Head Gasket or Nah? - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-15-2019, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
BerryTechNito7
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Head Gasket or Nah?

Hey everybody, I've got a 1996 Jeep XJ with the 4.0 in it. The Jeep has 214k miles on it.

I was suspecting a head gasket issue because my Jeep started consuming coolant recently. I would put coolant in the overflow reservoir and the next day the reservoir would be a lot lower level. I tried to do a combustion leak test, but ran into an issue and can't. I say this because I took my radiator filler neck cap off and started the Jeep and the coolant would slowly overflow out of the radiator filler neck. I never saw any bubbles nor bubbling going on.

The coolant was green with no traces of oil in it. The oil is a dark color with no traces of coolant in it. Is the Jeep slowly pushing out coolant in the radiator with the cap off and the engine running a dead giveaway for combustion in the cooling system? Aka blown head gasket.

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post #2 of 13 Old 05-15-2019, 02:48 PM
axlaxl
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1 - Check under oil cap and look for chocolate milkshake goo. I had a cracked head that leaked coolant into the oil and the oil color was fine, but under the cap it had the milkshake stuff.

2 - Any chance the gasket on your radiator cap is a bit cracked or broken? Pressure test the coolant system?

Just some easy checks before going to bigger tests.
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-15-2019, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BerryTechNito7 View Post
Hey everybody, I've got a 1996 Jeep XJ with the 4.0 in it. The Jeep has 214k miles on it.

The coolant was green with no traces of oil in it. The oil is a dark color with no traces of coolant in it. Is the Jeep slowly pushing out coolant in the radiator with the cap off and the engine running a dead giveaway for combustion in the cooling system? Aka blown head gasket.
A normal motor will push water out of an unpressurized (cap off) radiator simply because of expansion from heat. Once the thermostat opens, water should then flow through. Not all gasket leaks will push combustion gas into the radiator. Cracks are notorious for losing water into a chamber, and not always getting tell-tale gas bubbles.

As noted look under the oil cap, the top of the oil mark on the dipstick for evidence of milky (but note that internal condensation can cause that as well). Do check for water pump weeping, or a rusting 'freeze' plug as a possible culprit. As long as there isn't enough water in a chamber to cause hydro-lock, (usually after sitting and cooling down) you can still drive it. If you start getting misfires, or hard starting (wants to not turn over at first)...pull the head.
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-15-2019, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
BerryTechNito7
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I checked under the oil cap and it looked fine. Same with oil dipstick. The coolant doesn't smell like exhaust and is all green.

I guess the next step I should do is a compression test.

The reasoning for me thinking it was the head gasket is the loss of some coolant and the Jeep idles rough when fully warmed up. It idles fine when cold and it drives fine and stays at operating temperature when driving whether it's cold or hot. Oil pressure is good as well.
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-16-2019, 12:10 AM
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Looks very clean.

You could have a drip from the core plugs, have you checked they are not corroded? I started losing water and they are not easy to see, when hauled out they were very rusty.

Similarly the radiator, hoses, water pump etc.

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post #6 of 13 Old 05-16-2019, 12:10 AM
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I had the exact same thing happen on my 2000. I had to add coolant to the reservoir, but never to the radiator. My ran fine and I drove it that way for a year. I had to add coolant every week or so. No leaks, no coolant in the oil, everything looked fine. Mechanic checked everything out and found nothing. It ended up being a small crack in the head and it was burning coolant. I never smelled it though. It eventually got worse so it could be found.

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post #7 of 13 Old 05-16-2019, 06:58 AM Thread Starter
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoogieman View Post
I had the exact same thing happen on my 2000. I had to add coolant to the reservoir, but never to the radiator. My ran fine and I drove it that way for a year. I had to add coolant every week or so. No leaks, no coolant in the oil, everything looked fine. Mechanic checked everything out and found nothing. It ended up being a small crack in the head and it was burning coolant. I never smelled it though. It eventually got worse so it could be found.

That's what scares me. I have no idea how to tell without starting to tear the engine apart. If that's the case, I'd better get another head soon. Did yours sometimes have a rough idle when fully warmed up? My plan right now is to do a compression test. Then check the freeze plugs first and if they are fine, replace the head. Thanks for your response.





