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Old 03-26-2018, 10:21 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by TomsBeast View Post
One thing I really must know, for sure, is does it really have a blown head gasket or not. .

Theres great information here. It's too easy to simply start throwing parts at a problem without an accurate diagnosis. Many times a factory manual will have detailed, step by step testing procedures to troubleshoot problems, they are highly recomended. I applaud your insistance on an accurate diagnosis.
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:25 AM   #22
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Thanks yet again for all the help. I was away for a few days taking the girly out for a little birthday adventure (sans van) and have been relegated to only thinking on the problem as a result. I'm curious:

I'm definitely no proponent of throwing parts at a problem in place of solid diagnosis. That being said, in a world of finite financial resources, if a worst-case parts refresh totals only marginally more than testing tools, my head leans more towards the parts-changing side. I feel reasonably confident that between the comp check and the chemical combustion gas check that the head or head gasket are not the issues. I'd love to be 100%, but my feeling is that funneling resources into diagnostics instead of changing parts that are known to fail anyway would ultimately not yield as much benefit. It's not as scientific as I would prefer, but I see it standing the chance to save an adventure or three come the high season when a failed part could cause some really big issues.

With all that in mind, here's where my brain is at. I'm straying into territory that I'm relatively unfamiliar with so I'm certain I'm missing some key points.

What is known:

- There is coolant being lost at some point in the system
- The oil cap was milky, which was a new condition from when it was purchased 1,200 miles ago
- There is white smoke exiting the exhaust that is considerably more when the engine reaches normal operating temperature than at startup
- Combustion gasses were not present during multiple chemical tests, at which point the exhaust was white as described above
- Compression check yielded normal and consistent values
- There has been no overheating or temperature changes in the last 1,200 miles
- There have been no performance issues, save some very subtle idle changes while performing the chemical test (very, very slightly rougher than usual)
- No oil is apparent in the coolant overflow, although I have yet to dump the system.

Twists in the plot are as follows:

- Upon dumping the oil, it appears normal. White on the cap perhaps from condensation in the system? The temperatures have ranged from -10 to 60 in the time I've owned her and she's been used for predominantly short trips. Or perhaps the problem is new enough to not show a substantial change in the oil color?
- While removing the plugs, I noticed what appears to be an only slight coolant leak at the very top of the radiator. The plastic at the center has a slight crack and the surrounding area is wet with a small amount of coolant. Perhaps the cause of a slow leak that went undetected?
- The sudden smell of coolant was what alerted me to the problem in the first place and although I felt sure of the exhaust carrying that smell, I need to accept the possibility that the smell may have been originating from the radiator leak and that the exhaust change may have its origins elsewhere. I've seen reports that stuck injectors have a tendency to create white smoke? I've never seen this on any other vehicle.

I'm a hack at all this and know nothing in comparison to many on here, however, if coolant is in fact getting into the cylinders, my limited knowledge says to me that it must not be reaching it directly by way of the head or head gasket because of the pressure differentials involved. With the engine running, the pressures in the the cylnders will always be higher than the pressures in the cooling system, yes? Therefore combustion gasses would be present in the cooling system in the event of a leak, which, if the chemical test is to be trusted, they were not. With the engine off, but warm, pressures will be higher in the cooling system causing coolant to enter the cylinders at this time only, in turn causing coolant to be burned only at startup, which has not happened. Am I off base here?
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:01 AM   #23
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Additionally, what are folks’ preferred parts sources? I see Summit popping up a lot and have been happy with them in the past. I’ll be replacing the injectors and coils while I’m already in here; and particular suggestions if I’m wanting to dig out a few tenths of an MPG?
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:45 AM   #24
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Milky oil condensate is normal on the Triton motors. Mine does it unless I'm towing full-time. It's a relatively cool running motor.

Coolant leaking at the intake crossover can enter the intake runners, causing it to ingest coolant as it sucks in air. If you have the all-plastic intake, I think it's prudent to upgrade to a revised one with the aluminum crossover.

CHANGE YOUR CAP - A bad cap can over-pressurize the system, which can cause coolant to leak places it won't normally, and can cause the top tank to crack. My radiator exploded like a microwaved hot dog. No leaks or cracks or anything prior to the explosion. Just a very worn out factory cap.

