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Old 12-28-2008, 11:35 PM   #1
LotusLord
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Default Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

I opened my oil cap to put a quart in, since I was low a quart, and there was some yellowish sludge on the cap. I switched to synth oil on my last change, I don't know if that matters or not... The engine seems to be running fine, but I really can't afford another major car repair on top of the fact that the Vue's trans just failed (working on trade for that). I have no idea where to go from here.

If it's just the head gasket, can I just change the oil after putting the new gasket on and be good to go? I've never done anything like this, I've only done 1 oil change and very MINOR car repairs prior to this, so I'd want to find someone to help me with it in the Madison, WI area.

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Old 12-28-2008, 11:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

It's condensation on the inside of your oil cap, and totally normal. With short trips in the wintertime your car never fully warms up enough to burn off the condensation that is a normal byproduct of combustion. Take it out for a good long run on the highway and it'll be gone. Nothing to worry about.
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Old 12-28-2008, 11:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Presuming you're describing the sludge for the '96, its only moisture build-up as the engine cools down overnight and from many short trips. Drive an hour a week to boil out the moisture and you'll be fine. Oil will old onto condensation but not too long before turning this to acid so one long drive a week or so in-between the short trips should take care of it. Check the oil cap afterwards.
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Old 12-28-2008, 11:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

You guys really put me at ease. Yes I was referring to the 96, I typically only take it to work and back, 1.5 to 5 miles depending on traffic. I do think the thermostat is stuck as the temperature gauge never gets much above the 1/4 mark.
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Old 12-29-2008, 12:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Replace the thermostat immediately. Its another part that aggravates the moisture condensation along with the short trips. The low temperature isn't caused by winter temps but a worn thermostat. The replacement will warm things up and indicate at the 3/8 mark.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Not looking forward to doing that in my cold garage.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:51 PM   #7
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

well i dont wanna be a negative nancy but i had the same problem in my 93 sc2 and everyone thought it was condensation too. until i had coolant in my oil, the main thing would be to check your coolant and see what it looks like and if it is full maybe post a pic if you could.

and doing the head gasket is not just a swap in and out type of job for someone who has never done anything like it before, you have to take up the timing chain cover and the timing chain and that gets to be a PITA with the engine still in the car
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Old 12-29-2008, 04:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

^^^ lol....
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Old 12-29-2008, 06:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

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Originally Posted by 93SC2'in View Post
well i dont wanna be a negative nancy but i had the same problem in my 93 sc2 and everyone thought it was condensation too. until i had coolant in my oil, the main thing would be to check your coolant and see what it looks like and if it is full maybe post a pic if you could.

and doing the head gasket is not just a swap in and out type of job for someone who has never done anything like it before, you have to take up the timing chain cover and the timing chain and that gets to be a PITA with the engine still in the car
Come on don't tell me that.... Seriously though I'm glad for more suggestions. Of course I'd rather it be just evaporation...
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Old 12-29-2008, 09:56 PM   #10
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

I wouldn't worry about the goo on the oil cap, but check your coolant, make sure it doesnt look like chocolate pudding. The heads can crack, machine shops are aware of the condition. Hope the link works.

http://www.automotix.net/autorepair/...uide-1826.html
Notice it's only a SOHC (vin 8,9) problem.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Coolant looks green, as it should.
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Old 01-06-2009, 11:08 PM   #12
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Try a few laps'o-the-lakes (or a run on 90 to Portage and back) , bet it's gone! I wouldn't sweat it considering the temps here lately. See if you get more than 1/4 during that time too.

No, it's no fun in the garage this time of the year but that short a drive time is not really a good indication. If you never get over 1/4 on a longer drive and you really don't want to freeze your knuckles off, you might consider stopping by one of the local HS auto shops and ask if they'd be willing to change it for you? I don't know where you are but I'm reasonably sure Memorial would. If you want to try that route PM me and I can give you a contact #.
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Old 01-06-2009, 11:37 PM   #13
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Garage??!? Must be nice. Just before X-mas, I did the heater core on the wife's pickup in the driveway. 'Course, that was before the whole city turned into a big glazed donut (the local ER had 177 slip-and-fall admissions yesterday).

