.

Most likely the problem is head related. A third opinion would not hurt.

It is possible for ATF to get into the coolant, I don't know if it is something that ever happens to these cars. I'm a manual transmission person and have no experience with such problems on an MB.

Best of luck,
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  #4  
Old 01-23-2001, 07:42 PM
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Jim, hello and welcome. Well, anything is possible. The pressure in all three systems can produce gradients sufficient to move one fluid from one system to the other. At idle, it is true that coolant system pressure is higher than ATF or engine oil, but, as you accelerate, your oil pressure can approach or exceed coolant pressure. I had a radiator full of oil/water when the 300E head gasket packed it in. Flush-flush-flush...Same with ATF, as speed increases pressure goes up, etc. Best bet for diagnosis and protecting your tranny and engine. Drain everything, flush cooling system, refill, change oil, ATF. Have the compression checked, and taake a peek at the plugs, for funny deposits, signs of abnormal combustion. If all is well, then you could just have some crud that has accumulated to the point where it is obvious. At any rate, find out what this is. If you have a problem of some kind, it will only get worse, just ask Larry and myself, two trauma survivors of M103 head gasketosis...
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  #5  
Old 01-23-2001, 08:13 PM
s60
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Yeah, it might be just coolant. When I had coolant leaks on 2 separate Mercedes. It comes out white crud and is built up and becomes hard. It is harder heck to get it off also. Have the coolant system pressured check? If there is any problems, it should show up.
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  #6  
Old 01-23-2001, 08:16 PM
s60
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Add to that, maybe u just need a new coolant cap.
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  #7  
Old 01-23-2001, 08:28 PM
jim@siliconbeach.com
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Wow!! This Site Rocks!

I posted my question less than 24 hours ago and I've already gotten lots of great info. This is simply fantastic! Thank you all!

As a follow-up, I've just sent off Tranny fluid and engine oil to "Insight Services" for an oil analysis. Hoping to find something interesting... I'm keeping the shop at bay until then: they wanted to yank the radiator and start at it; hoping the analysis will detect glycol or other coolant additives either in the motor oil or tranny fluid.

Another mechanic recommended a "block test" in which a sample of coolant is mixed with a diagnostic liquid which turns color in the presence of by-products of exhaust: which would, he said, mean there's a cracked in the block somewhere. Does this sound accurate?

-Jim
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  #8  
Old 01-23-2001, 08:57 PM
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an even easier way...

is to use one of the hydrocarbon sniffers. Buddy of mine with a shop has one, simple to use, open radiator cap, run engine a few minutes, place sniffer over the radiator opening and if there's a head gasket leak, the sniffer will sound. It picks up on the hydrocarbon gases being forced into the coolant. Personally watched it in action on a blown Isuzu head gasket.
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  #9  
Old 01-27-2001, 08:49 PM
jim@siliconbeach.com
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Oil Analysis Helped!

OK, Great advice from all... I went with an analysis of my oil and tranny fluid from Darrin of Insight services. Great service and info!! Via spectroscopic analysis there is not evidence of coolant contamination in either oil or tranny fluid. A background check with the previous owner's mechanic showed a head gasket change in Sept. '99. So...seems the gunk on the coolant reservoir was residual (I hope) from the old break in the gasket.

Question: should I still do a flush of the radiator and oil system if the analysis showed no evidence of coolant in the oil. Remember, I didn't test the amount of oil in the coolant, just coolant in the oil. I hear that oil in the water can be hard on hoses etc. Is there a good way to test for oil in the coolant system?

Thanks again!

-Jim
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  #10  
Old 01-27-2001, 09:49 PM
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Jim, dump everything. Start from scratch. Flush cooling system, change oil and filter, drain and change ATF and filter. Cheap insurance. There is no telling what happened to that motor when the head gasket was replaced. Better to be safe than sorry (why didn't I think of that )...
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No matter what you fix, there will always be something else to fix..
"Warranty" is just another way of postponing the inevitable.
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