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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday, my Ion Redline overheated for the first time. I had been driving at ~40-50 MPH for about 15 minutes. I then noticed that the dashboard text scroll was telling me to "CHECK GAUGES."

Normally, my car gives me a "CHECK GAS CAP" warning when it fails to draw a vacuum to purge the EVAP system (which happens ~70% of the time), so I had been seeing "CHECK ..." scrolling by for ~10 minutes without paying attention to it. I did start paying attention when I started smelling smoldering coolant, at which point I noticed that my temperature gauge was in the middle of the red zone. I slowed down to 30-40 MPH, which dropped the temperature to about 75% of the way up the gauge (safely away from to the red zone), and continued for ~10 minutes more until I got to an area where I could safely park. For the last couple minutes before I parked, I was also getting a "COOLANT" warning on the screen.

I then found that the right front wheel well was covered in foamy coolant, which seemed to be coming from the coolant overflow tank. But when I briefly started the car up again, I couldn't pinpoint the source of the leak. I checked the oil and found that it was at the very bottom of the dipstick only (well below the min fill level). No smoke was coming out of the exhaust pipe.

I then had the car towed to a local mechanic, who said that he found oil in the coolant. Not being set up for major engine work, he stopped investigating at that point.

Any thoughts on how to proceed from here? Is it worth looking for another shop and paying them to tear the engine down? The engine had been running great up until now.
 

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If you're mechanically inclined, it's not a hard job. I'd probably just replace the head gasket and send it before I tore the entire engine down. You'd know more once the head was off.

Worst case scenario is that a sleeve let loose.

If you do decide to pay someone to fix it and intend to keep the car, have them put head studs in.

Where are you located?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you're mechanically inclined, it's not a hard job. I'd probably just replace the head gasket and send it before I tore the entire engine down. You'd know more once the head was off.

Worst case scenario is that a sleeve let loose.

If you do decide to pay someone to fix it and intend to keep the car, have them put head studs in.

Where are you located?
I'm in Hawaii.

And yeah, I would do it myself, but I have to park on the street and I think it's just a little too involved a job to attempt without a garage (or at least a driveway).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok, I picked up the car from the mechanic today, so here's some more info:

Since I couldn't get an appointment at the local engine mechanic until later this week, I went to the original mechanic (the one that declined to do anything after seeing "oil in the coolant") to pick up the car. When there, I took a photo of the interior of the coolant surge tank (attached). I added about 2/3rds of a gallon of distilled water to the tank (to a little past the fill line after running the engine for a minute) so I could drive it home.

I also re-checked the oil. When the engine has been running, all three segments of the indicator are filled with normal-looking oil. However, if I wipe the dipstick off and re-insert it with the engine off, it comes back out completely oil-free (not even oily to the touch). Is this normal?

The ~3 mile drive back home was unremarkable, other than that the temperature gauge kept climbing past the middle of the scale (where it usually hangs out), and was at about 60% and still rising when I got home. No smoke was coming out of the exhaust pipe, and no more water/coolant was leaking from the surge tank.

At home, I took the two attached photos of the surge tank.

Then I opened up the intercooler pump fill nozzle, and tested to see if anything was flowing by manually squeezing the hose to the left of the nozzle. I didn't see any turbulence.
 

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The coolant system and aftercooler systems are completely separate, FYI.

I'd say head gasket, oil cooler, or sleeve.

Quit driving it until you resolve the issue.
 

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Is your air scoop hanging from the bottom front of your car? Black plastic thing. If that is missing it will drive your temps up.
 

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The coolant system and aftercooler systems are completely separate, FYI.

I'd say head gasket, oil cooler, or sleeve.

Quit driving it until you resolve the issue.]
As Rebel said, stop driving it. That slimy stuff and the frothy stuff is from oil mixing with water. I have seen that before, on a car I owned, and it was the head gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As Rebel said, stop driving it. That slimy stuff and the frothy stuff is from oil mixing with water. I have seen that before, on a car I owned, and it was the head gasket.
Yeah, I drove the car home and parked it. It isn't going to move again until I can get it a slot at a local engine shop later this week.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Ok, I got the car to the engine shop today.

The engine temperature needle didn't move at all on the ~2 mile (mostly down-hill) trip to the shop. (Maybe air in the system, since I filled it with distilled water from the surge tank rather than from the radiator?)

The shop found that the car was three quarts down on oil. The oil looked fine and didn't appear to have any coolant in it.

The mechanic said that the coolant smelled slightly of gasoline or combustion gas. They sucked out the coolant to try to get the oily coolant out, then replaced it with fresh coolant. They said that there was still some oil in the coolant, but that might have still been from the coolant that they couldn't completely pull out of the block. They pressure-tested the coolant system, and it held pressure.

They refilled the oil and the coolant, took the car for a spin around the block, then let it idle for ~1 hour with the AC on. The temperature stayed right in the middle of the gauge.

So, they called me to pick up the car and see if the overheating would come back. I got the car, but it started overheating again when I was about half a mile from home. The brownish-yellow, foamy coolant was once again spraying out of the surge tank overflow hose and covering the left front wheel well. The surge tank was still slightly past the fill-line when hot, then had dropped to ~15% full when I came back to check the car 15 minutes later. The oil was still at its max fill level per the dipstick.

With oil in the coolant, but no coolant in the oil, the mechanic is suspecting a cracked head. What do you guys think?
 

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They didn’t even make a repair. They just gave you new coolant and filled your oil and said good luck. 3 qt low on oil is more than 1/2 the oil your car should have. Any good shop would not have sent you on your way. Their seems to be enough evidence that there is a serious problem going on with your car. Just because there is oil in the coolant but not coolant in the oil does not mean it has a cracked head. I have never seen a ecotech with a cracked head (doesn’t mean it’s not possible). You should find a good mechanic and get your car diagnosis correctly. A simple block test will tell you if there is exhaust gases in the coolant. If not you likely have a blown oil cooler like was already mentioned. And like mentioned stop driving that thing you are going to blow it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
You should find a good mechanic and get your car diagnosis correctly.
That's easier said than done where I live.

If not you likely have a blown oil cooler like was already mentioned.
I can find next to no info on the oil cooler? Where should I be looking?

Overheating and pressurized coolant? Head gasket or cracked sleeve up top.
Pull head and inspect.
Also, don't ever go to that shop again.
With my street parking situation keeping me from doing it myself, having someone pull the head will likely total the car. :(

edit: Also, I'm not sure about the coolant being pressurized. It might not start spraying out until after the overheating starts (since it idled for an hour at the shop with no coolant loss).
 
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