White frothy oil, what does it mean?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by canfossi, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. canfossi

    canfossi Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    749
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario
    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
     
  2. FL.Boy

    FL.Boy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Location:
    North Florida
    Sounds like water in the oil.
     

  3. 7.62mmFMJ

    7.62mmFMJ Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,053
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Location:
    Mountains of Utah
    Water in the oil emulsifies the oil to a white goo.

    Head gasket?
     
  4. Ohiogal

    Ohiogal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,519
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2007
    Location:
    SW Ohio
    Breeched head gasket or cracked block. Good luck to you. I hate car problems!
     
  5. Ed Norman

    Ed Norman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,332
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Location:
    Idaho
    How cold was it? You got good antifreeze? It sounds like water.
     
  6. jbmaine

    jbmaine Tinkerer

    Messages:
    54
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Location:
    Southern Maine
    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... :Bawling:
     
  7. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,180
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    WI
    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.
     
  8. VarmitSniper

    VarmitSniper Pyromaniac Weaponologist

    Messages:
    207
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    I agree, water in the oil.
     
  9. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    12,323
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Location:
    Carthage, Texas
    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.
     
  10. WindowOrMirror

    WindowOrMirror ..where do YOU look? Supporter

    Messages:
    3,920
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado
    also, put it somewhere heated... water in the oil could crack the block if it doesn't push a freeze plug out first.
     
  11. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,752
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    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! ;)
     
  12. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,977
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    East TN
    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?
     
  13. Yvonne's hubby

    Yvonne's hubby Murphy was an optimist ;) Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,752
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Location:
    Kentucky
    awww, cmon, its Christmas and like that, no fair spoiling our fun scaring someone to death! :D
     
  14. Ed Norman

    Ed Norman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,332
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Location:
    Idaho
    Maybe Beeman is right. This time of year I tend to have a bit of white froth around my filler cap, too.
     
  15. stranger

    stranger Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,627
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    a little condensation mixed with a little oil, it used to be a common site yrs ago.
     
  16. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,801
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    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
     
  17. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,977
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    East TN
    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.
     
  18. canfossi

    canfossi Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    749
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario
    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
     
  19. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    Messages:
    10,853
    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Location:
    Zone 7
    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.
     
  20. Cascade Failure

    Cascade Failure Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    713
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2007
    Location:
    CT
    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.