Have you ever checked your oil and noticed a light brown liquid on your dipstick? If so, you probably found out that you had an internal or external leak somewhere. When coolant mixes with oil, bad things can happen. If this problem persists for too long, you could damage your entire engine. You might start to wonder if your car is worth all of these repairs. It can be difficult to financially plan for the future if you are constantly repairing different parts in your car. If you ever find coolant in your oil, there is a problem and you need to take action to fix it as soon as possible so worse problems don’t occur.
Symptoms of Coolant In Oil
The most common visual symptom of coolant in your oil is the brown milky color that it turns. If the coolant is contaminated with oil, it will need to be replaced. Before replacing it, you should flush out the systems to make sure you get rid of the entire mixture. Once you do that you need to determine the root of the problem. Listed below are the two most common causes of coolant getting into the oil.
A failing Oil Cooler: If the oil cooler leaks, the main symptom is oil in the coolant. Many individuals will think the head gasket is blown. If you check that and everything is fine, then you should check the oil cooler. A blown head gasket typically affects the engine’s performance. If the oil cooler starts to leak or is cracked, the engine will still perform normally. Since the engine will still perform normally, it can be difficult to diagnose this is the root of the problem.
The good news for customers is that replacing an oil cooler is a much less expensive repair. If you need to place this, both the oil cooler and its gasket will need to be replaced. Before you replace it, you should flush out the entire system and then refill it.
A Blown Head Gasket: If the head gasket is broken or cracked, oil can leak into the coolant. This causes that milky brown color to occur in the coolant. You will be able to see this mixture in the top of the radiator and the coolant reservoir. If the coolant leaks into the combustion chamber, you will notice a white cloud of sweet-smelling exhaust.
If you have a bad head gasket you will need to potentially repair several things. The first thing you will have to replace is the head gasket. Once you do that the entire cooling system will need to be flushed to ensure the mixture is gone. Lastly, you will want to inspect the radiator and water pump to see if they are leaking. These two parts could get damaged if the coolant-oil mixture travels through them. You want to make sure none of these parts are cracked so when you replace the head gasket, your system starts working normally again.
A Leaking Transmission Cooler: Many cars have a cooler for the transmission fluid. The majority of times this is a part of the radiator. Cracks in the transmission cooler can occur, which would allow the coolant to mix with transmission fluid. If this happens you will notice the coolant will turn pink and start to look foamy. The outcome is not good if the coolant gets into the transmission. This could damage the entire transmission and the entire thing could potentially need to be replaced.
What Is The Purpose Of Coolant And Oil
Both coolant and oil have different functions and the two should never be mixed. They both serve very different purposes for your car. Oil is a lubricant and it is used to cover different parts of your car’s engine so these parts can move easier. The oil will fit into small spaces so that friction does not occur. Whenever you drive your car anywhere the engine becomes very hot. Oil is used in these instances because it can still move between the parts no matter how hot they are.
Since the engine is built up of a lot of different parts, oil is very important. These parts include gears of all different sizes, camshafts, pistons, and bearings. Many of these parts are packed very tightly together within the engine. This creates a lot of heat because of the friction that occurs when they are working against each other. Oil is the main component used to reduce this friction.
Oil lubricates these parts so they will last longer. If too much friction occurs, these parts will start to break down. Oil is a very essential component in keeping a car engine working properly and keeping the entire engine safe.
On the other hand, coolant is used to cool down your engine. This substance is crucial because if the engine overheats, big problems arise. The engine could totally shut down if it overheats and that would be very expensive to fix. Coolant regulates the temperatures of your engine and keeps everything under control. The cooling system is so important because it ensures that your engine will operate at optimal efficiency.
This liquid coolant will pass through the engine block and heads. As it flows through all of these parts, it will pick up heat from the engine and working parts to help eliminate the heat. This heated fluid has its own course it goes through to remove this heat from the engine. Once it leaves the engine it will make its way through a rubber hose to the radiator, which is located in the front of the car.
What Happens When Coolant Mixes With Oil?
Every time you start your car, pressure begins to build up inside the cooling system and the engine. There are different fluids that help make your engine run. The coolant, engine oil, and transmission fluid are all contained within the radiator. Each fluid has a different function and place that it is stored. Engine vibrations and the expansion of heat gaskets can cause coolant to leak into the oil. This expanding and contracting could cause other parts to crack, which would also allow coolant to leak into the oil
If the coolant mixes in with the oil, your engine will overheat. If your engine starts to overheat, this could cause bad problems. Stop driving your car immediately if you notice coolant has mixed with oil. You could completely damage your engine past the point of repairing it. If you have to replace the entire engine, it will be very expensive.
What Should I Do If Coolant Is In The Oil?
If coolant mixes in with the oil the first thing you will want to do is determine where the problem is coming from. First, make sure your car is on level ground and your engine is cool. Then you will want to remove the dipstick to see if it looks milky and brown.
Once you notice the mixture, check the head gasket. This is one of the most common problems when it comes to coolant and oil mixing. The gasket seals the engine block to the cylinder heads and controls coolant. If the gasket overheats and extreme pressure occurs, the entire gasket could blow out.
Once you determine the problem, you will want to flush out the entire system to make sure the mixture is not in the system. Once you have flushed everything out, replace the part that is broken or cracked. After you have replaced that, the issue should be fixed. You will still want to check your oil regularly at first to make sure you have fixed the problem.
How Much Will It Cost To Fix?
There are many different factors that will affect how much this will cost. For example, if your transmission cooler needs to be fixed, you will have to replace the radiator and perform a transmission service. This will cost anywhere between $350.00 and $450.00. If you have a blown head gasket that needs to be replaced, this will cost anywhere from $1,200.00 to $2,000.00 depending on the size of the engine.
The worst-case scenario would be that your engine block is cracked. This means you would need to replace your entire engine. This is very expensive to fix ranging from $4,500 to $8,000.00. These scenarios are all very different. It is important to determine the root of your problem before you jump to any conclusions. Once you know what is causing the coolant to mix with the oil, then you can start to financially plan and figure out what to do next.
Is It Harmful For Coolant To Mix With Oil?
The answer to this question is yes. It is incredibly harmful for coolant and oil to mix together. The reason it is so dangerous is because these two substances are completely different. They both have different functions and serve different purposes for the engine. Since they are total opposites if they mix they could severely damage your engine.
Coolant is like water. It is used to cool down the engine so the entire system does not overheat. Oil is a thicker substance that lubricates the parts in the engine to keep them working properly and limit friction within the engine. Bottom line is that these two substances should never mix together. If they do mix, you have a very big problem inside your engine and you need to get it fixed.
It Is Crucial To Fix The Problem Of Coolant In Oil As Soon As Possible
The mixture of coolant and engine can cause some serious damage to your car engine. This mixture has a brownish color to it and it looks a lot like chocolate milk. If you notice this when you are checking your oil, stop driving your car and take it to a mechanic to get a proper diagnosis. If you continue to drive your car, you could see sparks or a small explosion inside the engine.
As you can imagine if there is an explosion in your engine, this is not good. Your engine could be too damaged to repair at this point. If you have to replace the entire engine, you are looking to spend a lot of money. You should always do routine oil checks to ensure there is no coolant in your oil. If there is a problem, you should address the issue as soon as possible to prevent worse issues from occurring.
Once you get a diagnosis about your engine from a mechanic, you might start to wonder if fixing the car is worth your money. Additionally, if you drive a car that is starting to age, then it most likely is not worth the money. Replacing the entire engine is very expensive and if your car is already aging, you could see other issues arise in the future.
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