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Username Post: Coolant reservoir has engine oil in it - dipstick has no antifreeze - why?        (Topic#208998)
eeyore2123 
Lurker
Posts: 3

Reg: 02-05-09
02-05-09 08:18 PM - Post#1623549    


I have a 1994 Chevrolet C1500 pickup with a 5.7L 350 and automatic transmission. I bought this vehicle with 33k miles. It only has 97k miles now. This truck has been pampered like a baby since I bought it when it was 3 years old. It has never been abused, raced or neglected. I tend to do 90% of the maintenance myself (I am somewhat car savvy).

A few months ago, I had noticed that the coolant reservoir was consitantly empty of antifreeze. However, the engine was running fine, and it was not overheating and the gauge was normal. I thought that the reservoir bottle was faulty, so I replaced it with a brand new one. However, antifreeze was still disappearing. I noticed antifreeze sweating near the water pump, so I had that replaced.

Recently, I noticed that the heater was not getting hot even after allowing the truck to idle for over an hour. The heat gauge would not move from 100 degrees. But, when I drove the truck into town - about 1.5 miles, the heat gauge would move up to about 150 -- with still no real heater. So, thinking that the thermostat was failing, I had that replaced by the mechanic.

Now I am having the same heater trouble. Because it's so cold here in Kansas, I have to let the truck warm up before driving it (hopefully so it will be warm inside too!), but after an hour of idling with the heater on high, it's still cold inside. The heat gauge is at 100 degrees -- sometimes at 140 degrees. However, when I go ahead and drive into down (about 2 miles), the heat gauge will steadily climb up to about 230 degrees. Another mile or less down the road, the gauge drops to 150 and stay there. But now I also have engine oil in the coolant reservoir, but not on the dipstick. It seems that the oil is in the reservoir and some in the radiator, but I don't see or smell antifreeze in the oil.

What could be wrong?

I have heard everything from a cracked head, blown head gasket, failed radiator, bad intake manifold gasket or a bad oil pressure switch that has failed and allowing coolant to mix with the oil. The latter doesn't sound plausible to me...and the thought of a major engine tear down on my baby scares me.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

 
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trailwart 
Contributor
Posts: 256

Reg: 04-17-08
02-05-09 08:30 PM - Post#1623556    
    In response to eeyore2123

you have a blown head gasket or cracked head. had the same issue with my truck not long ago. coolant resvoir had oil in it, truck would run hot at first because of an air pocket that did not allow t stat to open with no coolant around it. had no signs of coolant in the oil. mine turned out to be a cracked head on #6 cyl.

things to do. compression test, locate the low cyl. wright down the compression on all cyl. and report back. on mine, all were close except 1 cyl. it was right below 80psi.

what i have found in these situations, the compression is greater than coolant pressure, thats why oil and exhaust is packed into the cooling system, the coolant thats missing is burning straight out your exhaust. if you have dual exhaust, you should be able to see/smell what bank is the issue.

 
trailwart 
Contributor
Posts: 256

Reg: 04-17-08
02-05-09 08:32 PM - Post#1623558    
    In response to trailwart

if you pull your tstat and drill a few tiny holes in it, that will take care of the climbing to 230, it will allow the air pocket to get pushed past the tstat and bleed out. compression test might tell you alot.

 
ralph47 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 2335
ralph47
Age: 64
Loc: wadsworth, ohio
Reg: 10-28-08
02-05-09 08:53 PM - Post#1623571    
    In response to trailwart

make sure it is really oil. if you haven't cleaned and flushed all the factory anti freeze yet..this that is what you have..antifreeze turned to sludge..looks and feels like oil in the fill/overflow tank..my daughters malibu had the same problem..freaked her..ran it by the mechanic at the shop...he said they see it a lot now as these cars age..have engine and radiator flushed..re-filled..we did..that was 38 K ago..just fine..looking foraward to another 100 k miles
54 Chevy Handyman Wagon
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trailwart 
Contributor
Posts: 256

Reg: 04-17-08
02-06-09 06:40 AM - Post#1623706    
    In response to ralph47

coolant test kit at auto parts store will tell ya if its exhaust gas/oil. and compression test are 2 things that should be done. report back.

