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Unread 02-15-2014, 01:00 AM   #1
williams271368
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"Vanishing" Coolant

Alright, so I have a 1998 Grand Cherokee w/ 250K on it, and it has started to go through coolant pretty quickly. I had to fill the reservoir before heading home for winter break in December, and I had to fill it up again in mid-January, and again today (2/14), and even a few hours after I filled it (most of which my Jeep was parked), it was significantly lower than what I filled it to. It has also been emitting quite a bit of white smoke when I am at a light, and then smoking from under the hood when parked.

The oil is normal, and not the milk-shake oil you see with a blown head gasket. The radiator levels are perfectly fine, so probably not pulling from the reservoir. I'm thinking perhaps bad water pump, or cracked cylinder head. I'm leaning towards the latter due to the white smoke, lack of huge puddles, and my Jeep isn't overheating. What do you think?

(Also would a cracked cylinder head cause the engine to shut down when stopped at lights? I replaced the Crankshaft Position Sensor, hoping it would fix things, but it hasn't helped much. I know that it may be fuel pump, but I am just wondering if the vanishing coolant and powering down could be because of the same cause.)

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Unread 02-15-2014, 01:05 AM   #2
newfieZJ
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Can you fill out your profile so we know what engine you have please . It would help .
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Unread 02-15-2014, 01:13 AM   #3
williams271368
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Sorry, don't function well at 2 AM. Updated just now: 6-cyl, 4.0L
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Unread 02-15-2014, 01:39 AM   #4
newfieZJ
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More familiar with the V8 myself but it could be a small leak somewhere in the system , not the head gasket . Start with a thorough inspection of the rad , hoses , and the water pump . Look for any staining from the coolant , or , obvious wet spots . If confident there are no leaks , it's time for a compression test on the engine , and a pressure test on the cooling system .

One other head gasket symptom can be found by removing the rad cap when not under pressure , and see some bubbles coming out . Not just little bubbles , usually bigger , and non stop when running . It may also kinda burp coolant where a healthy system will just slowly push it out as it warms
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Unread 02-15-2014, 07:42 AM   #5
Purcell69
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When the seal on the water pump leak, coolant seeps inside the pulley on the front of the pump, making it almost impossible to see for a while, until the pump bearing fails. I have had the happen on most of my 4.0s. Cheap and easy to check and fix.

-Joe
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Unread 02-15-2014, 07:53 AM   #6
Alexandru999
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if you have white smoke OUT the exhaust , for sure its cylinder head , other than that, water pump, or lift it up and inspect it for leaks, also your jeep isnt overheating because you always re-add coolant .......... any smoke on the inside? sweet flavor on inside? foggy windows that never go away? white mist? hope its not a leak at heater core
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Unread 02-15-2014, 08:19 AM   #7
coralman
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I see alot of new cars on a cold morning with white smoke out the exhaust. Does it go away? They make a test kit I believe to see if you have combustion gas in the coolant, but I have never bought one. Catalytics produce moisture as a by product which is why there are weep holes in some systems. Smoke under the hood is another matter. I would find the source of that first before going all apocalyptic.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 08:25 AM   #8
Snowfan2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coralman View Post
...They make a test kit I believe to see if you have combustion gas in the coolant, but I have never bought one...

Commonly called a block tester, it comes with some fluid that changes color if exhaust gases are present in radiator. Great way to find head gasket failure.

Available at NAPA and Autozone for something like 30 bucks.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 08:33 AM   #9
coralman
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Thanks snowfan for the clarification!
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Unread 02-15-2014, 09:24 AM   #10
Alexandru999
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cold mornings is normal, here in Canada at - 30 any big engine will blow white smoke, till it warms up (then its a bit less) BUT a cracked cylinder head, on a 4.0 engine , lets just say the person behind you wont see ANYTHING, you'll be like an old steam locomotive =)))))))))))


you can find all the tests for coolant in oil on youtube, pretty easy to do
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Unread 02-15-2014, 11:06 AM   #11
coralman
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Just watched it Alexandru!
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Unread 02-15-2014, 02:13 PM   #12
williams271368
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexandru999 View Post
if you have white smoke OUT the exhaust , for sure its cylinder head , other than that, water pump, or lift it up and inspect it for leaks, also your jeep isnt overheating because you always re-add coolant .......... any smoke on the inside? sweet flavor on inside? foggy windows that never go away? white mist? hope its not a leak at heater core
There is some smoke coming from the radiator area; my rear window is foggy, and won't clear up.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 02:30 PM   #13
big98tnzj
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It sounds like you have a small crack in the plastic tanks on the radiator and thats where the smoke is coming from. Its building up pressure at lights and thats why its smoking but going down the road the fan is pushing it around so you dont see it. As far as the back window staying foggy and not going away the onlh thing that i can think of is a bad seal. If it was something cooling system related it would be the front windshield not the rear.

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Unread 02-15-2014, 05:11 PM   #14
50notch
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You should be able to rent a coolant system pressure tester from autozone. Make sure your coolant is full and put the tester on and pressurize the system to 18-20 psi. Once you pressurize the system start looking very closely over the engine and all the hoses, look at the water pump and see if you can see coolant running from anywhere. If it's quiet enough you may be able to hear air leaking or a gurgling.
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Unread 02-15-2014, 06:20 PM   #15
LouC
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If this is the OE rad I bet you need a new rad, maybe a new water pump and if the windshield is fogging, a new heater core. All are common repairs on ZJs of that age. Cracked cyl heads and blown head gaskets are really not common unless it was severely overheated. Often the rads leak where the plastic tanks are crimped on but it runs down to the bottom. Get up under the front end and look a the lower corners of the rad with a bright LED flashlight. Also look under the water pump when you're down there.
Heater core leaks will make the windows fog and also eventually you will see antifreeze coming out the heater ducts, esp the rear ones for some reason.
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