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1994 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe
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164 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello, everybody! Hope to find a good advice here. Thanks in advance!

My 94 Eldorado V8 started to show the "Check Engine Coolant Level" message. First, It would only appear after being parked on a slope, now it appears most of the time. I have tried to look inside the tank - seems to be just about half-full, but it is hard to be sure as you can barely see in there. I know the coolant system is supposed to be closed-circuit and there is a number of problems that can potentially be ahead of me. However, can this message be just a sign of a normal "wear and tear" by design - and only need to add a little coolant and forget abut it? Or should I start panicking? I know about the head gasket problem - and I am very afraid that it may be it. Although, by far, I have never seen an overheating message.

However, I cannot properly control the temperature as apparently my "information" button seems to not work... I did not even know there is a possibility to display things like engine temperature on the computer - my button simply does not do anything. Is there a cure for such behavior?

As for background information on the vehicle, I've owned this car for half a year and don't know anything about its past except for its 13400 mileage and a relatively good cosmetic condition. It is not perfect, it drips oil from the oil pan (at least seems so), but it has been driving great with no major problems. I usually drive for 10-15 minutes on a highway, rarely do 1-2 hour trips also on a highway.
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
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19,998 Posts
My 94 Eldorado V8 started to show the
"Check Engine Coolant Level" message

OK -

can this message be just a sign of a normal "wear and tear" by design
NO -

should I start panicking?
not yet - but get ready -

------------

there are basically two possibilities -

1) the level switch within the serge tank is malfunctioning -
and is falsely reporting low coolant level -


there are two possible solutions -

A) try to clean the switch inside the serge tank -
some have had limited success -

B) replace the serge tank - it comes with the level switch -

------------------------

2) the coolant level within the serge tank is - in fact - low -
the solution is to pressure test the cooling system -
find - and fix the leak -
------------------
 

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Super Moderator
2010 DTS
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87,306 Posts
Don't overlook the possibility of a small leak. The nipple on the surge tank that the purge line is connected to is known to crack and seep. Likewise, the radiator side tanks. Look for a chalky white telltale sign of dried Dex-Cool.
 

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02 Seville, 04 SRX (sold), 96 Eldorado (sold), 99 DeVille (sold)
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1,360 Posts
I'm a glass half-empty type of guy. I would begin to panic some time in the next day or so, completely up to you.
 

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Registered
1994 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe
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164 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thank you guys for quick responses!

So I've double-checked everything.

1. When I opened the coolant tank, there was pressure in it - even though the car was off overnight. Is it normal?

2. The coolant tank seems to be emptying out... I am not sure how to measure "half" of it as I can barely see in there, and there is no mark or anything (unless those plastic parts ARE supposed to be the mark), so I made pictures. Do you guys think I should not drive until I pour more liquid in there? And it seems that the coolant is green, not that Dexcool one.
https://yadi.sk/i/KAxtbqYRgnisu
https://yadi.sk/i/jrAQ7JtUgnitE

3. When I press with my fingers the fat hose going from the left side of the radiator to the right side of the engine (not sure how to properly call it), it seems to produce "slopping-squelching" sound on its right side (where it goes into the engine). Is it a normal thing or is it a sign that there is air inside of it?

4. The area where this hose attaches to the engine, where the sound is coming from, seems wet. Here's a picture.
https://yadi.sk/i/qY0f1OuwgnitY

5. The whole area on the left side of the radiator seems to be wet. It may be from the rain that was last night, hard to tell. But if this is one of the commonly leaking spots, it is probably leaking. Here's a picture.
https://yadi.sk/i/cjNFYznxgnitg

6. One of the bolts on the engine, near the suspicious left side of the radiator, seems to be wet too. A picture attached.
https://yadi.sk/i/4tI_7rwNgnitk

Any response appreciated! And also, sorry for my English, I am not a native speaker.
 

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Super Moderator
2010 DTS
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When I opened the coolant tank, there was pressure in it - even though the car was off overnight. Is it normal?
No. Some of those pictures indicate a leak, but I'd do a block test before you repair anything.

If you can't see where half full is, leave about two inches of head space in the tank.
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
Joined
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19,998 Posts
Thank you guys for quick responses!

So I've double-checked everything.

1. When I opened the coolant tank, there was pressure in it - even though the car was off overnight. Is it normal?

2. The coolant tank seems to be emptying out... I am not sure how to measure "half" of it as I can barely see in there, and there is no mark or anything (unless those plastic parts ARE supposed to be the mark), so I made pictures. Do you guys think I should not drive until I pour more liquid in there? And it seems that the coolant is green, not that Dexcool one.
https://yadi.sk/i/KAxtbqYRgnisu
https://yadi.sk/i/jrAQ7JtUgnitE

3. When I press with my fingers the fat hose going from the left side of the radiator to the right side of the engine (not sure how to properly call it), it seems to produce "slopping-squelching" sound on its right side (where it goes into the engine). Is it a normal thing or is it a sign that there is air inside of it?

4. The area where this hose attaches to the engine, where the sound is coming from, seems wet. Here's a picture.
https://yadi.sk/i/qY0f1OuwgnitY

5. The whole area on the left side of the radiator seems to be wet. It may be from the rain that was last night, hard to tell. But if this is one of the commonly leaking spots, it is probably leaking. Here's a picture.
https://yadi.sk/i/cjNFYznxgnitg

6. One of the bolts on the engine, near the suspicious left side of the radiator, seems to be wet too. A picture attached.
https://yadi.sk/i/4tI_7rwNgnitk

Any response appreciated! And also, sorry for my English, I am not a native speaker.
===========================
1. When I opened the coolant tank, there was pressure in it -
even though the car was off overnight. Is it normal?

