Uh oh (oil and coolant, but not mixed) - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Uh oh (oil and coolant, but not mixed)

95 E320 Cabrio
M104
74,000 miles

in process of restoration, currently a DD.

Full valve job and head gasket replacement was carried out October 2018 by what I consider to be a trustworthy independent Mercedes expert mechanic who personally owns not 1 but 2 A124s.

Symptoms:

-oil residue (but not dripping on the ground) on the left front cross bar (the long bars that run in a big X under the car) near where it attaches to the wheel

-coolant levels are dropping. no noticeable leak

Coolant is blue/green, oil is dark brown (no mayo)

Also think my kick down sensor is bad, and having AC compressor issues (AC occasionally will not blow cold. But when it does, it's cold, through all vents)

SO of course I think culprit #1 is that the head gasket replacement has failed (in early stages). In which case the indy would cover replacement + labor.

What could culprit #2 be?

Would a leaking radiator present a drivable coolant leak + flaky cold air? (expecting to replace it)

I'm in this car for the long-haul and replacing everything that needs it as I am able to (exterior canvas, padding and headliner, will tear apart the dash for a full AC job when I can afford, it, considering replacement seat leathers, etc).

Just trying to wrap my head around how these systems play with each other, and the many many many single points of failure that can present multiple symptoms.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 06:01 PM
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Kinda scratching my head over single points off failure with these symptoms. You might check the oil level sensor (on the driver's side of the oil pan) to see if its leaking. As for the A/C issue, when it is failing is it cold at all or is it really just a little better than external temperature?

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tuttebenne View Post
Kinda scratching my head over single points off failure with these symptoms. You might check the oil level sensor (on the driver's side of the oil pan) to see if its leaking. As for the A/C issue, when it is failing is it cold at all or is it really just a little better than external temperature?
Got it--so this is a pretty clear-cut head gasket failure?

When the AC is acting up, it blows air just as if it were on <EC> mode. Blower works fine, just no treatment is made to the temp.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 10:37 AM
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Make sure you are not dealing with a failing transmission cooler ( internal radiator leak)

This would cause engine coolant to contaminate the transmission, while the engine oil level remains steady.

Best way to verify is to pull the tranny dipstick after a short drive. Fluid should look cherry red. If it looks like a strawberry milkshake, your radiator is bad and cross your fingers your transmission has not been damaged.

Whatever the case, stop driving the car until you know what is what.

Last edited by sbaert; 04-09-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Make sure you are not dealing with a failing transmission cooler ( internal radiator leak)

This would cause engine coolant to contaminate the transmission, while the engine oil level remains steady.

Best way to verify is to pull the tranny dipstick after a short drive. Fluid should look cherry red. If it looks like a strawberry milkshake, your radiator is bad and cross your fingers your transmission has not been damaged.

Whatever the case, stop driving the car until you know what is what.
Eh. Would mean finally getting a Sun Valley tranny finally

Could a failing transmission cooler affect the compressor (or other components making the AC air cold) in any way?

I did replace the heater mono valve recently, for the sake of "butterfly effect" considerations.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 12:16 PM
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A/C compressor and radiator failure are 2 separate things.

Man, I've never seen a garage queen have this many serious issues.

I'm a MB man, but if I had that car I'd be tallying the bills and decide when to cut the cord. Just sayin'. It is just a cabrio after all, nothing really all that special in the grand scheme of things.

If this was a E60 AMG of which they made only a handful examples, then yeah I'd toss budget considerations out the window.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 02:48 PM
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74k miles and it had a full head job?

WTH?

Take it back to the Mechanic and get his take.

Check for carbon monoxide in the coolant. Block test.

https://repairpal.com/how-to-test-fo...gasket-failure.

Compressor kicks in all the time when you want AC? Have someone outside under the hood to check while you turn it on/off/on/off.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Robert Kyle View Post
74k miles and it had a full head job?

WTH?

Take it back to the Mechanic and get his take.
This is thinking. Recent head job and now symptoms of head gasket failure? Take it back to the guy who did it and see what he says. I mean, you called him a "trustworthy mechanic" after all. Dunno why you're asking a forum to diagnose the issue, TBH.

Proceed with caution. >>>
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-13-2019, 06:03 AM
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I guess the big question is why you feel any of the symptoms indicate HG failure? I can see disappearing coolant as a concern but that isn't a reason to pull the head unless you are topping it off with a quart per day but in that case you would have other symptoms to report.

The oil on the chassis could be anything; like I said, the oil level sensor, or the steering damper, etc. Gotta get get a pair of eyes under the car. As for bringing it back to the mechanic; yes that's a good idea but be prepared for "let's keep an eye on this".

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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This is exactly what I posted for--I appreciate the questioning here.

The big "oh no" moment for me was noticing a slightly sour smell after the car has been running a long time. It was identical to the smell I noticed prior to the original head gasket service back in October, which I believe was either coolant or oil. I'm not a mechanic, and I don't have any authority with which to say this, but the smell paired with noticeably lower coolant levels after 1 road trip had me concerned.

Stopping by the shop tomorrow to see what's going on, will touch back.
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