Coolant mysteriously disapearing - Land Rover Forums : Land Rover and Range Rover Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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Coolant mysteriously disapearing

Hello,

My name is Brett and I live in Ann Arbor, MI. I am new to this forum, so please be kind. I just recently, back in December, purchased a 2001 Disco II (69,128 miles) to replace my aging RRC. It now has 70,139 miles.

Up until a week ago, everything has been great. I was driving to work one morning (~3 miles), and never got any heat. Just as i turned into my parking lot, i noticed the temperature gauge started to rise above where it usually sits. Which seems to be just slightly over half way. It never got outside of the normal range. After work, I drove home with the same results. Temperature gauge starting to rise just as i got home. I let the engine cool then went to check things out. I determined that it was about 1/2 gallon low on coolant. This was not the case when i bought it. I topped it off, started it up, and everything was back to normal. The question is, where did the coolant go? It doesn't seem to make any puddles on the ground.

After scouring the web and reading through posts on this forum and others, it seems that it is not uncommon to need a head gasket replacement at 70k miles. With this in mind, i wanted to be sure this was the problem before conceding that I need to do such an undertaking. I took it to a local shop, and mentioned that I suspect a head gasket leak and I would like it checked out. They checked it out saying that it would need a new radiator, new intake manifold gasket, and new timing chain gasket for the cost of $3300. The mechanic mentioned that he had no reason to suspect the head gasket. For the most part I felt this as good news, since I could just top off the fluids from time to time and i should be able make it to warmer weather to start some of these repairs myself.

However, I have a very concerning feeling that the head gasket still may be at fault. One reason is that the oil cap has an awful lot of water/condensation in it. The oil cap also seems to require herculean strength to remove when the engine is warm. I have since put in on barely tightening it. The surface of the inside of the oil filler tube seems to be a chocolate brown. I don't smell anything out of the ordinary, but i also have a cold, and can't smell much of anything. Another reason is, since the temperature rose that one morning, I have been inspecting it almost every day. It is usually about 1/2" below the normal line on the tank. I usually fill it to the cold line and go about my day. It just seems to be consuming a bit too much coolant to be leaking it without noticing any puddles ever.

Later today I plan on changing the oil and see how that looks, I will take pictures in case i may need to post them.

My main question is, am i being a bit too concerned about the head gasket, or should i go with what the mechanic said? Any help, info, helpful criticism is most appreciated.

Sorry about the lengthy first post.

-Brett
2001 Discovery II
1993 RRC <for sale if interested>
Ann Arbor, MI
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 11:16 AM
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I took it to a local shop, and mentioned that I suspect a head gasket leak and I would like it checked out. They checked it out saying that it would need a new radiator, new intake manifold gasket, and new timing chain gasket for the cost of $3300. The mechanic mentioned that he had no reason to suspect the head gasket. For the most part I felt this as good news, since I could just top off the fluids from time to time and i should be able make it to warmer weather to start some of these repairs myself.

-Brett
2001 Discovery II
1993 RRC <for sale if interested>
Ann Arbor, MI
Brett:
Don't go back to that shop. What you have described are classic head gasket failure symptoms and any shop that knows Rovers would have instantly conducted a combustion gas test on the cooling system to rule it out and I'm virtually certain you need head work on your truck.

I know I'm not exactly local, but a headjob in my shop runs $2000 for non-SAI trucks and $2400 for SAI trucks, includes parts, machining of the heads and any other parts found to be needed during the job.

Do not continue to drive the truck merely topping up the coolant, that's playing with fire-the first engine I had to replace in a DII was due to this line of reasoning.

I'm about three hours from you and saddened that your new truck needs such work. I have one in the shop now that the owner has only put 6K miles on it and it needs an engine.

Yes, I am still alive, and still in the Rover parts business.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 11:46 AM
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Brett,
Whatever you do, make sure to top of and bleed the coolant system before you start up or drive it to a shop.




Mike

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I have done my oil change, and have confirmed my fears that I do indeed have coolant in the oil. I am obviously not going back to the previously mentioned shop. Which leaves me with some new questions.

First, does anybody know a good shop I can trust in the Ann Arbor area?

Second, how much work is involved with replacing the head gasket (as in do it myself)?

I have looked through the RAVE manual, and it seems that I can probably do this myself. What are some of the things I should be aware of before attempting this?

Third, What is the likelihood I will need to get the heads machined, and how would I know if I need it?


Here are some pics of this afternoons fun:
Water in oil cap
Coolant droplets in oil
General color of oil
Tube of oil after being placed in centrifuge (notice coolant on bottom)


Also,
PTSchram, what do you mean by an SAI truck? (forgive my ignorance)

Disco Mike, I am assuming the bleeding instructions are also in the RAVE manual?

