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Chocolate milk? NOOOOO!!!!! (VW content)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by EBodious, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. EBodious


    Aug 2, 2006
    i know there are some vw heads here, and general car-wise folks, and people who love handing out opinions :).

    i would love some thoughts on my newest van-heck.

    so, every winter i change the oil (november) and put the van ('86 westy) away for the winter. i start it a few times on not so stoopid cold days. i pull it out and change the oil again in late march or april.

    i did this just last weekend. and for the first time ever, the oil came out like chocolate milk. i had heard stories about this before and was glad to never experience it. i assume its the head gasket. a big expensive job.

    i talked to my trusty mechanic, he said, based on what i told him, it is 90% likely to be the head gasket. but, since it is a lot of work and expense, i should be real sure before i commit. he suggested checking the coolant level (in the engine compartment, not the over flow container) and the oil level and quality via the dipstick every morning, and then drive it a little and keep watching for signs.

    well, i have done that this week, and everything looks fine. i also read on vw boards that there are other tell-tale signs: white smoke from the exhaust, bubbles and floating oil in the coolant container, bubbles in the oil. i have none of these.

    i have driven the van only a little cause i don't wanna screw the engine up, but definitely more than i did over the winter (really just start it up and idle a little). normally, the old oil comes out almost as clean as new ( i love that about my van).

    so, i have visions and plans for spring/summer road trips dancing thru my head, and now, i can't decide if i can even drive it around town without causing its death. i have a gig about 20 miles out of town tomorrow. wanted it to be my first trip in the van (spend the nite at a campground with the gf, etc). can't decide if i should take the van.

    are there any other possible explanations for this situation?


    thank you!
  2. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    The advice from your mechanic is good, IMHO.
    If you start and stop occasionally over the winter, it could simply be condensation from not driving. Idling in the barn is not enough to really heat everything up.
    You should probably be making plans to rebuild/replace the engine anyway. It is, IMHO, the worst engine design VW ever came out with and they put it in one of the best, IMHO, vehicles they ever made.

    I am an old VW-head (mostly aircooled) but I do currently own an '86 Syncro vanagon. My solution to this problem was to convert to Subaru-power...which was really not much better After which I re-converted to Zetec which is, for me, the best solution I have found. Cheap to run. Bullet-proof. Everything a VW "should" be, IMHO.

    Good luck with your vanagon. They are nice. Wish I still had my diesel......

  3. EBodious


    Aug 2, 2006
    thanks for the thoughts. i considered it could be condensation, but the oil was completely chocolate milk. not just a little. i don't know if condensation can cause that thorough a contamination.

    i know '86's are known for their head gasket problems. and i knew a mechanic who successfully put a subaru pancake in their vanagon. i gotta say, i have a '97 subaru that is rock solid. i love my westy, but have had to do the regualar engine work to keep it going. only 134k miles on it now. thought i'd see more from it.

    i will look into zetec.

  4. Bingo.

    I agree...

    Wish I still had my '64.
  5. EBodious


    Aug 2, 2006
    but is it really possible for that much water to get into my only thru condensation? and is it just thru sitting in my garage or is it a blast of moisture from sitting so long and then starting it up?

    don't get me wrong, i would LOVE for it to simply be condensation. but it has never happened before...
  6. hartke20g


    Apr 12, 2006
    miami, FL
    if it was a chocolate milkshake then it's most likely the head gasket. i've gotten water in my transmission before (small amounts from water crossings) and still have not had the dreaded milkshake (i use 10w-30 in the tranny). now my friend, OTOH, sunk his Jeep in a small drainage canal for about 30 minutes and flat-towed it home (2 hours away). when we changed all his fluids, we pulled the fill bolts first and for about 15 minutes the milkshakes flowed (no boys in the yard, though:)). needless to say, that was a LOT of water, so your problem is most likely not condensation.
    if it's not your daily driver and you store it for most of the year, do you think you can do the head gasket yourself? it'd save you some money.
  7. Yes, absolutely. Especially if it is getting started, but not warmed all the way up (enough to cause water to evaporate out of the oil).

    Running it without letting it warm all the way.
  8. EBodious


    Aug 2, 2006
    ah, it is true. when i changed the oil, i was rushing a little and did not let it warm up much. i noticed that the oil was actually cold to the touch. interesting.

    thanks, i really hope that is the case. my concern now, is how much driving i can do. i don't wanna get too far away to find out it is the gasket.

    are there any other tests for a blown head gasket?
  9. Let It Fall

    Let It Fall Banned

    Oct 15, 2009
    Baton Rouge
    headgaskets arent that expensive or hard are they?
  10. hartke20g


    Apr 12, 2006
    miami, FL
    sure are. the head gasket's between the block and the head, both of which have quite a lot of other parts and sensors attached to them that must be removed. you're essentially taking apart the majority of the engine. you also need some specialized tools that not a lot of people have, and everything has a sequence. if you're inexperienced and do it, you need 2 things: $$$ for new parts (that you break) and a LOT of time. my offroad 'toy' is also my daily driver, and i can't afford to do some of the major fixes on my own, so i take it to our favorite shop and let him do the work. the part of the fix that racks up the bill is labor, simply because it's so involved and takes a lot of time.
  11. EBodious


    Aug 2, 2006
    yes, yes, indeedy. a valve cover gasket is kwik and easy. and i've done that on a straight-forward engine. head gasket puts you in that, "is it worth it?" place.

    i can't get the rational side of my brain to convince me to not take my van tonite (32miles round trip). i guess i wanna test it.

    like a good van,it always gets me where i am going. getting back, however.......

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