Also, a leak in the top tank can spray a fine mist of coolant directly into the intake air stream, so that could be it too!
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Old 03-29-2018, 12:14 PM   #25
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Alright. Thank you! I’ve got the aluminum intake, so the big question is whether the gasket is suspect enough to warrant changing out. I’ve got halfthe junk out of the way already so if they are failure prone, I’d be killing two birds by doing some prevantive maintenance and also addressing the current issue. I guess what I was asking previously was if there were any tests that specifically look at the intake; all the ones that I’m coming across seem to address it more by process of elimination.
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Old 03-29-2018, 03:18 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by lcrosson View Post
Alright. Thank you! Iíve got the aluminum intake, so the big question is whether the gasket is suspect enough to warrant changing out. Iíve got halfthe junk out of the way already so if they are failure prone, Iíd be killing two birds by doing some prevantive maintenance and also addressing the current issue. I guess what I was asking previously was if there were any tests that specifically look at the intake; all the ones that Iím coming across seem to address it more by process of elimination.
Let me see if I understand; your van currently has a composite plastic manifold, and you bought a replacement aluminum one, and are about to swap it out?

Gasket; are you referring to the intake manifold gasket, or the head gasket(s) ?

If you are swapping out the intake manifold, always use new gaskets or o-rings, sealant or whatever sealing method your engine uses.

Headgasket as a precautionary replacement item. I view head gaskets like this; Let sleeping dogs lay. If it isn't leaking, and you found the coolant path into the intake tract elsewhere, leave the headgaskets alone.

You may find some mechanics that would disagree with me on this, but I've had new head gaskets fail, I'm not alone on that. You don't find it out until it's 100% back together and driving. It's also a slippery slope in the wallet department, too. Most modern engines have 'one time use' head bolts, you can break off an exhaust manifold stud in the process. Oh, and as long as the heads are off, have them pressure tested, may as well have the valve guide seals replaced. As long as the springs are off, and we are that far into it, may as well do a valve job and check the guides... you see where I'm going (and can tell where I've been...). At 157k miles on a heavy van, that small block has not lived an easy life. If you take the heads off, I'd have them rebuilt. Where do you stop? Swap out the manifold and cross your fingers? or rebuild the heads and swap the manifold, and cross your fingers? At some point, it's all a calculated risk scenario.

Coolant leaking at the head to block interface at the head gasket: You asked earlier about pressure differential, you wondered how could you pressurize the cooling system AND get coolant in the cylinder. Here's the other half of the story: When a head gasket goes bad, a tiny path between the coolant circuit and combustion chamber can exist, while the engine is running. For every 720 degrees of engine rotation, both pressure, and vacuum, conditions take place inside the cylinder/combustion chamber.

During the intake stroke, a vacuum exists for a few microseconds in time, of each revolution of the engine. During the combustion cycle, obviously a pressure exists. If head gasket sealing is compromised, the cooling system experiences both combustion pressure (air bubbles) and negative pressure (coolant sucked into the combustion chamber).
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Old 03-29-2018, 03:45 PM   #27
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Sure. Let me clarify:

- The intake that is currently in there is all aluminum. I have t purchased anything so far. It appears to be the variety without the separate aluminum crossover, which I assume is only present on the plastic intakes.

- The gasket I was referring to in my last post was the intake gasket. I’ve tried to reduce confusion by referring to gaskets in reference to whatever piece was the subject of a sentence. Sorry if I misstepped at any point.

- I have a lot to learn, but I’m familiar with gasket replacement and proper procedures as a general rule, ie replacing whenever once is removed.

- My question about pressure differentials are in light of the tests I’ve conducted. Meaning, if there are no combustion gasses present in the cooling system and no compression loss at any of the cylinders, as was the case here, that any leak in the cooling system could be understood to be coming from someplace other than the heads or head gaskets. This, of course, infers trust in the accuracy of the tests.

- I have no interest in digging into the heads or head gaskets unless I feel beyond a shadow of doubt that they are compromised, which I currently do not. No loss of compression, no coolant in the oil, no gasses in the coolant, no overheating, and no event to make me suspect damage to them.

I hear you about the rabbit holes that exist with this stuff. I could go crazy replacing parts, or likewise go crazy performing massive amounts of tests, but at some point one needs to trust either the efficacy of the parts or the accuracy of the tests, respectively, and move on toward getting a vehicle back on the road.

