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Cap wouldn’t cause temp to increase but a loss in pressure from failed cap seal could cause overheating/boil-over. A head gasket leak that allowed combustion into a water passage could cause temp spike.

See this video: is this what your car is
doing?
 

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Discussion Starter #182
Thanks again Steve, I’ll try to simulate the conditions on the video,

My car does get bubbles in the expansion tank during the temp spike, I think it does anyway.
I had done a combustion leak test way back. No change in fluid color.

I still have the tester, maybe it needs to be really hot for it to work?Only would detect exhaust contamination after the spike?
Car ran fine yesterday for good 40 minutes, then sudden spike. Cooled for an hour, drive home and temp spiked up after 1 mile, few minutes of driving.
Anyway I’ll try a flush with water again today.
 

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Discussion Starter #183
Can a bad cap be detected with some test? I’m using my old cap today?

If it still happens the same does that eliminate the cap? Or could they both have failed? Seems unlikely. I could go to autozone and get a brand new cap? Thanks for the caps purpose explanation, by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #184
Cap wouldn’t cause temp to increase but a loss in pressure from failed cap seal could cause overheating/boil-over. A head gasket leak that allowed combustion into a water passage could cause temp spike.

See this video: is this what your car is
doing?
Hi Steve, just ran a simulation of the video. Sorry to report that my results were very similar.
I left the expansion tank open, and filled with flush and distilled.

When temperatures hit about 200 the fluid started streaming pretty well out of the overflow valve. Also unmistakable bubbling/boiling in the water.
So I have the same conditions that the video demonstration resulted in 😩
Sorry can not upload videos to this site just photos.
So, I’ve got exhaust in the coolant, but my test kit (lisle) told me I was clean.
Must have done the test wrong or system wasn’t hot enough?
I don’t recall having bubble over during the test.
Would you say I have a head gasket problem at this point? Or is there another explanation?
 

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Logically there is only a few places the oil can get into the coolant.
The ATF cooler is a possibility but any time I have seen this its shown as coolant in the gearbox...not the other way around.You would have also destroyed your gearbox by now if that was the culprit.
If you had a problem with the engine block re headgasket etc then the symptoms would be different
Also what has been happening to your oil level?
When it happened to our 9-3 it was the oil cooler that failed and it took half a dozen engine hot flushes to calm down to an acceptable level.
Even now two years on there is still some black scum build up on the header tank walls as the oil will have coated the insides of all the pipework.....its difficult to shift.

So if it isnt the oil cooler at fault goodness knows whereas else it can come from.
 

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Discussion Starter #186
Logically there is only a few places the oil can get into the coolant.
The ATF cooler is a possibility but any time I have seen this its shown as coolant in the gearbox...not the other way around.You would have also destroyed your gearbox by now if that was the culprit.
If you had a problem with the engine block re headgasket etc then the symptoms would be different
Also what has been happening to your oil level?
When it happened to our 9-3 it was the oil cooler that failed and it took half a dozen engine hot flushes to calm down to an acceptable level.
Even now two years on there is still some black scum build up on the header tank walls as the oil will have coated the insides of all the pipework.....its difficult to shift.

So if it isnt the oil cooler at fault goodness knows whereas else it can come from.
Yeah, checked the ATF recently. Went down through the fill hole with the oil dipstick, and looked for signs of contamination, fluid looked reddish, no sign of coolant dye.
Oil level is fine, no big history of excessive oil refills between changes.

I was thinking it would take a bunch of flushes. Makes sense.
However, today’s activity (boiling overflowing expansion tank) makes me
think I have a problem with the head gasket?
No oil in tank, just acting like exhaust in coolant. Maybe oil AND exhaust getting through gasket?
Just not enough oil to notice in today’s test, boiled over pretty quickly, lots of bubbles.
 

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I reread the entire thread. In post 149 and again in 184 you mention a leak detection kit - Lisle? Does the kit test for hydrocarbons / exhaust in the coolant? (I know you also bought a leak detection kit to use with a black light to look for a coolant leak from a hose, etc. but that’s different.)

So, with the Lisle kit you aren’t seeing evidence of hydrocarbons in the coolant? It sure seems like the head gasket is leaking but your earlier compression test indicated good results. I think you were correct to replace the oil cooler. However...although unlikely, I suppose it is possible that a complex head gasket failure could account for both oil in the coolant and overheating: that is, with a hot engine turned off (so no oil pressure) residual pressure in the cooling system should force some coolant into an oil passage or cylinder - but you’re not seeing either? That is, oil is free of coolant and you’re not showing any evidence of short duration burning of coolant in the exhaust. This is a head scratcher.
 

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Discussion Starter #188
Hey Steve, sorry for the confusion.
I bought a hydrocarbon tester from Lisle. It is placed over the expansion tank, and using vacuum you draw gas up from the expansion tank into the fluid tube, which detects hydrocarbons.
I performed that test along with a compression test. Both tests seemed to indicate head gasket ok.
Later I purchased a leak detection kit for leaking coolant after I put in the water pump. It found the leak and I sorted that out.
Now, however, I performed the test as was showed in your video and I think I failed that test. So, now I think head gasket, even though I had passed the earlier test. 🤷🏽‍♂️
I’m going to another pass at it tomorrow. And I’m going to redo the hydrocarbon test to see what I get this time.
 

