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Troubleshooting - White Exhaust

Old November 15th, 2018, 09:39 AM
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Troubleshooting - White Exhaust

Looking for some help here. I start my car every week or so and last week saw and smelled something different that cut my ride short. The passenger side exhaust was white and smelled of anti-freeze. The engine normally runs at 190 degrees when fully hot and the temp was about 200 after just two minutes. I turned around and shut it down. Checked the oil and saw no color change or strange smell in the oil. Checked the coolant tank and it was down a little, nothing dramatic though. Looked for leaks around the heater hoses, freeze plugs, etc., and saw nothing. Went out the next day and found quite a bit of anti-freeze in the drip pans and a discoloration around the clamp from the exhaust manifold to the exhaust pipe. Started it up and noticed smoke (steam) coming from the exhaust clamp on that side of the car and the same smoke out of that side tailpipe. Nothing out of the drivers side pipe. Shut it down and checked the oil again and no color or consistency change. Pulled all the plugs on the right side and found all of them to be dry and clean, no difference between cylinders.

Engine starts and runs fine, sounds normal. I'm thinking blown head gasket but am wondering if there is anything else I needed to check before pulling the heads. 1968 455 engine.
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Old November 15th, 2018, 10:53 AM
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Wait! Dont just start ripping it apart without doing some basic troubleshooting. It could save you time. Whats easier pulling and resealing an intake or pulling heads possibly for no reason?

You sir have a cracked head or head /intake gasket leak. Preform a pressure test on the cooling system. Observe its ability or lack of to hold pressure. Pull the spark plugs and observe them. Drain the oil, keep the oil pan drain plug out. With pressure on the system observe where you're losing the coolant. Dripping out of the oil pan? Thats most likely an intake gasket. Nothing coming out of the pan? Bump the engine over (plugs removed!!! or you'll hydro-lock and bend a rod). Observe coolant being pushed out of a plug hole(s).
My guess is if the oil looks and smells suspicious then its likely the intake gasket...aka turkey tray. Time to get dirty. Watch out for the MAWs!

Rereading the OP he says the oil is fine. (Funny how the mind sees the opposite when reading in a hurry, its a simple mind),
Good oil points to the cracked head or bad head gasket theory. You could turn the car on with the rad cap off. Observe extreme turbulence and or bubbles. That indicates combustion gas is making its way into the cooling system via a cracked head or blown gasket. Before that test pull the plugs and simply turn it over cold and look for the infamous coolant spit. The full trouble shooting procedure is mentioned above in my post and below in zeeke's A bore scope is very useful as well and will zero in quickly on the leak visually.
I did see on one occasion where an intake was leaking externally wicking its way around the head making it appear like a head gasket. It dripped into a leak at the exhaust manifold(when not running) and filled up the head pipe with enough coolant to blow green juice and white smoke out the tail pipe, That one was a complete MF to trouble shoot. Almost tore into that engine.The only thing that stopped that was nothing was leaking into the cylinders and nothing into the oil. 2 cans of brake cleaner, coolant dye and repeated compressed air blow offs and pressure testing. Finally showed it ugly head with the dye. 440 in a Coronet

Last edited by droldsmorland; November 16th, 2018 at 11:16 AM.
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Old November 15th, 2018, 02:44 PM
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Ok, so noting noticeable in the oil? Absolutely do a leak down test before you start pulling things apart. First I would do a coolant pressure test. It should hold near 15lbs for 3 min. minimum. If not start investigating. If you don't have a coolant pressure tester one of the chain stores may have one to lend out. Possibly the same with the leak down kit. That's just a matter of inserting and adapter into the spark plug and finding out where are is escaping. Obviously you're going to need to make sure the valves are all the way closed fro each cylinder.
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Old December 6th, 2018, 05:40 PM
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Great advice, I'll start work on it next week. I'll see if I can get a pressure check kit from my local AP store.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 12:47 PM
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Finally Troubleshot

I finally got around to troubleshooting this thing. Here is what I saw and recorded plus a couple of photos and videos.

