White Smoke From Valve Cover Area And More... - JeepForum.com

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post #1 of 10 Old 02-21-2014, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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1987 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Cape May County
Posts: 69
White Smoke From Valve Cover Area And More...

Hello everyone, for those of you following along at home...

I bought an 87 YJ barely running
Cleaned carb tubes
Tune up
Replaced fuel sending unit and soft lines
Replaced radiator, hoses and cap

So I started it up to see if there were any leaks. When it got to operating temps which it hasn't been that warm a lot since I've had it, it started smoking from the valve cover area. It also was making a campfire crackling noise and I can see some liquid (oil or coolant I'm figuring) bubbling a little bit from the valve cover area. I've seen white smoke before I thought maybe there was a little blowback that I have read about.

It's smoking from the drivers side, mostly from this end but it's also coming from the front too:

So while I'm tiring to get these photos all heck brakes loose, the coolant overflow tank springs a leak. Next the lid pops off and this loud humming noise started. I quickly turned of the Jeep and unhooked the battery but the noise kept going. I guess it was the coolant pressure. I have a pressure release radiator cap so I pulled the lever and boom... Mt. St Helens...

What am I doing wrong?

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post #2 of 10 Old 02-21-2014, 12:50 PM
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1990 CJ7 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Ga
Posts: 5,145
Blown head gasket, cracked head or crack in a cylinder wall

418 miles on 19 gallons of gas. Can't beat the BBD !
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-21-2014, 12:53 PM
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2006 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,613
Overheating due to as many possibilities as Carter has pills.

Water in the oil..........or............oil in the water ??

Cracked, head, block, gasket ?

Start with some visuals of the engine oil and coolant colorings. Notice if you can see the coolant flowing with the rad cap off. Look to see if there are any bubbles in the coolant. Compression and leak downs are in valuable here.
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post #4 of 10 Old 02-21-2014, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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1987 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Cape May County
Posts: 69
The engine oil is clean. I drained the oil before and there was no separation. It looked dark but no signs of coolant in the oil. The dipstick use to have a mustard on the very tip. I figured it was condensation from all of the quick starts while troubleshooting. It doesn't have a mustard tip anymore since I started running it to operating temperatures.

The coolant also had no signs of oil in it when I drained it while replacing the radiator. I have not noticed if the coolant flows while the cap is off. I'm kind of afraid to run it after the last go...

I guess my next step is a compression check. I'm going to need to research how to perform this check and what tools I will need, if it's something I can do myself that is. I was thinking it was a valve cover issue. It just seemed to be seaping oil or something from where the valve meets the engine. Mostly on one side. I was tempted to just tighten those bolts a little bit but I'm sure they are torque specific.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-21-2014, 04:31 PM
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1991 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: McCammon
Posts: 14
I wouldn't assume anything. I would tighten them down. Pull your thermostat, drop it in some boiling water to see if it opens, I have seen new ones that were no good. If you can't see any coolant in the oil, I wouldn't think your head or you gasket is gone, but I have seen stranger things. Good Luck
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-21-2014, 05:31 PM
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1989 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: quechee Vermont
Posts: 4,699
just pull the t-stat and let it run for a while.. with all that coolant everywhere your going to have a bunch of steam and might have an issue even getting it started without drying out your distributor cap

1998 ZJ 5.2 Auto

1989 Wrangler Black Bone Stock 2.5l 5spd
/l , [____],
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-08-2014, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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1987 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Cape May County
Posts: 69
Thanks for the advice. I got some time off work so I installed a new thermostat and then filled up the radiator with coolant but the coolant is just leaking right onto the ground from the bottom of the engine. It leaks out just as fast as I put it in so I'm figuring that I cracked the block when I overheated it.

I'm pretty bummed out. I paid 2600 cash and I've put at least 400 into it plus I nearly cut my finger off trying to drop the tank. I've learned a bunch in the few months I've owned it so for the learning experience I am grateful. I'm not sure what to do with it now. I suppose it has value to somebody for parts, hard top, full doors, the new radiator etc...

Pretty bummed about it...
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-08-2014, 03:34 PM
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1988 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Whittier
Posts: 1,357
Gotta find the crack or leak. Don't assume the worst. There is a hose fitting at the back of the intake manifold. Coolant flows through the manifold, so it might be cracked. Cheerup first, then tomorrow, find that leak.

Dodge did not build my Jeep.
1988 Wrangler,4.2L I-6, Howell EFI JP-1,GM HEI Ign, 5 Speed Peugeot, Zone 2.5" lift + 1/2" booms, BFG 31 x 10.5, Bestop.
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-09-2014, 07:02 AM
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1993 YJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Raleigh
Posts: 10,781
Sometimes you have to just walk away for a few days (if it's not your DD) and come back fresh. I've had to do that many times with mine. I also think what you paid isn't bad and if you've only put $400 thus far you're doing pretty good. Most YJ's in my area go for $4-5k and that's for ones with 2.5L's.

Stay optimistic and take a break from it.


I have a jeep...and it is modified...I win.

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post #10 of 10 Old 03-09-2014, 09:45 AM
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1990 YJ Wrangler 
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Location: NA
Posts: 1,621
It takes a lot to crack a block that badly and it is almost impossible to have that happen just from idling in the driveway.

It sounds like the engine was running with no coolant flow. Bad thermostat, bad water pump, incorrect water pump (reverse rotation).

The most likely sources of that leak are hoses and fittings. Rule them all out first. Get in there with a strong light. Pour in water and see where it is comong from.

I know you are feeling frustrated but you probably hit something minor that looks bad. This sort of thing gets a lot of people to just go out to buy a new vehicle: 'the engine is blown!' 'the engine is on fire!'.

Just hang in there and enjoy the pleasure of knowing that you figured it out and fixed it yourself.
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