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  #1  
Old 02-11-2012, 09:13 AM
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Oil in the coolant?!

I bought this 2001 E350 a few weeks ago as salvage, most of the damage is to the right front suspension, fender, door, bumper and grille. Having replaced most of that, I got it inspected and licensed this week. Something I noticed right away once it was off the trailer is how dark the coolant bottle looked, and when I opened it, it looked like someone had poured motor oil into it. Some people should never have been shown where the hood release is.

I have never done a flush before, so I called around to local shops and got prices in the 85 to 200 dollar range. Whew! Naturally, being the Red Green type, I figured I could do it myself in the comfort of my own small unevenly made driveway. Once I got the first four gallon bucket filled with gross coffee looking liquid, I started thinking maybe I made a mistake. I ran the hose into the reservoir until it was coming out of the drain at the bottom of the radiator and looked clean. Then I closed it and filled up with water. Then I filled the reservoir up with a gallon of coolant, and ran the van, but it wasn't taking the stuff. I drove it around the block, and when I got home, the bottle was overfull with oily gross liquid again, more of the junk from the rest of the system, probably including the rear heater. I don't have enough buckets to keep doing this, and I don't know what I am supposed to do with the bucket of ugly junk I already collected. Ugh, I feel like a dolt.

So, the problem is how to properly flush this thing out so that there is not oily crud in there, and I don't have to worry that the sucker will freeze up now that it's winter in Utah. One shop I called told me that the radiator might be mixing engine oil with the coolant. The oil doesn't seem to have any water or coolant in it, but I haven't drained it yet, maybe I should do that this morning. I need more buckets, stat.


Thoughts, tips, warnings, experiences?
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  #2  
Old 02-12-2012, 09:15 AM
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The bigger question is HOW did the oil/coolant mix in the first place? Are you certain a head gasket hasn't blown? Typically the only fluid leaking through the radiator would be transmission related. Unless the oil filter mounted rail has some how developed a leak this isn't happening from the radiator.

Have you checked the engine oil dipstick for its color and consistency?

Sincerely hope this is nothing too serious!
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Old 02-12-2012, 05:57 PM
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i would start with a compression test if there is a leak somewhere then the compression would tell. check the plugs for the oil then you know you have a gasket leak...but be sure its oil not trans fluid from the radiator.
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Old 02-13-2012, 06:56 AM
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If I am understanding right, the transmission cooler is integrated into the radiator, not next to it like on many other trucks? Then this COULD be ATF? Hmm, time to check into that. Tonight maybe. I am not daily driving this beast, thankfully, so I have some breathing room.
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Dentedvw View Post
If I am understanding right, the transmission cooler is integrated into the radiator, not next to it like on many other trucks? Then this COULD be ATF? Hmm, time to check into that. Tonight maybe. I am not daily driving this beast, thankfully, so I have some breathing room.
Most vehicles these days have some sort of auxiliary trans cooler integrated into their radiators, typically on the side. These have been known to develop internal leaks which given their working pressures would pump trans fluid into the engine coolant. Honestly its not that common but is a distinct possibility.

Again I'm asking if you're yet checked the engine oil to see if coolant is mixed with it?
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Old 02-13-2012, 05:41 PM
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Could also be the oil filter adapter which may have coolant passages in it.
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Old 02-14-2012, 06:40 AM
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Could also be the oil filter adapter which may have coolant passages in it.
That was my thought too LxMan. For this guy's sake I hope its something easy and cheap to fix!
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Old 02-14-2012, 04:34 PM
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Trans fluid looks good, all read, not dark like coffee, as the junk in the coolant reservoir is. Engine oil is a bit low, but is thick and saucy, as it should be.
The mystery continues, but I am still leaning towards idiot former owner.
An oil filter adapter? Wha??
I am changing the oil tonight, hopefully. Happy Valentines day, eh?
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:25 PM
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I have gotten a few vehicles that the antifreeze looked like that , that stuff can get really nasty and look like it has oil in it. I would make sure to flush the system really good a couple times and see what happens..
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  #10  
Old 10-16-2012, 08:57 AM
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I have been a bad owner, and haven't found out why it's like this. I drained it once, and refilled, but I think the rear heating system still has some of the oily stuff in it, and it was contaminated right away.
On a similar note, I feel like I could whittle away an entire weekend doing this procedure repeatedly. Maybe more.
I am going to check out the filter jobby while doing an oil change in the next week or so.

As for how it runs, it has been running fine, other than an intermittent misfire caused by coils, which I have finally ordered. Ran good all summer in the desert heat, engine temps have remained in the good zone.
I find the oil disappears from the engine though, and no sign of oil leaks, so that lends some credibility to the oil leaking in idea. Still no sign of coolant in the oil though, so it's only going one way. Must be a small leak.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:39 PM
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engine oil pressure is higher than coolant pressure so unless it is a catastrophic failure then you will get oil into the coolant before the coolant will get to the oil. that is what I am dealing with and am in the process of replacing the head gaskets.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:55 AM
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I imagine it's bloody hard to do that with the engine in the van?
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:26 AM
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I was trying out a new mechanic, and decided to let them have a crack at diagnosing this. I am probably only a few hundred into it now, but they have determined that the problem is the oil cooler, and they can fix it for an additional $1300. *facepalm*
That's a number that is a bit hard to swallow right now. I am most likely going to have them put it back together, pay the bill and do the work myself. It's got to be done soon though, because it's leaking pretty bad into the coolant. I am putting in a quart a week now, and a quart a week is leaving the system.
Is it super difficult to replace this part? What, other than four coolant flushes, would account for the high price of repair?
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:56 AM
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My 5.4 was the oil cooler and unfortunately the part at ford is around $300. Make sure you get the cooler to oil filter adapter lines rubber "O" rings if and when you get one. I had mine tested at a radiator shop and you could see it spurting from the coolant side into the oil side even under low pressure.

Now.for the 10-20 plus flushes to get all the oil out of the engine and alternating simple green in the warm water!

The price would be because of the shop hourly rate times their hours into diagnosis plus all parts. So $300 for the part plus coolant and other materials to flush it many many times and "x" shop hours. $1300 sounds high. The cooler is above the engine crossmember on the drivers side of the engine. Its kinda a pain in the ? To get to but with patience a guy to do it yourself.
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:42 AM
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Thanks PR, that was my next question, where is it located.
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:42 AM
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