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Old 01-13-2019, 12:51 PM   #1
Zeebins
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Default Flakey oil cap

Before leaving for work earlier this morning, I went to add some oil to the engine but when I was removing the oil cap I noticed it was a little harder to remove than normal. After removing it I noticed some white/yellowish flakes on the cap and around where it threads into the valve cover. Is this just a result of the colder weather or is there something else going on here? I've never noticed this during the summer and I didn't really start keeping up with my oil until last spring so I don't have a reference to if it was like this last winter. (This is only my second winter with the car)

The pic isn't great, my phone didn't want to focus on the cap, but you can still see the flakes I'm referring to.
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Old 01-13-2019, 02:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Could that be frozen water due to condensation?
Is the plastic flaking off?
Bring some flakes inside and see if and what they become when warmed up.

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Old 01-13-2019, 04:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Strange looking stuff. I think Dummo might be on the right track though. Worth a shot at least.

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Old 01-13-2019, 05:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Has your coolant level dropped lately and the coolant has seeped into the oil?

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Old 01-13-2019, 05:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Short trip driving (under 10 miles each way? Condensation not boiled out with short trip driving may be sludge building up. Drying out is another level if this is dried condensation.

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Old 01-13-2019, 10:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

I just got out of work and I went to look under the cap again to see if the flakes are still there. Well, there not, but now there's this white, kinda gooey stuff. I may be wrong about this, but if there is something on the cap, it should just look like oil, right?

I hadn't thought of it just being condensation. I'll keep an eye on it for the next few mornings to see if they come back.

As for coolant loss, I don't think I'm loosing any. I did have to add some a few weeks ago due to it being low but I couldn't figure out how it got low. If it has gone down since then it hasn't been a lot.

My average trip is pretty short, fdryer. It only takes me 3 miles to get to work. Now that's obviously not the only driving I do but there are a lot of days I'll only be driving 6-10 miles
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
I just got out of work and I went to look under the cap again to see if the flakes are still there. Well, there not, but now there's this white, kinda gooey stuff. I may be wrong about this, but if there is something on the cap, it should just look like oil, right?

I hadn't thought of it just being condensation. I'll keep an eye on it for the next few mornings to see if they come back.

As for coolant loss, I don't think I'm loosing any. I did have to add some a few weeks ago due to it being low but I couldn't figure out how it got low. If it has gone down since then it hasn't been a lot.

My average trip is pretty short, fdryer. It only takes me 3 miles to get to work. Now that's obviously not the only driving I do but there are a lot of days I'll only be driving 6-10 miles
Your head gasket is seeping. The coolant losses will be minimal for now, but it WILL get worse. What you are seeing is the water vapor that is left over, after the glycol has burned off. It won't be enough to fully contaminate the oil, yet.

As others have stated, the moisture content is causing condensation on the cap. In theory, there should not be any moisture in the crankcase, because it is a sealed system.

If your "low coolant warning" flashes again, I would try to locate the Bar's Leak tablets, that OldNuc suggests using. It will correct the issue you are seeing, and is what the Saturn dealerships used when the 1996-up S-Series owners started getting coolant loss issues with the Dex-Cool eating the gasket materials.

You should also flush your system, if you haven't already, and refill with gold or green coolant.

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Old 01-13-2019, 10:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
Your head gasket is seeping. The coolant losses will be minimal for now, but it WILL get worse. What you are seeing is the water vapor that is left over, after the glycol has burned off. It won't be enough to fully contaminate the oil, yet.

As others have stated, the moisture content is causing condensation on the cap. In theory, there should not be any moisture in the crankcase, because it is a sealed system.

If your "low coolant warning" flashes again, I would try to locate the Bar's Leak tablets, that OldNuc suggests using. It will correct the issue you are seeing, and is what the Saturn dealerships used when the 1996-up S-Series owners started getting coolant loss issues with the Dex-Cool eating the gasket materials.

You should also flush your system, if you haven't already, and refill with gold or green coolant.
My low coolant light never actually came on, I just happened to check it and saw that it was a lot lower than it was before. I flushed my coolant last march with some green stuff. It replaced dex-cool that I'm fairly certain had been in there since 2000. It had 60-70K on it before I changed it.

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Old 01-13-2019, 11:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
I just got out of work and I went to look under the cap again to see if the flakes are still there. Well, there not, but now there's this white, kinda gooey stuff. ...I hadn't thought of it just being condensation. .....
My average trip is pretty short, fdryer. It only takes me 3 miles to get to work. Now that's obviously not the only driving I do but there are a lot of days I'll only be driving 6-10 miles
You're looking at condensation. Short trips never lets the engine fully warm up. Overnight condensation doesn't mix with oil and floats. Any warm moisture condenses on the cold oil cap to form sludge. Older owner's manuals addresses short trip driving with more frequent oil changes. Leaving moisture in oil will eventually turn it acidic and wear away metals so changing oil more frequently is recommended. The alternative is to drive the car once a week for an hour to let the engine fully warm up and boil out moisture. The sludge will disappear if the car is driven for any long drive of an hour or so. Since 14.7 parts of air are used for one part fuel, moisture is always being ingested and burned. The blowby gases contains this moisture and mixes with oil and held in solution. Overnight engine cooling condenses moisture. Brief engine runs won't heat up engine oil enough to boil it so it forms steam and deposits on cold surfaces. Sludge is harmless if its known and driving longer than 15 minutes at a time (longer is better) where hot oil won't let moisture remain. The pcv valve recycles combustion blowby gases back to the intake system for reburning. Humidity is in the exhaust system too as steam out the tail pipe. What doesn't leave thru the tailpipe remains in the engine.

