Head gasket leak that doesn't cause the coolant system to overflow in Powerstroke
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  1. #1
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    Default Head gasket leak that doesn't cause the coolant system to overflow in Powerstroke

    I have a 2001 Ford F250 Pickup with a 7.3l Powerstock engine. It was making white smoke and the coolant was disappearing. The oil was kind of milky but not really bad, the coolant . I figured it was either a head gasket leak (which I did not want to fix) or a oil cooler leak which I kind of figured was more likely as the coolant never boiled over.

    I took the oil cooler apart and replaced the o-rings but I had a bit of difficulty seating the o-rings. After reassembly I found that the truck still burnt coolant and the oil became very milky with 20 miles. I figured I damaged an o-ring in the oil cooler and coolant is mixing with the oil.

    Is it possible that the white smoke coming out of the exhaust is water that evaporates out of the crankcase and is mixed with the incoming air because the crankcase is ventilated to the inlet manifold? Or do I have both a head gasket leak and an oil coolant leak?

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    You might look into the injector cups as this is a common place to loose coolant. I replaced mine at 285 k miles when I did the injectors. Two of them were showing signs of leaking.

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    Those have a reputation for cavitation in either rear cylinder. They can pit bad enough for coolant to enter the bores, causing coolant loss and steam out the tailpipe.

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    It's been my experience that white smoke out the tailpipe is coolant burning within the combustion chamber. Sorry to break it to you. Being a Toyota guy, I have gone thru several head gaskets in my day. They can't seem to figure that out.

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    What I find odd is that the coolant manages to find its way into a combustion chamber that has a much higher pressure than the coolant system.

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    Someone beat me to it.

    Probably injector cups.

    That being said if your going to replace the cups.

    Replace the injectors, glow plugs and valve cover gaskets as well.

    Then you only have to take the valve covers off one time.....

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    Modern head gaskets without asbestos are usually hard steel shims with a sealant layer..........seems when this sealant wears out the gaskets leak coolant into the cylinders.....doesnt blow,just leaks coolant when stopped.............and the coolant is also highly corrosive to cylinder bores...........which I find surprising.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SBAER View Post
    What I find odd is that the coolant manages to find its way into a combustion chamber that has a much higher pressure than the coolant system.
    The oil cooler o-rings will not help a water in oil situation. They just keep it from leaking externally. If you are getting water in the oil, the oil cooler has failed internally.

    White smoke would be a head gasket, cracked head, or injector cup. Normally if it's an injector cup you will get fuel in the coolant.

    Pressure testing the cooling system would be helpful. A better test would be to check for combustion gasses in the cooling system. You need a test kit like this: https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/SER771302

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    Quote Originally Posted by SBAER View Post
    What I find odd is that the coolant manages to find its way into a combustion chamber that has a much higher pressure than the coolant system.
    Only some of the time.. How do you think it sucks the air in when it isn't under boost. Even if it is under boost, how low does the pressure go in the cylinder when its on its "suck" cycle???

    Thinking this through, have you tried running while the radiator cap isn't tightened to see if
    things improve. Lower pressure in the coolant system and all...

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    Hard shim head gaskets dont leak compression......but coolant seeps between the shim layers when parked up.........I had to look very carefully for marks ,all you an see is a faint white stain on the shim............i suppose you realize antifreeze is going into your motor.....that is not a good situation.......A motor that old is bound to need new gaskets any way,and the old adage in the trade is ......an eight is twice as much work as a six.(straight six anyway)...Pull the heads before the motor is cactus from glycol.

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    I own a 1997 F250 with the 7.3L

    Thought it was shot a few years ago but had the dealer look at it anyway. I spent ~$1800 with them on injectors, etc.

    Since then I have driven it across the country a couple of times without incident. I never had white smoke that I was worried about but I might not have noticed since I was driving at the time.

    So, what I would recommend is drive it like you stole it.

    If it's gonna break there's probably nothing you can to stop it. Otherwise just run it like normal, my truck started working well after I had the injectors serviced and I haven't looked back. The good thing about a 7.3 is it's worth fixing no matter what so it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what's wrong when it does what you need it to do....

    Cheers,

    John

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    Maybe one of the stop leak additives may be worth trying....not a chemical weld thing,but one of the fine fibre and resin types..........Ive never used then myself,so cant say.

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    I have two of these trucks. It’s worthwhile to remove and disassemble the oil cooler to ensure it’s done correctly. Use plenty of grease or vaseline on the O-rings during assembly.

    Do not ever use “stop leak” BS on any engine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewlsey View Post
    The oil cooler o-rings will not help a water in oil situation. They just keep it from leaking externally. If you are getting water in the oil, the oil cooler has failed internally.

    White smoke would be a head gasket, cracked head, or injector cup. Normally if it's an injector cup you will get fuel in the coolant.

    Pressure testing the cooling system would be helpful. A better test would be to check for combustion gasses in the cooling system. You need a test kit like this: https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/SER771302
    Thanks for the link, I did not know this existed, should have done this before I took the oil cooler apart. I don't think its the injector cups because there was never any sign of fuel in my coolant.

    This is a very unpleasant engine to work on in a Ford pickup truck. I wish it had a 4 cylinder made in Japan diesel engine even if it had 100hp less power.

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    Injectors cups most likely...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SBAER View Post
    This is a very unpleasant engine to work on in a Ford pickup truck. I wish it had a 4 cylinder made in Japan diesel engine even if it had 100hp less power.
    LOL. That's a very easy engine to work on! Try a 6.0 in an van. Or anything in a bus.

    Those oil cooler o-rings leak all the time, so that was a good PM.

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    Worked on a Honda Prelude many, many moons ago. Put a head gasket on it and it STILL lost coolant into the cylinder. Finally found a hairline crack in the cylinder wall near the bottom of the stroke. Was low enough to let coolant in on the intake stroke, but below the point where compression and ignition was higher than coolant pressure, so never blew pressure into the cooling system. You had to have that piston at absolute bottom dead center to see it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RC Mech View Post
    I have two of these trucks. It’s worthwhile to remove and disassemble the oil cooler to ensure it’s done correctly. Use plenty of grease or vaseline on the O-rings during assembly.

    Do not ever use “stop leak” BS on any engine.
    Those Barrs coolant-radiator tablets do work, they are even used in some vehicles at the factory, you just have to be careful with them because you can plug your heater core. Don't ask me how I know.

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    Thats true,there are a number of brands of vehicle where the dealer dumps a leak stopper into the coolant before delivery...........In theory the latest type with microfibres and resin should work without causing problems in engines where hard shim gaskets leak .......nothing can fix actual blown gasket ,or cracked head.


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