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Old 06-13-2019, 01:17 PM   #1
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Thoughts and opinions. Oil in coolant, fix or sell

First the van:
2006 E350 with gasser V10 90k miles. Quigley 4x4 conversion done in Texas probably around 50k two owners ago. Previous owner did a body swap with a 97 E150 conversion van body. So it has windows all around. Nothing is built out on the interior. Located in Seattle, Wa.

Now the problem:
I found oil in my coolant. Didn't see any coolant on the dip stick for the oil or tranny fluid. So what ever is wrong, it is only going one way. Brought it into my mechanic. He said based on the amount of oil in the coolant, and the fact that oil destroys rubber, that he'd need to replace all the coolant hoses and rubber gaskets. And that if it was the oil cooler that failed, there is about 20 hours of labor to get it back on the road. So as of now, they haven't gone any further, because they wanted to see what I want to do. Which he did test to coolant to see if it was a head gasket, which came back negative. So most likely its either the cooler or the block is cracked.

He thought this probably might be better for someone to work on as a "Backyard Project". Where they can dive in and work on it when they have time. And aren't being billed hourly at a commercial shop. Which unfortunately I don't have the space or resources to tear into it myself. And definitely can't pull an engine if that needs work. So I guess I'm curious what some of you might do? Thoughts on what a van like this might be worth? It still runs and drives great. Just not in shape for camping or road trips till it is fixed. So I'm thinking I might see what I can get for it, and cut my losses

Thoughts?
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:55 PM   #2
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This has happened to me twice. First time was actually transmission fluid, from a bad cooler in an aftermarket radiator. When red fluid mixes with green coolant, it doesn't look red at all. But if you blot some on a paper towel, then the red show up again.

The 2nd time actually was oil. I thought it was the engine oil cooler. Those do blow out at the o-ring sometimes. Swapped it. No change. It turned out to me a stuck PVC valve. Which I didn't figure out until one day I parked and there was a bunch of oil running off the frame. I feared the worst, that something broke the block. But looking around to try to find the crack or break, I finally found the loose PVC valve sitting on top of the engine. It finally built up enough pressure to blow out. But before that happened, it built up enough pressure to blow oil into the coolant through the previously mentioned oil cooler o-ring.

It was fine after putting in a new PCV valve.

I wouldn't worry all that other stuff. It's all oil resistant these days (since the late 90's at least). Yes, I've since had some heater hoses go. One blew out at the intake manifold, so it was fatigued from heat. The rest had quick-connect fittings break off, which is just an age thing, and I don't think was related to oil incidents.

BTW - Oil cooler job is more like an hour, not 20. Plus another hour for flushing the cooling system. Maybe he looked up 6.0 PSD labor rates by accident.
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Old 06-13-2019, 03:29 PM   #3
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You almost always get much more money back for fixing and selling. If you sell to a backyard mechanic, you might be ok. But you'll probably only get 30-50% of what you would get if you fixed it and sold it. Almost any 4x4 van will fetch $10k, so if your interior is ok then you should be getting between 10-15k maybe. But if it has "unknown problems", people may get scared off and only be willing to pay $4-6k for it.

I agree that your quotes seem high. Is there another shop you can take it to for a second opinion?
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Old 06-13-2019, 03:39 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I drove it home, so it is sitting for now. I'll probably take a look at a couple of those things Carring mentioned when I have a chance. And when he mentioned 20 hours of labor, He was referring to replacing all the rubber hoses and gaskets in the cooling system.

I was a little distraught when I heard that, as I am literally about to start my interior build in the next week or so. And planned to do a month or longer trip near the end of summer. So basicaly that was the last thing I wanted to hear. So thanks for the help.
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Old 06-13-2019, 03:51 PM   #5
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I would try to find a different shop and see if you can get the price down a bit. These engines are pretty rugged, so I have a hard time believing you would have cracked the block unless you were really stressing the motor. Anything you buy to replace this van will have its own unique set of "quirks" so I prefer the known quantity of the van you already have.
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:12 PM   #6
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Even doing all the rubber hoses is only like a 4 hour job. But it's really not necessary with the OEM hoses. They're pretty good, made from EPDM not rubber, so they are oil resistant. But if you have non-OEM hoses (such as to rear heat if its aftermarket) might be a good idea to swap those.

Start with checking the PVC valve. You might just need like I did, plus a couple good coolant flushes. Like Gramps says... These block don't just crack...
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:22 PM   #7
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Ok sweet. I'll start there and I'll check the oil cooler. And at least check those off. I didn't think the block would crack very easy. Everything I've read before and after buying my van, says they are stout engines.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:24 AM   #8
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Faced with a similar issue on a VW, I fixed the leak and then used one of the radiator flush products to clean the system. You can get ones that have a detergent in them that will help break down the oil and remove it. Besides the hoses, you also want to get it out of the radiator and heater core, since a coating of oil will interfere with heat transfer.

After that I checked the hoses every so often to see if any of them were going spongy, but they were all fine. If the oil does damage them they'll deteriorate slowly from the inside, become spongy when cold, and start to bulge when hot, well before they actually burst.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:22 AM   #9
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I would definitely fix vs sell. And I wouldn't replace 'all of the hoses and gaskets' in the cooling system.



CarringB is right, the oil isn't going to attack the hoses very fast. If your hoses are old, some are cracking, now is an excellent time to replace them. But I wouldn't do that until I knew I fixed the system to system leak, first. I went through a similar problem with my 7.3 Diesel, bad oil cooler. After replacing the cooler, I removed the thermostat and rinsed the entire system with dishwasher detergent and clear water, ran it for several hours that way. Then drained and replaced w/50-50 mix and it's been fine ever since, no hose issues.



BTW I agree w/your mechanic... it's a time consuming job, but not hard work or requiring a lot of skill. There's a lot of standing around filling, running, getting the engine warmed up, flushing, rinse and repeat. W/hoses, I'd believe 20 hrs, because of the flushing and rinsing, you really want to get all the oil crud out of the cooling system, remove that slimy film, so the coolant can 'wet out' as best it can, against the metal in the passages, to pull the heat away.



What would I do? Isolate the oil leak, figure out how the oil is getting into the cooling system. Your mechanic tested for head gasket failure, but don't completely rule that out until you find 'the smoking gun'.


Oil pressure gets up to about 50psi, coolant about 12psi, so any seal that fails, that separate the two, will let oil in. Read up on the typical failure points of the v10 through searching the truck and forums. I don't know anything about the v10 oil cooler, but oil cooler failure sounds right.


Good luck!
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Old 06-20-2019, 11:34 AM   #10
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Thank you for all the advise. I have the van back home and will be doing some tinkering to see if its a PCV or the oil cooler, and then check my coolant hoses and flushing the system a whole bunch.
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