1. There is a brown residue on the underside of the radiator cap.
2. Coolant pressure check. 14 PSI drips started from the RT exhaust manifold connection to tailpipe. One drop about every 2-3 seconds. Coolant for sure as it was green in color. Could not see any further up to identify where it was coming from.
3. No coolant cam out of any plug hole while cranking.
4. Plugs look consistent across all eight. See pics 1 & 2.
5. Did a compression check. Initial results were very low for what I expected soo checked compression tester gauge against a known good gauge and it was good.
Cyl # 8 - 35 psi
Cyl # 6 - 35 psi
Cyl #4 - 40 psi
Cyl #2 - 40 psi

Cyl #7 - 40 psi
Cyl #5 - 45 psi
Cyl #3 - 45 psi
Cyl #1 - 45 psi

6. Drained the oil. It looks perfectly normal, no water, no color differences, viscosity appears normal and consistent. See video #2.

The right side was the side streaming steam when it last ran. Those compression numbers look bad, I was expecting 125-150 psi. The engine is a 1968 455 from a Tornado. What do you think?

Jim



Attached Files
File Type: mov
Oli video.MOV (1.89 MB, 7 views)
File Type: mov
Leak Video.MOV (3.30 MB, 7 views)
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Old February 5th, 2019, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldracerjones View Post
Cyl # 8 - 35 psi
Cyl # 6 - 35 psi
Cyl #4 - 40 psi
Cyl #2 - 40 psi

Cyl #7 - 40 psi
Cyl #5 - 45 psi
Cyl #3 - 45 psi
Cyl #1 - 45 psi
I ain't no expert, but, as you point out, these numbers are awful. Normal compression should be about 110 to 120. The fact that they're in agreement with each other suggests the possibility that you didn't perform the test correctly. It's hard to believe that all 8 of them would be low by the same large amount unless the head gasket was completely blown away, but then I think you'd be spewing coolant everywhere. Are you sure the tester was sealed into the spark plug hole or that there isn't a leak in it somewhere? I wonder if an engine with compression values that are really that low would even run.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 03:19 PM
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I was worried about that too since I borrowed the compression kit from a shop, that's why I checked it. I was cranking it and letting it turn over 7-8 times each cylinder. The engine ran fine before the smoke started (actually ran okay with the smoke) but it never had the power of a good motor. I'm going to borrow another from a buddy of mine tomorrow and try it again.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 03:36 PM
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Did you wedge the throttle so is wide open?
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Old February 5th, 2019, 03:49 PM
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Your engine wouldn't be running if the compression was 35 psi.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldracerjones View Post
I was worried about that too since I borrowed the compression kit from a shop, I'm going to borrow another from a buddy of mine tomorrow and try it again.
Why don't you just buy one? They're not much money, although you can spend any amount you want if you've a mind to. I've had one around my garage since forever. It's almost a must-have for anyone working on old cars.

Here's one for less than $20 at Amazon. There are many others.




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Old February 5th, 2019, 04:47 PM
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Tester

Originally Posted by jaunty75 View Post
Why don't you just buy one? They're not much money, although you can spend any amount you want if you've a mind to. I've had one around my garage since forever. It's almost a must-have for anyone working on old cars.

Here's one for less than $20 at Amazon. There are many others.
I have had one for about 40 years, a push in but since I was working alone I couldn’t use it (no remote start). My friends were working so O’Reillys it was.

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Old February 5th, 2019, 04:48 PM
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Throttle

Originally Posted by oldcutlass View Post
Did you wedge the throttle so is wide open?
No, I did not wedge the throttle open.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 04:50 PM
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Try it again

Originally Posted by joe_padavano View Post
Your engine wouldn't be running if the compression was 35 psi.
Thanks Joe, i’m Going to get another tester and try it again.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 07:40 PM
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Pull all the plugs, disable the ignition, and hold the throttle wot. Make sure the battery is fully charged. The rule of thumb is first impression pump should be half the final reading, and no more than 20% difference between lowest and highest cylinders.