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Originally Posted by BagusJeep View Post
Looks very clean.
You could have a drip from the core plugs, have you checked they are not corroded? I started losing water and they are not easy to see, when hauled out they were very rusty.
Similarly the radiator, hoses, water pump etc.

I haven't checked the freeze plugs. I've heard a crack in the head and freeze plug issues can both cause a rough idle. Like stated above, I will do a compression test then check the freeze plugs. If everything checks out, replace the head. The radiator hoses are both dry and the hose clamps and the surrounding area are dry as well. The area around the thermostat and water pump are dry as well. Thanks for your response.
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-18-2019, 08:37 PM
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Mine always idled and ran perfectly fine.

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TheBoogieman is a jerk.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
I'd rather knock myself unconscious, cut a finger off, poke my eye out with a sharp stick or be forced to go back to work than install anything made by Rusty's.
03' Rubicon/Zone 4.25" combo lift/Rancho 9000XL shocks/5.13 gears-35" MTZs/BM brakes
99' XJ on 33s. #18
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-23-2019, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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Update:


The previous owner put one of those plastic flush N fill tees in the heater hose. It had gotten brittle and started to leak coolant very slightly. I got rid of the tee and ended up deleting the valve and going to 97+ heater hoses for more simplicity. I will check coolant over the next few days and see. I'm still planning on doing a compression test this weekend as well.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-23-2019, 10:32 AM
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FWIW with future tests, a free test kit and $28 to Blackstone will tell you if any coolant is getting into the oil. The water can burn off, the sodium and potassium will not. A free rental test kit and $10 bottle of solution from the parts store will help you test for compression gases in the coolant.

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post #11 of 13 Old 05-23-2019, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BerryTechNito7 View Post
Hey everybody, I've got a 1996 Jeep XJ with the 4.0 in it. The Jeep has 214k miles on it.

I was suspecting a head gasket issue because my Jeep started consuming coolant recently. I would put coolant in the overflow reservoir and the next day the reservoir would be a lot lower level. I tried to do a combustion leak test, but ran into an issue and can't. I say this because I took my radiator filler neck cap off and started the Jeep and the coolant would slowly overflow out of the radiator filler neck. I never saw any bubbles nor bubbling going on.

The coolant was green with no traces of oil in it. The oil is a dark color with no traces of coolant in it. Is the Jeep slowly pushing out coolant in the radiator with the cap off and the engine running a dead giveaway for combustion in the cooling system? Aka blown head gasket.
Quote:
Originally Posted by axlaxl View Post
1 - Check under oil cap and look for chocolate milkshake goo. I had a cracked head that leaked coolant into the oil and the oil color was fine, but under the cap it had the milkshake stuff.

2 - Any chance the gasket on your radiator cap is a bit cracked or broken? Pressure test the coolant system?

Just some easy checks before going to bigger tests.
You should do a cooling system pressure test. Pressurize the system to what the radiator cap is rated to. Let it sit under pressure (cold engine) for like 30 minutes. See if you are loosing pressure.

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post #12 of 13 Old 05-23-2019, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SSellers View Post
FWIW with future tests, a free test kit and $28 to Blackstone will tell you if any coolant is getting into the oil. The water can burn off, the sodium and potassium will not. A free rental test kit and $10 bottle of solution from the parts store will help you test for compression gases in the coolant.
I can't do the compression in the coolant test. Reason being, coolant slowly rises out of my radiator as it is being warmed and contaminated the test tube. I already tried.








Quote:
Originally Posted by MaskedMallard View Post
You should do a cooling system pressure test. Pressurize the system to what the radiator cap is rated to. Let it sit under pressure (cold engine) for like 30 minutes. See if you are loosing pressure.


I already tried to do a pressure test in the cooling system, but I couldn't get a good seal so I could never add pressure to the system.
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post #13 of 13 Old 05-23-2019, 01:45 PM
SSellers
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Originally Posted by BerryTechNito7 View Post
I can't do the compression in the coolant test. Reason being, coolant slowly rises out of my radiator as it is being warmed and contaminated the test tube. I already tried.

You just leave the cap off and let it run for 10-15 minutes until the coolant sets its level. Before expansion tanks and overflow bottles, coolant just dumped on the ground and the natural level in the radiator was an inch or more below the fill port. That's why people who are "new" to "old" cars without overflow tanks are always burping coolant out the overflow line....every time they check the coolant it's two inches low (where it's supposed to be) and keep adding coolant.

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