Anyway, time to bust out the summer car and hope for spring...

Thank you for your help,
-Brett
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 06:41 PM
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SAI is secondary air injection. As your truck is a 2001, it is unlikely it is an SAI truck.

Sadly, my experience has not been good when oil and coolant intermixing is found.

You are virtually guaranteed of needing to have the heads machined.

Yes, I am still alive, and still in the Rover parts business.
Text me for greatest likelihood of finding me.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 07:09 PM
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Ok, Go to alantic british and buy a gasket set for 180.00 spend a weekend at it and you are on the way, this is a rover dude no big deal, these v8's are basicly old school when the intake manifold is off, my disco II has had issues as well but are due to previous owners not doing proper shop time. The coolant bypass on the manifold is a notorious leaker of antifreeze on the disco II, it is located just beneath the hose from the mass airflow meter easy repair do about every 30-40k and no problems after. The engine guts will withstand some water just get on it, my 2000 disco II is nearing 110,000 40k of that is under my care, these rigs will with stand major abuse but love em to!
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 04:59 AM
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I am having a coolant leak from the driver's side rear of engine. It appears to be from above the head gasket and I am thinking lower manifold (valley). It is a slow leak and I am waiting for Spring. Last oil change, there was no coolant in the oil. Going to change again soon to reconfirm my diagnosis.

Since you DO have coolant in oil, I would listen to folks here and get it to a shop.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 05:12 AM
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I don't mind turning a wrench myself and have done most of the other repairs/maintenance on my DII. However, I did not tackle replacing the head gasket myself. I took my to a local shop here in Indy and had it along with some other minor things done for around $1,800. It all depends on your comfortability with tackling the project.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 05:55 AM
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I also have head sets in stock, with bolts and the upper plenum gasket.

That said, when I encounter a truck with coolant in the oil, I suggest replacement of the shortblock-if the owner directs me to reassemble it, it's his gamble, not mine.

I know I'm being pessimistic, but I have seen firsthand on too many occasions that when oil and coolant are found mixed, the outcome is never positive.

Yes, I am still alive, and still in the Rover parts business.
Text me for greatest likelihood of finding me.

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 09:30 AM
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I agree. I have read many threads with people doing their own head gaskets, but it is something I will probably not tackle.

Rover shop about 4 hrs away has quoted 1800.00 for head gasket job and rebuild of the heads - not too bad. So I am still biding my time and keeping a close eye on fluid levels etc.

Good luck and keep us posted on your situation.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 03:18 PM
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I agree. I have read many threads with people doing their own head gaskets, but it is something I will probably not tackle.

Rover shop about 4 hrs away has quoted 1800.00 for head gasket job and rebuild of the heads - not too bad. So I am still biding my time and keeping a close eye on fluid levels etc.

Good luck and keep us posted on your situation.
For that price, make sure they are also having the heads resurfaced, valves ground, etc.

Yes, I am still alive, and still in the Rover parts business.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 04:20 PM
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Yea they will resurface heads, valves ground , new guides? I have never really messed with the heavy duty engine work. I have 2 older brothers who I can lean on for the big stuff.

How much in your opinion should head gasket job cost and what else should be done - in the "since I am there anyhow category"?
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 03:15 AM
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How much in your opinion should head gasket job cost and what else should be done - in the "since I am there anyhow category"?
When I had mine done it was for that price and that included resurfacing the heads, putting on a new tensioner pulley, both idler pulleys, new plugs and new Magnacor wires. They have to take all that stuff off anyway. Since I provided the parts and they had it apart anyway, they didn't charge me to put on the new stuff.

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 04:18 AM
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Yea they will resurface heads, valves ground , new guides? I have never really messed with the heavy duty engine work. I have 2 older brothers who I can lean on for the big stuff.

How much in your opinion should head gasket job cost and what else should be done - in the "since I am there anyhow category"?
I flat rate the job at $2000 non-SAI and $2400 for SAI engines.

Hoses, belts, thermostat, pulleys if needed, water pump if needed.

Yes, I am still alive, and still in the Rover parts business.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 04:41 AM
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That said, when I encounter a truck with coolant in the oil, I suggest replacement of the shortblock-if the owner directs me to reassemble it, it's his gamble, not mine.

I know I'm being pessimistic, but I have seen firsthand on too many occasions that when oil and coolant are found mixed, the outcome is never positive.
Hey PT... I've heard you say this before but can you explain why it would ruin the block? I'm just a long time noob trying to learn more.

Kevin
88 RRC "Audrey"
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