NO - and NOW you can start to panic -

"normal" cooling system pressure
is a direct result of coolant expanding as it heats up -

when the coolant cools -
the pressure goes away -

the only possible way to have pressure in the cooling system - when cold -
if from exhaust gasses introduced via a failed head gasket -

time for a BLOCK TEST -

-----------------

I wouldn't worry about 2-3-4-5-6 -
until you get the results of the BLOCK TEST -

keep in mind - ANY color change of the magic blue is a POSITIVE result -
and that is BAD NEWS -
 

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1994 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe
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164 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the replies, guys...

This is what I was guessing too - there is no other way for the pressure to stay in there unless there is a failed head gasket. All the leaks seem to be at the joints, which is a sign of increased pressure in the system - and there is only one way it is possible. I don't even think the test is needed, it costs $50 - and the problem is kind of obvious.

May I ask one last very stupid question? What do I do next? I don't have money to rebuild the engine. It still drives too good to go directly to scrapyard. I assume no one will buy it with such an issue.
Is there any kind of previous experience of what other people did to their faulty Cadillacs?

Thanks!
 

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Administrator
2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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70,380 Posts
The cylinder block exhaust gas test kit can be borrowed from any large part store. YOU pay $8.95 for the bottle of test fluid. Follow the instructions and don't try to second guess them or "make it better" by endlessly (and futilely) extending the bubble times.
 

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97, 97, RIP 98, 99 STS with Jakes studs
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That message came up on mine when the purge line was clogged.

anyhow, one thing ive always wondered:

IF HG fails and coolant leaks into the cylinder(s) -- that means there is a hole in the gasket for the fluid to leak through or exhaust gas to leak into the cooling system. If the car sits overnight, why doesn't the pressure leak back out through said hole?
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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......... because the gasket itself is not compromised. One or more cylinder head bolts is losing clamping pressure under power demands and allowing exhaust gas to pass the fire ring(s), thus overpressuring the system. Shut down, remove the exhaust pressure, cool down, and the excess pressure in the cooling system remains - UNTIL the head bolt thread failure becomes so large as to allow the fire ring to completely lose seal ability, and then you see the coolant in cylinder begin.
 

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97, 97, RIP 98, 99 STS with Jakes studs
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A lot of the head gasket ive removed had red or brown corrosion around the compromised bolt holes. Some near oil return passages, lots around the cylinders themselves. A lot actually had what looked like rust and missing chunks of gasket.

Although reading your post explains to me why there were a bunch i had pulled that seemed clean. i didnt realise there would be that much movement with one or a few bolts not holding.
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
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19,998 Posts
keep in mind that at the moment of ignition -
the pressure within the cylinder is in the THOUSANDS of PSI -
the smallest of HG leaks can "inflate" the cooling system at that amount of pressure -
the cap will bleed off all pressure above 15PSI -
and the HG breech could be small enough to maintain low pressure in the cooling system -
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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and missing chunks of gasket.
............. and I'll bet the farm that the missing chunks of gasket were NOT in the squashed (compressed, clamped) gasket areas - rather - loose, uncompressed pieces had fallen off into the coolant passages in the block and head.

Look at my post in the Northstar stickies - the one with the picture of the head gasket section. Interpret the post and picture, then open the link to Northstar block pictures and do some Sherlock Holmes.

Post #180 - http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/northstar-engines-system-technical-discussion/133429-root-cause-head-gasket-failure-fix.html
 

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Super Moderator
2010 DTS
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Also keep in mind that there are varying stages of HG failure. Symptoms during the early stages when it is still drivable and barely noticeable will be VERY different from later when it overheats every time it is run.
 

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1994 Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe
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Discussion Starter #16
So how long does it take for the early head gasket failure stage to develop into a disaster?
And what do people usually do about it? Scrap the car? Sell for peanuts? Repair? Are there any success stories out there?
 

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I have a few success stories. The only *fail* stories i have is due to other peoples.... ahem...had a finished engine dropped on the floor from a forklift once...

Most people I see either scrap the car, try to trade it in, or sell it to an unsuspecting buyer. I usually try to buy the ones with good potential.

Last one i really looked at was my sisters. It had started smoking on first start, and was losing coolant. I undid the res cap and said drive it. She did so for a few months and bought a new car. Ended up parting hers out and crushing it, as the body was getting rough.

I guess you can look at a few things, how much you like the car, condition its in, what it will cost. Once in a while we come across some real gems that need the repair. Its not cheap to do, and ive heard some real horror storries up here from people who got it done "real cheap"
 

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Master of the Dark Art of Diagnostics
2003 DHS - two-2002 DHS, 2003 SLS, 1995 Sedan DeVille, 1989 Coupe DeVille
Joined
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19,998 Posts
So how long does it take for the early head gasket failure stage to develop into a disaster?
And what do people usually do about it? Scrap the car? Sell for peanuts? Repair? Are there any success stories out there?
=================================
So how long does it take for the early head gasket failure stage to develop into a disaster?
absolutely no way to determine -
days - weeks - possibly months -

what do people usually do about it?
Scrap the car?

YES -
Sell for peanuts?
YES -
Repair?
YES -

Are there any success stories out there?
not sure what you are asking -

when fixed properly - the repair is "permanent" -
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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For those that choose to do a proper repair, as opposed to swapping in used engines or dumping in snake oil sealants, the outcome is a 99.999% insurable success story.

The ones who scrap the car instead of performing/commissioning a $2500 - $4500 repair have thrown away a fine car that will cost a lot more to replace than the cost of repair. There are very good reasons why some Cadillacs sell for peanuts, and that's why this website exists - to fix the warts and help people who got stung due to outright fraud or even ignorance.
 
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