If the compression is really that low, I’d take a look at the timing chain. A severely stretched chain will result in late valve timing, and low compression.

Id do a leak down test next. If you have a blown head gasket or cracked head, the leak down test will force coolant out of the radiator.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 09:43 PM
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I'm putting my money on the back heater hose connection, just to be contrary.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Koda View Post
I'm putting my money on the back heater hose connection, just to be contrary.
Actually that's a good observation and makes sense from what was posted. When I read the troubleshooting results I wondered how there could be coolant dripping from the exhaust pipe but none coming out any of the plug holes.

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Old February 5th, 2019, 10:54 PM
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You said this in Post #1
...noticed smoke (steam) coming from the exhaust clamp on that side of the car and the same smoke out of that side tailpipe.
Yet, you never stated what side of the car you were talking about. Then, you said this a couple sentences later in Post #1
Nothing out of the drivers side pipe.
Therefore, I am assuming the steam (smoke) is emanating from the RH-side of the vehicle - the Passenger Side. And, it's dripping on the exhaust manifold &/or the exhaust pipe.

As Joe stated,
Your engine wouldn't be running if the compression was 35 psi.
Your gauge is faulty or you incorrectly performed the compression test.

I tend to agree w/ Koda (Post #15)
I'm putting my money on the back heater hose connection, just to be contrary.
...or, the water valve or the evaporator core. Have you checked your AC recently? Check the overflow duct below the evaporator core (from the underside of the vehicle). It has a circular clamp ring attached to a small rubber tubing. Do you see gobs of green goo coming from that rubber tubing?

Here are the compression results of my sbo 350. You should do your compression test both dry & wet:



Last edited by Vintage Chief; February 5th, 2019 at 11:07 PM.
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Old February 5th, 2019, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldracerjones View Post
Cyl # 8 - 35 psi
Cyl # 6 - 35 psi
Cyl #4 - 40 psi
Cyl #2 - 40 psi

Cyl #7 - 40 psi
Cyl #5 - 45 psi
Cyl #3 - 45 psi
Cyl #1 - 45 psi
You may have read the compression test gauge incorrectly. Put a Number One (1) in front of those numbers & they appear pretty close to normal compression: 135, 135, 140, 140, 140, 145, 145, 145.


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Old February 6th, 2019, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Koda View Post
I'm putting my money on the back heater hose connection, just to be contrary.
I am wondering about that heater hose/valve area also. Something is bugging me, but I better look at a head first.
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Old February 7th, 2019, 12:56 PM
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Update

Okay, bought a compression tester and tested the engine again. Here are the results.

#2 - 120 PSI
#4 - 140 PSI
#6 - 130 PSI
#8 - 140 PSI

#1 - 130 PSI
#3 - 150 PSI
#5 - 140 PSI
#7 - 130 PSI

Review:
1. This is the RT side of the engine (passenger side)
2. White smoke coming out of RT tailpipe. Smells like anti-freeze and some anti-freeze residue on the ground under the tailpipe.
3. The oil is good, no water at all. Checked it on dip stick and drained the oil. No water.
4. Coolant pressure check. 14 PSI drips started from the RT exhaust manifold connection to tailpipe. One drop about every 2-3 seconds. Coolant for sure as it was green in color. Could not see source of leaks. No water coming out of plug holes.
5. Plugs look okay.
6. Compression check does not show 20% variation between any two adjacent cylinders on RT side of engine.

Next Steps
1. See if any new suggestions based on updated compression test results.
2. Do another coolant pressure check and use my borescope to get back and look at the heater hoses at firewall connection and anything else back there.

Last edited by Oldracerjones; February 7th, 2019 at 01:00 PM.
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Old February 7th, 2019, 12:57 PM
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Vintage Chief - The car has no AC.
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Old February 7th, 2019, 12:59 PM
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Gauge Reading

Originally Posted by Vintage Chief View Post
You may have read the compression test gauge incorrectly. Put a Number One (1) in front of those numbers & they appear pretty close to normal compression: 135, 135, 140, 140, 140, 145, 145, 145.

