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#1 2019-01-07 19:26:56

Shakes
Member
From: Exeter
Registered: 2016-03-24
Posts: 24

Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

My Dispatch 900 'Brenda' has come through a number of illnesses in recent years' the worst of which was chronic overheating caused by a seized thermostat. Since replacing that, along with fitting a brand new radiator, expansion tank and cap, Brenda has now returned to relative reliability. She will still run hot if thrashed up a long hill, but no longer overheats or blows seals.

However, the water level in her system rises and falls quite dramatically - the red 'low-water' light will come on and off constantly until she reaches full temperature' when it goes out. Then it tends to re-illuminate briefly after a long run.

I have to top up the system regularly - she requires about a teacup full of water a week when in daily use (or about every 100 miles). The water is blowing out of the cap; you can see white deposits on the engine.

There is no mayonnaise evident in the oil, and no rainbows in the coolant. She doesn't smoke or steam, and pulls strongly. This behaviour has been consistent for the last couple of years, during which time I have covered 10k without issues.

Anyone recognise these symptoms?

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#2 2019-01-07 21:11:10

steve the grease
Member
Registered: 2018-05-20
Posts: 23

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

A blowing head gasket, a worrying phrase, but what are the implications really.  There are 3 systems in a cylinder head combustion , cooling and Lubrication.  The lubrication system runs from 0-45psi. The cooling system runs from 0-15psi and the Combustion system which runs from between an almost perfect vacuum to about 800 psi.  The chances are then that any leakage isn't going to be of the water into oil , but compression pressure into the cooling system , which surrounds the combustion chambers in the head, there is only one oilway so the combustion pressure isn't likely to leak into the oil.  The likelyhood is that the anti freeze has been left until it no longer provides corrosion inhibition at some time in the past. this results in slight corrosion of the gasket  and a tiny leakage of pressure into the cooling circuit. It will probably run for a very long time, and then fail at the worst possibile time eventually ( mine did!)  You could try a product like 'steel seal' which could well make a permanant repair of an engine with only a minor loss of pressure

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#3 2019-01-07 21:15:03

Casper
Member
From: East Lothian
Registered: 2015-12-20
Posts: 1,207

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

New thermostat and expansion tank cap. It boiling as thermostat is stuck shut or part open. Cap may be OK but it could be opening at a much lower pressure than it should due to old age.

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#4 2019-01-08 01:26:20

vaz2121
Member
From: SW. Scotland
Registered: 2015-08-31
Posts: 465

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

Basicly what Steve said if after agood run or even up to temp let it sit for a bit and once it's dropped a few degrees but definatly not scaldding hot slowly open radiator cap and I do mean cautiously.............. if after say fifteen mins/half hour and it wants to blow out the water same as when running .... head gasket .......... also if it's luke warm effectivly cold and  it is still pressurised.... I'd say definitely head gasket
You can get a test where they put IIRC  a blue liquid in what looks like a glass  turkey baster  sook some contents/fumes from header tank if it turns pee yellowish its combustion gasses in radiator so head gasket............

Casper has a point but Steve seems closer to the spot in my book


I have in the past experienced the very symtoms you describe and the heater matrix never getting more than luke warm.......... but more troubling is  as you describe running to all intent without problem but later to fill a cylinder with water when stopped for an hr and Hydro lock ( kink a con rod ) when trying to restart .......Also during rebuild it was noticed that had it been petrol not diesel it would have probably sat down sooner (Fouled the plug ) as it had been washing the bore......


It would be worth trying steel seal (genuine)............ it may not seem the cheapest but if it does (worked for me on whatwas thought a basket case V70 volvo) work it's a godsend in time and money over a head gasket repair ............... However if your head is bent like a banana there's only one real option...............

Last edited by vaz2121 (2019-01-08 01:40:25)

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#5 2019-01-08 01:41:58

Casper
Member
From: East Lothian
Registered: 2015-12-20
Posts: 1,207

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

vaz2121 wrote:

Casper has a point but Steve seems closer to the spot in my book

Being a Jock i like to investigate the cheaper option first tongue

My wee 1.9D had the small amount of whipped cream around the oil filler and so does the wifes Fiat. Its nothing but condensation what i put down to lack of use and short trips. You must have seen it before in the bikes sight glass.

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#6 2019-01-08 01:57:15

vaz2121
Member
From: SW. Scotland
Registered: 2015-08-31
Posts: 465

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

Casper wrote:

Being a Jock i like to investigate the cheaper option first tongue

Correct let it develop...............



I have indeed had mayo in sight glass...... My ER5 at the time.....  Always suffered from it for ages after being laid up for a few months over winter ........... I also had a V6 Vauxhall Omega that had lots of Mayo in filler cap .......... But as you say condensation collecting on the highest coldest part and shortish journeys .....Funny V6 GSI Vectra never did but it had oil filler straight into rocker box

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#7 2019-01-08 02:07:18

Casper
Member
From: East Lothian
Registered: 2015-12-20
Posts: 1,207

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

vaz2121 wrote:

Funny V6 GSI Vectra never did but it had oil filler straight into rocker box

Wife's Fiat fills into rocker and cap is rubber plug rather than twist cap what i hate.

