I almost hate putting this up on the forum but, we are all family here and things happen to the best of us....
Just when I think my CJ-7 is just about perfect driving around, I get a good slap in the face of reality! I have an internal engine coolant leak that must be dealt with ASAP.
I suspected something was amiss a few months ago when I brought the Jeep out of its winter hibernation and started driving around on the weekends and noticed a coolant drop in the radiator that I did not have before. I topped it off with a 50/50 mix and about a month later, I saw the temperature gauge rising again towards the hot side. Having the Jeep for over 30 years I have never seen this happen before but I checked the coolant level again. Sure enough, it is low once again! I inspected things a little closer this time but could find absolutely no coolant leaks on any hoses, radiator and pulling the spark plugs revealed nothing.
There is no white smoke while the engine is running nor is there any signs of a coolant leak visible anywhere. I pulled the oil cap off the valve cover and noticed small amounts of what looked like condensation that had not burned off yet... so I thought. No signs of water or coolant mixing with the engine oil either. Oil level is right at the full mark and not over.
I borrowed a Coolant Pressure Test tool from a friend at work and proceeded to diagnose the problem. Found my radiator cap was bad so I replaced thinking coolant was blowing out the overflow tube and never saw it. I also pressure tested the system after the engine warmed up, built up pressure to 15psi and checked on it every hour. No drop in pressure and after a full night of being under pressure, it only dropped 1 psi. So I still had 14psi of pressure in the system. What gives? No pressure drop, new radiator cap am I good to go now?
Nope. Losing coolant again after another two weeks of driving so now it is time to take the valve cover off and have a look.
Ahh, that's not good!
While the cover was off, I could see fresh coolant in the back of the cylinder head by the #6 cylinder around the push rods and rocker arms. Even took some on my finger and tasted it and confirmed it was 50/50 coolant mix.
OK, let me check the torque on all the head bolts why I have the valve cover off. After rebuild in 2009, I reused
the same factory head bolts and torqued them to 85ft/lbs as specified. So now I do a recheck and torque them to 90ft/lbs. Put the valve cover back on, and call it a day....
Two weeks later, I take the Jeep out again for a 100 mile drive along the Delaware river to our sister company and on the return trip, we start to see the temperature gauge moving towards the hot side again. Halfway home already, I pull into a small service garage and ask to borrow their hose for water. No problem, take all the water you need, so I proceeded to cool the radiator down with water from the hose before attempting to remove the cap.
While I'm squirting down the radiator, I decided to check the oil cap again for condensation/coolant and this is what it looked like. That's a full blown internal leak if I ever saw one!
Now we limp home for the next 25 miles taking it easy with a full radiator of water and keeping the rpm's low. Jeep sits until this past Monday when I got a chance to take the valve cover off again to inspect what I feel will be bad.... and it is.
Rocker Arms coated in oil and coolant.
Valve Cover coated in thick deposits of coolant and oil.
Oil draining out of engine is milky in color.
So that's my story! Now I must deal with it and I am open to other suggestions for those that may have experienced this type of coolant loss before.
1. I have already purchased new cylinder head gasket, Felpro like the one that is already in there, plus another one from Quadratec.
2. Bought a can of high temp copper sealant to put on the head gasket. Even though I have found no clear evidence that the Felpro gasket need or don't need sealant. FSM states to put sealant on head gasket though.
3. Two cork valve cover gaskets, can never have enough of those in stock.
4. 14 brand new ARP 7/16 head bolts that I bought from Summit Racing after searching the forum and finding the part numbers, thank you.
5. 14ea, washers for the head bolts as ARP recommends plus the assembly lube.
6. Two gallons of 50/50 coolant mix.
I'm betting on stretched OEM head bolts are the culprit or a head gasket that is blown because no sealant was applied and is now leaking. What do you guys think?