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mgf
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi guys, long time since my last post.......

Anyway, full story here.

Recently been trying to track down a minor coolant leak, coolant was dripping out from a hole in the chassis roughly located directly below the interior cubby box/arm rest. No where near the engine bay, so I stripped the interior to find the heater control valve all gunked up with lovely red coolant!.....needless to say, I went about changing said valve. Swine of a job, but all done now. No leaks etc.

The thing is, prior to draining the coolant, I noticed a very strong smell of gases in the coolant heater tank, which I dismissed at that point, thinking a flush and fresh coolant would sort it. It hasn’t. Fired the car up after bleeding and rebleeding and left idle for an hour to check for levels, let it cool, strong smell still very much apparent when remove the cap on the coolant tank.

Now this is where I am starting to worry.........

I had my head gasket replaced November last year, N series, updated oil rail etc etc.....one of my pistons had a shim as it was low, also had an aluminium inlet manifold fitted to replace the plastic one on my mpi.....

she had been losing small amounts of coolant which I attributed to the heater valve leak I found as there were no other signs of coolant loss from hoses etc.

I am fearing the worst, combustion gases leaking into the coolant from the head gasket, but was hoping for some input before going back too the mechanics who did the work as it’s under warranty.

Is there anything else that could be causing this or an I can do to establish if the head gasket has failed so soon after having had it done?

Thanks in advance
Steve
 

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Sounds like HGF I’m afraid. Can you feel strong pressure pulses if you take the lid off the coolant tank and put your hand over the opening when the engine is running? If so combustion gasses must be leaking into the coolant channels. :(
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #3
I havent tried that yet but will do tomorrow. Everything else appears normal....coolant level constant, car seems to run fine......

one thing I forgot, prior to changing my heater control valve, I checked the coolant one evening and the tank was FULL and I could hear a hiss which wasn’t coming from the cap, it was a pinhole in the tank itself. Needless to say that a brand spanking new tank was fitted when I drained/fixed/bled after doing the heater valve......
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #4
Oh, and another thing.....when changing the old tank, I noticed a fair amount of “debris” in the coolant that looked like bits of blue coloured confetti.......could that be the head gasket?......given the HG was done around 6mths and 1500 miles ago, I’d have thought the coolant should have been free of any nasties and maybe just a bit discoloured, which obviously it was.......
 

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Oh, and another thing.....when changing the old tank, I noticed a fair amount of “debris” in the coolant that looked like bits of blue coloured confetti.......could that be the head gasket?......given the HG was done around 6mths and 1500 miles ago, I’d have thought the coolant should have been free of any nasties and maybe just a bit discoloured, which obviously it was.......
Thiese debris are most probably from one sort of k-seal which was used in the past and remained in the tank or on the pipes. This means someone tried to stop leaking of coolant with k-seal, instead of doing proper job.
 

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mg_tf
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Or, the blue confetti could be the remnants of Hylomar used to seal the liners after the rebuild. You mentioned that one on your liners needed shimming to raise it above the block deck level, they would have had to reseal the liner to the block and the recommended sealant is Blue Hylomar.
 

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mg_tf
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Hylomar does not set but remains spongy so if the stuff coming out of your tank is spongy/soft then it is likely to be this.
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I don’t think its K-seal residue, mainly as Ive had the car 5-6 years now and the coolant has been changed as many times if not more and its always remained debris free although obviously discoloured over time.

Yeah, I think one cylinder was shimmed up. It does sound more likely that it could be bits of the sealant - its almost the same colour as my F which is Tahiti Blue!

I did start the car up this morning, took the expansion cap off and put my palm over the tank and let it run with a slight rev for a few minutes but I did not feel any sense of pressure on my hand.....obviously this is probably not advisable to do with and engine up to temperature for obvious reasons!!!

Oh, and the head was done 1,237 miles ago......never thrashed....
 

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Only one way to confirm...................my TF lasted just under 2yrs and circa 3K miles, it was leaking coolant...........when the head was removed all was revealed, I chose a different mobile HG person to fix it.
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
That’s all well and good, but I’ve a warranty on work done so would be shooting myself in the foot to take it elsewhere. Also, I do not appear to be losing any coolant......

I wonder if someone could comment if there is any other reason why coolant should smell so strongly of gases other than HGF.....if there is another reason, would be good to know before going back to the mechanic.
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #13
Tbh if you aren’t losing coolant and you can’t feel the combustion pulsing in the tank I’d not worry and just drive. :D
Would I have felt this pulsing from a cold start or was the engine supposed to be warm?

I hear ya about not worrying, but I’d hate for it to get worse outside of warranty......
 

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If you have HGF you would either have one or some of the below symptoms:

o have coolant leaking into oil - causing the coolant level to drop over time.
o have oil leaking into coolant - causing a messy coolant bottle with oil visible in it
o have combustion gasses leaking on firing - which would result in pulsing being felt in the coolant system.

In my experience the symptom on the first bullet is the most common, but other coolant leaks should be checked for first, and will be the cause 90% of the time. Dirty coolant is also no necessarily an indicator as some garages take little care in cleaning out the coolant system after a HGF repair. You are likely to get symptom 1 and/or 2, if 3 is happening. If under warranty, get the garage to check it out if you are still concerned.
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I’d rather try and identify and evidence myself and THEN get back to the mechanics If need be.

That’s why I was wondering if I’d done this ‘hand over the tank’ test correctly - the engine was cold but should it have been warmed up? - does it matter?

One other thing I was curious about was a proper sniff test - do these conclusively identify HGF in relation to combustion gas in the coolant? - the fact that my coolant is so obviously ‘smelly’ to the human nose anyway makes me think that the test would come back as positive.......

Is there any other reason combustion gases are present in the coolant other than a leak from the head gasket??
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Oh, this is the ‘confetti’ stuff that is still circulating in the coolant system even after a drain and a flush with a hose for 30mins........
5C111314-4956-40AB-8069-AEFDDA6198C7.jpeg
135331
 

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The test, hot or cold, doesn’t matter, though it may be more noticeable cold and you will burn yourself if hot! Dunno about the foreign bodies in the coolant. I tend to break into the coolant system in 3 or 4 places and flush through with a hose pipe, though I agree difficult to get every thing out as the water flow tends to take the easiest route.
 

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mgf
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Discussion Starter #20
The test, hot or cold, doesn’t matter, though it may be more noticeable cold and you will burn yourself if hot! Dunno about the foreign bodies in the coolant. I tend to break into the coolant system in 3 or 4 places and flush through with a hose pipe, though I agree difficult to get every thing out as the water flow tends to take the easiest route.
Yeah, when I flush, I tend to flush from the rear for a good time and then reverse flush from the radiator, disconnect underfloor pipes and drain, pipes back on and fill/bleed.

I know that this ‘debris’ has only been present since the head work was done, prior to that, I’ve never seen anything like it in any coolant change Which makes me think its something to do with work done and not stuff that was already present.

Looks like a gel, is that the case? If it is then I would suspect Blue Hylomar.
It’s not gel consistency, more like small brittle flakes that disintegrate when squished. There is a fair amount of flakes at the bottom of the expansion tank, unfortunately and thats only a day or so after changing/flushing the old coolant out.....
 
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