Question about 1995 Volvo 850

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Coolant turned into foamy grey gunky milkshake, oil level is low

How I find out if it's head gasket, cracked engine block or radiator ... or something else?

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If forced to guess, I'd have to say head gasket...but, could be cracked head also (can't really tell unless you tear it down, but to do the repair, either way that's what you need to do.) If residue was reddish, it could be the trans cooler in the radiator but it's not, so rule out radiator. Make sure you flush out system and change hoses during job ... oil softens them and makes them prone to failure. Even if head does not appear to be cracked, have it checked for warpage, sometimes they twist when overheated. Cracked blocks are rare...I would not be concerned unless engine was frozen during winter.

Posted on Apr 15, 2009


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Not good! The coolant and lubricant in the engine should never come in contact with each other.

Check the oil dipstick - if it is white / foamy white - is indication of coolant entering the crankcase and mixing with the oil. This can happen if the engine block has cracked or head gasket is torn / damaged.

After the engine has been running / warmed up completely (you get full heat from the heater or thermostat indicates in the normal range), look at the tailpipe. There should be no visible "smoke." If you see white "smoke" it is probably coolant in the form of steam / water vapor and confirms the crack / head gasket issue. Low coolant / oil levels can also indicate this.

Neither problem is an inexpensive repair - but the a cracked block is usually the "point of no return" that few will fix unless the car is in great shape, low miles, etc.

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Usually, a car losing coolant with no leaking tends to have a bad head gasket, cracked head, or cracked engine block.
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Hi the engine coolant is low what do I put in there?

Add a 50/50 mix of Dex-Cool antifreeze and distilled water. You can also buy it premixed. If your coolant is low then you more than likely have a leak. You may also have a blown head gasket which is very serious. Symptoms of a blown head gasket are white smoke from the exhaust, loss of coolant with no apparent leak, oil level overfull, a grey foamy substance on the under-side of the oil fill cap.

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My engine oil looks like chocolate milke shake what could be the cause? i checked my spark plugs and the middle two on the passenger side were covered in oil mostly the bottom of the plugs. i drained my...

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How do you know if you cracked your head gasket, or if it's blown, or if it is something wrong with your car.

Engine cold, you open the radiator cap. You'll lose some coolant, so having a deep drip pan underneath is advisable. Be aware that antifreeze is poisonous to pets, as they are attracted to the sweet smell, and will drink it. It is also bad for humans, and should be kept away from children. Can cause blindness.
(Thanks for letting me state that. I feel better now)

First thing, pull the oil dipstick, and observe where the oil level is. You should have your vehicle on a flat level surface. Wipe the dipstick off with a clean rag, and recheck the level. If it is way overfull, and has yellowish globs, you have a blown head gasket, or a cracked engine block.

Getting the engine too hot, can cause a blown head gasket. Not enough antifreeze, or changing it when it's the change interval, can cause the engine to freeze, and crack the block.
Bring the dipstick close to your nose, and see if you can smell antifreeze.

Start the engine and observe the coolant. You may need a flashlight. You will see some bubbles as the coolant flows, through the coolant tubes of the radiator. This is normal. As the engine warms up, and the thermostat opens, if you see a constant stream of bubbles coming to the top, you have a blown head gasket.

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Sounds like blown head gasket (or worse) still to me.
Remove oil filler cap and look for grey oil.
Never use water these days but special coolant. Water makes vapour spots and cause block cracks, worse then blown gaskets!!!
vapour does not cool very well.
Look like you have cracks already.
Take a compression test if possible. But might not show op at that temperature.
The gauge indication troubles me.

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