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#8 2019-01-08 23:22:53

Shakes
Member
From: Exeter
Registered: 2016-03-24
Posts: 24

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

Oh dear. OK, thanks guys...

Brenda has a new MOT, so i think the course of action is going to be light duties and local runs only. No more M5 or A38 work....
She will do tip runs, haul manure and be a camper at the odd local music festival this year.

In a way, it's been good to hear this news because now i know I have to either get the gasket done or go for a rebuild/recon. What would you all advise for a 185k HDi? The engine always passes its emission tests and is still smooth and quite strong.

Hoping that this year's work will permit a full resto for this van. I've had it for eight years now and it has often let me down. Love it :-)

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#9 2019-01-09 09:03:09

vaz2121
Member
From: SW. Scotland
Registered: 2015-08-31
Posts: 465

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

Shakes wrote:

Oh dear. OK, thanks guys...

Brenda has a new MOT, so i think the course of action is going to be light duties and local runs only. No more M5 or A38 work....
She will do tip runs, haul manure and be a camper at the odd local music festival this year.

In a way, it's been good to hear this news because now i know I have to either get the gasket done or go for a rebuild/recon. What would you all advise for a 185k HDi? The engine always passes its emission tests and is still smooth and quite strong.

Hoping that this year's work will permit a full resto for this van. I've had it for eight years now and it has often let me down. Love it :-)

It's nigh on impossible for us to give an accurate prognosis ................ However you do know your van and engine better than anyone else here

There's 185k engines and 85k engines (I have a golf diesel 110k.. worn IMHO needs rebuild also have 306 with 210k at best needs injectors)
Reasonably maintained diesels can do starship mileage....

I'm not sure where to start..........But ENGINE..... Is it reasonably Dry a weep age or misting at 185k is acceptable........
Blowby how heavy?......
HDI's IMHO are fairly robust until DpF's which cause countless problems and the 1.6HDI is a bit marginal.... We're all entitled to our opinion..........

For around £12 (Cheapy) on eB** you can get A Block test kit  which will do several tests....... This will confirm head gasket  failure( Blue liquid turns Yellow in petrol engines, green in Diesel if contaminated)
Otherwise we're looking a Casper’s prognosis and possible hefty airlocking............

How hard do radiator hoses become (firm but flexible is norm) Obviously don't burn or injure yourself........ Brick hard hoses are an indication of how much pressure is going in cooling system............

Steel seal @ £35 might be worth a try if not to bad or K seal which in comparison is more like £10...........But this again IMHO is a short term get you by/home solution .... A  head gasket repair is the permanent answer (allegedly)

I'm by no means an expert  ... It's just how I followed (and still do) costs+reliability running my own lorries national and Europe wide (5 years on mostly European work for us  980,000kms and this is low average)........ bare in mind these vehicles are grafting and not moving NOT EARNING

If you intend to keep van for many more years  this may be the catalyst for "a full Resto"..............

Head gasket set £60---£100 + Head skim + labour

Engine rebuild At minimum Engine gasket set + piston rings, bores honed,shells + above and any other bit that look suspect now you’ve  gone this far/deep
A more cost effective option could be a good low mileage  (under 100k) example engine

"It is what it is" and what you want out of this........





Food for thought?

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#10 2019-01-09 20:18:21

Shakes
Member
From: Exeter
Registered: 2016-03-24
Posts: 24

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

I have contacted my mate. He fixes brand-new Merc trucks. Says he is going to do the job outside my house.

We are going to pull the head off and assess where to go from there.

So - Brenda will either be fixed up ready for another 50k miles on the original motor

Or will be fitted with a replacement lump.

Other jobs to do: patch weld on the n/s rear sill area....cv boots....new shocks. That's it.


As you can tell, I am rather attached to this particular vehicle.

Watch them get rarer and rarer over the next 5 or so years - then disappear completely, like the 305 van or Visa.....it will happen.... :-)

Ultimate goal: make Brenda fully electric.....anyone done this yet? lol

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#11 2019-01-09 20:32:09

Shakes
Member
From: Exeter
Registered: 2016-03-24
Posts: 24

Re: Coolant level rising and falling - water usage etc

I'm by no means an expert  ... It's just how I followed (and still do) costs+reliability running my own lorries national and Europe wide (5 years on mostly European work for us  980,000kms and this is low average)........ bare in mind these vehicles are grafting and not moving NOT EARNING


Yep I totally get that Vaz. Brenda was my business hack. I tramped, multidropped and couriered all over the UK, including Scotland (Oban) and London. Used to sleep in the back between jobs. Trouble was, when you picked up a Euro crate, there was no room to kip. B+B was the only option, which hurt my profits.

It would be Devon to London - Yorkshire - Scotland - Lancashire - Midlands - Wales - Devon, over the week. I think this is why I have a strong bond with my van. Daft I know. But let's see what happens...

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