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Old 04-02-2012, 02:19 AM   #1
rgomez2685
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Sad 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

I have a 98 sl2 dohc at 235xxx. About 2 yrs ago i replaced the valve cover which at the time fixed the oil leak. Well now it's leaking oil again. The serpentine belt has broken once and then slipped again a few months ago. I was told by a friend that it will do it again because of the oil it's been leaking. Now when the belt broke the second time, it did overheat right after it happened. Had a new belt put on and it ran fine for a few months. My biggest issue is that not only is it continually leaking oil, which seems to come from where the valve cover is but now it's pouring white smoke. I can not find any water or coolant in the oil or vice versa. The only time my car will over heat is when it's idling at a stop light or parked and running. I am assuming that this is either a cracked head or blown head gasket?? I am at a total loss and am worried that it needs a complete overhaul of new parts. Also it's having issues starting, which at first I thought it was the alternator but could be the starter? or is it a bigger issue? Once the car was warmed up and driven it would start just fine but would basically die a day or two later. I had also assumed it was the battery but the battery holds a charge fine so is it the starter? Any help would be awesome cause I am completely lost.

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Old 04-02-2012, 03:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

is it losing coolant? is the radiator fan turning on? the hard start and overheating issues are probably due to a bad ECTS. the smoke you see is probably oil burning.

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Old 04-02-2012, 04:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

No coolant is leaking and the fan does turn on but the engine does run hot. The only time it lost coolant was when it overheated after the belt broke. What exactly is the ECTS?

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Old 04-02-2012, 11:46 AM   #4
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Engine coolant temperature sensor, the original faulty round nosed plastic one. Replace it immediately with a flat nosed brass one and new 195F thermostat (your temperature needle hovering over the 1/4 mark). These two parts takes care of excessive fuel use, hard starting, and many other issues. The faulty coolant sensor won't give the engine computer the correct temps so the fan won't turn on...............

If your starter is original, consider it on its last legs and keep it in mind with a car having more than a quarter of a million miles on it. When you don't hear the starter crawl under and bang it a few times with a piece of 2x4 and see. Either way, a starter will be needed.

Is the white coming out the tail pipe or under the engine hood? Be specific as "white smoke" doesn't mean anything when no one is standing next to you. Remember, you're on a message board and descriptions count. Smoke under the hood; the radiator fan is also old too and cannot last forever so its probably running S-L-O-W-E-R. It should be loud when its running. Consider replacing it too otherwise you're going to chase your tail wondering why coolant is being lost. If no smoke is coming out from coolant overflowing out the coolant container and its from the tail pipe then its more serious - a blown head gasket. So where's the smoke coming from?
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Old 04-02-2012, 12:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Ok thanks. Which that all makes sense now. It's pouring out the tail pipe. Sorry I didst mention that. It's really really thick, I've never seen it like that before.

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Old 04-02-2012, 01:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

White smoke in large quantities enough to make a smoke screen and make you invisible in traffic may be a blown head gasket. Remove all spark plugs and look. Have someone briefly crank the engine while you look from the side of the engine in case coolant blows out the spark plug holes..........you'll know soon enough.

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Old 04-02-2012, 01:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

And if it doesn't spit out coolant then what and when I pull the plugs out will I see coolant or only when the engine is cranked? Just for curiosity sakes. Now it burns and leaks oil, is the burning of oil due to the ECTS? A couple years ago when I replaced the value cover it had been pushing oil through the spark plugs and when the cover was replaced, that fixed the problem but it seems to be coming out the side now, is replacing the head gasket going to fix that? Thank you for all your help, I really appreciate it cause I want to learn as much as I can.

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Old 04-02-2012, 02:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Unless you're a fast learner (I are not ) there are many quirks to every car, engine, and xmission (manual or auto). Read threads (here) and find out about oil useage/burning. When you read and learn about crankcase gases generated by engine blowby you'll understand about crankcase ventilation and emissions control. Closed crankcase ventilation counts on these exhaust gases to vent back into the intake manifold for reburning. Any blockage can cause pressure build up and blow out the cam cover gasket. This is a separate issue from what you have.

Just pull the plugs and see. Discussing it won't be the same as seeing what occurs. Even looking at the plugs can tell you what you don't know until you pull them to examine them. While you're guessing, Google spark plug charts to see the typical wear spark plugs suffer. Most major plug makers will have a picture chart of every plug that suffers the wrong way against one plug wearing the right way. Hint; if you see water droplets on any plug internals then the cylinder head most likely has a blown head gasket.

