Mechanics

SATURN SL1 HEATER PROBLEM

1996 Saturn SL1 • 263,000 miles

I recently discovered a thick coffee-colored substance in my reservoir that appears to be oil. It's thick and sticky when cold, running & thin when warm. There wasn't any water on the dip stick, no check engine light, no loss of power, no smoke/water blowing out the tailpipe. I was able to drive the vehicle for almost 2 weeks before the substance got too thick to allow the water to flow through the motor. Some people say its the head gasket, some the intake gasket, one person said it was the residue from the motor and that it'll take about 2 months for it to flush completely out of the system. One suggestion had to do with the heater core. We've flushed the system with flush cleaner twice and ran water through the system numerous times in attempts to get the gunk out of the cooling system.
What is this stuff? How do I resolve this problem in the least expensive way?
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Cynthiacruz
October 29, 2012.




If it happened suddenly and its too thick for coolant to flow its oil the earlier single cam S model saturns especially the heads cracked where the cam rides allowing oil enter the cooling system. Once in a while not too often it allows coolant into the oil you would have to replace the head water pump thermostat all coolant hoses heater hoses etc. You also have to start by back flushing the heater core all by itself then flushing the whole cooling system I found a petroleum based coolant flush worked best. We used a product called Eskimo at the saturn dealership sometimes when you remove the valve cover you can see a clean spot in the oil residue where the coolant has cleaned th oil away.

Saturntech9
Oct 29, 2012.
So as of right now, I have to replace all that you mentioned in your response? "Back Flushing" would I find that in the repair manuals they sell at the auto parts store? I've worked on my cars before, nothing major, but I have replaced a water pump on another 96 Saturn I had owned. So I'm asking, because if I can "back flush" the heater core myself, then that's what I'll do.
I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my question, I know you get a lot everyday. But I really need my car for work, since I'm the only one with income at the moment.

Tiny
Cynthiacruz
Oct 30, 2012.
You will have to also replace the coolant bottle plus all the other things I mentioned. As far as back flushing the heater core you would take a garden hose with both heater hoses off and spray into the one nipple of the heater core to push out the oil/coolant out of the other heater core nipple. Also do that with the radiator it will be easier to flush the heater core with the head off. Another trick I use is drill a 1/4"hole in the center of the coolant cap and open the radiator drain and used compressed air to pressurize the cooling system threw the cap turn the compressor regulator way down and with water and air use that to push the oil out. With that many miles if your going to keep the car I would just find a engine with a lot less miles then yours. Instead of getting a head for that car.

Saturntech9
Oct 30, 2012.
Thank you so much! And yes, I did consider just getting a whole other engine for it because I do a lot of traveling for work. Thanks again, you time and answers have helped me.
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Tiny
Cynthiacruz
Nov 1, 2012.
You can use a 1995-1998 single cam saturn engine doesn't matter which model. That should help you find a engine.

Saturntech9
Nov 1, 2012.

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