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No worries - I wanted to retrace the steps to be sure I’m not missing anything. The compression and coolant tests don’t point to the head gasket but the sudden temp spike and coolant purge do - unfortunately. It’s bugging me that we can’t narrow this down - I can only imagine how frustrating it is for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #190
No worries - I wanted to retrace the steps to be sure I’m not missing anything. The compression and coolant tests don’t point to the head gasket but the sudden temp spike and coolant purge do - unfortunately. It’s bugging me that we can’t narrow this down - I can only imagine how frustrating it is for you.
Not to mention the wife 😩 it’s her car, well it’s the main family car, but we have a second car so that takes some pressure off.
I was reading up on head gasket sealer products as a possible choice over a tear down head gasket replacement.

Their product description said that if you can drive the car for 20 minutes or so before it overheates the product has a chance. If it overheats quickly then your choice would be to replace. So far, I seem to be in the former category.

Any thoughts on that? It’s a bit of a Hail Mary but not much to lose on a 240k engine?
 

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I don't have any experience with head gasket sealers but have read plenty of reviews - both positive and negative. (Negative mostly due to clogs elsewhere in cooling system, like heater core.) Steel Seal is one I've seen a lot but it's pricey. If you decide to use one, you really need to flush clean the system beforehand.
 

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Discussion Starter #192
I don't have any experience with head gasket sealers but have read plenty of reviews - both positive and negative. (Negative mostly due to clogs elsewhere in cooling system, like heater core.) Steel Seal is one I've seen a lot but it's pricey. If you decide to use one, you really need to flush clean the system beforehand.
Thanks for your input. Steel seal, blue devil, Barr’s, k seal. Blue devils got some YouTube documentation, seemed positive, not as expensive as Steel seal, but both are minor amounts versus replacement.

As you can see, in photos. Can’t upload videos 😡 I failed the hydrocarbon test this am, which validates yesterday, which now points to exhaust in coolant, which somehow brought some oil sludge with it I guess.

So, at least it’s a clearer picture finally.
Previous test failed, I think, because it only seemed to change color after expansion tank started bubbling, makes sense, directions say after 10 min warmup, but only starts to bubble around 15 to 20 min. Once it started bubbling, the fluid changed color, presumably detecting hydrocarbons in the bubbling gases.

Put cap back on and let car idle for 20 min, was running kind of hot (210) with distilled and flush in the system, turned it off around 230f.

So, replacing head gasket, is not a DIY, so it looks like a sealer is worth a gamble. Not much to lose, since 240k car has negligible value on the market.
Gotta consult with the Boss. No rush, as backup car is OK.
 

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It's a big job but you could DIY a gasket change although you'd have to be certain you know how to time the camshafts...You might get lucky with a sealer.

It's odd that no coolant has gotten into the oil or a cylinder. That's still true - correct? So you may have a combination of things going on here:

1) failure of the oil cooler. Replaced it so what you're seeing now may just be residual oil from before the cooler change. Nevertheless, it will take several thorough flushes to clean out the small passages in the radiator, heater core as well as the engine and all hoses.

2) head gasket breach which may or may not be pushing oil into a coolant jacket. But, you should also see coolant in the oil since after you turn off a warm/hot engine (so no oil pressure) coolant, which is still under some pressure, should find its way into an oil galley or a cylinder depending on where the breach is located. However, since your compression test didn't show a big difference in cylinders (true? you may want to test again) - the breach in the gasket may be very small since only high compression is making its way to the coolant.

Unless someone else here can explain it, I'd say you have nothing to lose with a sealer.
 

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Discussion Starter #194
It's a big job but you could DIY a gasket change although you'd have to be certain you know how to time the camshafts...You might get lucky with a sealer.

It's odd that no coolant has gotten into the oil or a cylinder. That's still true - correct? So you may have a combination of things going on here:

1) failure of the oil cooler. Replaced it so what you're seeing now may just be residual oil from before the cooler change. Nevertheless, it will take several thorough flushes to clean out the small passages in the radiator, heater core as well as the engine and all hoses.

2) head gasket breach which may or may not be pushing oil into a coolant jacket. But, you should also see coolant in the oil since after you turn off a warm/hot engine (so no oil pressure) coolant, which is still under some pressure, should find its way into an oil galley or a cylinder depending on where the breach is located. However, since your compression test didn't show a big difference in cylinders (true? you may want to test again) - the breach in the gasket may be very small since only high compression is making its way to the coolant.

Unless someone else here can explain it, I'd say you have nothing to lose with a sealer.
Yeah, I’m going by white smoke for coolant in cylinder, don’t see white smoke.Also, looking for signs of milk shake in oil, don’t see any.
Yeah, I’ll probably retest compression. Since my other test was done wrong, better redo that one.
Yeah it does seem that the system needs high levels of temperature/compression to breach into the coolant stream.

Thanks for your thoughts.
 

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If you re-do the compression test look closely at plugs. A plug that is burning coolant or water will have a cleaner electrode and insulator than the others (although your plugs are new and it may be hard to distinguish). If you can, post pics of your plugs.
 
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