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Old 07-16-2022, 01:07 AM   #1
Trexer
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Default Oil in coolant bottle

Hello, been a member of many auto forums in the past, but new to Saturn's. As the the title says, I've discovered oil in my coolant bottle. A fair bit of it at that, the top inch is solid milky oil floating in there. Car doesn't overheat, no coolant in the oil, no tell-tale signs of a blown head gasket like smokey steamy exhaust, plugs are clean, not losing coolant or oil. Performed coolant pressure test and compression test, both solid.

Frankly I'm kind of stumped here and I would like to head off the problem and not cause any damage to this engine. This is an excellent little car that I'd like to keep for a long time yet so I'm hoping someone here can steer me in the right direction. I've spent many hours scouring this forum and several others and haven't come up with much. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
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Old 07-16-2022, 09:49 AM   #2
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trexer View Post
Hello, been a member of many auto forums in the past, but new to Saturn's. As the the title says, I've discovered oil in my coolant bottle. A fair bit of it at that, the top inch is solid milky oil floating in there. Car doesn't overheat, no coolant in the oil, no tell-tale signs of a blown head gasket like smokey steamy exhaust, plugs are clean, not losing coolant or oil. Performed coolant pressure test and compression test, both solid.

Frankly I'm kind of stumped here and I would like to head off the problem and not cause any damage to this engine. This is an excellent little car that I'd like to keep for a long time yet so I'm hoping someone here can steer me in the right direction. I've spent many hours scouring this forum and several others and haven't come up with much. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
Is it an automatic ? Could be transmission cooler leaking into radiator
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Old 07-16-2022, 12:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

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Originally Posted by lrbraner View Post
Is it an automatic ? Could be transmission cooler leaking into radiator
Sorry, should have posted that info. 2007 2.2 5 speed manual.

If I can't find any possible causes I'm strongly considering spending a weekend changing the head gasket and seeing what I see in the process. Hoping that solves the problem. If that didn't fix it, I'd be scared that I have a cracked block. Although I'm yet to see any instances of that searching these forums.

Last edited by Trexer; 07-16-2022 at 12:28 PM. Reason: ETA information
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Old 07-16-2022, 07:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

This is the only place where I'm leaking oil that I can find, and right on top of the upper hose neck. Anyone know if oil could be intruding here somehow?

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Old 07-17-2022, 08:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Your tests indicate it's in good shape.
Any chance somebody inadvertently put some oil in the coolant reservoir?
Before I started taking the motor apart I'd clean that out first, top up the coolant, and run some more miles.
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Old 07-17-2022, 11:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

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Originally Posted by Bill Murray View Post
Your tests indicate it's in good shape.
Any chance somebody inadvertently put some oil in the coolant reservoir?
Before I started taking the motor apart I'd clean that out first, top up the coolant, and run some more miles.
I wondered the same thing. I just bought the car a few days ago and had messaged the seller asking just that. Still haven't heard back.

I spent the afternoon running dishwasher detergent through the system and flushed it half a dozen times. The rwfilled with new universal coolant instead of dex cool. Other than in the coolant bottle, the coolant looked perfectly good to me. However the thermostat was toast, all the rubber was completely eaten away which would indicateto me that there has been oil in the systemfor some time. A tiny bit seems to have remained, I doubt I could ever get 100% of it out I drove a couple hundred miles and see no evidence of a return quite yet.

Now I'm quite paranoid about the condition of my water pump and hoses. I plan to change the hoses and coolant bottle out if the problem doesn't return, but I understand the waterpump is no walk in the park.

Still hoping for some ideas of where I could look for the source of this problem if it does come back. Which unless someone somehow did pour oil into the coolant bottle I'm sure will happen eventually.
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Old 07-18-2022, 01:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Drove around for an hour today in 100 degree temps with the AC cranked to max slow through town and mashing the throttle on the highway. Coolant temp never cracked 190.
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Old 07-19-2022, 03:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Sounds positive. I'd keep driving and monitoring oil and coolant daily.
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Old 07-19-2022, 10:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

head gasket or trans cooler
doesn't need to overheat or blow smoke for it to be a head gasket
there is only one way you get engine oil in the coolant which is ....... drumroll plz

head gasket

throw some K-seal in it and call it a day

transmission cooler either replace the rad or install a external transmission cooler and flush the system several times( fun on ours because we don't have dip sticks and the fluid check process is a *****)

You need to get a fluid sample of the transmission fluid if there is water in there and you been driving it you will be putting a transmission in it very soon
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Old 07-19-2022, 11:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjc862003 View Post
head gasket or trans cooler
doesn't need to overheat or blow smoke for it to be a head gasket
there is only one way you get engine oil in the coolant which is ....... drumroll plz

head gasket

throw some K-seal in it and call it a day

transmission cooler either replace the rad or install a external transmission cooler and flush the system several times( fun on ours because we don't have dip sticks and the fluid check process is a *****)

You need to get a fluid sample of the transmission fluid if there is water in there and you been driving it you will be putting a transmission in it very soon
Not aware of a transmission cooler, and I'm certain it's not ATF anyhow.

Could very likely be athe head gasket, it's what I lean towards, but could be other thing's as well.