No, the numbers were clearly visible from 0-180 PSI. No doubt now the hose with the plug hole fitting must have been partially blocked. I tested the gauge itself, not the hose. The new gauge and hose worked perfectly.
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Old February 7th, 2019, 03:36 PM
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curious about this, you mentioned freeze plugs look ok .does this include the one in the head ?
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Old February 7th, 2019, 06:11 PM
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Freeze Plugs

Originally Posted by deadeyejedi View Post
curious about this, you mentioned freeze plugs look ok .does this include the one in the head ?
I don't remember mentioning freeze plugs and did not check them. I'll add that to my list.
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Old February 7th, 2019, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldracerjones View Post
Looking for some help here. I start my car every week or so and last week saw and smelled something different that cut my ride short. The passenger side exhaust was white and smelled of anti-freeze. The engine normally runs at 190 degrees when fully hot and the temp was about 200 after just two minutes. I turned around and shut it down. Checked the oil and saw no color change or strange smell in the oil. Checked the coolant tank and it was down a little, nothing dramatic though. Looked for leaks around the heater hoses, freeze plugs, etc., and saw nothing. Went out the next day and found quite a bit of anti-freeze in the drip pans and a discoloration around the clamp from the exhaust manifold to the exhaust pipe. Started it up and noticed smoke (steam) coming from the exhaust clamp on that side of the car and the same smoke out of that side tailpipe. Nothing out of the drivers side pipe. Shut it down and checked the oil again and no color or consistency change. Pulled all the plugs on the right side and found all of them to be dry and clean, no difference between cylinders.

Engine starts and runs fine, sounds normal. I'm thinking blown head gasket but am wondering if there is anything else I needed to check before pulling the heads. 1968 455 engine.
Your Post #1
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Old February 7th, 2019, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Vintage Chief View Post
Your Post #1
Guess i’m getting “vintage”, turned 60 yesterday and my memory is gone.
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Old February 7th, 2019, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldracerjones View Post
White smoke coming out of RT tailpipe. Smells like anti-freeze and some anti-freeze residue on the ground under the tailpipe.
Smells like anti-freeze. What smells like anti-freeze? Thus far you've stated you have white smoke coming out the RT tailpipe. Are you saying the white smoke smells like anti-freeze?

Anti-freeze residue on the ground under the tailpipe. The tailpipe is very long; so, your statement is meaningless unless you specify an exact location along the tailpipe.

Your compression numbers look pretty good. I'm trying to be optimistic hoping you don't have a warped/cracked block/cylinder head/intake manifold.

While white smoke can often be a tell-tale sign, there are other possibilites; but, if you are actually seeing coolant drip - you absolutely have to find the area where the coolant is dripping. Concentrate on finding the exact location of the coolant drip. Doing your pressure checks, coolant checks is all fine and well. But, if in fact you see coolant dripping, why perform additional tests without having found the place where the coolant is leaking.

Again, while white smoke can be a tell-tale sign (often of an internal engine issue), you can get white "condensation" (which may appear as smoke) coming from the exhaust. As an example, the inside of your exhaust pipe, exhaust manifold is blazing hot when engine is at normal operating temperature. Imagine what happens when plenty of Polyethylene glycol begins dripping continuously on your hot exhaust manifold. You have a prime candidate for the creation of condensation inside your exhaust system where you have super cooled the exterior of the exhaust manifold and now you've developed super-heated condensation inside your exhaust and coming out the tail pipe.

Find that leak.

Don't even consider pulling the heads until you've found the leak.

Last edited by Vintage Chief; February 7th, 2019 at 07:36 PM.
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Old February 10th, 2019, 11:55 AM
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Pump up the cooling system and get behind the heads with light and a mirror. Observe the area where the intake/head intersect and the nipple or heater valve insert. Clean the areas beforehand and look for coolant weeping out.
Pull the exhaust manifold with pressure on the cooling system. Observe coolant drip? Coming out of the ports.... cracked head.
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