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more mystery water in oil and steam


Active Member
September 13, 2008
Reaction score
City, State
greenville, south carolina
Year, Model & Trim Level
1991 explorer 4x4
it's taken apart because it was steaming out the exhaust bad and also was losing coolant. under the valve cover i found that there was no doubt water in the oil. however on the number 3 intake runner on the head it is really clean. the rest are sludged up with oil. could it be that somehow the coolant was getting into the number 3 intake runner and cleaning it? the lower intake gasket looked ok.

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Sounds like you have a blown head gasket.

To answer your question, yes. The coolant, as steam, could have cleaned that passage very well. Have you every used a steam, or heated pressure washer (a Hotsie) to clean an engine block or trannie?

And X2 for the blown head gasket (or cracked/warped head)

The coolant doesn't look contaminated or old, that's a plus :)

Seriously blown head gasket. Oh well, half way there. Clean it out, put on a new head gasket, torque it down correctly, change the oil and filter and you hopefully are good to go. I've been lucky so far and not warped a head. If you use a nice thick multiply gasket, even a little warp can be covered up.

I agree with the blown head gasket diagnosis so far.

that amount of coolant in the cylinder is probably spillage from disassembly. if you were to try to turn that engine over with the head on it, you will hydraulic that hole, and cause major damage.

dry up the coolant in the cylinder, and compare the pistons top to the rest. if that is the hole that was consuming the coolant, that piston will be clean, and the rest carboned up.

thanks for all the input. the engine did hydro lock several times but if i turned the key enough it would turn over. you are correct, initially i was like wow that's a lot of coolant but i remembered later that when i was removing the head i heard coolant drain down. checked head with a straight, seems fine. the intake runner portion of the head going to that cylinder is very very clean while the rest are gunked up.

I would get the heads checked for cracks. also, check the top of the block (where the heads bolt on) for straight too.

replace all gaskets on reassy, make sure to seal around the water jacket ports on the lower intake properly to prevent leaks.

with a runner being so clean, it really sounds like it was sucking water in thru the lower manifold gasket. #3 is right next to a water jacket that is sealed off by the lower manifold.

check the lower manifold for erosion around the water jacket ports, if there is some, you may need a new lower manifold (or some creative sealing of them area's). there was a tech bulletin about eroded lower manifolds at the water jackets, I will see if I still it stored on my pc somewhere, and if I do, will repost it.

replace all gaskets and seems to be running fine. thanks!