Oil found in coolant and coolant found in oil!! - Mechanics error????? or is this possible?

90

Asked by Apr 10, 2009 at 05:52 AM about the 1995 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Convertible

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

When removing my coolant cap and dipstick, they are covered in oil.  My oil cap has coolant on the rim.  Garage's error?  Did they put the wrong fluids in the wrong spots?  HELP!!!

64 Answers

7,555

If you had a leak you'd have a nice mily or peanut butter looking substance in both, the fact that you can identify the fluid tells me that it's possible they put them in the wrong place... That being said, you have an oil dipstick not a coolant dipstick, so I think you may have thing backwards in your head....

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
555

just to be safe i'd drain all the fluids and replace it. so i am going to assume that you don't know much about cars since you took it to a garage. so i am going to guide you through a simple check jack up the car and go to the oil pan drain bolt and lossen it then slowly undo it by hand while keeping pressure on the bolt (do not remove it) until it spins freely. then release pressure on the bolt until it stars to drip a few drops. catch the drops with your hand or small container. then screw the bolt back in by hand to finger tight. then compare the colour of the old oil to new oil, if the oil is milky in colour then there has been some coolant leaking in. then get a friend that knows his stuff or a trusted mechanic to help. 1 more thing it's a v8 right?

Best Answer
90

#1 - I am a woman so the garage does everything from oil changes to major work that needs to be done. #2 - My coolant has a plastic dipstick - on the bottom of the dipstick - there is dark brown or black oil. When my son removed the cap of the radiator the cap is covered in oil -and so is the opening, but there is no coolant in it. They added coolant about 6 weeks ago, along with doing an oil change. The car is a V6. I also found a bit of milky oil on the inside of the oil cap but the dipstick shows clear oil. My question being - how would oil get into the coolant? Car is running smooth, but we just don't understand how oil can "leak" into the coolant?

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.
7,555

I'll be honest it sounds odd to me, and I just can't fathom someone doing that. Without seeing it I can't say anymore, I hoped you just didn't know your caps but it sounds like they were switched... If it's not milky it's not likely leaking in... (A little on the oil cap is fairly common especially if you make short trips)... But to answer your question there are several ways coolant and oil can mix... Head gasket leak is usually the most common, but there are coolant seals, and the block itself can crack to the water jacket. That being said this doesn't sound like any of those situations... I would definitely call the shop that did the work and get them to fix it... You could do the work yourself but they should pay for this mistake, and you should never go there again if they actually screwed up this way.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
25

Sounds like a cracked block to me

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
10

Yea it's deffinitely possible for oil to get into your coolant, that happened to one of our cars but we never looked into fixing it because it already had 300k miles on it anyway. Or it really could be mechanic error

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
4,325

1. Tell the garage what you found. 2. Clean off both caps, replace them, drive the car for another day. Check again. Watch for overheating, this is a clue. 3. If they are clean after a day, I suspect mechanic's error. Either filled wrong fluid and then corrected his error, or forgot to clean the caps. Have them drain the fluids and refill with the right stuff! 4. If they are dirty again, and/or car is running hot, you have a different problem. You will need to have the following done: a. Have cooling system pressure tested, this will show if there is a gasket or seal leak at the engine block. If okay: b. Have compression check of all cylinders, this will show if there is a head gasket leak. (Most common). If okay: c. The leak is probably at the water pump/timing cover area. Not common, but can happen on hi-mileage engine. Don't panic.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
35

Small split in the water jacket perhaps = water jacket is where the water circulates through the engine, quite often passes against oil gallerys, small split would cause them to mix.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
35

if the motor had been *cooked* or unusually hot could cause this

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
45

This is by far the most intelligent reply to this topic. I'd like to add a couple of things: If the shop filled the cooling system 6 weeks ago and it is now low, you definitely have a leak and it's likely that the engine has overheated. If the coolant is significantly low, and the engine oil doesn't look like a chocolate shake on the dipstick, it's probably not an internal leak. Intake gasket leaks are not uncommon on the 3.4 and 3.8 engines. If this is the problem it will show up on the pressure test. While a cracked block is possible, it's not very likely at all. It takes a lot of heat to crack a cast-iron engine block. More likely the intake or head gasket is leaking. In close to ten years of fixing cars for a living I've only seen two cracked blocks, and they were both caused by freezing, not overheating.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
10

AHH SHIT MAN this hurts to tell ya but it sounds like you got blown head gasket issues

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
555

wow i don't think i would ever go back to that garage again

5

Yup ive had this happen on a few cars. my 1990 T-Bird leaked like that after the car over heated, turns out i had a cracked head. a dark color in your coolant COULD be rust in your radiator but if the fluids are in both thats really bad news usually. also i wouldnt drive the vehicle more than ya have to cuz once they mix and get warm, they make a nice sticky mess.

