Oil in water resevoir

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  #1  
Old 10-21-03, 06:23 AM
gtojen
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Angry Oil in water resevoir

1995 Saturn SL1, 5 speed 4 door

My Saturn has been using oil since purchase (May 2003) which is not unheard of in Saturns. Last night when I checked the oil and water, I noticed an oil leak under my car (first time) and found oil in the water resevoir.

The car has been running well since I changed the Throttle Position Sensor, cleaned the throttle body and changed the fuel filter. It has not been smoking since I changed the above, but had been prior.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated - such as what could have caused this and any hints on what needs to be looked at to fix the problem.

Thanks so much!

Jennifer
 
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  #2  
Old 10-21-03, 06:46 AM
darrell McCoy
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Are you losing any coolant? Usually oil in the coolant recovery tank means you have a combustion leak somewhere. Has the engine temp been running normal or warmer than usual?
 
  #3  
Old 10-21-03, 06:55 AM
Joe_F
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Are we talking oil slime (dirty cooling system) or actual oil (milkshake mix)?

I agree with Darrell. A shop can find your problem in a jiffy with a gas analyzer or a cooling system tester.
 
  #4  
Old 10-21-03, 09:46 AM
gtojen
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Question oil in water resevoir

I'm not losing coolant, and the temp has been normal, except during a longer than usual idle time the temp did get almost to the red (sorry-don't have #'s on my water gauge).

The oil in the resevoir is actual oil, but thick not the milky stuff.

Next questions:

how far can I drive this baby to be checked out? My favorite mechanic is 45 miles from home. I don't want to do any further damage.

if it is the cylinder head, would it be wise to buy one out of a junkyard, or from a parts car? A new one is $411.00 plus the gasket.

Thanks for your quick replies!

Jen
 
  #5  
Old 10-21-03, 10:20 AM
Joe_F
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Saturns run to the red zone and then the fan kicks in to cool things down---this is normal. Read the owner's manual .

If you plan to keep the car, I wouldn't be using used parts like that, another gamble.

I'd say you're OK to go to the shop to check it out.
 

Last edited by Joe_F; 10-21-03 at 10:46 AM.
  #6  
Old 10-21-03, 10:44 AM
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I think Joe mean to say "If you plan to keep the car, I would NOT be using used parts like that, another gamble."

Please correct me if I'm wrong Joe.

In my book $400 is cheap for a NEW cylinder head.

Ross
 
  #7  
Old 10-21-03, 10:48 AM
Joe_F
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Thumbs up

Yes, I miscued. LOL. (I fixed it). I meant if you're keeping it use a new/rebuilt head.

Have it diagnosed first before determining fault !!!
 
  #8  
Old 10-21-03, 12:49 PM
gtojen
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Thanks

Thanks guys! for the quick replies and what sounds like good advice for a novice on my own.
I will have it diagnosed before buying parts, but wanted to get the scary part over with and find out what I'll be looking at cost-wise.
Again, THANKS!!!

jEN
 
  #9  
Old 10-21-03, 01:10 PM
darrell McCoy
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wise decision, have seen people gasp for air when they find the price of something, good plan to get an idea on cost before hand.
 
  #10  
Old 10-21-03, 02:24 PM
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First or all do you have any water in your crankcase? Second, what color is the oil?
Another common possibility is a broken trans cooler or engine oil cooler if it has one. That will mix oil into your coolant but not be an engine problem. If you have a block or head problem, you should have coolant oin the oil. The only way it is possible not to is if it cracked from an oil pressure gally to a cooling passage. Not real likely. look this thing over a little closer, it may be just a bad radiator.
 
  #11  
Old 10-22-03, 04:58 AM
gtojen
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Unhappy oil in water

1. There is no sign of water in my crankcase.
2. The oil in the resevoir is black and thick.
3. Would this car have a trans cooler if it is a manual tranny?
4. How does the oil flow in and out of the oil cooler?
5. What is the best way to check the radiator, coolers and cooling passage?

