Milky Oil / Steam after long sit... should I be worried?

Discussion in 'RT/10 and GTS Discussions' started by BullRider, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. BullRider

    BullRider Viper Owner

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    My gut says yes, but before I gird my loins for a head gasket replacement, I thought I'd ask the consensus of the experts (non-experts please keep your respective traps shut).

    Car is an '01 RT/10 w/ 57K miles. It's been sitting at the frame shop for the last two months while I waited for them to do the damned structural inspection. I know they moved the car at least a couple of times for really short sprints without letting it get up to temp while they moved it around the shop.

    I just fired it up today for the first time since I got it back from the shop, and I noticed a large amount of white steam from the tailpipes, even after I let it get up to temp. Checked the oil and its milky. I know... I know... all the signs of a blown head gasket, but...

    I read that a long time sitting may allow condensation to gather in the pan, but what about the steam?

    Input greatly appreciated.

    That having been said, if (and only if) I do need to swap the gaskets, how big a job is it and is there anything else that I should be looking to inspect/replace/upgrade at the same time?
     
  2. Joseph Dell

    Joseph Dell Enthusiast

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    Sorry to hear about your challenge with the car. There are generally two schools of thought on a blown head gasket.

    1 - tear it apart and replace everything
    2 - replace ONLY the gasket on the damaged side.

    I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.

    Water in the motor = bad. pull the pan and clean the engine guts as much as possible. note that you will have residual water in the oil cooler and lines. drop the filter, etc...

    now you get to ask yourself the big question: did you blow a head gasket or not? MLS gaskets don't usually blow. but if it no longer seals, the deck surface (heads or block) may be slightly warped.

    if it were me (and I know NOTHING about your vehicular usage): pull the heads (need to anyway to replace gaskets). have them checked out. [while they are off consider upgrades] have them milled so that they aren't warped. replace head gasket after seeing that the rest of the motor is fine. Then put it back together and be happy.

    if it is a relatively stock car, there is probably nothing else wrong w/ it. on the _other_ hand, you didn't say why it has been sitting for 2 months waiting for structural checks.

    don't panic though. these cars aren't hard to work on at all. Especially just a head off/on.

    JD
     
  3. PhoenixGTS

    PhoenixGTS Viper Owner

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    Since you will have to take the intake manifold off, if you are thinking of changing your thremostat to a lower temperature now is the time to do it.
     
  4. RAYSIR

    RAYSIR Viper Owner

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    Is the milky oil on the dipstick? Does the oil at the tip look clear? In a cool climate when the car is started and shut down without the oil getting hot will build a lot of moisture from the combustion process and it gets into the crankcase. It's vapors rise to the top of the valve covers and dipstick. This may sound wierd but when I see that I taste the oil on the tip of my tongue and if it's sweet then it's coolant and you have a leak. Just don't swallow, LOL. Same thing happens in the mufflers, lots of water. The reason most mufflers have drain holes drilled in the bottom. Lots of water produced and way more noticeable cold. To test for a blown headgasket we use a 4 gas analyzer. Put a plastic bag over the coolant resevoir to collect the fumes then test for HCs. There shouldn't be any Hydrocarbons in the coolant. If it's leaking by the intake or into the oil past a headgasket (real rare into the oil) test it with a coolant pressure tester. Pump it up to 10-16# and let it set. Watch for a pressure drop then check the dipstick for more oil. The oil floats on the coolant. Do this with the engine off. Hope this helps before tearing it down.:2tu:
     
  5. agentf1

    agentf1 Viper Owner

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    Yes, I would look at the oil and/or coolant before I made any decisions. Don't they say take the rad cap off and watch for oil and bubbles. Not sure how that would work with the Vipers setup. Give the Wizard a call, I am sure he can offer some good advice.
     
  6. BullRider

    BullRider Viper Owner

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    Is this the sort of thing that would happen all of a sudden? It was fine before dropping it off, and its completely milky now. No steam before, steam now.
     
  7. carguy07

    carguy07 Viper Owner

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  8. agentf1

    agentf1 Viper Owner

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    What about the steam, wouldn't this mean it is getting in the combustion chamber? Of course t could just be condensation due to the weather. :dunno:

    I will admit it doesn't sound good.
     
  9. Madduc

    Madduc Enthusiast

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    I would change the oil and filter and take it out for a good drive. If after that steam is still coming out the exhaust or milky oil is present, well....time to go to work.
     
  10. syclone1157

    syclone1157 Enthusiast

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    Check the timing cover first!!!!!!!!!! It has been a while since I posted here. About one year ago the same thing happened to me. I was about to change the head gaskets and have the heads ground down. Let me tell you......check the timing cover gasket FIRST!!!!. I posted a step by step and necessary tools quite a while back. My gasket cover had a tiny little hole that shot out towards the drivers side headlight. You may want to start your car, let it get warm and start checking for a little stream of water. The stream would increase when I was on the throttle. Look for my post.
     
  11. dave6666

    dave6666 Enthusiast

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    How does that turn the oil milky?
     
