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Old 03-02-2002, 10:21 PM
J.HIDALGO's Avatar
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Location: Jax, FL
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Unhappy NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Blown Head Gasket?

I think I have a blown head gasket. I have a coolant leak at the rear of the engine block, passenger side PLUS the oil light comes on almost all the time now eventhough, the oil level is normal. I do not see any oil in the coolant reservoir but, the oil seems too "watery".
I checked the heater hose at the rear of the driver's side and it is dry. However, the heater hose was leaking about 2-3 weeks ago. It stopped after I changed a loose hose clamp.
I was planning to do a valve job ($1,500 quote) in the future but, the financial timing is not right.
1. Can it be something else? (I doubt)
2. How can I tell for sure since I can not really see where it is coming from? I am thinking about a dye...
3. I am not driving the car right now but, do I have to repair it right away? or can it wait for a while, not driving the car, without further damage to the engine?
'86 300E
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Old 03-02-2002, 10:33 PM
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Location: So. Cal
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When you say the oil seems "watery", do you mean thin or does it look like a chocolate shake. If it looks like a chocolate chake then you definitely have water in the oil.
Mike Tangas
'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
Only 8,173 units built from 5/71 thru 11/72

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Old 03-02-2002, 10:55 PM
J.HIDALGO's Avatar
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Unhappy Thin, no chocolate...

'86 300E
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Old 03-02-2002, 11:28 PM
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Location: Joliet Illinois
Posts: 309
Head Gasket

I would do some further checking before assuming it is the head gasket leaking. Like Mike said, the oil will turn brown if it is getting coolant in it. Oil in the coolant is easy to spot too because it floats and you will see it in the coolant resorvoir.

I don't think a bad head gasket would cause the low oil light to come on. The sensor for the oil level is down on the side of the oil pan and could be an unrelated problem. If it is coming on and your oil level is okay, the level sensor might be bad.

I would suggest cleaning off the engine with some Castrol Purple and start it up and look very carefully at where the coolant is coming from. use a mirror if you have to. Look carefully along the head gasket seam (between the block and head) for coolant coming out.

Good Luck!
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Old 03-03-2002, 12:38 AM
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Location: San Francisco, Ca
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coco puffs

I've heard some shops have a device for 'sniffing' coolant
in oil.

Get it checked, by two or three if needed!

Don't let panic reach into your wallet, but take cae not to
make it worse on the car.
1979 300D 199 K miles
1995 C280 95 K miles
1992 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe 57K miles
1979 240D 140Kmiles (bought for parents) *SOLD.
1989 300SE 148 K miles *SOLD
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Old 03-03-2002, 07:34 AM
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Unhappy I looked again...

I know the coolant is coming from behind the rear of the engine and the firewall but, due to the location, I can not see the exact source. I tried the mirror trick and still could not see it. However, I do see a trail of coolant coming from the top and then down the side of the union between the transmission and the engine on the passenger side. The coolant reservoir is half way full (or empty) but, I still do not see oil in it.
What else can it be? There is no other coolant source back there. Is there?
How long can I put this off if it is a blown head gasket? (without driving the car).
'86 300E
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Old 03-03-2002, 08:37 AM
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You can run a compression test to find out very quickly.
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Old 03-03-2002, 11:23 AM
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I agree with a previous post - you may be jumping to a premature
conclusion. Lets work on the oil issue. If your oil appears too thin - that may be the reason your oil pressure light comes on!
Have you put any additives in the oil - does it smell like gas(diesel)?
I'll assume you've run the engine up to operating temperature with your suspected gasket leak. If you are getting water in the oil
it will generally be the color of peanut butter - with the consistency of the previously mentioned milk shake.
In order to get a good look at the oil - I suggest you drain the pan
and take a good look and smell it! Does it smell like anti-freeze?
If not - replace the oil and filter and breath a sigh of relief!
You don't say what viscosity oil your using - or if it appeared to be thinner after reaching operating temperature.
Now to the leak - are there any hoses (hidden) going thru the
cowl supplying the heater core? Also you dont say how much fluid
is leaking. Does it leak constantly - or only when the motor runs?
I've seen cases (especially in cold weather) where older cars will
weep fluid between the head block connection. Also -just occured to me, could there be a freeze plug back where your leaking fluid.
Maybe a rusted freeze plug is causing your leak.
Good Luck!
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Old 03-03-2002, 12:17 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
Many different senarios are described as a "Blown headgasket". The gasket participates in the sealing of oil passages, water passages, and the compression of the combustion chamber.

Although the repair can be the same, the need for repairs differ considerably. The worse problem is one of combustion sealing. Losses here cause errosion of the sealed materials. This condition is terminal - has to be repaired. this condition is changed further by the introduction of coolant to the cylinder. If this is the case not only does the condition require repair but it requires it immediately as leaving the engine sit will cause serious corrosion of piston and rings to the cylinders.

The condition of an external leak is only important from the stand-point of being able to maintain coolant level and antifreeze mixture for its purposes. If the leak is external and you are maintaining coolant levels then there is no immediate need. The problem with this is that it may at some point become much worse and or spread to an internal leak causing over-heating. Since your car has a coolant level gauge you have less risk here.

It worries me more to see the car set in this case as you probably can not be sure whether you also have a small internal leak.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 03-03-2002, 01:03 PM
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Location: New Bedford, MA USA
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I would go back and take another look at the heater hose and the nipple that comes out of the back of the head. It is held in place with a clamp and uses an o ring for sealing. Under pressure, that may be your culprit. try this. Get the motor up to temp, making sure there is adequate coolant on board. Remove the air filter box and get a flashlight and the "mirror", and really poke around. I'll bet you'll find your leak back there. Do this with the engine running and the heater off and then on.
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 03-03-2002, 05:26 PM
J.HIDALGO's Avatar
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Location: Jax, FL
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Smile There is hope!

I just come back from doing some things during the day with the kids. After I read the responses, I immediately went outside and took a look at the return heater hose. THERE IS some coolant under it. It was bone dry yesterday. The passenger side is dry.
I did not drive the car today, I just moved the car this morning and put it in the garage, it has been raining all day long today here in Florida.
Since Jeff mentioned an O ring in conjuction with the clamp to seal the hose. I do not remember a O ring being there.
May be all I need now is a $1 part instead of $1,500. I have my fingers crossed.
I will get that O ring tomorrow and see what happens...Anybody has a part number by any chance?
Thank you to everybody that responded!
'86 300E
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Old 03-03-2002, 08:38 PM
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Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Posts: 4,712
You should replace the hose and the o-ring that is on the fitting. It is behind the fitting and seals it into the head. You will have to remove two 6 mm allen bolts to get out the hose fitting.
Donnie Drummonds
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