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Oil in coolant; head gasket?

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Old Nov 6th, 2019, 14:21   #1
Phil Russell
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Default Oil in coolant; head gasket?

Volvo 240, 2l, 1988. Topping up coolant and found a brown oily emulsion floating on the coolant in the reservoir. My guess is that this indicates a head gasket issue. A little oil foam inside coolant cap. Inside oil filler cap is clean, valve gear inside rocker cover looks clean and oil on dipstick looks fine. Car runs Ok but we were told at MOT that there might be a coolant leak ... I may have detected some on the undercover tray (?) under the cam belt cover.
Is my crude diagnosis right or could there be a simpler explanation?
I am not into doing head gaskets ... any idea of approx cost? I would seek an independent garage near me, not main dealer.
All advice welcome.
Thanks, Phil
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Old Nov 6th, 2019, 14:42   #2
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Volvo 240, 2l, 1988. Topping up coolant and found a brown oily emulsion floating on the coolant in the reservoir. My guess is that this indicates a head gasket issue. A little oil foam inside coolant cap. Inside oil filler cap is clean, valve gear inside rocker cover looks clean and oil on dipstick looks fine. Car runs Ok but we were told at MOT that there might be a coolant leak ... I may have detected some on the undercover tray (?) under the cam belt cover.
Is my crude diagnosis right or could there be a simpler explanation?
I am not into doing head gaskets ... any idea of approx cost? I would seek an independent garage near me, not main dealer.
All advice welcome.
Thanks, Phil
Is it an automatic or have a oil cooler between the oil filter and cylinder block with coolant hoses on ?
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Old Nov 6th, 2019, 15:12   #3
Phil Russell
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Thanks for swift reply Clan. It is an auto. Sorry for not mentioning this. Having done a bit of googling I learnt that it might be a leak into the auto fluid from the radiator and vice versa so had a look at the AF dipstick ... definite cappucino frothy. Stick was red with fluid when I first pulled it out so I wiped it and replaced, cappucino on removing again. I did not think of checking this earlier.
So I guess it is a new radiator not head gasket ....plus change of all fluids etc.

If so, I am pleased to have found the cause ....
Any advice welcome.
Cheers, Phil
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Old Nov 6th, 2019, 15:26   #4
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Thanks for swift reply Clan. It is an auto. Sorry for not mentioning this. Having done a bit of googling I learnt that it might be a leak into the auto fluid from the radiator and vice versa so had a look at the AF dipstick ... definite cappucino frothy. Stick was red with fluid when I first pulled it out so I wiped it and replaced, cappucino on removing again. I did not think of checking this earlier.
So I guess it is a new radiator not head gasket ....plus change of all fluids etc.

If so, I am pleased to have found the cause ....
Any advice welcome.
Cheers, Phil
yes ! drain the auto fluid and replace ASAP . then go for a run for an hour , preferably up hills don't consider fuel consumption , you need to get the gearbox temperature over 100 C to boil off any remaining water in the gearbox . do this a few times over a period of a week until the gearbox oil is bright red again .
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Old Nov 6th, 2019, 15:42   #5
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Thanks again .. we are now investigating getting the job done.
Cheers, Phil
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Old Nov 6th, 2019, 21:13   #6
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it might be a leak into the auto fluid from the radiator and vice versa so had a look at the AF dipstick ... definite cappucino frothy.
Cappuccino..... Yep, had that on an auto.
When the red auto fluid and the greenish coolant mix, you get that lovely brown.
A new radiator fixed it.



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Old Nov 7th, 2019, 11:42   #7
Stephen Edwin
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yes ! drain the auto fluid and replace ASAP . then go for a run for an hour , preferably up hills don't consider fuel consumption , you need to get the gearbox temperature over 100 C to boil off any remaining water in the gearbox . do this a few times over a period of a week until the gearbox oil is bright red again .

Clan. I don't have an auto currently. But as a matter of interest and maybe even for the future: I remember approximately a suggestion of changing the cooling arrangement. Have the engine radiator serve only the engine and a separate cooler for the auto box. What think ye and how would that be done?

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Old Nov 7th, 2019, 11:47   #8
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Clan. I don't have an auto currently. But as a matter of interest and maybe even for the future: I remember approximately a suggestion of changing the cooling arrangement. Have the engine radiator serve only the engine and a separate cooler for the auto box. What think ye and how would that be done?

.
An external cooler would be great under very hard towing conditions , but the radiator cooler also HEATS the gearbox in cooler conditions it is important that the gearbox can operate at over 100C to keep condensation and water evaporated out from the gearbox , volvo really do know best . It is very rare the cooler in the radiator leaks , usually the radiator would rot its core before then .
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Old Nov 15th, 2019, 20:28   #9
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Well hopefully the radiator and auto transmission issue is sorted. It took a while ... we decided to get it done at a garage (not main dealer) and get the auto box flushed properly and a new radiator fitted. First problem was finding a garage to flush the box and also to get a new radiator. One garage, without seeing the car, immediately declared the repair as uneconomic. A few others said they could replace the radiator if they could find one but were unable to flush the transmission. One garage insisted they would have to have a radiator made specially. They were surprised when I pointed them to adverts in 'Volvo Driver' magazine. But finally we found a garage to do both the radiator and a power flush not far from home. Initially they received a radiator for a manual car but a day later the auto one arrived and was fitted. All done and collected tonight. So far so good.
But on arrival back home I noticed reverse lights were not working. I cannot believe the work done as above would have caused this ... so more detective work is needed.

Any tips anyone? Might be bulbs, but both at once? Doubtful. I believe it is fuse 12 to check followed by the black wires as they go into the n/s (left) light cluster. Not sure about the transmission switch ... maybe near the selector lever under the trim? Haynes manual is no help here.

Cheers, Phil
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Old Nov 16th, 2019, 18:02   #10
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Reverse light not working after gearbox work. Yes check whichever fuse &c. &c. but. What about the reverse light switch activated by the gearbox? A connection knocked loose, or....

However. THings happen while work is done. You have a good result overall I think.

The garage sound worth knowing about. Would you like to name them?
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