Every car owner should routinely check their car to ensure everything is working properly. Whether you do this on your own or have a professional look at it, routine check-ups are a great way to keep your car in the best possible condition. Unfortunately, unexpected issues can still arise on any occasion. Issues that involve oil in your coolant reservoir can lead to major problems. It is important to always be aware of how your car typically runs so if you notice an issue, you can take the necessary steps to resolve it.
What Causes Oil In Coolant?
The purpose of oil is to help lower the friction between the internal parts of a car. Coolant is a cooling agent that keeps the engine itself cool and at a controlled temperature. Coolant goes into the car’s radiator that circulates the fluid around the engine. This process keeps the temperature under control and helps keep the car from overheating.
The oil and the coolant are stored in different areas. If you are doing a routine check-up and open up the coolant reservoir to find oil is mixed in there, you have a big problem. You need to seek immediate attention for your car. It is not normal for oil to be mixed in with the coolant and this could lead to serious problems if you don’t get it checked out.
Let’s go into detail on the different causes of how oil gets into the coolant so you are aware of why it happens and how it can be avoided in the future.
Faulty Oil Cooler: Most modern cars have an oil cooler fitter on the car. Sometimes the oil cooler cracks due to overuse or age. When a crack occurs, the oil will start to leak into the coolant. This part is fairly easy and cheap to replace and is a pretty common cause for oil leaking into coolant. If you notice oil is in your coolant, you should check the oil cooler first to see if it is cracked.
Damaged Head Gasket: The head gasket is a rubber seal that is right between the head and the engine block located in your engine. The purpose of the head gasket is to create a seal so oil from the engine doesn’t leak out and the air pressure stays at the correct level. If the engine overheats the head gasket blows up and causes oil to leak into the coolant system.
Cracks In The Engine Block: If you are inspecting your engine and find cracks in your engine block, you will need a new one. The engine block typically cracks when the engine lacks proper oiling and cooling due to a heat build-up. When this crack occurs, the oil will start to leak into the coolant. This is the most expensive part to fix because you would need to replace the entire engine.
Cracks In The Cylinder Heads: If the engine gets overheated, the cylinders will start to crack in certain places because they can’t handle extreme heat. Once they crack, air and oil will leak out. You will have to change all of the cylinders to fix these cracks. The cost to fix this is dependent on the type of car you have and the mechanic you use.
All of these causes have different prices associated with them. Typically this problem is very expensive to fix because it involves the engine and the majority of times it is not possible to rebuild it.
What Is The Function Of Oil And Coolant?
Both oil and coolant have different functions and should never be mixed. Oil is a lubricant and used to cover different parts of your car’s engine so these parts can move easier. When you start to drive your car, the engine will become very hot but the oil can still move between the parts no matter how hot they are.
On the other hand, coolant is used to cool down your engine. They are used to keep the temperatures of your engine under control. The cooling system ensures that your engine will continue to operate at optimal efficiency.
Why Does Oil And Coolant Mix?
If you go to check your oil and notice the color of it looks different, you definitely want to investigate this issue further. There is potential that your oil and coolant are mixing due to a broken head gasket or a cracked cylinder head. Open up the radiator cap and look at the reservoir tank to see if you notice anything different. If oil and coolant are mixing, it will typically have a milky appearance with brownish dots of oil.
What do I do next after I notice the mixing of oil and coolant? Stop driving your car immediately and get it fixed. The longer you continue to drive it, the more damage will occur to your engine. If your engine malfunctions, this can be very dangerous and be very expensive to fix.
The majority of times your engine oil will mix with coolant because you are overworking your engine, you have been in car accidents, or your car is starting age. If your car falls under any of those categories, you should conduct routine check-ups. The more aware you are of what’s going on under the hood of your car, the better off you will be in the long run. You could save yourself from spending a lot of money on a new engine because your current one was ruined by the mixture of oil and coolant.
Is It Harmful To Mix Oil and Coolant?
Yes, it is harmful for oil and coolant to mix together. These two substances are completely different and serve very different purposes. Oil is a thick substance that is used for lubrication throughout the entire engine. Coolant is like water and is used to cool down the engine so it does not overheat. These two substances should never mix together and if they do, there is a big problem inside your engine.
Solutions For Oil In Coolant
So, you just opened the reservoir and find that coolant and oil have mixed. Are you unsure of what to do next? You should contact an experienced mechanic to help you with this problem. A mechanic can inspect your vehicle and determine if they can repair any damage that has occurred or let you know if you need to replace the engine.
The mechanic will be able to give you an overview of the problem and help you come up with a plan of action depending on the diagnosis. You might have to make some difficult decisions moving forward. If the oil and coolant were mixed for too long, your engine could be incredibly damaged and past the point of a repair.
How Should I Test Oil In Coolant Problems?
If you suspect there might be oil in your coolant, there is a pretty simple way you can test this. The easiest way is to put pressure on the coolant system and see if the coolant starts pouring into the oil pan. You will need a pressurize tool for the coolant system to accomplish this test. There are a few steps to follow in order to apply pressure on the coolant system.
The first step is to remove the coolant cap. Once you have done that you need to put on the pressure tool.
Let that sit in place for about 10 minutes. Once the time is up, see if it has lost pressure. If it loses pressure during this time, you have a leak in your coolant system.
The next step is to determine if the leak is internal or external. Check under your car to see if you can find any external leaks. If you don’t find any, then you need to remove the oil cooler and inspect it. Look to see if there are any cracks in the gaskets.
If you still can’t find any damages or cracks in the gaskets, you should take it to a mechanic so they can do a further inspection to check for cracks in the head or engine block.
Once you have determined there is a leak, don’t drive your car. It is very dangerous to continue driving a car that is leaking and mixing oil with coolant.
Checking For A Leak
You know if your car is not working properly. If you suspect there is an issue, you should check to see if anything is leaking. To do this, you need to make sure your car is on level ground and has not been turned on in at least 2 hours.
You first want to check to see if there is coolant inside the engine. You can do this by looking at the dipstick and the oil fill cap. If you look at the oil and it looks milky or yellow-colored, you most likely have coolant in the oil.
The next thing you want to do is check to see if there is any oil in the coolant. You can do this by removing the radiator cap. Once you open it up you will be able to see if there are any pools of oil inside the radiator. Additionally, you will be able to see oil in the coolant reservoir. If you have found these substances mixed together, you need to stop driving the car and get the issue resolved.
What Is The Purpose Of Oil In Your Car?
Oil has an important job when it comes to lubricating parts for the engine. The engine is built up of a lot of different parts. These parts include gears of all different sizes, pistons, camshafts, and bearings. Some of these parts are packed in tightly and create a lot of heat due to the friction that occurs when they are working against one another. To reduce this friction and heat, oil is used.
Oil lubricates these parts so they will last longer and it acts as a cooling agent for these parts so the entire engine does not overheat. The oil can travel through small spaces so it can get in between the tightly packed parts. Oil is an essential component in keeping a car engine working properly.
The Important Of Fixing Oil In Coolant
The mixture of engine oil and coolant can lead to some serious damage to your car engine. Once the mixture has reached the engine, it will no longer function properly. If you continue to drive it you may see sparks or a small explosion in the engine. It is crucial to address this issue as quickly as possible so you can prevent further issues from occurring.
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