35

Sounds like you have a blown head gasket. If you pull your dipstick and your oil is milky its for sure. You can try flushing both to make sure, but it doesn't look good.

90

Just to add a bit more about the car - it is not running hot, gauge isn't even hitting the 1/2 way mark, the coolant on the oil cap was minimal; about the size of a quarter, like a white milky gunk, the oil on the radiator cap was a lot; the cap was covered and 1.5 inches into the opening of the radiator was covered, there has been no overheating at all. There is a ticking sound when I start my car and lasts until the engine starts to warm up; so anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes then it is gone. The ticking is quite loud when the car is first started. Thank you all for your responses - you have all been a great help. I am off to the garage this morning to get them to drain and flush everything, then will keep checking them for any kind of build up or discoloration. Thank you guys!!!!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
45

Check the caps again before you leave the shop's parking lot, just to make sure they are clean. A lot of guys won't wipe off the caps if they're in a hurry. Also FYI, when a car is low on coolant the gauge often won't be accurate. The sending unit is near the top of the engine, and if the coolant level is too low an air pocket can form around the sending unit. This will often cause the gauge to show an incorrect temp.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
105

hey iif you have the 305 or the 350 in that car the intakes are known on them to go and if so that can allow for the oil and coolant to leak in to each other, i've changed alot of them... not as much headgaskets problems with them but it can be posible

5

Not good news, watch your temperature gauge and check your coolant frequently, you may have a head gasket going. Simple repair if your a gear head, otherwise its a labor intesive repair shop bill. Figure 50.00 for the parts and 1000.00 for the labor.

35

The ticking to me sounds like you are up for a new head gasket, either that or you hve a cracked exhaust mainifold. oil in the water = pretty much got to be the head gasket. i'd replace both, and get the heads crack tested.

35

or what Jimmy Wood said ;p

25

oil cooler leaking in rad ,they both use the same cooler so if one leaks they both get containaned.so you will need a new rad most likely the problem.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

blown head gasket

25

it is possible ur gasket is flat.. get it checked.

15

the white milky stuff on the oil cap is common if you make short trips..its just water from condensation in the oil..oil change fixes that..but the oil in the coolant is different..make sure you trans fluid is good..if the trans fluid is black it might appear as oil..the trans fluid could be getting into the coolant from the radiator..im pretty sure that the trans cooler is part of the radiator in that car.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
2,955

You probably have a blown head gasket. As per loosening the drain plug and cheking the drops, dont bother. The oil dispsitck goes directly into the crankcase, so checking the dipstick without jacking up the car will accomplish the same thing as pulling the plug. Are you having any other drivability issues? I'd pull one of the plugs and check the condition of the side electrode which is a quick easy way to point you in the direction you need to go. How many miles are on your LT1?

sounds like your cylinder head gasket has blown , get it checked , don't run the car and if you do keep a close eye on the temp gauge .

105

lol or the ticking could be the lifters, if there hydraulic that is...lol

35

Definetely a blown head gasket. The head gasket seals between the head and block and when it blows out it can partially blow and open a pathway that will allow coolant and oil to flow back and forth into their respective reservoirs. Don't drive it like this as the contaminated oil leads to lubrication breakdown and cylinder wall scoring. Also, it leads to overheating one, from poor lubrication, and two, because the coolant is not able to work properly being partially oil. If you suspect a mistake by the mechanic, flush the systems and see if it comes back. Hope this helps. P.S. Find a new mechanic if he messed it up. Neil Kaltsulas

65

hello widge 575 i see you have aoil and coolant problam,1995 camoro,most likley a 4.3 vorteck if a v-6please please please take the time to check your raditior,the 4.3 is notoris for the oil cooler seal to leak in these raditiors. this could be your small small enexpencif problem,the oil circulates through the outer areas of the radiatior to keep it cool this is also the same for the transmission ,if a automatic.if it were a head gaskett ther would be antifreeze in one or all of your spark plugs try checking those for sighns of antifreeze if the is than you would havve a blown head gaskett,they cost on the avgerage of about 17.00 per gaskett but the labor will be around 150.00 per head gaskett to replace,if you have a LOT OF MILES on this v6 you might look at a total overhaul on the motor the cost for parts isnt that much moore for them good luck hope its the raditior. whd-opn.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
95

when you find oil in your coolant and vise versa this is an indicator that you have a failed head gasket. i suspect you may have a 3.4l v6 which are know to have problems with leaking intake gaskets. if you do have the v6 i would bet that is your problem.