The recommendation to replace oil sooner due to short trip driving would be every three or six months regardless of mileage (since mileage accrued is less than most daily driving distances). Ridding oil of collected water is sometimes better than scheduling a weekly long drive. Your choice.

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Old 01-14-2019, 08:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

It's not uncommon for cars that make short trips mostly to have the milky stuff from condensation. Despite fear mongering to the contrary, that is the most likely cause of the stuff on the cap.

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Old 01-14-2019, 09:58 AM   #11
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

I will check my car for you, as it has been sitting and only idled for about 10 minutes in the last few days since its awaiting an alignment. It's also cold here too and I wouldn't doubt it being water.

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Old 01-14-2019, 10:20 AM   #12
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

+1 on condensation. It was a regular feature on my 98 SL2 oil cap for many years and miles, and my drives were typically 17~25 miles one way.

While the crankcase is sealed, you have a small amount of blow-by (combustion byproducts including water vapor that get pushed past the rings into the crankcase at 180+ PSI).

This is why you need a PCV valve - when excess pressure forms in the crankcase from blow-by (positive pressure in the crankcase, vs neutral pressure or vacuum), the PCV releases it back into the intake stream. Back in the old days, the PCV valve released excess pressure gasses onto the ground. A common side effect is that when it first started raining, roads would get really slippery with the released oil

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Old 01-14-2019, 10:56 AM   #13
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Good to know it's most likely just condensation and nothing more serious. I usually change my oil between 4-6 months already due to how little I knew I drove. The oil has somewhere between 2-3 thousand miles on it by the time I change it.

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Old 01-14-2019, 11:31 AM   #14
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

It might be worth the $20 or so to get your oil tested by a lab. One of them (Blackstone, I think) offers the sample kit for free, and you pay for it after you collect the sample and send it in. You might be able to go longer on the oil changes.

Keep an eye out for your coolant level. If you want to try some of the Bars tablets and are not in a hurry (and don't mind possibly being disappointed), shoot me a PM with your address. I think I might still have a couple of the golden seal tablets at home - if I can find them, I can put them in a baggie and mail a them to you.

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Old 01-14-2019, 12:20 PM   #15
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

It looks like normal condensation to me.

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Old 01-14-2019, 05:29 PM   #16
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
It might be worth the $20 or so to get your oil tested by a lab. One of them (Blackstone, I think) offers the sample kit for free, and you pay for it after you collect the sample and send it in. You might be able to go longer on the oil changes.

Keep an eye out for your coolant level. If you want to try some of the Bars tablets and are not in a hurry (and don't mind possibly being disappointed), shoot me a PM with your address. I think I might still have a couple of the golden seal tablets at home - if I can find them, I can put them in a baggie and mail a them to you.
I actually had one of those reports done last time I changed the oil. Everything seemed to check out pretty good.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=235562

Thanks for the offer on the bars tablets! I'll keep an eye on it and let you know if if it goes down anymore.

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Old 01-14-2019, 05:51 PM   #17
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

O'Reilly has a pack of 6 tabs for under 5 bucks https://www.oreillyauto.com/detail/b...ufacturer=true

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Old 01-15-2019, 01:32 AM   #18
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
My low coolant light never actually came on, I just happened to check it and saw that it was a lot lower than it was before. I flushed my coolant last march with some green stuff. It replaced dex-cool that I'm fairly certain had been in there since 2000. It had 60-70K on it before I changed it.
The cooling system is completely sealed, and the level of your coolant should not noticeably change over the course of its 2-3 year/24,000-36,000 mile flush intervals.

I do not get any condensation, on my oil cap, and I have excessive blow-by from worn valve stem seals and worn piston rings. I am burning oil at about 1qt-200 miles.

My last engine was 1qt/80 miles, when I pulled it for a burnt exhaust valve in the #3 cylinder, and did not have this problem.

PCV valves are installed, as the crankshaft creates positive pressures, without blow-by.

Get the Bar's Leak tablets or start checking for leaks. The 1.9L engine has a hot spot in the #4 cylinder, directly under the intake manifold, where the gasket will crack and coolant seeps down the back of the block. As the crack worsens, it eventually begins seeping into the oil, or allowing the oil to leak down the block as well.

I have stripped two DOHCs, in two years, and both of them had the same exact head gasket crack, in the exact same spot.

Since I have put a brand new head gasket in my current engine, as it was bought with a bad head gasket from the yard that sold it to me, I have not had a drop of coolant loss in the system. Since I spilled some MMO into the water jackets, I do get some foamy residue in the expansion tank during normal operation(drove 90 miles with my cap sitting on the valve cover, once, without realizing it until I smelled coolant when taking a sharp turn).

Point is, I don't see what you are seeing in sub-zero temperatures and I am not losing coolant at all.

You are losing coolant slowly, and seeing moisture residue in your crankcase to a level that it is freezing onto the oil fill cap.

Get the tablets, or eventually a set of new head bolts and a new head gasket. Trust me on this.

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Old 01-15-2019, 02:32 PM   #19
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Default Re: Flakey oil cap

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebins View Post
Good to know it's most likely just condensation and nothing more serious. I usually change my oil between 4-6 months already due to how little I knew I drove. The oil has somewhere between 2-3 thousand miles on it by the time I change it.
Another option might be to change to a dual-rated oil, like Rotella, Delo, or many of the "High Mileage" oils. They start out with higher TBN and better additive packages to combat the acids and wear created by short trip driving.

Short trips are hard on batteries and exhaust systems, too. I used to "take the long way home" two or three times a week when I lived close to work. Adding 10 miles to your trip should help keep your battery charged and get everything hot enough.

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