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Old 11-10-2012, 05:29 PM   #1
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Say it ain't so...(Hi John!)

Was driving to work yesterday, the typical daily hour-each-way commute. I was nearly halfway there when I realized the air coming from the vents was no longer warm. I was occasionally catching a wiff of oily smoke; I had thought it was the old beater car in front of me. I turned down the radio to listen to the engine and could hear a sputter from time to time, so I pulled off the road to check it out.

I inspected under the hood and couldn't find any coolant or oil leaks around the head, and there was no dripping or puddling under the car. When I got back into the car, knowing I needed to get it back home, the coolant gauge was reading hot. I decided to limp it home. About halfway back, the car started to behave poorly--very little power.

I made it back to my town, cruised up to a red light and the car died. It wouldn't restart. When attempting to start it, black oily smoke rolled out of the dash vents!!! Needless to say, it wouldn't start.

I called for a tow truck, and had it towed to the mechanic's shop down the street from my house. They're going to inspect the "damage" on Monday. In all the excitement, I never thought to pull out the Xcal2 and scan for codes(not that it would necessarily solve anything at this point), but I'm going up there this evening to check it out.

Details...170k miles. Due for a second timing belt change(but it's still tight and damge-free). Coolant overflow tank was EMPTY upon getting to town, and the car dying. Uhh, what else...ask away.

HELP(Please)!


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Old 11-10-2012, 05:46 PM   #2
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Hmm empty coolant tank and smoke coming in the vents. Not sure as to the smoke coming in he vents but sounds to me it was way overly hot. Kinda wonder if it blew a head gasket, and the smell was from antifreeze on the manifold or dripping down to the flexpipe behind the engine. Which would cause the smoke. It is possible to have a leak but not be able to find it, only leaks while it has compression. After it cooled down would it start at all?
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:04 PM   #3
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She wouldn't start, but would crank. Thereby, no hydro-lock, which I suppose is great news considering. My first thought was that the water pump gave up the ghost, taking the head gasket with it.

I'm hoping for a better answer, but planning for the worst. I guess worst-case scenario, buy a beater for the winter months and build an engine in the Spring :(

EDIT: That'll teach me to read better...I haven't attempted to start it after it cooled down, had to get to work in the wife's car and got home way-late that evening. It's up the street at the shop, maybe tomorrow evening I'll make it up there(hoped to tonight, no avail) and give it a go.
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:04 PM   #4
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Low on water , thurmostat stuck , would be my guess

Tom
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:05 PM   #5
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I tell ya, if that's all it is I'm the happiest guy ever Tom. Will that cause the no-start issue?

As an aside, I don't know if you remember me or not...John and I(red headed guy) trailered the pumpkin down to you after he installed the log intake manifold. That one still goes down as one of the greatest man-trips ever in my book, haha...
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:42 AM   #6
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I just got back from the shop. I checked the dipstick for motor oil, and there was barely enough oil there to check. Obviously the "oily black smoke" was...well, oil. The oil had a gassy smell to it...not good. I saw no evidence of water/coolant in it.

Oddly, upon checking the codes I found a P1383. That wasn't there before. What now? :(
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:07 PM   #7
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keep us updated.. im curious :)
good luck!!
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:08 PM   #8
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GREAT NEWS!!!

I went up to the shop today to play with the car. I pushed it onto a flat surface and changed the fluids. The drained oil was perfect, just a bit dark(was a little overdue for a change). Replaced the lost coolant. Pulled the spark plugs, they were perfect aside from some pooled oil on top of them. Probably the valve cover gasket needing replacing, maybe the VCT solenoid or its seal.

I re-scanned the ECU and found the same P1383 code. Pulled the serpentine belt and inspected all pulley-driven accessories. All of them spun freely.

Tempted fate and cranked the engine. It wouldn't hit, but it tried hard. After a couple of cranks, I heard the coolant overflow tank burp. The water pump cycled coolant through the system and completely filled the overflow, so I went underneath to open the draincock on the radiator. When I got under the car, I could see coolant spewing from a coolant line leading from the engine bay to the firewall, low on the passenger side. THERE was my coolant leak!

So my consensus: My coolant leak is an easy fix, and is obviously the source of the hissing sound I heard(coolant hitting the exhaust pipe) and the reason for my overheat. Why the timing is off, I don't know...but that's the reason the engine won't start.

Discuss :)
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:29 PM   #9
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Everytime ive seen air make a overflow "burp" while just cranking, its been the head gasket. Your next move should be a compression test and a leak down test
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:49 PM   #10
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I'm 100% convinced that the head gasket is alive and well. The oil was clean; the plugs showed no signs of ever seeing coolant, overheat or other abuse; the coolant leak appears to be at the oil cooler on the back of the engine, and there was no loss of oil at all.

When I cranked the engine, the coolant very obviously exited in one location and in a very controlled manner. The no-start condition seems fueled by the timing issue, however it cropped up. For all I know it could be a false reading judging by the oil pooling around the plugs. When I open the valve cover to check/adjust the timing, I'll be replacing the VC gasket. If the car starts as it should, all the timing apparatus and the water pump will be changed.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but the complete and total lack of smoke from the tail pipe convinced me that the head gasket was fine; then the check of the engine oil confirmed it. The specific coolant leak just drove the point further home for me.
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