Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby roachmon [OP] » January 9th 2021, 6:48am

Hey all,
I started seeing coolant on my driveway about three weeks ago. Picked up a coolant pressure testing kit and found it leaking from my passenger side lower IM gasket. I've got the IM removed now and I'm seeing some pooling coolant in the valley. I stopped driving it right away. Before that, it was running great with no issues, just coolant on the ground. I figured it was just an external leak, but now that I'm in there, it looks like coolant has gotten inside.
lifterValley.jpg

lifterValley1.jpg
coolant in the corner & nasty gasket failure

I'm debating on how to move forward... does this warrant deeper investigation into the engine? or is it reasonable to clean it up, and proceed re-assembling everything?

any help is greatly appreciated
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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby AstroWill » January 9th 2021, 7:03am

A little bit could just be from the coolant not being completely drained. If it was running well with good oil pressure you are likely just fine. Was the oil milky at all before you removed the LIM?

I would absorb what you can with towels, continue replacing the LIM gaskets, reassemble and refill coolant/etc, drain the possibly contaminated oil and refill, idle it to normal operating temp, and then change the oil and filter.

While you have your ignition coil bracket out, drill out those rivets and replace them with some 4mm bolts :)

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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby sixsix » January 9th 2021, 1:09pm

Is this one of those situations where having your oil tested for metal - might be advised ?
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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby Mmusicman » January 9th 2021, 1:45pm

Most likely NO BIG DEAL!
Intake gasket leaks can leak up.. or down (or both).

As Will also mentioned.. a little may have just leaked while intake was being removed.

Since your oil wasn't milky.. lower is most likely fine.
I wouldn't be too concerned.

Drain your oil and replace with new.
If you are still concerned about contamination.. just do a 2nd oil change soon after the first one.
(much like we do with a new engine break-in)
Filters each time too. :D
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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby SportsBoy » January 9th 2021, 2:31pm

AstroWill wrote:A little bit could just be from the coolant not being completely drained. If it was running well with good oil pressure you are likely just fine. Was the oil milky at all before you removed the LIM?

I would absorb what you can with towels, continue replacing the LIM gaskets, reassemble and refill coolant/etc, drain the possibly contaminated oil and refill, idle it to normal operating temp, and then change the oil and filter.

While you have your ignition coil bracket out, drill out those rivets and replace them with some 4mm bolts :)

I second all of this.
sixsix wrote:Is this one of those situations where having your oil tested for metal - might be advised ?

If you're really worried about it, you could collect some of the oil and send it somewhere like Blackstone for an oil analysis. They will tell you that you have a LIM gasket leak if there is any coolant in the oil, but you'll also seee if there is any crazy wear going on too.
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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby roachmon [OP] » January 10th 2021, 4:07am

Thanks for the replies everyone. I'm moving forward with the cleaning and reassembly. Didn't have all day to work on it today, but got the valve covers off and completely cleaned those. You could barely see that they said 'V6 Vortec' on them before. This will help keep that whole area clean and be better for future work in there.
valveCov1.jpg

valveCov2.jpg

Then I started cleaning the mating surface of the LIM. I'm not finished with it, and there seems to be a bit of corrosion and pitting. I am only using brake cleaner, rags, and plastic scrapers. What is the best way to get this surface as clean as possible? I know it is made of aluminium so, I don't think I should be using metal scrapers, right? Will a gasket seal with the pitting?
mani1.jpg

mani2.jpg

On the top of the intake manifold, should I scrape all this crusted carbon off? How deeply should I clean this, and what would be the best way?
maniUp.jpg
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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby Leeann_93 » January 10th 2021, 5:07pm

Don't use a metal scraper. The gasket should be enough to seal that area, but if you think the pitting is deep enough, you can wipe a little RTV across it with a scraper and let it cure before reassembly.

As for the carbon, carb cleaner will clean it up really well. Remove any sensors first so they're not damaged. MAF cleaner will also clean it up and it's sensor-safe, but it will take a little longer. I use Mercury Marine Quicksilver Power Tune cleaner because my BIL gave it to me and it foams and stays in place nicely.
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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby stent » January 10th 2021, 7:44pm

on the aluminum gasket surface cleaning you could try Scotchbrite cookies on a drill.
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i'm in a similar situation to you with the intake gasket leak but was able to stop the leak temporarily with a bottle of stop leak. i've been tiptoeing around in the van until i get to taking everything apart.
when i get to cleaning inside the intake manifold i was planning to take it to the car wash & blast it after after soaking it good with engine cleaner. i was going to duct tape a heavy leaf bag around one leg, set the manifold on an old mudflap & step on it so i don't chase it around the car wash bay.
good luck with the reassembly !!!!!!!!
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Re: Coolant in lifter valve valley!

Postby AstroOafAdventurer » January 12th 2021, 10:48pm

Whew, my Isuzu Trooper had a horrendous coolant leak, come to find out they have a coolant pipe that runs front to back just over the intake manifold that's notorious for failing o-rings.
I had to tear the top end down to the intake to replace a $1 worth of rubber. PITA.
But after that coolant system only required one fill up vs filling daily.
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