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Discussion Starter #1
So for the last 3 or 4 days, my "CHECK COOLANT LEVEL" message has been displayed on my panel. My reservoir is low almost 1/4 of a gallon of coolant everyday and I have no leaks that I can account for so the coolant has to be going somewhere.

If my head gasket has been blown, will I know it immediately or will it take awhile to observe?

I checked my oil dipstick and it looks only like oil with now water or coolant on it. Same with my reservoir....no muddy signs, yet!

If my head gasket has burnt out on me, how long will it take for me to notice unmistakable signs?
 

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2008 SRX-V8, 1991 Eldorado
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You might try a cylinder(s) leak down check, or a cooling system leak check. Either or both should be self evident.

I can assure you that the longer your wait the worse the problem will become manifest.
 

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clusco, is this a replacement engine?

Anothereldoowner is right...ther is no coolant in the oil until the leak is extremely bad. N*'s run well even with a blown gasket.

A combustion byproduct test is cheap and easy. If it's positive then a leakdown test is next. If it's negative I'd look at the heater core. A leak there doesn't show for a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
No, this is the original engine.

I am selling the car on the 17th of this month (November) to one of my friends so this comes at a bad time. However, the guy that I'm selling the car to only needs it for about a 2 months to get back and forth to work.

This problem occurred directly after my blower motor went out and also after I changed my motor mounts myself. I think I bent a few things while jacking the engine up.

Anyway, if it is the heater core, then where would all of the coolant be going without me noticing it on the ground.
 

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clusco said:
No, this is the original engine.

I am selling the car on the 17th of this month (November) to one of my friends so this comes at a bad time. However, the guy that I'm selling the car to only needs it for about a 2 months to get back and forth to work.

This problem occurred directly after my blower motor went out and also after I changed my motor mounts myself. I think I bent a few things while jacking the engine up.

Anyway, if it is the heater core, then where would all of the coolant be going without me noticing it on the ground.
If you were losing this much coolant via a head gasket leak in one day, the car would start EXTREMELY ROUGH the following morning on cold start-up. It would idle very poorly as you initially accelerate until all of the coolant in the cylinder(s) burns off. You'd see unmistakable amounts of white, steamy exhaust - 1/4 gallon of coolant per day is a lot.

If the heater core was leaking into the interior, then you'd see condensation inside your windshield in the morning before the sun warms it up. Is your carpet wet at all?

You can definitely do the tests mentioned above. More advice can be:

First, remove the surge cap (engine cold only) and take note of whether or not the system is pressurized. If so, you'll hear a hiss as the pressure escapes and you'll know that the cap is doing its job and not preventing boil-over conditions at operating temps.

Next, I'd start the car and allow the system to idle up to normal operating temp. Look for any signs of dripping coolant, especially around the housing of the water pump. Once the engine heats up all the way, small leaks can be difficult to detect due to the fact that the leaking coolant can evaporate upon contact with hot engine parts at atmospheric pressure.

Another trick would be to pull your plugs when the engine is cold. If you have a gasket leak this bad, I'd expect you'll have at least one, but maybe more, wet / green plug tips. Orange if your car has Dexcool in it. They should be dry and only slightly blackened.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Now that you mention it I have been noticing my windows having condensation on them in the morning. I just got my heater core replaced 5 months ago though...DAMN!

So the coolant should be leaking onto my floorboard then?
 

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Condensation inside a closed car is the clearest example of a leaking heater core. It has to be going somewhere, so with 1/4 gallon lost per day, I'd expect wet carpet somewhere in the cabin.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I checked the carpet on both sides and it's completely bone dry.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that each time that I run the car and then let it cool off, during the day, I have to replace it with about 6 to 8 ounces of coolant to top it off again.
 

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6-8 oz. of coolant is not a lot. It may be evaporating off the heater core and entering the cabin as vapor, then condensing on the cool wondows. At any rate, condensation (somewhat oily) is a dead give away of a heater core leak. Maybe just a loose clamp.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay, so you guys are right as usual. This morning, before starting the car, I felt around on the floorboard and the pasenger side flloormat is wet.

I'm almost positive that I messed something up when I changed the motor mounts myself. When I jacked the engine up, the AC lines bent a bit and the lower radiator hose slid off so I'm sure I probably did something to the heater core.

My mechanic wants $150 labor to change the part but I just got it changed 6 months ago. Is it very difficult to undo the dash enough to look at it myself?
 
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