1996 SL2 and Brown Sediment in Coolant

Discussion in 'Saturn S-series' started by Father Mike, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. Father Mike

    Father Mike Guest

    I have about 145,000 km on this boat. I took it in for routine work and
    Canadian Tire pulled me aside and said I had a leaking head gasket and to
    prove it they showed me flakes of brown sediment which allegedly came from
    my cooling system. The cost to repair would be around $1800.

    Naturally, I wasn't about to go crazy and have it done before I did some
    research. I know that Saturn has a bad rep for bad head gaskets, and after
    searching and finding additives to stop leaks I've grown skeptical that
    it's a head gasket at all. From what I've read, a leaking head gasket will
    cause water to get into the cylinders, causing huge amounts of smoke/steam
    discharge at the tail pipe. I don't have this. Second, my oil would have a
    milkish look to it, and I've never noticed this. I'd also see a drop in
    engine output and engine overheating. I don't have this, although it is

    So it seems to me it could just be dirty coolant. I think I've had it
    flushed a long time ago.

    So, any opinions?
    Father Mike, Feb 3, 2010
  2. Father Mike

    Doug Miller Guest

    I certainly wouldn't replace a head gasket based on that diagnosis.

    The definitive check for a blown head gasket is a compression test. If it's
    more-or-less normal on all cylinders, your head gasket is fine.

    I share your opinion that it's probably just dirty coolant.
    Doug Miller, Feb 3, 2010
  3. Father Mike

    Private Guest

    If anyone does not have a maintenance log of some kind, ( I use a simple
    spreadsheet and enter ALL maintenance and other events and expenses) now
    would be a good time to start one. IMHO, you should know exactly when you
    last changed your coolant (mileage and date) as well as whether you refilled
    with standard (usually 2 year) or long life (usually 5 year) coolant. (Best
    to not mix coolant types or brands) I suspect that your coolant is now far
    past its best before date, and you have and are probably doing damage to
    your rad and coolant pump as well as contributing to deposits and corrosion
    damage to engine block and heater core.

    The days of ignoring coolant age as long as the antifreeze level was OK
    ended with cast iron engines and copper radiators. Modern (especially heavy
    duty) engines fail more often from cooling system failure than lubrication

    Coolant is cheap and requires periodic change. It is easy to do yourself.
    I recommend (high phosphate) dishwasher detergent as a good flushing agent
    to clean your system before complete flushing with clean water and refill
    with long life coolant either premixed (expen$ive) or mixed with deionized
    (distilled) water usually available cheap (~$0.50/gal) from health food

    It is a lot easier (and cheaper) to use your maintenance log to plan
    required maintenance so you can do this job in warmer weather.

    Good luck, YMMV
    Private, Feb 3, 2010
  4. Father Mike

    Father Mike Guest

    Yes, other people I've asked and whose knowledge I respect, are of the same
    opinion. Thanks for the reply.
    Father Mike, Feb 3, 2010
  5. Father Mike

    Father Mike Guest

    That's good advice about the maintenance log and something I've wanted to
    do, but it's still on my todo list. :) Guess it's kinda late for this car.
    But I do plan to flush the cooling system. Thanks for the reply.

    --- news://freenews.netfront.net/ - complaints: ---
    Father Mike, Feb 3, 2010
  6. Father Mike

    Oppie Guest

    OK, just out of curiosity about the 'father mike'...
    are you a priest or have children of your own? (or possibly both)
    Oppie <www.divinecompassion.org>
    Oppie, Feb 5, 2010
  7. Father Mike

    navaidstech Guest

    Never trust a Canadian Tire "mechanic". I had a similar experience
    about 10 years ago. While replacing my tires, a CT "mechanic" pulled
    me aside and told me that I need new struts and the parts+labour would
    come out to about 500 bucks. But he was nice enough to recommend a
    different shop to get it done cheaper (probably a buddy of his).
    I ignored his "advice" and I'm happy to say that I'm still driving on
    the same struts about 300,000 kms later.
    navaidstech, Feb 9, 2010
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