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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To make this quick to read:
1989 Saab 9000 CD 159k miles
Brother purchased car for $100
Car had been sitting for 3-4 years unused - white smoke coolant loss issue began on immideately following purchase on the way to my house (coolant fan temp switch failed and caused overheat)
While running liquid coolant would drip onto ground from large cracks in exhaust at the cat connection
While not running liquid coolant would sometimes drip onto ground from the same location

I assumed bad head gasket and performed the repair
Elring head gasket kit from includes new head bolts, intake & exhaust gaskets

Head was resurfaced
Block was cleaned
Torqued in sequence from 44ft.lbs then 59ft.lbs then 90 degrees

While running white smoke starts immediately and liquid coolant drips from exhaust (same as before gasket replacement)
All 4 cylinders have exactly 135psi
With plugs removed all cylinders appear dry and no cylinders are shiny (I haven't run it more than a few times around the block since repair)
Pressurized coolant system to approx 15psi
Coolant starts dripping from exhaust and all cylinders appear to remain dry
Rotating the crank introduces coolant into cylinder 4 when intake ports are open!
No matter the crank or valve position coolant drips from exhaust when the coolant system is pressurized

How can coolant enter through the intake port on cylinder 4?

How can coolant drip from exhaust even when valves are closed and no coolant is entering the cylinders?

Can a bad turbo seal leak coolant directly into the exhaust system?

Is it possible that I have two issues: A leak past the intake gasket into cylinder 4 intake port (intake manifold did have some pitting) + an internal turbo coolant leak (to account for the drip even when intake port is closed)?:confused:

Slide video scope down intake manifold and view near intake port to see where coolant is entering/pooling

One possibility is that the head could be cracked between the water jacket and intake port

THANK YOU FOR ANY INSIGHT ON THIS ISSUE - I have read other posts extensively and my issue seams pretty unique from what I've read

2,026 Posts
I have to assume that you had the head pressure tested - while it was in the shop for resurfacing. If not, then it could very well be cracked in the web between a valve seat and an adjacent cooling passage (that's a common point of failure on any cylinder head).

One other rare point of leakage from the coolant system into the combustion spaces is via the throttle body. The TB has an internally cast passage for engine coolant to circulate through. This aids in either cooling or preheating the combustion air - it's purpose is kind of vague.

The wall thickness in the area of this coolant passage is thin by necessity. If it is breached, coolant will flow into the throttle throat/intake manifold.

Then, if the valves for that cylinder are opened, the coolant that has built up behind them will dump into the cylinder. The coolant tends to show up in the closest cylinder to the TB.

I have heard horror stories about "assumed" cracked heads/HG leaks that could not be located. And only after any hours of searching was the source of coolant found to actually be from the throttle body.

I don't know whether an 89 B234 has this feature but you should check it out. A few poor dwgs to try and illustrate what I mean:


3,938 Posts
Throttle body heat is primarily to reduce the risk of throttle plate icing in some humidity conditions.

Coolant could also be drawn in through a crack in the PCV heating pipe located inside the larger diameter section of the Y hose, carefully check the odd connection where that pipe is connected to the turbo compressor outlet.

The 89 also has a water cooled turbo. Are we sure no coolant is reaching the intake from there. It would be a long trip through the intercooler. Check for coolant on the throttle plate and in the rubber bellows right where it clamps on.

2,986 Posts
How bad is the intake manifold pitting? You can fill the pits with JB weld--this goes for the head too--same method as in this link:

You could bypass the throttle body coolant hoses to eliminate that source of leakage. (I wouldn't make that a permanent 'fix' though--it's too prevent icing of the throttle body which can hold the throttle open--on a carburetor when this happens you usually stall. With a throttle body it's more likely to act like a stuck gas pedal--very dangerous with an automatic)

You can probably block off the coolant line to the turbo for a quick test also--Don't drive it that way! The oil will provide enough cooling for a test run.

Remember that after you solve the problem, you're still going to blow white smoke for a while till you dry out the exhaust.
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