 
69 SS396 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 2473
69 SS396
Age: 54
Loc: Lakeland, Fl
Reg: 11-30-08
02-06-09 06:46 AM - Post#1623710    
    In response to trailwart

Do you have oil cooler lines that go into the radiator? If you do then I would suspect the radiator/internal oil cooler. Pull the lines loose, plug one hole and pressure up the other one a little and see if the coolant bubbles or you loose pressure.
The fate of empires depends on the education of youth-Aristotle

Kids will be kids, but parents should be parents.
Sean

http://www.picturetrail.com/myelkyss
1969 El Camino SS396 "Misty Meaner"


 
Axelrod 
Senior Member
Posts: 879

Reg: 02-23-04
02-06-09 12:49 PM - Post#1623902    
    In response to 69 SS396

I had oil in my coolant also. I noticed it after the truck overheated due to a radiator failure. I replaced the radiator but haven't driven the truck at all since. After reading your thread I wonder why my radiator failed? Was it because the truck overheated due to something else? At any rate there was oil in the coolant but not antifreeze in the crankcase. Here's my thread: http://www.chevytalk.org/fusionbb/showtopic.php?fi...

 
tooth2pull 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 94

Loc: AB CANADA
Reg: 01-22-09
02-06-09 01:24 PM - Post#1623937    
    In response to Axelrod

Hey guys. I just got my rad back today because I was having ALL these problems. Heater acted funny, was not blowing much heat even though truck was up to temp. Then truck would not heat up when idling, only on the road at highway speed. THEN I was missing coolant and sometimes oil in my reservoir too. Rad shop told me it was totally screwed inside, heater was bypassing, oil cooler was passing, cans were leaking AND the rad is only a year old. SO it could be your rad, and by the way, be careful buying a new rad like I did. Sometimes it is better to rebuild your old one because this new plastic and aluminum stuff is junk. FYI. and good luck.
If at first you don't succeed, try a bigger hammer.

90 Blazer 5.7 4x4 stock
90 cavalier Z24 commuter stock


 
eeyore2123 
Lurker
Posts: 3

Reg: 02-05-09
02-07-09 07:20 AM - Post#1624397    
    In response to tooth2pull

Well, my dad took my truck to a very well respected ASE mechanic in town (30+ years experience).

He said a few different things:
1) Could be a blown head gasket
2) Cracked head

All though both of these seem unlikely, it could be possible somehow

3) Broken down antifreeze

Said there was really no way to know about the cracked head or head gasket part without tearing into it -- then you're already into it, so you gotta fix it. Makes sense, but makes my wallet poor.

Also talked to another mechanic I know (I work for a parts store as a commercial delivery driver, so I know all the mechanics). He said that the 350s (5.7L) do not get their oil pressure from oil galleys like the new engines - the oil pressure comes from the pushrods. So, in his mind, the only way oil could get into the coolant reservoir is though the passages down by the cam/bearings from a minor crack. I haven't researched any of this -- does this sound plausible?

My truck is schedule to go into the shop next Friday for compression, coolant pressure and a couple of other tests before we start ripping into the motor.

I just don't understand this!

 
trailwart 
Contributor
Posts: 256

Reg: 04-17-08
02-07-09 08:17 AM - Post#1624448    
    In response to eeyore2123

not sure of your location but, if you have a auto zone or similiar parts store in your area, they usually have compression testers for rent/loan. another thing you could do is start your truck and let it warm up real good(before starting make sure rad and resvoir is topped of to full mark) after the truck is nice and hot, shut it off and see if you observe any gurgling in the resvoir after shutdown. if your board , you could always just pull the plugs and see if any 1 or 2 look like they been burning coolant.

it could be broken down coolant causing your heating issue, but i still keep coming to the thought of where is alll the coolant your missing, going to?? if you see no leaks, it seems likely its going out your tail pipe.

 
69 SS396 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 2473
69 SS396
Age: 54
Loc: Lakeland, Fl
Reg: 11-30-08
02-07-09 09:43 AM - Post#1624499    
    In response to trailwart

Have you pressure tested your radiator oil cooler yet? I have(and a few others here)seen this before. It is actually fairly common. A radiator pressure test will not reveal this.
The fate of empires depends on the education of youth-Aristotle

Kids will be kids, but parents should be parents.
Sean

http://www.picturetrail.com/myelkyss
1969 El Camino SS396 "Misty Meaner"


 
eeyore2123 
Lurker
Posts: 3

Reg: 02-05-09
02-07-09 01:43 PM - Post#1624657    
    In response to 69 SS396

I thought about the exhaust too - seeing the coolant go out of the tailpipe since I have dual exhaust. But, no...nothing from the exhaust - no white smoke, steam or wetness. Not even a smell there.

And for the record, I work at AZ, so I'm very familiar with the Loan A Tool program. Haha.

In fact, I'm on my way to work now...

Gotta get!

 
Timothys Chevy 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3863
Timothys Chevy
Loc: Fredericton, New Brunswic...
Reg: 09-24-03
02-10-09 05:18 AM - Post#1626732    
    In response to eeyore2123


This may sound silly, but are you sure the heater core isn't plugged? I've been unplugging cores the past month like crazy since we got this cold snap! Usually I flush em out with a garden hose, and sometimes use a flush agent if severe enough.
~~Timothy~~

1984 Chevy Citation 2.5
2009 Pontiac Vibe AWD
1993 Buick Park Avenue
2001 Pontiac Sunfire GTX


 
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