At the moment, the most prudent combination of caution, thoroughness, and thriftiness seems to be a refresh of the intake gasket. This would possibly resolve the problem, safeguard against future problems, and also provide a great excuse to get in and freshen up and test much of the components that are apt to give me trouble over the course of the season. Clean and check throttle body, change PCV, replace radiator, flush cooling system, replace thermostat, replace injectors and coils, as well all the ancillary checks that come with getting that deep into an engine. Plus I would learn a lot about an engine that I am currently unfamiliar with, which is possibly the greatest benefit of all.

All that being said, if there existed a test that could allow me to rule out the intake or intake gasket as the problem, then I would certainly avoid doing it. To this point no test has come to my attention though.

Thanks again. I’m really taking a lot from this conversation.
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Old 03-29-2018, 03:50 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arctictraveller View Post
I applaud your insistance on an accurate diagnosis.
Thanks, but I'm almost ashamed to say, I didn't always do that. It has come back to bite me more than once

It's been a long road, I've replaced a lot of parts that didn't need replacing based on (my) a bad diagnosis. I have 'thrown in the towel' too soon when I could have fixed it. I've thought I fixed it, only to have the same symptoms reappear. I've seen plenty of others do the same, needlessly.

The problem is once it's all apart, all of the 'clues' as to what went wrong, are all but gone.
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Old 03-29-2018, 04:48 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by lcrosson View Post
Sure. Let me clarify:

- The intake that is currently in there is all aluminum...
- The gasket I was referring to in my last post was the intake gasket....
- I’m familiar with gasket replacement...
- I have no interest in digging into the heads or head gaskets unless they are compromised
Understood. Sorry about the tangent

Quote:
Originally Posted by lcrosson View Post
...No loss of compression, no coolant in the oil, no gasses in the coolant, no overheating, and no event to make me suspect damage to them.

I hear you about the rabbit holes that exist with this stuff. I could go crazy replacing parts, or likewise go crazy performing massive amounts of tests, but at some point one needs to trust either the efficacy of the parts or the accuracy of the tests, respectively, and move on toward getting a vehicle back on the road.

At the moment, the most prudent combination of caution, thoroughness, and thriftiness seems to be a refresh of the intake gasket...

Thanks again. I’m really taking a lot from this conversation.
Puzzling for sure.

What I tell myself in situations like this "It's just a machine after all, keep after it, you'll get it "

Unless the Ford forums say it's common, I'm not sure I'd swap out the intake gasket and hope for the best. Not just yet, anyhow.

I'd hate to see you pull it all apart, change a lot of preventative maintenance parts, do the intake manifold gasket, hoses, belts and radiator, learn, skin knuckles and burn through your trip funds, just to have the original symptom persist. Worse, unintentionally create a secondary problem to go with the primary one (I've done this, not fun).

There is a pressure test kit where you pressurize the cooling system, engine off, pump it up, should hold pressure for an hour, and listen for leaks or gurgles. Autozone rents them: https://www.autozone.com/loan-a-tool...ester-adapters

Test your cap with the same tool, caps are notorious for going bad, allowing the system to go over pressure and causing radiator and hose connection leaks.

If you are convinced you've got coolant passing out the tailpipe:
Does this engine have a water path, a pre-heat coolant circuit to the throttle body like some engines have? If so, see if there's a way to temporarily bypass it.

Is there some other path where a leaking gasket or seal, could be putting coolant into the intake tract?

Often 'reading the spark plugs' can help you find which cylinder or cylinders have been experiencing coolant while hot. A white chalky buildup on the ground strap and center electrode can be a sign of coolant in the combustion mix.
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Old 03-29-2018, 05:49 PM   #30
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I’m a lover of tangents so worry not ...

Yeah, I hear you. Were everything put together my head would certainly not be going the direction of cracking into the intake but the recourse makes it seem more appealing. With the radiator cracked, I’ll need to drain the cooling system anyway. And if the system is drained and much of the junk in the way of the intake already removed for the plug change, that aforementioned recourse would be to refill the cooling system (all 29 quarts of it), put everything back in, and then to proceed with any further testing to help narrow down the problem in the event that it was still there, only to possibly need to redrain and disassemble once again in one form or another. And obviously the radiator needs to be replaced before pressure testing.

The plugs all looked great too. Light tan and very uniform from one to the next.

But yes, it’d be a shame to cause more problems chasing a problem that may not exist. Perhaps draining and totally reassembling, even with the threat of needing to do it all over again, is the right thing to do. Reassessing with new injectors, plugs, and radiator. Maybe with a water fill at first in the event that it all needs to come out again. A flush was on the menu anyway.

Thank you again.
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