15

my guess is if you have an oil cooler which most cars have now they may leak and mix your coolant and oil for you. but instead of finding coolant under you oil cap you would find a chocolate milky looking substance. It would be hard to see a garage putting coolant into an engine or oil into a radiator. you may also have some sort of corrosion within your engine block that may not be visible to the eye.

15

If you find it hard to start (loss of compression) especially over night you would have a blown head gasket and im asuming you coolant dipstick is in you overflow bottle

nope,head gasket, gone make sure you get the head skimmed and crack tested and new strectch bolts fitted when you get it repaired.

45

blown headgasket?

+1 on the head gasket.

5

general knowledge of cars says that if you have coolant in your oil your going to have a blown head gasket which is allowing the coolant to leak into your oil. oil in the coolant would mean you might have a cracked water jacket next to an oil passage way allowing the oil to run in with the water and continue to circulate. if this is the cause you would possibly have a low reading on your dipstick where it says you need to add oil. also if coolant is getting into the oil your car will have a white smoke to it when accerlerating.

5

you might have a cracked header

15

your intake is leaking coolant into the oit and oil into the coolant

15

your intake is leaking coolant into the oil and oil into the coolant

5

Worse than that....blown head gasket or intake gasket.

105

man alot of ppl say head gasket... but i wouldn't put my money on it just yet... ya it could be the problem but most of the time it's the intake gasket on those motors so before taking the motor apart i would find out first. and your coolant cap is it motor oil or trans oil?

55

possible check for warp head,or head gasket leak,oil from cylinder leaking into water jacket?/

35

it could also be a blown head gasket but you would have more problems than that

15

4.3L vortec are only in SUV and trucks. Definately not in a Camaro.

15

If the plastic dipstick is about 2 inches and attached to the cap, it is more than likely your power steering fluid than your coolant which has a black/gold color

4,325

Ticking is valve noise. Oil level might be low, or oil is contaminated and thinned out (probably from radiator fluid.) This is sounding more and more like the radiator fluid is leaking into the oil cooler, a very very common problem with these cars when they get older. Not a major repair, just a pain in the ass. A radiator pressure test will prove this out. The fact that you aren't running hot is good...head gasket is probably okay, engine isn't cracked. Good luck at the garage, let us know what happened!

105

problem solved buy a new motor... lol if it's not your rad if you have a oil cooler in it... lol

It may appear that ur head gasket needs replacing

45

sounds to me like a head gasket bro

sounds like a blown head gasket or bout to blow bruh milky substance in oil is more than likely your problem

you have possibly many problems, anything from a leaking intake seal, blown head gasket, possibly a failed oil cooler. having coolant in your oil is never a good sign, it can lead to a spun bearing and catastrophic engine failure.

15

Sorry,guy sounds like the motors done sounds like the heads or the head gaskets iif the heads are iron, that would allow the fluids to mix in places that you describe. Does the temperature gauge also act in a erratic fashion, going from hot to cold in short periods of time.does heat come from your vents inside the vehicle when it has been running for a period of time???

5

I am a mechanic it sounds like you may have a problem with the head gasket if the oil dipstick has a milky residue. especially on your particular vehicle ifit has 350 engine 5.7 i have seen many heads gone bad

75

Possibly, I have seen this before even by good mechanics. Word of advice. Change both fluids, and then check back on it and see if it returns. If not then mechanic error, if so then mechanical error.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
15

She said ealier it was a V6, though they are just as common for head gasket problem except the 3.1 :)

5

50% chance that it is a blown head gasket. if they do a cylinder compression test that will tell you in a instant. I can guarantee that they did not pour the coolant and oil in opposite spots.

65

i agree with some below, usually this means u have blown a head gasket or have a bad head. hard to tell without looking though. have it checked out.

15

Use a block tester on your car that will tell you if you have a cracked block or a blown head gasket.

25

2010 Camaro - HEALTH ALERT: Gas entering vehicle engines oil pan Causing Toxic Chemicals to be introduced into Vehicles Passenger Compartment. This POSSIBLE Toxic Chemicals "ALERT", is due to the introduction into the Vehicles Passenger Compartment of TOXIC Chemicals within the Camaro' air ventilation system in conjunction the air conditioning System. Identified in this instant report GM products with the Active Fuel Management Engine (AMF). Model 1ET37-2010 Camaro 2SS Coupe L99 Engine. This vehicle was produced with the L99 Engine, "but this may" affect several GM engines and models. In any case the gas fumes in the oil pan make for a very explosive situation. CAUSE OF ENGINE Failure: Fuel entering vehicle engines oil pan. CAUSE OF TOXIC CHEMICALS ENTERING VEHICLE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT: Air Conditions ventilation system. Simple Field Test: Take an oil sample from engines oil pan, place sample in metal container, then light a small napkin and toss it into liquid sample. Step back! If the Vehicle being tested is affected by this internal engine defect it will flame up and burn until the container is dry. IF VEHICLE ENGINE IS NOT AFFECTED IT WILL NOT BURN! "Temporary" FIX FOR THOSE VEHICLES AFFECTED: SET THE VEHICLES AC CONTROLS ONLY ON INTERIOR RE-CIRCULATION CYCLE. Notice: Take the vehicle to the manufacturers local GMAC dealership. 01-12-11 a report of this health alert information, Case # 01-0350. Local Officers were shown a demonstration of the affected Camaro and effects of gas in the engines oil. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 1-888-327-4236, a General Complaint was filed with this department under case number 10376395. Associated phone contact ref :322352. Operator PAOLA.

