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Old 06-24-2001, 01:02 PM
pmizell's Avatar
Benz Zealot
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 838
Car is a 1990 300E, M103 engine. I've learned from reading various posts (thanks chowpit) that a blown head gasket is the likely culprit, allowing engine oil into the cooling system.

Ok, headgasket replacement + valves (good idea to check these while inside) (195k) on this '90 300 E, gonna be around $1200 or so, maybe more.

This light brown sludge is also leaking onto the ground, just behind the right front tire. (usually only after long drives) -- I have been replacing coolant as needed, and have had no overheating problems yet. (needle sits right at top of 80c reading as normal, sometimes a bit higher while at a stoplight)

My question is, do I have a radiator leak too? Or is the sludge leak a symptom of the blown gasket as well...

Thanks guys for any input, this forum rules =)

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Old 06-24-2001, 01:36 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Posts: 4,712
You probably don't have a radiator leak. The leak on the ground is most likely caused by overflow in the expansion tank. There is a hose that will allow the tank to purge when needed.
Donnie Drummonds
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Old 06-26-2001, 04:58 PM
benzfan's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto
Posts: 277
Without seeing the sludge, I can't be sure, but a 1990 likely needs a very good coolant flush. Are there any other symptoms that would indicate head gasket? Engine oil in coolant floats on the top of the expansion tank as small blobs. A sludge and brownish coolant indicates a need for flushing and replacement. If this is the case, you would be best to remove the rad and backflush it for a good while. It's surprising how much can build up in the rad inlet.
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Old 06-26-2001, 05:56 PM
pmizell's Avatar
Benz Zealot
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 838
Yeah the sludge does rise to the top of the expansion, and I think I just about got it all out. I started by doing a complete cooling flush. Then every other day or so I'd remove the expansion tank and empty out the sludge/antifreeze until after about a week of doing this, it appears to be all gone, save a few drops.

The leak is very slow, because my oil level has not lowered noticeably, nor has much sludge returned.

I'm only guessing its the head gasket ... would seem the likely cause. As chowpit said in another thread, the #6 cylinder has an area where gasket separates the head from the coolant flow and is the likely spot of leak.

BTW, the head was cracked about 5 years ago, and was replaced for roughly $5,500 by a MB dealership here in Houston.

I hope to god the head hasn't cracked again.

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Old 06-26-2001, 06:48 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: New Bedford, MA USA
Posts: 1,583
You will need to eliminate the trans cooler circuit in the radiator as a possible culprit for your sludge. The oil cooler may have developed a pinhole leak. Check the trans fluid level as well. This will be certain death for the tranny if coolant gets in there. Have the trans cooler pressure tested to see if it holds pressure. If not, that may be your problem.
Jeff Lawrence
1989 300e
2000 Dodge Grand Caravan SE
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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Old 06-26-2001, 10:47 PM
Southern's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Carol Stream, Il, USA
Posts: 605
I'm not sure how long you owned your car, but another possibility for the brown sludge is radiator stop leak. After circulating through the cooling system the brown sludge eventually ends up in the overflow tank.
Chevy puts radiator stop leak in their new cars - I guess as a preventive measure.
1998 Mercedes E320, 200K Miles
2001 Acura 3.2TL, 178K Miles
1992 Chevy Astro, 205K Miles
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