What is K seal? One of those "head gasket repair" gimmicks? If so, hard pass on that.
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Old 07-19-2022, 11:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Murray View Post
Sounds positive. I'd keep driving and monitoring oil and coolant daily.
This is what I'm doing, I'm also quite concerned about possible damage the oil could have done. Unless it was the original thermostat that simply degraded from age, I'm pretty certain the oil destroyed it. I'm wondering if it could have damaged the water pump as well, which I understand is exceptionally difficult to replace.
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Old 07-20-2022, 09:40 AM   #12
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Water pump seals almost always "fail slowly" so I'll forecast that if it's failing, you'll get plenty of warning, assuming you do frequent inspections.

I always tell people a great way to monitor your vehicle health is to have a clean parking spot and consistently watch what shows up on the pavement. Obviously concrete is better than asphalt because it's easier to see leaks.

FWIW you can buy the Ecotec water pump tool for 16 bucks on Amazon, and it's quite possible to rent one if you have O'Reilly or Autozone nearby.
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Old 07-20-2022, 12:15 PM   #13
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

thanks for the advice!

software more info
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Old 07-20-2022, 01:54 PM   #14
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Murray View Post
Water pump seals almost always "fail slowly" so I'll forecast that if it's failing, you'll get plenty of warning, assuming you do frequent inspections.

I always tell people a great way to monitor your vehicle health is to have a clean parking spot and consistently watch what shows up on the pavement. Obviously concrete is better than asphalt because it's easier to see leaks.

FWIW you can buy the Ecotec water pump tool for 16 bucks on Amazon, and it's quite possible to rent one if you have O'Reilly or Autozone nearby.
Thanks, that's good to know. I've been closely monitoring temperature and leaks. Do uph think it's wise to just preemptively change out the pump or just not worry about it unless it starts to show signs of failure?
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Old 07-20-2022, 07:03 PM   #15
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

If the water pump seal leaks, the coolant leaks externally through a weep hole. (not like the Fords that leak it into the oil). Unless you plan on doing a 2000 mile trip or similar, I'd just keep an eye out for leakage and change it when it fails. I don't know the material of the water pump shaft seal, but it's quite possible it is unaffected by the lube oil that was in your coolant.
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Old 07-21-2022, 09:31 PM   #16
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Murray View Post
If the water pump seal leaks, the coolant leaks externally through a weep hole. (not like the Fords that leak it into the oil). Unless you plan on doing a 2000 mile trip or similar, I'd just keep an eye out for leakage and change it when it fails. I don't know the material of the water pump shaft seal, but it's quite possible it is unaffected by the lube oil that was in your coolant.
Excellent, thank you.
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Old 07-23-2022, 12:56 AM   #17
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

if it was the water pump he would have water in the oil and not oil in the water ..... there is no pressurized oil in the water pump after all ...
it would show in the crankcase and NOT the coolant res

and yes k-seal is head gasket in a bottle and it works very well so long as you don't expect miracles

I did once seen a episode of roadkill where they where driving some clapped out pos with a very very blown head gasket and it managed to seal it

if you got a small leak between coolant and oil passages in the head gasket then I would bet my paycheck k-seal would stop it and probably outlast the car

I have used on heavy diesel equipment and sealed engines that where blowing steam out the exhaust

one way to be sure head over to your local napa and pickup some engine and fuel UV dye

pour it in the oil and run it check it with a UV light if your oil slick in the res lights up then you got a problem
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Old 07-23-2022, 01:10 AM   #18
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjc862003 View Post
if it was the water pump he would have water in the oil and not oil in the water ..... there is no pressurized oil in the water pump after all ...
it would show in the crankcase and NOT the coolant res

and yes k-seal is head gasket in a bottle and it works very well so long as you don't expect miracles

I did once seen a episode of roadkill where they where driving some clapped out pos with a very very blown head gasket and it managed to seal it

if you got a small leak between coolant and oil passages in the head gasket then I would bet my paycheck k-seal would stop it and probably outlast the car

I have used on heavy diesel equipment and sealed engines that where blowing steam out the exhaust

one way to be sure head over to your local napa and pickup some engine and fuel UV dye

pour it in the oil and run it check it with a UV light if your oil slick in the res lights up then you got a problem
I think you misunderstood my concern with the water pump. I'm concerned about it failing due to oil in the coolant, not it's failure being the cause of oil in the coolant.

I may look into this K Seal stuff, but I'd probably sooner just spend an afternoon and $100 to change the gaskets and probably a couple other thing's preemptively while in there. I plan to make this into a turbo grocery getter in the near future and so want a solid engine.

That's a great idea with the dye, it's not going to affect the life of my oil though is it?
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Old 07-23-2022, 10:41 AM   #19
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

I Have never known it to have any negative effects the die is very concentrated and you aren't adding much
when working on AC we leave it in all the time

https://www.amazon.com/ACDelco-10-50...08I2VPC4&psc=1

but to check the motor and coolant bottle over with a uv light before adding dye there is stuff in modern engine bays that may show up as a false positive (additives certain plastics)

you are losing oil somewhere so eventually something will give either it will blow completely and then you will have a milkshake

I would bet you have a leak between the oil and coolant passages going into the head I have never had a ecotec apart but there may be an O ring or something thats leaking
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:58 AM   #20
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Default Re: Oil in coolant bottle

Drop two Barís leak tablets into the radiator.

GM put these in at the factory, and they work pretty good.

They come as a 6 pack with the Barís name,
or a five pack with GM on the frontÖ

https://barsleaks.com/product/radiat...k-tablets-hdc/
https://www.rockauto.com/en/parts/gm...re+cooler,2092
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