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Old 04-25-2015, 04:04 PM   #1
NateH.
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Dizzy Foaming Coolant

Hi all,
I drive a 1995 Sl2 5speed.

My coolant has a REALLY annoying problem of foaming. When its cold it doesn't foam as much as when its hot. When its hot it foams until it starts spilling out! Loosing coolant is annoying.
I have done some research online and everybody says its due to a leaky or blown head gasket. However, I have replaced the head gasket and had the cylinder head resurfaced. I also checked the block head surface for warp and gashes, but didn't find anything.
I did a head gasket replacement (and others) two years ago and I went cheap that time and didn't get the head resurfaced. I had the foaming problem after I completed that work and assumed that since I didn't get the head resurfaced the issue was with the head gasket not sealing on the unsurfaced head. So, I just this last month yanked my cylinder head off and replaced the gasket and had it resurfaced. The foaming problem still continues to raise its ugly head!!

I would greatly appreciate any help with this issue.
Thanks,
NateH.

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Old 04-25-2015, 06:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

Mileage? Without any history of this car, guessing on possibilities while playing twenty questions (maintenance done, parts replaced) is unlimited.

Presuming foaming isn't from a leaking head gasket leaves the water pump and cooling system. Original w/p, flushed cooling system with clear coolant? Thermostat ever replaced? Two wire coolant sensor replaced?

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Old 04-25-2015, 06:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

The car has 193,500 miles on it. The first engine "rebuild" I did was about 20k ago. At that time I replaced many things including the water pump and the ECTS with a brass one. I just replaced the thermostat and coolant about 200mi ago.
Is it possible for the water pump to be leaking air into the system? When the car is at high rpm's when at temp for any period of time the foam builds, when I let off the gas the foam builds quickly to where it just comes out. Don't know if the coolant level in the reservoir rises, pushing out the foam out. Or if the foam literally builds to spilling out...

Thanks,

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Old 04-25-2015, 07:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

More info narrows this problem down. No mention of a thorough cooling system flush. Is it possible soapy water was never flushed out, leaving some left to foam? Was this cooling system completely flushed before using antifreeze? Was this system allowed to purge all air during a fresh coolant refill? Any possibility of using an incorrect pump gasket? The majority of cleaned/flushed/operating cooling systems automatically purges itself of air as soon as coolant is poured in and right after the first engine start when the engine is left idling on level ground. 99-100% of trapped air is purged during engine warm up with topping off the same day after a drive around the neighborhood. Its also not mentioned often enough to refrain from mixing different coolant and a reason for a complete cooling system flush before refilling with new coolant.

As a rule, Saturn cooling systems continuously circulate coolant thru the heater core regardless of t-stat operation so coolant flow can be seen thru the coolant container with an idling engine. A correct 50/50 antifreeze mix won't boil coolant with the cap left off while observing coolant flow. A water pump sucking air in is hardly likely to occur because this implies a pinhole leak that would allow heated coolant to simply leak out. A cooling system is always under pressure as the engine heats up and pressure is used to raise the boiling point far above an unpressurized cooling system. The coolant cap is also calibrated to serve two purposes; maintain 15-20 psi with a relief valve if pressures exceed this amount and a vacuum valve to allow cooled coolant (contracting as it cools down) from causing a vacuum to occur to cave in hoses, radiator and heater core.

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Old 04-25-2015, 08:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

When the head was off did you inspect for cracks in the head? This is sort a wild guess, but it sounds like a pin hole or short hairline crack somewhere is 'hissing' compressed air into a coolant galley. That might be truly difficult to find.

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Old 04-25-2015, 10:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

I had some ORiley 50/50 coolant that I used up along with some carquest 50/50. Once that was all used up, I mixed up some straight carquest coolant with water to make 50/50. That wouldn't cause foaming though would it??
I never tried to get all the air out because I knew the system would self purge. Is there a special process when first adding new coolant?? I have also tried a higher concentration of coolant than water to see if that would help, but it only helped a little....like a little.
I also didn't think to mention that I flushed out the system with water. I removed the Thermostat and ran several gallons of water through the system for a few heat cycles. I also used radiator flush. I also tried some blue devil to seal up the problem in December, but that didn't work at all...

When I inspected the head surface, I didn't see any cracks at all. The guy doing the resurfacing did a nice job resurfacing. I also checked the block head. I used a razor to clean up old material when I did the "rebuild" job the first time. I looked for any possible marks as to where to coolant was leaking this 2nd time "build" but couldn't find any. I am a rookie when it comes to this stuff, so maybe there was an issue with a razor scratch I didn't find??

Thanks,
NateH

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Old 04-25-2015, 10:51 PM   #7
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

What do you mean by " I also tried some blue devil to seal up the problem in December, but that didn't work at all..."?

A good system flush followed by new coolant whether its 50/50 or higher does not cause foaming problems. If it did there would be thousands of complaints from a simple coolant replacement procedure. The same for purging the system of air - its automatic when done on level ground to allow water pump action and air's ability to rise to the top. Coolant in any mixture ratio doesn't cause foaming. Something else is causing it.

An engine rebuild usually results in another life for a car with hardly any issues. If there's any suspicion of engine block or cylinder head damage, adding dye to coolant can help find leaks. A litmus test for coolant can determine if a head gasket is leaking.

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Old 04-26-2015, 12:07 AM   #8
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

Hello. EArth to CAprtian Obvious YOur head is farting.

Over..

SOrry, IOW THE engine has a fever.. . YOu'll only get the joke if you've been there and done that. and older engines just had weaker heads and decking them makes them weaker still.
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Old 04-26-2015, 06:39 AM   #9
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

Sounds like a cracked head to me

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Old 04-26-2015, 10:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

Pick up a test kit or pay for a test for exhaust gasses in the coolant reservoir. As a few others suspect as well, most likely your problem IMO.

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Old 04-27-2015, 02:10 PM   #11
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

A while ago when I was doing research trying to figure out why it was foaming, everybody online was saying it was a head gasket issue. So I used some blue devil seeing if that would fix the leak. However, I can see that if it is a cracked head, the cylinder pressure would never allow the blue devil to enter the crack and seal it.

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Old 04-27-2015, 02:13 PM   #12
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

So, does anybody know if antifoaming agents for coolant exist? At least to help a little with the problem? I'm not tearing out the head again. Maybe a lower temp T-stat?

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Old 04-27-2015, 03:26 PM   #13
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Default Re: Foaming Coolant

Quote:
Originally Posted by NateH. View Post
So, does anybody know if antifoaming agents for coolant exist? At least to help a little with the problem? I'm not tearing out the head again. Maybe a lower temp T-stat?
Nothing will help (not even a little bit) until you find the actual cause and fix it right.

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