Help! Looks like coolant in engine oil. - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Help! Looks like coolant in engine oil.

I'vebeen going through coolant faster than I can find where it is going to until today when I went to check the oil level there was gooey stuff splattered up about 10" up the dipstick. Its hard to tell what color it is )sort of tannish my wife says) but it seems to looks coolant-ishy to me. Anyway, there is no coolant in the degas tank despite filling it up less than 250 miles ago. I think its been leaking into the oil for some time but only recently getting worse.

Also it has seemed to me that when I take off the cap to the degas tank lately that it is under a lot of pressure. There will be no visible coolant in the degas bottle but when I remove the cap it will fill up about almost halfway up in the degas tank. If I add coolant to the fill line and then drive the truck the degas tank will overflow as it seems to pressure up so much while running.

I took the air inlet hose off of the motor yesterday to check turbo shaft play and I noticed that the little inlet tube part that connects to the CCV doghouse was almost clogged with the same sort of gooey oily mess that I found on the dipstick today. I cleaned that off with tips and rags. It was almost as if it was a light grease when you looked with it.

So, my question is how do I find out how its getting into the oil and if indeed that is what's happening? Is this from cracked injector cups? I'm sort of out in the middle of nowhere here in Mexico and have to do all of the repairs myself so I need practical down to earth ideas I do have a trip planned up to the States next week so i can get what I need then but I need to cover all my bases since a second trip up isn't an easy option.

Thanks!

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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 06:05 PM
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Yep, sounds like coolant in the oil. Chocolate pudding.
Not good.

With the coolant tank pressurizing, it could be a headgasket leak (pretty rare in a 7.3L) or a perforated cylinder wall from cavitation (you have been maintaining the SCA in the coolant, right?) Otherwise it could be from an oil cooler leak - maybe just o-rings.
If it were an injector cup, there would be fuel in the coolant. Fuel pressure ~65 psi vs 16 psi coolant pressure. So I'd rule that out.

When it happened to me, I had a crack in the cylinder wall of #3 that started with a spun cam bearing and the closest lifter nibbling on the bearing. That engine went bye-bye. That or cylinder wall perforation would be the worst case. Head gaskets or oil coolers can be fixed. The shop found the crack in mine by inserting a borescope in the dipstick opening after adding fluorescent dye to the coolant.

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Yep, chocolate pudding...that's a good description of what I was finding, unfortunately.

Yes, I have tried to keep up SCA in the coolant over the years so hopefully cavitation in a cylinder wall isn't the culprit.

Is there a way to visually check the oil cooler? I mean, if pull it off will I be able to tell if its bad? When I pulled my motor to replace the oil pan gasket years ago I changed out the o-rings on the oil cooler at that time. What do bad coolers do, crack or something else?

Could a cavitated or cracked front engine cover behind the water pump be a possible place also?

I've got about 2-3 days to find out what I can before heading up to the States (in another vehicle) so I'd appreciate any advice.

Thanks again.

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-29-2018, 08:05 AM
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I would think if it's the oil cooler, you would also find oil in the coolant because oil pressure is much higher while running.
Yes, the front cover is another spot that can cavitate. You said the degas bottle partially fills back up when removing the cap. That's interesting. I would guess it's from an air pocket within the engine that expands when the pressure is released from the tank.

As for the pudding, I'm thinking the hp oil system isn't liking it at all.

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-29-2018, 08:20 AM
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Losfinch I don't recall how far you are from Puerto Lobos or Caborca but I will be there on April 11th, so if you should need anything from Tucson at that time I could bring it down.


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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-29-2018, 09:03 AM Thread Starter
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Losfinch I don't recall how far you are from Puerto Lobos or Caborca but I will be there on April 11th, so if you should need anything from Tucson at that time I could bring it down.
Thanks for the offer but I'm on the other side of the Sierra Madres...one would need to be coming at us from the east side.

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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-29-2018, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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As for the pudding, I'm thinking the hp oil system isn't liking it at all.
Yeah, that and the other internals. Fortunately it apparently hasn't been going on too long as I recently changed the oil and filters (by pass and regular) a few thousand back and there was no sign of the pudding then. I tried draining a little bit of oil out of the oil pan yesterday and it looked normal(about a cups worth). I think that I'll pull the oil cooler today and see if I can see anything obvious.

If its fixable (bad oil cooler, head gasket), I'm wondering what I should do to help it out now...like should I drain out the water (so no more mixes into the oil), drain out the oil, replace the filters, put in some fresh oil and let her run for a few minutes and then drain that oil out? The idea being to try and get the water out before it damages bearings and things like that until I can fix it. And then, after fixing it (if I can fix it), I guess you'd want to do all of that all over again to try and clean out the motors oil passages ways as best as possible. Frankly I'm debating how much I want to do at this point...I mean, the old girls got 330,000 miles on her already. Funny thing is that it runs so good and strong despite the chocolate pudding

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-29-2018, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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I am wondering if anyone would have an idea as to why the coolant will remain under high pressure for days in the degas tank (and I assume motor chambers) and not leak down into the oil system? It only looses the water when the motor is running. You'd think that the coolant under pressure would leak into the oil system while it is sitting as well. And to clarify again, the coolant remains under what I think is higher than normal pressure even after not running for a day or two. Just trying to get some more understanding so that I can trace down the problem better.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-29-2018, 07:03 PM
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My engine did that. I topped off the coolant and it didn't drain down at all unless the engine was running. It lost about a gallon of coolant on a 10 mile test drive. Still ran like a champ during the test run. That was before the shop found the crack in the cylinder wall.

