Mysterious coolant loss - cracked head in 3FE? (1 Viewer)

Joined
Apr 9, 2009
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12
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CT
I have been reading this forum for quite a while and posting a lot less due to a level of my knowledge.
After bunch of reading IH8MUD and testing I am running out of ideas, so I think it is right time to ask for some help. All the suggestions are welcome.

I have sigificant coolant loss in my 91 LC, 144K. When I write siginificant I mean 2 quarts every 200 miles ~ 1 week of driving.
Hmmm... where to start :confused:
Symptoms as described above. Found few tiny leaks on the coolant hoses' connections, installed new clamps and no more leaks. Yes, there is one more, tiny one on the heater hose that is attached to the water pump, installed new clamp, but it is still getting wet (would not called it a leak). I don't think that it would explain loosing large amounts of coolant.
Done the pressure test as described in the FSM, warmed up the engine, pumped to 17PSI, waited 10 minutes - no leaks, no pressure drop. Turned on the heating valve, same thing, no pressure drop (so it is not the heater core).
There are no leaks on my driveway also after sitting overnight.
There is some sludge buildup under my valve cover, similar to this one:
fj62valvecover.jpg

According to many posts that I have read it could be:
A. Oil cooler. Bypassed it (also heater cores), cleaned the valve cover, changed the oil - no difference - still loosing coolant and sludge is building up very fast. Oil itself is normal, no milkshake.
B. Short distance driving, but LC was driving me to and back from work recently ~20 miles trip one way.
C. Cracked head. Bought the block tester from Napa and nope. Fluid stayed blue (unless I have done something wrong).
Done the compression test:
Dry 1-180 (???), 2-6 150
Wet 1-195 2-6 165 if my memory is good.
So it looks like head gasket is good. Cylinder no.1 little bit to high :hmm:, not sure why, carbon build up? Valves were setup recently (done this for the 5th or 6th time) so they should be OK.
I should add couple more things. Plugs, cap, rotor, wires, PCV valve and a grommet were replaced recently.
Car when started cold produces nice amount of steam out of an exhaust (small cloud if outside temperature is below 40F), not sure if I can smell the coolant though. Steam is starting to coming out of an exhaust after ~20 seconds from the startup.
There is small amount of clean water dripping from the exhaust at that time also (drop, every few seconds). When outside temperature is above 60s there is very small amount of steam.
Steam will keep running out of the tail pipe for a long time when car is left idling from the startup, will disappear after short drive (3-5minutes). If I turn off the hot motor for few minutes (less than 5) steam is back. Engine was not cooled down, just turned off for couple minutes, so there should be no steam - right :confused:
I should add that my LC passed the emissions week ago with flying colors, much better than couple years ago. I assume that this is because of the fixing the timing (PO advanced it few deg), replacing plugs, wires etc.

I know it was long, sorry. I tried to describe everything the best I can.
I was thinking about :steer: my 3FE across the country this summer, but with these issues it cannot be done. I still have 2 months to the trip, so the car can be fixed. I don't mind working on this car, however I don't want to spend my time and the money digging that deep into my car if it is not absolutely necessary.

Any suggestions?
Thanks,
Stuntman.
fj62valvecover.jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 22, 2010
Messages
329
It has to be the head and/or head gasket. If you have another daily driver, pull the head off and take it to a good shop for testing and rebuild. In the mean time get the gaskets you need from Cdan, then reinstall.
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2010
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send in a oil sample to one of the places that analizes it. they can tell you if there is any coolent in oil.
 

KLF

Frame waxer
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I personally don't trust compression tests. Leak down tests are much better and tell you a lot more.
 

Otter

All Access Pass Holder
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Scottsdale, AZ
 
 
I just went through the same issue with my 91. Turned out the head was cracked on the top end.

Prior to that I was having to top off my coolant every morning for a week, then it would be fine for several days.

Finally pulled the valve cover and it looked just like yours.

On a positive note, the headgasket was fine. I also took the opportunity to get my fuel injectors cleaned, and get a lot of parts powder coated.

ACC Toyota helped me out with all the parts, recommended a great head shop and did the powder coating. They are really great to work with.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2009
Messages
12
Location
CT
It has to be the head and/or head gasket. If you have another daily driver, pull the head off and take it to a good shop for testing and rebuild. In the mean time get the gaskets you need from Cdan, then reinstall.
Yes, I have another daily driver. My wife usually drives the TLC , I was driving it to work to eliminate short distance driving possibility.

Does anyone know the good shop that does head testing and rebuild in CT ?
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2009
Messages
12
Location
CT
send in a oil sample to one of the places that analizes it. they can tell you if there is any coolent in oil.
Yes, I know that I should have done it long time ago. Ordered test kit from Blackstone on Sunday. Will send it back as soon as I'll get it.


also check heater core, passenger floorboard wet.
Both floors are wet, leak from the front windshield gasket. Have to fix it too. However I bypassed both cores front and rear. No change in the coolant consumption though.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2009
Messages
12
Location
CT
I personally don't trust compression tests. Leak down tests are much better and tell you a lot more.
Yes, I know that. I mean I learned that from IH8MUD.
I bought the leak down tester from Harbor Freight. I know how to use it, but I find it difficult to turn the engine (with all the belts) and properly setup each cylinder. Cylinder one - no problem, but how to setup cylinders 2-6 in proper position by myself? Should I disconnect the belts? Even then it might be difficult to squeeze wrench and the socket between the crank shaft and the radiator.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
382
Location
Rhode Island
 
 
I don't know anyplace in CT but I know of a couple in RI. Pm me if you want. I've built a couple of these engines and am in the middle of a 2f-e build right now.
 

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