  12. klamathpro

    klamathpro Viper Owner

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    I would lean more toward the timing cover gasket myself, fortunately much cheaper to fix. You don't have a GEN1 so your head gaskets are metal. There would have to be a LOT of condensation to make the oil milky, unless you're talking about it being milky only on the oil fill cap and not on the entire dipstick. Change the oil either way.
     
  13. KenH

    KenH Enthusiast

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    Was there any engine damage from the original wreck noted? I don't see any engine components replaced, but things like the water pump pulley getting replaced makes me think the front of the engine took some kind of whack and there could be additional damage that you didn't find on the first time around. Can a cracked water pump housing or timing cover put water into the crank on a Viper?

    http://forums.viperclub.org/rt-10-gts-discussions/608018-salvage-viper-back-dead-pics-inside.html

    Head gaskets aren't a common problem on '01's unless the water pump fails and the engine overheats.

    If the steam from the exhaust goes away after bringing the car fully up to temp for a while, I would also suggest that you first try changing the oil and then run it for a while and keep an eye on things and see if the problem reoccurs. I have been amazed at how much water vapor my oil catch can collects during cold starts, so you could just have a lot of water in the oil from the way they are treating your car with a bunch of cold starts up there in chilly BC.
     
  14. Jim Wilson

    Jim Wilson Viper Owner

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    Change the oil, check your plugs, do a compression test, check your coolant for oil and check if it is low.
     
  15. NOTV8

    NOTV8 Viper Owner

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    There is a post a while back where you can send your oil sample to get check. If you want to be sure what is in the oil. I'm not sure of the actual name but I think it start with "Blackstone or something. They send you plastic bottle to put your oil and they send you the result. Sorry if I am not of much help but maybe someone here can chime in.....
     
  16. AJT

    AJT Enthusiast

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    I get mine checked here.

    I would still do as above, change oil, run parked, & check oil , timing chain gasket, & compression test. Although I have had many cars & boats set up & I have Never had milky oil. It came from somewhere that it shouldn't have.
     
  17. RedEnuf93

    RedEnuf93 Enthusiast

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    I would agree with this one first. If it fails.... time to go to work....
     
  18. hemibeep

    hemibeep Viper Owner

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    A lot of good ideas as posted.
    I had a similar problem.
    Did several oil/filter changes quickly to confirm. A little water makes a mess quickly.
    Also make sure that the water is cleaned from the pockets in the heads around the valves if it turns out to be the timing cover. Water will "pool" in the small areas and really FREAK you out with another round of milky oil.

    I was able to pressurize the cooling system, with the oil pan dropped and look up into the timing case area to find the leak....
     
  19. Tom F&L GoR

    Tom F&L GoR Viper Owner

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    You all would be surprised how often "normal" engines get milky oil. It is extremely common in cold weather and short trip (i.e. less than 30 minutes) driving because the oil does not reach 212F. The dispersants in the oil make the oil-water dispersion and produce mayonaisse. A long enough and hot enough drive will remove essentially all the water.

    One of the required engine tests is the Sequence V; it is constructed exactly for this condition, so oils are indeed designed to protect the engine even when they have 5%-10% water in them.

    The glycol from coolant is the bad actor; it forms acids that use up the oil's protective additives and initiate sudden wear.

    Since the steam (from combustion condensation) rises, the mayo is first seen in the rocker covers, so look in the oil fill hole. It is often on the dipstick also. RAYSIR has an interesting test in tasting the mayo, and while I have never tried it, it is a logical idea. I wonder how many oils you have to taste before you can tell if it has glycol, though.

    Perhaps the safest and cheapest way is to change the oil (use cheap mineral oil if you want) and drive it. My oil temp gauge shows that you need 30 minutes at least at this time of year to reach a high enough temperature. Meanwhile, send out the used oil for analysis of glycol, not water.

    If the mayo shows up again quickly and the analysis shows glycol, well, sorry.
     
  20. Dan Cragin

    Dan Cragin Enthusiast

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    These engines build up a hugh amount of condensation in the oil when stored and started briefly. Change the oil and filter and drive it first.

    Dan
     
  21. RTTTTed

    RTTTTed Viper Owner

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    An oil analysis is always a great idea. Take a pint to any heavy Equipment or Freightliner/Western Star/Kenwork shop and they'll have the sample bottles in stock.

    Seeing you live in Victoria I pray the shop didn't park your car outside and freeze/crack the block.

    You didn't mention low coolant so I'm wondering if you checked rad level? If you're not low on coolant, it's probably condensation.

    Ted
     
  22. BullRider

    BullRider Viper Owner

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    Good news (at least so far). Condensation quits after driving with temp at normal for a few minutes. No discoloration in oil yet. I'll monitor the situation and let you know if anything new develops. Thanks for your help, everyone!

    Bob
     
  23. Joseph Dell

    Joseph Dell Enthusiast

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    That is definitely good news! If it were a leak, you probably would have seen it by now!

    *big sigh of relief*
     
  24. dave6666

    dave6666 Enthusiast

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    For best long term results, move to Texas where the only condensation is on our long necks at game time. :D
     

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