25

2010 Camaro - HEALTH ALERT: Gas entering vehicle engines oil pan Causing Toxic Chemicals to be introduced into Vehicles Passenger Compartment. This POSSIBLE Toxic Chemicals "ALERT", is due to the introduction into the Vehicles Passenger Compartment of TOXIC Chemicals within the Camaro' air ventilation system in conjunction the air conditioning System. Identified in this instant report GM products with the Active Fuel Management Engine (AMF). Model 1ET37-2010 Camaro 2SS Coupe L99 Engine. This vehicle was produced with the L99 Engine, "but this may" affect several GM engines and models. In any case the gas fumes in the oil pan make for a very explosive situation. CAUSE OF ENGINE Failure: Fuel entering vehicle engines oil pan. CAUSE OF TOXIC CHEMICALS ENTERING VEHICLE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT: Air Conditions ventilation system. Simple Field Test: Take an oil sample from engines oil pan, place sample in metal container, then light a small napkin and toss it into liquid sample. Step back! If the Vehicle being tested is affected by this internal engine defect it will flame up and burn until the container is dry. IF VEHICLE ENGINE IS NOT AFFECTED IT WILL NOT BURN! "Temporary" FIX FOR THOSE VEHICLES AFFECTED: SET THE VEHICLES AC CONTROLS ONLY ON INTERIOR RE-CIRCULATION CYCLE. Notice: Take the vehicle to the manufacturers local GMAC dealership. 01-12-11 a report of this health alert information, Case # 01-0350. Local Officers were shown a demonstration of the affected Camaro and effects of gas in the engines oil. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 1-888-327-4236, a General Complaint was filed with this department under case number 10376395. Associated phone contact ref :322352. Operator PAOLA.

5

NOT a good sign. most likely means that there is a crack in the engine block, so that the coolant isnt staying int he water jackets and is mixing with the oil. thats your worst case scenario, and will require a rebuild. drain all the oil and coolant, clean the caps, refill it accordingly, and run it one more time and hope it doesnt happen again. if it does, you're gunna need a rebuild im sorry brother..

25

cracked block is my guess.

95

you all responded to spam bravo

Have a camaro thts running ruff no leaks jus losing lots of coolan check oil stick and it was fine

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions

Camaro

Looking for a Used Camaro in your area?

CarGurus has 39,407 nationwide Camaro listings starting at $3,495.

ZIP:

Search Chevrolet Camaro Questions

Chevrolet Camaro Experts

#1 dandyoun
dandyoun
Reputation 1,590
#2 carGrrl
carGrrl
Reputation 1,120
#3 Tom Demyan
Tom Demyan
Reputation 990
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Ford Mustang
713 Great Deals out of 38,572 listings starting at $1,963
Used Chevrolet Corvette
365 Great Deals out of 20,330 listings starting at $3,688
Used BMW 3 Series
1,797 Great Deals out of 40,896 listings starting at $1,250
Used Chevrolet Impala
965 Great Deals out of 36,457 listings starting at $1,800
Used Ford F-150
3,393 Great Deals out of 205,480 listings starting at $1,273
Used Pontiac Firebird
11 Great Deals out of 825 listings starting at $3,800
Used Jeep Wrangler
505 Great Deals out of 17,416 listings starting at $2,990
Used Chevrolet Tahoe
1,091 Great Deals out of 31,949 listings starting at $1,495
Used Jeep Grand Cherokee
1,157 Great Deals out of 70,012 listings starting at $495

Used Cars For Sale

2017 Chevrolet Camaro For Sale
22,070 listings starting at $19,998
2016 Chevrolet Camaro For Sale
29 Great Deals out of 3,224 listings starting at $19,511
2015 Chevrolet Camaro For Sale
207 Great Deals out of 3,464 listings starting at $12,900
2014 Chevrolet Camaro For Sale
150 Great Deals out of 2,342 listings starting at $11,995
2013 Chevrolet Camaro For Sale
105 Great Deals out of 1,934 listings starting at $9,991