7.3 eating coolant. head gasket or what? - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:27 AM
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7.3 eating coolant. head gasket or what?

oh boy, not the time of year for a landscaper to have a truck down...

from my reading, it looks like a blown head gasket is rare on these, but it sure seems like one.

symptoms:
about a week ago, i noticed the heat was intermittently blowing cold air. a few weeks ago when i checked, coolant level was fine. thermostat sticking i thought maybe.

finally got around to checking on things yesterday, coolant tank empty. topped it off, gone again. filled it a few times since, a couple gallons at a time. no visible leaks.

checked the oil too, a little low, but fine.

yesterday evening while idling i notice white smoke, steam really, coming from the exhaust, and the sweet smell of coolant.

been making short little runs with it since, and topping off the coolant each time.

today i'm getting an occasional stumbling on engaging the clutch or acceleration, checked the oil, its way full, and looking like chocolate milk.

dummy temp gauge reads normal, exhaust temp on my gauges reads normal. no noticeable lack of power other than the stumbling.

everything i've read on here says the 7.3s don't blow head gaskets, but what else should i be looking for? Where do i start in diagnosing this? Getting ready to check codes on it, but don't expect to come up with anything.

I do run a chip, and i like to have a little fun with it, but nothing rediculous. does that increase the possibility that the gasket could blow?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:41 AM
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ok ran my ae diagnostic software on it, no trouble codes. ran a KOER cylinder contribution test, got a p0269 and p0284, #3 and #8 injector circut cont./ balance fault?
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:01 AM
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Anti Freeze in oil

Don't run this truck with anti freeze in the oil. Not an expert on this particular engine, just trying to stop more damage. Since it's been run low on coolant, could have a cracked head/block, also possible hole(s) in cylinder wall from electrolysis. Compression check and pull head(s) where low would be my next move. Your injector faults might be your problem cylinders, repeat might. Diagnostic code readers can only give you symptoms produced by a mechanical failure not define a mechanical failure. You may know this. Main thing don't keep running engine with coolant in oil and guessing until it seizes.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khill View Post
Don't run this truck with anti freeze in the oil. Not an expert on this particular engine, just trying to stop more damage. Since it's been run low on coolant, could have a cracked head/block, also possible hole(s) in cylinder wall from electrolysis. Compression check and pull head(s) where low would be my next move. Your injector faults might be your problem cylinders, repeat might. Diagnostic code readers can only give you symptoms produced by a mechanical failure not define a mechanical failure. You may know this. Main thing don't keep running engine with coolant in oil and guessing until it seizes.
yeah, i parked it as soon as i saw that. Initially when i was running it around, i was keeping the coolant topped, and checking the oil, and it wasn't getting in there until today.
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Old 05-09-2013, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeandmary View Post
ok ran my ae diagnostic software on it, no trouble codes. ran a KOER cylinder contribution test, got a p0269 and p0284, #3 and #8 injector circut cont./ balance fault?
those numbers are conclusive to the grey CPS your running. Dont worry about it.

Its possible, the oil cooler is shot. Only place, besides the crack in block / headgasket, can the coolant be that much, in the crankcase. Location is driv side. Look in the wheelwell for a round silver tube.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:23 PM
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There are many places you should check where coolant can be leaking into the the oil system. The most common is the oil cooler as the fella has already mentioned. Another common place is through the front cover. Erosion of the front cover does happen in these engines. One it starts it really can't be stopped. Pull the water pump and look at the front cover where the pump mounts. Usually the hole is at the 4 o'clock position when looking at the front cover where the impeller spins. Every rebuild I do if there is any sign of erotion the front cover gets replaced, because, again, once it starts it doesn't stop. Finally and least common is pin holes in cylinder walls from cavataion. If the coolant was not maintained properly this has been known to happen. If you have the ELC then you should be safe because it protects against this with out having to add or maintain coolant additives.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:26 AM
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Ok, thanks guys. Guess i've got my weekend planned then. I don't have any external leaks at all.

What am i looking for in the oil cooler? is it the o rings that fail? I found a write-up on that, does anyone know of any for the front cover?

I guess my plan is to tackle the oil cooler first, flush everything out and see if that did it before tackling the front cover. or would it make more sense to just do them both? or is a compression test the place to start, to rule out the head/gasket?
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:31 AM
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unfortunetly, removing the front cover, results in, removing the motor. I think you can however, get a good observation, by removing the waterpump, WHERE if not most, erosion takes place. Compression test is always a good thing to diagnose problems.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:42 PM
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Gotcha, i thought i had read somewhere it would come off with the oil pan loose, but maybe i'm mistaken. Hoping i do the oil cooler and find an obvious leak.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:39 PM
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The oil pan has to come off the engine to remove the front cover. This is because the oil pick-up bolts to the front cover and cannot be removed without removing the pan.

Oil cooler:
Yes, there are four orings that seal the oiler cooler tube, two on each end. If these were broken you would have oil into coolant. This is becuase the oil sysyem runs at a much higher pressure than the coolant system. This would inturn force the oil into the cooling system. I don't think this is the root of your problem. This would not cause white smoke.

Front Cover:
This would cause coolant to migrate into your oil. This is becuase there is little pressure behind the cover where the erosion takes place, it is just the crank case pressure. The easiest way to check for this is to remove the water pump and take a look. Also, you can drain the oil, put water in the cooling system and listen to see if you can hear the water dripping into the front of the oil pan. This would not cause white smoke.

Blown Head Gasket, Cracked Head:
This is where it gets interesting because they have the same symptoms. Becuase you stated that you have white smoke coming from the tail pipe my guess is that you are buring water/coolant. A BHG and a cracked head would fit this bill of symptoms nicly except for the fact that in most of the cases there is not coolant in the oil becuase the water is burned and pushed through the exhaust. It could happen that the head gasket failed between a coolant passage and an oil drain passage but it's rare.

Cracked Block:
I don't want to rain on your parade, but I think that this is your problem. The crack can run from the combustion chamber to the crankcase, and water can be found both above and below the piston. This would explain the white smoke (water being burned) and the water in your oil.

I appoligize for my last post saying that an oil cooler would cause coolant in your oil, I was working late and was under a bit of stress. The fact of the matter is that the oil system runs at a higher pressure than the cooling system, so the higher pressure would prevail.
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