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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:18 AM   #1
throttlejunkie1
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Head Gasket/Cracked Head/Brown Coolant?

2000 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 auto


I've done extensive research. I've concluded that I may have a head problem. My coolant is rust brown and my reservior wont stay full and it does leak water out the exhaust when running. Would this be a case of (oil contaminating the coolant system) or (coolant contaminating the oil) or even both? I understand that the only way to find out for sure is to remove the head and take it to the shop for inspection. I'm hoping its just the gasket.....I've done a full flush a few times but its keeps returning to the brown color.

Also, my oil pressure drops below 40psi when @ idle. But when driving, its at normal operating pressure. I'm simply looking for some piece of mind before I start "the job" this weekend.

-Matt

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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:28 AM   #2
jontz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by throttlejunkie1 View Post
I've done extensive research. I've concluded that I may have a head problem.
Classic...that might end up in my sig.

Anywho,

The rust brown coolant doesn't necessarily mean you have a bad head, and water coming out of the tailpipe is normal for almost any vehicle. Oil pressure drop down to 20 PSI at idle is also normal. How does it run? Does it overheat? Is there foam or sludge in the oil pan? Have you had a compression check or leakdown check done? That's the only way you are going to be sure, and I would want to be sure before I went tearing apart my motor. Just some thoughts before you get into a "fun" weekend project.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:35 AM   #3
throttlejunkie1
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I figured someone would catch that one quick lol!


My oil looks pure, the engine runs smooth and sounds like any other 4.0 would, and the thermostat has been recently changed w/ a 195 which holds the temp down just under 210 consistantly.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:44 AM   #4
jwilly2
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Some condensation making it's way out the exhaust might be considered normal, but the fact that your reservoir won't stay full doesn't sound good.
How much coolant are you losing? The brown 'rusty' coolant usually indicates overheating at some time or another.....has it been overheating recently? Have the leak-down test run....should point you in the right direction. Probably a blown gasket or cracked head. Good Luck
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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:45 AM   #5
LandRover
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I'd drain the oil and look/smell for any sign of coolant before I tore anything apart. Coolant gets brown. Radiators corrode. Doesn't necessarily mean bigger problems. You should be able to see the coolant/oil separate in a pan after you drain the oil. Start there.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:46 AM   #6
jontz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by throttlejunkie1 View Post
My oil looks pure, the engine runs smooth and sounds like any other 4.0 would, and the thermostat has been recently changed w/ a 195 which holds the temp down just under 210 consistantly.

It doesn't sound like a bad head to me then. I guess it could be since you are losing coolant, but it seems odd that the jeep runs fine and doesn't overheat. You really need to have a compression test and a leakdown test done before you tear into your motor. Just my $0.02.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:50 AM   #7
throttlejunkie1
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Originally Posted by jontz View Post
You really need to have a compression test and a leakdown test done before you tear into your motor. Just my $0.02.


I can do a compression test myself. I've done several small block jobs in the past. Never done a leakdown test though. I'll forum search and see if I can do that myself too.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 10:51 AM   #8
jontz
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Good luck! Let us know what you find.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 11:09 AM   #9
jwilly2
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Originally Posted by throttlejunkie1 View Post
I can do a compression test myself. I've done several small block jobs in the past. Never done a leakdown test though. I'll forum search and see if I can do that myself too.
Should be able to rent the equipment for a leak-down test at Advance, AutoZone, etc...
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Unread 03-24-2009, 12:01 PM   #10
in_motion
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my 2.5 does the same thing, it will leak coolant to about an inch in the overflow bottle, but will stay there and never overheat. i do know that my freeze plug is loose and needs tightened down every 1000 miles or so, so maybe you can look at that too.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 12:02 PM   #11
xjarchaeologist
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http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f11/losing-coolant-water-tailpipe-718267/

Leakdown test is best, but you need to figure out where the coolant is going. Mine was going straight into the oil, never the chamber. Probably a head with mine, they're checking it right now...
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Unread 03-24-2009, 06:02 PM   #12
throttlejunkie1
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Originally Posted by xjarchaeologist View Post
http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=718267

Leakdown test is best, but you need to figure out where the coolant is going. Mine was going straight into the oil, never the chamber. Probably a head with mine, they're checking it right now...


Did your problem get identified yet?
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Unread 03-24-2009, 06:08 PM   #13
BrunoS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by throttlejunkie1 View Post
I figured someone would catch that one quick lol!


My oil looks pure, the engine runs smooth and sounds like any other 4.0 would, and the thermostat has been recently changed w/ a 195 which holds the temp down just under 210 consistantly.
that is perfectly normal.

if this is a recently acquired jeep, might be time for a few coolant flush/drain/replace jobs before the color goes away. as for slight coolant drop...it might be heater core slowly going bad...or old water pump starting to seep/spray only under full heat and load while driving.
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Unread 03-24-2009, 07:47 PM   #14
xjarchaeologist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by throttlejunkie1 View Post
Did your problem get identified yet?
Should hear from the shop tomorrow, but I'm 99% sure it's a cracked head. It's the only thing that makes sense...

On the overheating issue, and I haven't read the rest of the thread yet. My XJ never overheated when I was driving it. I really knew something was wrong (besides loosing gallons of coolant) when I was sitting in ATL traffic and it climbed up. The electric fan cooled it back down, but just because it's NOT overheating doesn't mean it CAN'T be a head/gasket/both issue.

In my opinion, a head/gasket issue is WAY too big to rule out. You risk ruining your engine at most, or having to pour thousands of $$ worth of engine work to getting it back...

You can rule out the heater core two ways (and correct me someone if I'm wrong): Check the passenger side floor mat to see if it has coolant on it. You should feel it. That, or you can take the two hoses that go into the firewall to the heater core and connect them. Don't turn the heat on, but if coolant stays pretty stable, you should be good and it's a heater core (cheap to buy, pain in the a$$ to replace).

Water pump? Once you get home, put a piece of cardboard on top of the splash mat, right under the front of the engine from the compartment. If you see a wet spot, it's probably coming out of the weep hole. Check hoses, etc.

Remember: a little loss of coolant is normal. It expands at times with heat, so if you lose a little, it's normal. But if you loose a lot like I did, you have a serious problem. Pop open that engine oil filler cap and see what it looks like. Mine LOOKED fine, but on the top of the cap it was a milkshake. A little of that is condensation, but a lot? Head/gasket/both.

One last note then I'll shut up: Mine had a ton of coolant coming from the exhaust. I'm just sayin, don't rule it out and BE SURE! Better safe then sorry when it comes to heads/gaskets...

You may get to join the Head Crack 0331 club! (and it's a forced membership)
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Unread 03-25-2009, 05:23 AM   #15
throttlejunkie1
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Originally Posted by xjarchaeologist View Post
You may get to join the Head Crack 0331 club! (and it's a forced membership)

This was a recently aquired jeep. Bought about 3 months ago. I actually sold my Z71 because of **** like this. Spent all thanksgiving day last year doing head gaskets on it...

I topped off my coolant yesterday. I'm going to do my tests this Friday after work. All the symptoms are there...
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