Question about 1997 Saturn SL

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There is heavy oil sludge in the coolant but it shows no coolant in the oil. I removed the thermostat and flushed out the cooling system for over an hour to clean it out. In nless than 1500 miles it is back.It cloggs up the radiator to the point where the engine overheats. I have not been able to find any external leaks.

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I have the same problem with a renault kangoo diesel , black thick oil in coolant --nice clean oil in motor , you have an oil cooler leaking oil into the cooling system , replace the oil cooler , I have not been able to get the black sludge out of the coolant internal parts , heater is blocked too , I thought of using kerosene to break down the sludge , but worry it might damage the hoses and they are not cheap, good luck

Posted on May 31, 2010

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Check trans dipstick to see if coolant is in there the trans cooler is part of the radiator and may be cracked

Posted on Jul 21, 2009

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Holden Cruze 2011 auto 1.8l. Have oil in my coolant reservoir. Any idea how it got there


Been a while since I have looked at one of these however If it has an oil cooler under the exhaust manifold (front of engine}ie radiator being front this would be where my suspition would be. I would normally run several checks 1st to confirm cooler being at fault but in the past i have replaced many. depending on how sludgy the coolant is i would also advise several flushes with fresh water through the system as well as using a detergent to brake down the oil on the 1st couple of flushes {only required if heavy sludging exsists). If bad sludging also clean or replace thermostat. Good luck.

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My 2006 pacifica has yellow sludge in my coolant resivoir


Probably engine oil, unless you have been adding water pump lube. The oil can come from a blown head gasket, or if you are lucky it can be the transmission oil cooler inside the radiator has failed and is leaking. Either way, DO NOT RUN vehicle until you fix the issue and change all fluids. There is a tester that is used to pressurize the radiator which may help determine what has failed. Many parts stores have a loan-a-tool program that may have this tester.

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Oil sludge found in Air Cleaner, replaced PCV and filter and cleaned and had to replace filter in 6 months due to yellow oil sludge


Oil sludge can be caused by a few different things. I don't think you have head gasket/head problems as you say you've been using the vehicle for 6 months.

However, do check your oil dipstick and see if the same sludge (also known as 'mayonnaise') is on it. Mayonnaise on a dipstick is a symptom of a defective head gasket that is allowing coolant into the oil system.

If your vehicle looses/uses coolant this may be a sign of a faulty head gasket/head.

Very short- repeated - journeys can allow sludge to form, simply because on short journeys the engine does not reach its normal operating temperature. The engine is 'cool'.

It can also be caused by a faulty thermostat. If the thermostat is jammed in the open position it can take a long time for the engine to reach normal operating temperature. Other than changing the thermostat (maybe for one that opens at a higher temperature - a 'winter' thermostat) there's no practical way of checking it. Replacement is the easiest and cheapest option. It's not a difficult job.

It's not unknown for a thermostat to have been removed by a previous owner (for various reasons..). If you're going to check if there's a thermostat there - replace it anyway.

If you're not losing/using coolant and there's no mayonnaise on the dipstick it may well be due to repeated short journeys where the engine doesn't reach normal operating temperature - or the thermostat.

Feb 05, 2016 | Cars & Trucks

3 Answers

Sludge in cooling system


Leaking head gaskets can and do cause this, the combustion gases are very corrosive and rusts the heck out of the cast iron.

Apr 20, 2017 | 1989 Ford F 150

1 Answer

I have got a citroen saxo it is an R reg. There is no option to choose a saxo sorry. My broken head gasket caused the cooling water to mix with the oil. And now the sludge blocks it all up. Does anyone...


About the only way you are going to get that right is to fill the coolant system with a very hot detergent solution and let it stand for a while. Flush and back flush the system (Remove the thermostat for full water flow. Unfortunately you are going to just have to continue doing this until the system is clear. You could use a detergent based engine cleaner or just make up a solution using a powerful washing detergent, but do not use any solvent or oil based cleaners, they will chew up the rubber hoses and seals in the system.. (The radiator could be cleaned at a radiator repair facility).

Apr 20, 2011 | Acura CL Cars & Trucks

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Found rust like material in water system change radiator and water pump thermostat .flushed system numerious times car still runs hot and water is still a rusty mess.


You may have to flush the system again. Did you use a commercial flush such as Prestone Super Flush? Plain water won't remove the rust and sludge. The Dex-cool antifreeze that GM recommends for their cars is bad about forming a gummy sludge in the cooling system. It clogs radiators and heater cores. I would suggest another flush with the Prestone product. Follow the directions closely for best results. One thing that will help is. after you drain the radiator, refill with clear water and let the engine run until the coolant is circulating good, then drain it again. Do this three or four times. This will ensure that all the antifreeze has been removed from the engine block. When you refill the radiator, use a green antifreeze that is compatible with aluminum radiators and aluminum engine parts. Do not use Dex-cool. Dex-cool can also cause the intake gaskets to fail. Make sure the new thermostat is at least a 195degree unit and that it is installed correctly. you would be surprised how many thermostats get installed upside down. After refilling the radiator, leave the radiator cap off and let the engine run until the coolant is flowing. Keep adding antifreeze each time the coolant is pulled down into the radiator. Use full strength antifreeze because the water that is retained in the block will dilute it. A 50/50 mixture won't protect below freezing.

Dec 27, 2010 | 2003 Buick Rendezvous

1 Answer

Dodge caravan cooling and heating troubleshooting


Was the sludge Orange or more of a tan or brown colour? If there is a tan or brown colour sludge in the rad, this usually indicates a head gasket leak. I would flush out the cooling system and be sure that there is good coolant flow through the rad ( you should be able to see the coolant moving in the rad with the rad cap off and engine running) as well as no air locks in the cooling system. Feel the heater hoses at the fire wall with the engine at opperating temp. The hoses should be hot and close to the same temp. If not then there is a flow problem or a plugged heater core. hope this helps..Good luck.

Feb 05, 2009 | 1995 Dodge Caravan

2 Answers

Engine overheating


The best way to flush it would be to take off the bottom radiator hose and pump water through the fill nozzle after all the coolent is out you can then hook the hose back up and replace it with new coolant.

Feb 01, 2009 | 2000 Pontiac Grand Am GT

2 Answers

Oil in the radiator


are you sure its oil in the antifreeze? oil is brown. your van should have dexcool wich is orange, not green.(looks red sometimes)check the coolant again and check the oil. if it looks milky or foamy, there is coolant in it. sounds like it may be a blown head gasket. not good. stop driving it if you want to save your engine. you need to replace the head gasket/s, and flush the cooling system.

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Oil in the radiator


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