These questions may sound elementary to most of you, but I'm trying to fix this problem on a limited budget with my son who is wanting to go to mechanics school to expand his mechanical knowledge.

Thanks so much for everyone's input!

Jen
 
  #12  
Old 10-22-03, 06:07 AM
Joe_F
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Go to Autozone. Rent a cooling analyzer from them through their tool rental program.

It should easily tell you if you have a blown head gasket or not. Let's go from here.
 
  #13  
Old 10-22-03, 11:20 AM
darrell McCoy
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If you bought it used, is there a remote possibility, someone used Barr's stop leak in it. That will make a mess in the coolant overflow. Is it possible someone put oil in it, thinking it was an oil add place. You could possibly remove the tank, clean and re-install it, add clean anti freeze to the fill line. Should not be any type cooler on a man. trans. of that year. As Joe sez, try an analyzer, quickest way to find if you have a combustion leak.
 
  #14  
Old 10-22-03, 05:49 PM
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I saw your post on the other forum (assuming that was you) and that response you got about these heads always cracking sounds pretty real. He seemed to be very familiar with this car. You can put a pressure tester on the cooling system to see if it holds pressure.
Your right, you won't have a tranny cooler with a stick. If it has an engine oil cooler you'll see 2 hoses going into the radiator tank on the side. Not real likely though. You say your son wants to learn the trade. I hope your not planning to let him practice on this one. This car is an overhead cam and requires a higher skill level to avoid serious engine damage when replacing the head.
 
  #15  
Old 10-22-03, 10:20 PM
mike from nj
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from what i've seen on cars with blown headgaskets/cracked heads----the oil in the coolant resevior is a light brown color and almost foamy, plus there's 10 times as much more inside the top of the radiator.


i have seen a lot of black algae in 'clear' overflow resevoirs, even turning it all black inside there.

clean it out good, then drive it some more and see if it comes back, or get the system tested for a real leak the correct way.
 
  #16  
Old 10-26-03, 11:38 AM
gtojen
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Unhappy Oil in Water

I had the car tested properly - the mechanic narrowed it down to a head gasket or the head. As near as I can tell, the next step is to take the head off, take it to a machine shop and have it checked, then go from there.

Any other suggestions? There is probably not any way around removing the head. The oil is definitely black in the water resevoir so I'll have to flush the cooling system. Does anyone have a reccomendation on what to use to flush the system or shortcuts?

Thanks to all who reply!

Jen
 
  #17  
Old 10-26-03, 02:29 PM
Joe_F
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You can buy various chemicals which flush the cooling system, I have always just flushed till clear water came out.

In your case here, I would:

1) Have the radiator boiled out by a radiator shop. Likely gooked up with junk.
2) Throw out the water pump for a new one----cheap insurance on the repair.
3) Now is the time to service the cooling system. New thermostat, hoses, etc.
4) The reservoir can be cleaned out with soap and water till clean.

Should be good to go after you're all done. Yes, the head needs to be checked by a machine shop.
 
  #18  
Old 10-29-03, 12:09 PM
gtojen
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oil in water-replace head gasket

One more question (maybe)...

When replacing the head gasket, can I re-use the head bolts, or do I need to purchase new ones. Also, are they a dealer item or can they be purchased at NAPA?

Thanks!

Jen
 
  #19  
Old 10-29-03, 01:21 PM
Joe_F
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Throw the head bolts out. Don't skimp on any small parts during the repair.

Any parts store that has Felpro gaskets probably stocks the bolts too. If not, any Saturn dealer should have them.
 
  #20  
Old 10-29-03, 05:27 PM
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Re: oil in water-replace head gasket

Originally posted by gtojen
One more question (maybe)...

When replacing the head gasket, can I re-use the head bolts, or do I need to purchase new ones. Also, are they a dealer item or can they be purchased at NAPA?

Thanks!

Jen
The machine shop can tell you whether that engine uses "stretch" bolts or not. that's the factor that determines if they are re-used or not. Do what he recommends.
 
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