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Old 04-02-2012, 03:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

In the long run, do you think fixing these issues are worth it or just scraping the car? Do you think it will need an engine or a rebuild in the long run? I would say I'm a fairly fast learner, I have already basically taught myself to change brake pads and maintenance work for this car but the engine scares me cause its such a vital part. I defiantly do not want to make matters worse. Any suggestions can help. Thanks :-)

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Old 04-02-2012, 04:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Before armchair quarterbacking, did you try pulling off the spark plugs? try the cheap and easy first before stepping up to difficult. Fast thinking forward can sometimes cause more problems when your imagination runs away with unknown facts. Stick to the facts.

You're likely to get many replies from different view points. If you have little money, plenty of time and the skills to do major overhauls, this may be worth overhauling. Buy a new car and now own monthly payments including higher insurance costs. Buy another used car and take a chance on it having issues. Guessing at everything is great except when you commit to something. Get too far ahead of yourself and........................

Leave armchair quarterbacking to those that think they can but............never do what they think. That's why they're called armchair quarterbacks; they're not willing to do the work and pay the consequences or reap the rewards.

Last edited by fdryer; 04-02-2012 at 04:18 PM..

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Old 04-02-2012, 04:57 PM   #11
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

I hear ya, I will be pulling the spark plugs tonight and then go from there. I did do some research on spark plugs and know now that pulling just those alone tell you a lot about what can be wrong. Thanks for your help! I'll let ya know what I find after I pull them.

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Old 04-02-2012, 05:26 PM   #12
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

I paid $400 for a '97 SC2 from a lady who said her mechanic/ex-boyfriend said the engine was blown. Charged up the battery, drove it home ~100 miles. She wasn't impressed... lol

Spent ~$40 on a valve cover gasket to fix one of the problems (oil leaking all over the freaking place). A couple weeks later on a whim I fixed the coolant loss/steaming issue by swapping the radiator cap with one that was on another parts car. No more "blown" engine. Eventually traded it for a '78 F250 that I found needed more work then I could handle and sold that for $700.

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The proper way to fix a S-Series automatic is to replace it with a 5spd O:)

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Old 04-02-2012, 06:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Okay so I pulled out the spark plug to the far right and found oil on it and with knowing that is generally because of the valve gasket cover, i decided to go ahead and pull the cover off and see what is going on. This is what I found. Could my engine leaking be because of it no sealed properly? Also, the day before the white smoke, I filled it with oil and I am wondering if I over filled it .... ? Would that have an effect on it?
SDC16173.jpg

SDC16190.jpg

SDC16175.jpg

SDC16183.jpg

SDC16187.jpg

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Old 04-02-2012, 08:19 PM   #14
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

That engine looks great from what I see. That one plug looks bad and needs a compression test on that cylinder and all the rest. If you look down each plug hole you don't see oil running down the access hole? No oil then its either a blown oil ring or burned exhaust valve. A compression test might tell.

Oil checking is with the engine off at least 10 minutes...............

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Old 04-02-2012, 08:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Well I'm glad to hear the engine looks good. lol
I took pictures down into each spark plug well going from left to right. I hope this helps cause I don't know exactly what to look for.
SDC16201.jpg
SDC16204.jpg
SDC16205.jpg
SDC16206.jpg
Now to complete a compression test, do I need to take this to a mechanic or is this something that can be performed at home?

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Old 04-02-2012, 08:58 PM   #16
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

I answered my own question. lol I'll get a tester and go from there. Thanks for your help.

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Old 04-02-2012, 09:24 PM   #17
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

How much oil was in the spark plug wells after removing the wires, but BEFORE removing the plugs?

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Old 04-02-2012, 09:29 PM   #18
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Very little actually. I noticed a little on the end of the plug but the others didn't have any. The spark plug itself was covered in it once i pulled it out on the tip.

I remember that before the valve cover was replaced, it was like a pool of oil. Everyone kept telling me back then that it was the head gasket and turns out it was just the cover. Haven't had any issues until now. (been over 2 yrs)

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Old 04-02-2012, 09:45 PM   #19
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Well, I see clean walls....................
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:08 PM   #20
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Default Re: 98 sl2 blown head gasket or cracked head???

Ok so the cover is not the issue, that's good. Now how much work goes into replacing a blown oil ring or burned exhaust valve? Is this something I could possibly do by myself or the help of someone more experienced? I will do a compression test tomorrow and see what results I get.

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