Head gasket maybe but hope not!
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HT4100 4.1, 4.5, 4.9 Discussion, Head gasket maybe but hope not! in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; Glad I can always come on here to ask a question about my caddy and get many solid reliable answers. ...
  1. #1
    92EldoTC's Avatar
    92EldoTC is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Question Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    Glad I can always come on here to ask a question about my caddy and get many solid reliable answers.

    After starting my car in the morning when it's about 60 something degrees out so not too cold, while the engine is idling there is white smoke coming from the tailpipe, its not a lot but you can still see it, it's more of a white haze.
    There is also drops of water coming out the pipe almost all the time which I figure to be condensation from sitting over night.

    Just this week I replaced my radiator and topped it off with along with the sealant pellets. The recovery tank was already full from a previous top up.
    I checked the level in the recovery tank yesterday and it was way below the full cold mark, I mean like almost empty but the radiator was still full and the car doesn't overheat or trip the check engine light, no codes either. The engine doesnt feel like it's lost power either.

    Question is, given the symptoms just described, is it possible my head gasket can be on it's way out?
    The exhaust does not smell like coolant. It has a normal smell to it, like regular combustion!
    Am I paranoid or could this be a problem?

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  3. #2
    cadillac_al is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    paranoid, there might have been a little air in there and the recovery tank took care of it. Refill and keep an eye on it. You've got the pellets in there and I'll bet it's fine.

  4. #3
    carnut is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    You are paranoid!!! You most likely had an air pocket in the engine and when the air pocket burped it lowered the amount in the tank. Drive it.

  5. #4
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    You could take a look at the oil and see if it looks normal. Also take a look at coolant and see whether it looks good as well. I wonder if you have a small crack in the coolant reservoir.

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    92EldoTC's Avatar
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    no cracks, there was no sign of leakage from that area.
    i'd rather be paranoid that out of a few thousand.
    Both the oil and coolant look good.
    so is a little, I mean little, white smoke normal even after engine is warm?

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    carnut is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    Theres a difference between STEAM and SMOKE. Steam disapates quickly, smoke lingers around the car. Steam is normal because water vapor is a by product of the cat. converter. Steam, if water, has no odor, smoke does.

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    FrankC's Avatar
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    I saw a friend's car run when it had a bad head gasket.... There was a huge white cloud of steam that came out of that exhaust pipe. I checked the compression of each cylinder and indeed found one that was much lower than the rest.

    I have never seen steam come out of my 4.1L but I have seen some black smoke on occasion. I am curious... what does the inside of the exhaust pipe look like? Is it black or gray?

  9. #8
    awadecki is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    If the car is not overheating, it's probably not a head gasket. Also, if your coolant tank isn't bubbling when you blip the throttle, you're fine.

    Like a previous poster said, if the steam/smoke dissipates quickly, it's not white smoke.

    You may have a heater core leak, or a radiator leak. Or, perhaps, just an air bubble.

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    carnut is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    I say again, I dont believe you have a problem. exhaust pipes used to be a good indicator of engine efficiency. Grey if running normally, black if running rich. Thats no longer true. The cat converter and water vapor it produces almost always leave a black residue on the tail pipe.

  11. #10
    awadecki is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    carnut: the black residue is caused by cars today running richer than they used to. this decreases NOx emissions. older vehicles--like ours--ran leaner for fuel economy. remember chrysler's "lean burn"?

  12. #11
    carnut is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    Yes I do. I was a service advisor for Chry. when that was introduced! Cars today run richer? I doubt it! They run closer to proper air to fuel mixtures than they ever did in the 60,s to early 90's. Things like oxygen sensors and computer controlled timing will control mixture into a very narrow range, never allowing a rich condition unless some sensor fails, thereby turning on a check engine light. The grey exhaust we saw in the 60's as an indicator had to do with lead in the fuel and much less water vapor being produced.

  13. #12
    92EldoTC's Avatar
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    Re: Head gasket maybe but hope not!

    havent been on here for a couple weeks.
    I am keeping an eye on the coolant overflow tank and it wont stay at the full line for more than a couple of days before I have to put more coolant in.
    doesnt seem to be a big problem though since the car doesnt overheat and the radiator is brand new.

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