Hmm, so the kids at Memorial are trustworthy? It's a thought. I'm sure I'm running a too-cold 'stat (Scangauge never gets above about 182F), and NOT looking forward to mucking with it now. I'm thinking, 'til spring, I'll just pull off the air dam to see if it runs a little warmer (and to keep it from getting torn off in a snowbank).
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:36 AM   #14
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

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Hmm, so the kids at Memorial are trustworthy? It's a thought. I'm sure I'm running a too-cold 'stat (Scangauge never gets above about 182F), and NOT looking forward to mucking with it now. I'm thinking, 'til spring, I'll just pull off the air dam to see if it runs a little warmer (and to keep it from getting torn off in a snowbank).
LOL I was lucky, the air dam has been hanging on the wall since last Feb. with no discernible difference. Jim Sainsbury is the auto tech instructor. Really good guy. Saved my butt last year when the LCA/torque connection fell apart.
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Last edited by off-track; 01-07-2009 at 12:43 AM.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:06 AM   #15
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Didn't get much higher when I drove it to Milwaukee during the holidays. I'm betting that's throwing off my mileage too. I'm on the far west side(almost in Fitchburg), and new to town, so I'm not exactly sure where Memorial is, but it might be worth it to me.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:15 AM   #16
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

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'Course, that was before the whole city turned into a big glazed donut (the local ER had 177 slip-and-fall admissions yesterday).
People in WI can't walk or something? You would think they would be used to it. I am sure alot of those were for boo-boos and what not. I think I have only fallen once but it was not fun. I was trying to get in a car and there was no ice except for a patch heading toward the drain and I just happened to step on it... needless to say legs went into the air and head landed on a mustang's rim... hurt like hell. Got up got back in the car.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:31 AM   #17
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Quote:
Garage??!? Must be nice. Just before X-mas, I did the heater core on the wife's pickup in the driveway.
When I did my water pump before Xmas it was about 3 degrees outside. I did it in the driveway. Started at about 3 o'clock finished in the dark. I couldn't fit gloves in between the body and engine so I had to wear no gloves. Not much room to turn the bolts by wrenches so I used my fingers once broken loose. I'd get about 5 mins of touching the cold steel before my hands went numb and I'd run in and run them under hot water. (Yes bad I know but the burn felt so gooddddddddddddddddddddd)
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:51 AM   #18
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

OnDaGround, you have to understand that before a week or 2 ago, there was very little ice (lots of snow for a while though), then all of a sudden it rained and froze. You'd think we'd be used to driving in the snow by now too, but it never fails that people completely forget how to drive in the weather, go 80 on the freeway and end up in the ditch.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:11 PM   #19
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

The ice wasn't "patches" here on Sunday. When it rains, then "flash" freezes as LL described, the sidewalk for an entire block can freeze into a single sheet of ice, extremely smooth on top, like a hockey rink that's just been Zamboni'd. We have YakTrax (traction devices you put on the bottoms of your boots), and were STILL having to "mince" our steps. The city put out free sand in several piles around town, but it was so effin' wet, followed by so effin' cold, that many of the sand piles froze.

LL, any idea of the build date on your car? Most of the '96s had DexCool from the factory, but yours might be an early enough build that it got "green". In any event, from your Milwaukee trip, it sounds like a stuck-open or too-cold (180-degree) thermostat. Join the club.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:17 PM   #20
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Default Re: Concerned about a blown head gasket or cracked head

Indeed, it's quite bad. I'm surprised my mail carrier hasn't complained about my driveway yet. Oh and what's up with the no salt? It's crazy to me that they don't use more salt around here.
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