White frothy oil, what does it mean? - Homesteading Today
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  #1  
Old 12/26/08, 02:32 PM
 
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White frothy oil, what does it mean?

I have a 2003 Jeep Liberty 91,000 kms, no problems before this. I went to start my car this morning and it sounded like it was running rough and the check engine light came on. I let it was up for 5 mins and then shut it off. I checked the tranny fluid while the engine was running, it was fine and then checked the oil. It was whitish and frothy looking on the oil cap. It is only a little over due for an oil change by a couple hundred kms. Is this a head gasket problem? What kind of money am I looking at to get it fixed? Can I drive it at all or will I cause more damage. Hope you can help, thanks Chris

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  #2  
Old 12/26/08, 02:33 PM
 
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Sounds like water in the oil.

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Old 12/26/08, 02:40 PM
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Water in the oil emulsifies the oil to a white goo.

Head gasket?

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  #4  
Old 12/26/08, 02:59 PM
 
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Breeched head gasket or cracked block. Good luck to you. I hate car problems!

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  #5  
Old 12/26/08, 03:02 PM
 
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How cold was it? You got good antifreeze? It sounds like water.

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  #6  
Old 12/26/08, 03:05 PM
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its usually not a good sign.. most of the time it is a bad head gasket letting coolant into the engine.... Do not run the engine anymore until you have somebody look at it for you...

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Old 12/26/08, 03:06 PM
 
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You say it was white and frothy on the oil cap--what was it like on the dipstick, which is where you check the oil (with the engine off, of course)?

White and frothy on the cap might just be the result of lots of short trips and never warming the vehicle up well. White and frothy on the dipstick might indicate some of the bad stuff mentioned.

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Old 12/26/08, 03:10 PM
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I agree, water in the oil.

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  #9  
Old 12/26/08, 03:13 PM
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Carry a sleeping bag, food, and water... if you go anywhere. It's gonna die on you reallllll soon. Get it to a mechanic (wouldn't drive it) and you might get by with a tinyish bill. Drive it, and you're looking at probably 4 figures... a new block, or worse, an engine.

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Old 12/26/08, 03:36 PM
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also, put it somewhere heated... water in the oil could crack the block if it doesn't push a freeze plug out first.

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  #11  
Old 12/26/08, 03:38 PM
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You most likely have water in the oil, thats the white frothy stuff. It can come from any of several places, but none of them are good. Particularly if you have antifreeze in the mix. It could be a simple fix if its either a manifold gasket, or maybe a freeze plug popped in the top of the head, some engines have those, some dont. If thats all it is, its a quick easy fix, no real money, from there you go into manifold gasket, thats a bit more costly, head gasket, cracked head, rarely have I seen a cracked block since they got away from the old flathead 8 that ford ran for about a zillion years. If this has come up all at once, since that really cold spell, I would suspect that freeze plug first. By all means however, have it towed to the nearest good mechanic and dont drive it. You can turn a minor repair into major one real quick.

Oh! nearly forgot the most important part. once you get this problem taken care of, you have about a 30 minute window of opportunity with a jeep to get it traded for a decent vehicle before it breaks down again. I wouldnt waste that time frame shopping, get it swapped quick. A wheel barrow with a flat tire would be a good enough trade for me, anything better than that, is a freebie!

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Last edited by Yvonne's hubby; 12/26/08 at 03:47 PM.
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  #12  
Old 12/26/08, 03:41 PM
 
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Everyone stop the madness!


A little white froth on the oil cap doesn't mean much especially this time of year. High humidity and changing temps will cause a white foam on an oil cap especially if the vehicle isn't driven long distances. moisture comes into the crankcase from humidity in the fresh air drawn in the crankcase and moisture in the cylinders after combustion with damp air.

What does the oil on the dipstick look like? What is the level of the oil on the dipstick?

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Old 12/26/08, 03:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beeman View Post
Everyone stop the madness!
awww, cmon, its Christmas and like that, no fair spoiling our fun scaring someone to death!
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  #14  
Old 12/26/08, 04:01 PM
 
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Maybe Beeman is right. This time of year I tend to have a bit of white froth around my filler cap, too.

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  #15  
Old 12/26/08, 04:06 PM
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a little condensation mixed with a little oil, it used to be a common site yrs ago.

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Old 12/26/08, 04:20 PM
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All of those who are saying that it is nothing have failed to notice that Check Engine light is also on. That's not caused by a little condensation! Sounds like loss of oil pressure due to cracked block allowing coolant to mix with the oil. And, as several have stated, it's probably not a cheap fix. Run it a bit longer and you'll be able to tell us what it sounds like when a bearing seizes and the crankshaft breaks.

Martin

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Old 12/26/08, 05:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Paquebot View Post
All of those who are saying that it is nothing have failed to notice that Check Engine light is also on. That's not caused by a little condensation! Sounds like loss of oil pressure due to cracked block allowing coolant to mix with the oil. And, as several have stated, it's probably not a cheap fix. Run it a bit longer and you'll be able to tell us what it sounds like when a bearing seizes and the crankshaft breaks.

Martin
The check engine lite on most vehicles is to warn you of a malfunction in the fuel control and or emission control system, nothing to do with engine mechanical like low oil pressure.
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  #18  
Old 12/26/08, 06:00 PM
 
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Checked the dipstick and it is at the full level and normal oil colour, no froth except on the oil cap and down the tube of the oil cap. The garage is not open until Monday so I will call them and have it towed in instead of driving it and maybe causing major damage. Thanks for all your advice. Chris

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  #19  
Old 12/26/08, 06:10 PM
 
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Did you check the coolant level when you verified what the dip stick indicated? If all the fluids are good and you have the white goo just on the oil filler cap drive over to a parts store and get them to read the code for the light. White goo on the filler cap this time of year and weather is not all that concerning. If the coolant system is low that is another situation. If it is low I myself would add a can of Barr's stop leak while at the auto store and top up with antifreeze before heading home.

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  #20  
Old 12/26/08, 06:24 PM
 
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Had this white oil on my cap this past summer; the dipstick was fine. Wiped it off and no re-occurences. No other issues. Truck still runs fine. I drive a lot of short trips at time. Beeman might be right and it was condensation IN MY CASE.

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