You might try pressurizing the coolant system to see if you can see where the coolant is coming from. The front cover behind the water pump is a distinct possibility for cavitation, but if it was that, it would depressurize the coolant system immediately after shutdown. I find it interesting that it holds pressure when not running. Normally coolant pressure should drop pretty fast as the engine cools off. I can't think of anything that would keep the coolant system pressurized with the engine not running. Every thing else is at atmospheric pressure when not running, even the fuel system and HP oil system.

An oil change would help keep the problem from getting worse, or at least hold it at bay.. As far as damage, I don't think you should worry too much about that, unless there's a cylinder that fills with coolant and then hydrolocks when you try to start it. I'm still using the injectors from the engine that crapped out on me. I did send them back to Swamps to have them run through them though. They came back with a clean bill of health.

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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-30-2018, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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You might try pressurizing the coolant system to see if you can see where the coolant is coming from.
I might not be able to do that for several weeks unless I can locate a pressure tester locally with someone. However, since the coolant system is staying under pressure after being shut down and cooled off (for days) if there was leak or crack that I could find under a pressure test you'd think I could find it or hear it now as it sits under pressure, right? The way its under pressure after its been sitting fr a day or two when I take off the degas tank cap it feels and sounds at least as high or higher than it was running normally under water pump pressure on a normal motor.

How do they do compression checks on these motors...through the glow plug holes? If so, I'd need to get an adapter for that for my compression tester set I think. This would be in order to check for head gasket problems, correct?

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I might not be able to do that for several weeks unless I can locate a pressure tester locally with someone. However, since the coolant system is staying under pressure after being shut down and cooled off (for days) if there was leak or crack that I could find under a pressure test you'd think I could find it or hear it now as it sits under pressure, right? The way its under pressure after its been sitting fr a day or two when I take off the degas tank cap it feels and sounds at least as high or higher than it was running normally under water pump pressure on a normal motor.

How do they do compression checks on these motors...through the glow plug holes? If so, I'd need to get an adapter for that for my compression tester set I think. This would be in order to check for head gasket problems, correct?
Compression checks are thru GP holes. Yeah a comp set needs a special adapter on a diesel.

You have to remove all the GP's for a comp test, roll the engine over a few rev's with starter, see if anything comes out the GP holes.

Sorry to hear about your problem, specially being down in Mexico.

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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-30-2018, 01:39 PM
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I still can't understand what there is that would keep the coolant system under pressure as it cools off. How are you determining that? If it just feels weird when you pull the cap off, it may be that the cap relief vent that lets air into the system as it cools off and prevents a vacuum from forming is plugged. It may actually be under vacuum instead of pressure, which would indicate a plugged vent and relatively tight system.
Unless you're truly out in the sticks, you should be able to find something to jury-rig and put pressure on the coolant system.

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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-30-2018, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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So, it would need more pressure than what the engine would normally produce to really check it? Like how much pressure...I can rig something up. I'm just wondering how I'll be able to tell where the water is going if its internal?

Also, I'm leaning towards the idea that the water is getting into the actual combustion chamber because the water is disappearing and not filling up in the oil pan. If it a broken or bad oil cooler, or front engine cover plate wouldn't the oil pan be filling up with the water? I'm thinking that the culprit has started small and its why the water has been generally burning up in the combustion chamber and maybe when the motor is shut down that a little bit makes its way into a cylinder (or more) and that is the little bit that is producing the noticeable chocolate pudding on the dipstick and CCV hoses. That being said I'm thinking that it is something that allows water to directly get into the combustion chamber(s)...hence, a cracked head, cracked or cavitated block, or bad head gasket. Probably can rule out the injector cups as don't when they go bad the oil gets into the water?

I drained all of the oil out today and really it didn't look that bad. It wasn't at all like chocolate pudding as it drained out. Only towards the end did it seem like it was little more brownish but really overall it looked fine. I drained the oil, changed the filter and added some cheap oil. I drained all of the water out of the block too (including the block plugs) so that it couldn't re-contaminate the oil and then ran the motor for about 5 minutes (without any water) just to be able to push the new oil through everything and hopefully give the bearings and internals a coating of fresh non-contaminate oil.

My thoughts at this point are to bring back a compression checker, water system pressure checker and a small block and tackle (for removing the heads if needed) and proceed when I get back from the States in about 3 weeks. I just don't have the time this weekend to really do too much before leaving next week and I'd rather proceed a little more slowly than rush things and possibly screw something up.

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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-30-2018, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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One final thought to throw out. I read where one guy believes that his source of coolant in the oil was due to bad injector cups. He says that because it corrected his problem. His thoughts are that when the engine shut down and the coolant was still under pressure that the water was draining down into the oil. Could that be a possibility, too. I definitely have not seen any fuel in the coolant at all at any time which is the typical symptom of bad injector cups.

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I wouldn't pressurize the coolant system any more than about 20 psi.




Given what you said about the oil being mostly OK, I think you may be right about the coolant getting into the combustion chamber and then into the pan. You're on the right track with the new oil and emptying the coolant for storage.


It won't be the injector cups, because they separate fuel from coolant, not oil from coolant.

First truck -- 1929 Model A Ford pickup, restored from ground up. Wish I still had it!
'99.5 F250 PSD Supercab LB 4x4, ZF-6 w/SB Con OFE, 3.73LS, Boost & pyro gauges, Swamps S175/146 injectors, DP 80 HP Econo PCM (classic version
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  Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com > 1999-2007 Ford Super Duties > '99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain

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