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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello I have a SAAB 9-5 SE Turbo Station Wagon. I bought the vehicle back in December. She runs great, has a engine light for a throttle body issue, but does not cause many problems, waiting to fix when I have the money.

HOWEVER, I am 4.5 hrs from home, Los Angeles, in Monterey CA. I am a 23 year old female who has mechanics in the family, out of state, but am not familiar enough with an engine to diagnose or fix an issue. I was driving when the hood started smoking/steaming. I immediately pulled off. Under the hood there was fluid splattered all over the upper right hand/driver side of the engine, not on the coolant reservoir, but by the hose area. There was also a good gallon of antifreeze and oily residue on the cement. Clearly something had blown.

Once we had the vehicle towed to a shop, the mechanic found a larger hose, not sure whether it is the topper or bottom one, had blown open and had a very mushy feel, due to breakdown from the oily compound leak. He then checked the coolant reservoir where there was a large amount of the "milkshake" substance that I've been reading about on the forums. It is a white, creamy color. The hose had a swampy brown color in it. He instantly diagnosed it as a headgasket blown and suggested we junk it for parts as the cost to repair it wouldn't be worth it. I was shocked and don't want to throw away my first car that has served me so well, not to mention I'm four hours from home and financially strapped.

From what I know from the mechanics in my family and what I've read thus far, a headgasket blow would usually create the following symptoms in my vehicle:

-engine shaking/rattling

-oil dipstick would be foamy, bubbly, or milky

-lastly, white smoke from exhaust pipe

The first two symptoms are not occurring, we haven't checked the exhaust for white smoke as we need to replace the hose first in order to see.

I plan to purchase a hose in the morning and have the mechanic replace it and fill the coolant tank with water and test the exhaust. If it doesn't blow white smoke I hope this means I can rule out the headgasket issue? If so, I was told the new hose should allow me to drive home and address the underlying issue: oil cooler, temp. gauge, radiotor? at home.

Would love to hear any suggestions or comments ASAP as we need to leave town tomorrow!

Thank you!!!

T
 

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If it's truly a "milkshake" like fluid in the coolant reservoir, then that means the headgasket is blown internally and that oil and coolant are freely mixing. That isn't something that can be driven on (coolant makes a poor lubricant!), and with that hose blowing, I wouldn't be shocked if that was caused by exhaust gasses getting into the system and blowing it all skyhigh with the added pressure. The cooling systems of these cars is only supposed to run 12-15psi, exhaust...that can add a whole lot more!

If that is all the case, and don't have the $$$ to pay him to do it or the space/time to do it yourself, it may just be time to send it to Saab-heaven :cry:

EDIT: as far as headgasket failure symptoms go, you can have an internally failed gasket and not have those symptoms. I see many Subaru's roll through the dealer I work at with internally failed gaskets that run like a champ!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
RE: Jiggle Billy

Thank you for your quick reply, discouraging as it is.

In your opinion you don't think it's worth putting a new hose in to see about the exhaust? as external symptoms don't occur with an internal
Blow?

Do you agree that the alternative to SAAB heaven would be a $1,500-$2,000 bill to repair the gasket if it is indeed blown?

Thank you,
T
 

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I'd check the tranamission fluid to be sure it's not the trans fluid cooler in the in the radiator that busted a leak. Trans fluid has a tendency to get white, whereas oil gets a chocolate milk color.
 

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Since it is a 2001 SE, you have the V6 correct? I would look at the oil cooler since they were a known weak point. V6's don't generally blow head gaskets. The Caddy Catera used the same cooler, so it should be available. The replacements have been upgraded to stainless steel so they don't fail.

The PO replaced mine back in the early 2000's under warrenty, so I can't give you a price

I'd also replace the radiator as they are at the end of their lives. I replaced mine 2 yrs ago in my 2001 SE, but I had about 180,000 miles on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
RE: jlthunder

I indeed have a V6 engine, she has about 130,000 miles. It's quite possible I need a new radiator. Do you know if I can get one from Autozone that will work for Saab for the mechanic to replace?

Also, do you agree than that I should go ahead a replace the hose first, test for white smoke, if none, proceed with a radiator change?
I just want to know what's the most effective and inexpensive way to proceed and get me home to LA to address the underlying issue.

Thank you for any and all advice!
 

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My thoughts.

Replace the radiator Hose.
Radiator, probably at the end of its life, so that can be ordered through any reputable parts supplier. Since you have an Automatic, you will need to change the crush washers on the banjo joints for where the trans cooler lines go into your radiator. I think there are 4 washers needed.

I still think your oil cooler is leaking. A mechanic should be able to determine that. It is located in the "V" section of your engine. Search this site for details. If you need an oil cooler, replace the thermostat while you are in there as it is a PITA and you will be in that area.

You have 130,000 miles on it. Has the timing belt been replaced? It needs replacement every 60K along with the pullies and tensioner. If not, you are on borrowed time. If the belt breaks, you are looking at valve replacments.

I know, I threw a lot at you, but I don't want you to invest a lot of money if other routine maint hasn't bee performed.

Good Luck.
 

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Reply to female in distress

I'm in the middle of a head gasket right now. Yes the oil cooler is a problem. You need to have the car pressure tested. The white smoke is an indicator of head gasket. Check the oil cap and see if the cap looks like
a milky brown like a mocha. If its pouring our you have a big problem, if it's a hose you got off easy
 
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