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Coolant Bubbling (boiling?) Through Reservoir


whh333
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Still waiting on the radiator pressure tester to get here and I am confident it will show a leakdown, but finding the source is something I have not been able to do for weeks.

Bill,

Your coolant is either escaping through the engine (cracked block or leaking head gasket) or it's leaking into the engine compartment from a hose, the radiator, the reservoir, the cap etc. If it's the latter a dye test would find the problem immediately. You may be better off taking your car to a shop that uses the dye and black light method before you spend a lot of money on the block itself. I'm not a fan of radiators that have plastic tanks on the top and bottom. They are prone to leaking at the fin/tank interface. When I replaced the radiator in my Jeep I installed an all metal one from radiators.com and I've had no problems since. The plastic/metal one leaked all the time!!

:)

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I'm the one with the problem of the bubbles in the coolant. I went ahead and bit the bullet, bought another engine, and plan on switching it out. My reasoning was that I would spend several hundred dollars on the parts and head work even if I did do the changeout myself. For about double this, about $1200, I can have another engine delivered with half the mileage, hopefully all in working order.

Adjust valves, replace timing belt, change out new water pump from present engine to new one, install all new hoses, belts, mounts (another 3-4 hundred) and I can get a fresh start.

There may be some residual value in the present engine if the head gasket is all that it needs. I will still try to pressure test it and might be able to see source of leak once it is removed and exhaust manifolds are off. It is such a shame to give up all that is working with this engine, but it can be a spare. I will post more on this thread in case I can find out more about the problem.

I will start a new thread titled "Engine Changeout" and try to get ideas on the changeout process.

Many thanks for your ideas regarding things to check, as well as the patience and follow-through as different peripherals were ruled out.

Bill Harrison

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Ahh crap. I should have posted earlier. Did you already buy the engine?

If you didn't, there is a block tester at Napa auto parts, and basically since you're having bubbles, the block tester will sample the air coming from the bubbles and the air passes through a liquid, and if the liquid turns from blue to yellow in a few minutes then you have exhaust gas leaking into the coolant.

For my car that didn't work, but my uncle is a mechanic and he turned on the car and after a few minutes he took off the oil filler cap and there was some gray/milky liquid (as opposed to dark brown oil color) hence I had coolant leaking.

I also had white smoke out of exhaust.

I ended up pouring some K&W (it's from CRC industries) Permanent Metallic Block Sealer and it seems to have sealed off the coolant. I've read for a couple of weeks on this product and people have said to not follow the instructions on the can. Some people had water pump failure after two years or so, but I only did this because it's more economical for me. My heat works, so that's good.

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I agree, try the sealer first, what do you have to lose? Also,you say heated & pressured up it develops a small miss? Get it to missing, let it miss a couple of minutes, shut it off, remove all spark plugs, inspect them close, one of them will likely have some anti-freeze on it.

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you have got a lot to lose with sealers ,like your whole engine.

"do it right and cry once" no clue who said it but it makes sense

the sealer can seal holes that are supposed to be open as many cars have very tiny water jackets around the pistons and other high heat areas for reinforcement.

it is not as expensive as you think to change a gasket

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I realize there is reason to argue both sides of the sealant option. I would not have a lot to lose, since I have already given up on this engine. The probelm is that if it worked, I would never know when was about to stop working.

I got another engine only because the description of the engine was what I wanted, and because for $1,000 I could get it in hand (At first I thought it would be $1200, but the shipping was cheaper than I thought.) It may be another bad engine and I may be a fool for believing another seller, but it seemed worth the risk. I would have taken the sealant route if a good replacement engine would not have been available for a reasonable price.

For what it is worth, I got the radiator pressure tester yesterday, and there was no leakdown under pressure. The process must be a result of the engine warming and opening something up, whether a gasket or a crack. I even tried the test of starting the engine up with the pressure tester attached and there was not a rapid rise in pressure. On the way to work, the engine started missing again, and relieving coolant pressure once again leveled it out. Bubbles were coming up the reservoir as well.

I think my other thread about changing the engine out got deleted. I might have broken a forum rule by having two threads at the same time.

If I did not like the car so much, I could just walk away from it, sell it for $4,000 and cut my losses. It is just too fun of a car and I would be getting another one before long only to start again.

Thanks.

Bill Harrison

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, yours truly is back to Square 1. My dream engine arrived and it looked great! Before I did a compression and cooling system leakdown test on it, I removed the drain plug to get out any old oil, and water came out of the pan. Leakdown was OK, Compression was bad on one cylinder, and Cam lobes were corroded, and rust residue was all through the engine and in the pan. The seller agreed to take the engine back, after telling me that I was just not familiar enough with engines to know that these were not serious problems. Twelve hours work and $200 in shipping down the drain.

I will give one more try to backflush the engine in case the problem is a water port blockage, then run 6-hour radiator flush through it. Might pull the head or might get another engine if these do not work. Will ask for engine suggestions on another thread I am running on engine replacement.

Woe is me!

Bill Harrison

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I apologize if this thread is getting stale, please disregard if it is. Just wanted to let you know that I finally think I have a diagnosis. I ran radiator flush through the system and the bubbling bacame rampant. I think a previous owner had a head crack or a head gasket leak, tried to seal it, and left the confusing symptoms I have been trying to figure out. When the flush went through, the sealer came out and a more clearcut pattern came out. I can even see a leakdown with a radiator pressure tester now, even though there was no leakdown before. I will still pursue changing out with a low mileage engine if I can find one, otherwise, the head comes off.

Thanks.

Bill Harrison

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I'm leaning toward the head gasket theory. One check is to pull the plugs and put a pressure tester on the system. See if any cylinders get coolant in them. Sometimes a very small crack in the head will produce these symptoms.

If you find the suspect cylinder and pull the plug, then start the engine with the plug out, no bubbles, you know that's the problem, the compression will no longer pressurize the tank.

I think the bubbles are coming from compression. I saw it recently on a Corolla.

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  • 2 months later...

Hello--I would like to believe it is just an airlock and it probably is that. However the next layer of the onion is a buildup of sludge in the coolant passages from using local water with a lot of dissolved minerals, not distilled, and the engine forms a hot spot which boils the water at the point source. Alternatively, the replacement radiator may not have the same cooling standards as OEM. I have found that keeping the correct percentage of coolant-water has a small but noticeable effect on the waters ability to carry off heat. Lawrence Benz

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