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Coolant has milky white color - oil mixed in?

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Old 02-04-2012, 04:40 PM   #1
GibMax
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Default Coolant has milky white color - oil mixed in?

I started my 66 Mustang today. Checked the fluids. The oil dipstick was covered with dark oil half way up. Several times I wiped it but couldn't get a better reading. Transmission level was low as expected. I saw black soot on the ground behind the tail pipes.

But then I looked at the coolant. It had a milky white color. I thought this was associated to a mix of oil in the coolant. Is that true?
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:52 PM   #2
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as i understand it thats an indication of a bad head gasket, and yes oil in the coolant

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Old 02-04-2012, 05:25 PM   #3
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For a blown head gasket, it is more common to get coolant in the oil than the other way around, but it can happen.

Transmission fluid (auto only) can get in the coolant when a tranny cooler goes south.
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:34 PM   #4
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Unhappy Milky White color to Coolant

Oh, great. Thank you for the quick reply.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMD View Post
For a blown head gasket, it is more common to get coolant in the oil than the other way around, but it can happen.

Transmission fluid (auto only) can get in the coolant when a tranny cooler goes south.
this. If you have oil in your coolant, then you should have coolant in your oil as well. your oil would look like a chocolate milkshake. although if you spend a lot of time in the high rpms where oil pressure is higher than coolant pressure, then I could see this happening. Still, there should be some trace of coolant in the oil if it were a headgasket.

if your radiator is old, brittle and in rough condition, you could try to replace that before you go after the head gaskets.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:58 PM   #6
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NOT meaning to jack the thread. But, I have a question for you guys on the same lines.

No milkshake at all, clean oil and clean coolant. BUT I do get tiny bubbles in my radiator and have lost some coolant. No visible leaks. How can I tell if I have a blown head gasket!?
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:38 PM   #7
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Autozone rents an engine block tester for free, all you have to do is buy the testing agent.
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Old 02-05-2012, 11:11 PM   #8
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NOT meaning to jack the thread. But, I have a question for you guys on the same lines.

No milkshake at all, clean oil and clean coolant. BUT I do get tiny bubbles in my radiator and have lost some coolant. No visible leaks. How can I tell if I have a blown head gasket!?
are you losing a lot of coolant? Look for white smoke out of the tail pipe. You could pull the plugs and look for coolant in the combustion chamber. Otherwise do a compression test/cylinder leakdown test and see if any of your numbers are below 120.

If your oil and your coolant are clean and you have no outside leaks, the only other place coolant has left to go from a head gasket is the combustion chamber.
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:16 AM   #9
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are you losing a lot of coolant? Look for white smoke out of the tail pipe. You could pull the plugs and look for coolant in the combustion chamber. Otherwise do a compression test/cylinder leakdown test and see if any of your numbers are below 120.

If your oil and your coolant are clean and you have no outside leaks, the only other place coolant has left to go from a head gasket is the combustion chamber.
Not losing a lot, well I don't know cause its not a daily driver. In fact I have probably only driven it two miles just cause I couldn't help it! In those times that I have started it and just let it idle it has lost about an inch of coolant from where I had it filled.

No white smoke.

I will try the plugs and see what i find. I need to change them anyway...what type should i use!?
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:01 AM   #10
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Some times that milky stuff in the coolant is normal if it sat for a while.Just compression test the engine look at the plugs and watch your fluid levels.
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:49 AM   #11
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Some times that milky stuff in the coolant is normal if it sat for a while.Just compression test the engine look at the plugs and watch your fluid levels.

So true, the condensation of water in the oil gets worse if an engine is only used for "short runs" and/or bouts of idling in a garage.

This might lead someone to fix stuff that ain't broke....
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:51 PM   #12
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A garage should have a tool to test for exhaust gases in the radiator, which is a pretty good indicator of a bad head gasket.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:15 PM   #13
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Contrary to what you will hear from many people, it is possible to have oil in the coolant and no water/coolant in your oil with a head gasket issue. I actually am having my motor rebuilt right now. Clogged coolant passages caused hot spots which somehow disturbed the head gasket enough to allow oil into the cooling system but not the other way around. Like everyone else said, you better pay close attention to fluid conditions and levels, as well as the temp gauge.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:34 PM   #14
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Just drive it some if the milky stuff goes away its just from sitting if it stays then you got a problem.
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:25 AM   #15
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Contrary to what you will hear from many people, it is possible to have oil in the coolant and no water/coolant in your oil with a head gasket issue. I actually am having my motor rebuilt right now. Clogged coolant passages caused hot spots which somehow disturbed the head gasket enough to allow oil into the cooling system but not the other way around. Like everyone else said, you better pay close attention to fluid conditions and levels, as well as the temp gauge.
Not saying it isn't possible, but due to the engine design, getting oil in the water without getting water in the oil, because of a blown head gasket, is going to be extremely unlikely and/or RARE.

Reason being is that there is no pressurized oil passing through the head gasket. As a general rule, it is going to take a little pressure to get more than a small amount of oil into the cooling system.

On the other side of the spectrum, the coolant is under routine pressure, and from a gasket leak, the coolant can simply fall into the oil pan.

The only viable path I can visualize for oil to get into water without (much) without water getting into the oil, would require the engine to have....

1. Excellent piston ring seal

2. Blown head gasket, (combustion chamber to coolant)

3. Amazingly poor intake guide fit and seal on the cylinder with the blown gasket

The scenario I see is the guide dumping a lot of oil down a cylinder on the intake stroke, and then the oil being pumped into the water on the compression stroke.

Could happen.....
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:14 AM   #16
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wasnt there a time where there was an additive you could put in your coolant to help stop leaks that would make it that milky texture also. far fetched i know but only idea that hasnt been thrown out there
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Old 02-09-2012, 05:02 PM   #17
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JMD: I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, the first two conditions you stated were exactly where my motor was at. The machinist said the ring seals/compression were still excellent on my motor. I suspected that the hot spot problem I was having also disrupted the intake to head seal, but I am unsure. Hard to imagine I know, but the car was driven about 20,000 miles with pretty severely clogged coolant passages. The problem wasn't catastrophic until right before I decided to have it stripped down, boiled, and rebuilt.
eZ: yea there are other additives that do that too, I know for sure that some of the stuff named Radiator Flush (the one that you leave in your engine for 6 running hrs or whatever) does that and who know how many other ones there are.
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Old 02-09-2012, 05:02 PM
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