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Old 04-27-2012, 05:24 AM   #1
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Blown Head Gasket, or something else?

I had my 2006 Boxster S out for a leisurely drive last night and noticed at a stop along the way that there was a slight sweet, coolant, smell to the exhaust. I'd always seen a little white puff on start up, but I'd never noticed the smell before.

Supporting evidence...
06 Box S
57k miles
I've never seen the temp gauge go above 175 since I've owned it (2k miles)
I had the emissions tested some two months ago and it passed without issue. (would a state emissions test pick up coolant?)
The coolant level looks a little low, but the idiot light hasn't come on
No dipstick, so I can't see if there's discoloration to the oil
motor is completely stock
oil was changed 3 weeks ago, no water was noticed (but the engine was hot so it would have boiled off anyway)
The oil level since has been high

So I guess my questions are...

1. is there anything *other* than a blown head gasket/ cracked head that this could be?

2. would a blown gasket throw a code? I connected a friends generic OBD reader and it didn't find any stored codes.

Thanks guys!


Last edited by RobbieKnobbie; 04-27-2012 at 05:28 AM. Reason: more evidence
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Old 04-27-2012, 06:56 AM   #2
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Maybe time for a compression check. Keep an eye on coolant level. Any signs of leaks on the garage floor/driveway?
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:01 AM   #3
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No obvious leaks, no puddles on the floor, and the reservoir doesn't appear to be leaking either
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:04 AM   #4
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Smoke at start-up is completely normal.

Look at the oil dipstick, is there any foam or abnormal look to it?

Can you drop your oil and look at it?

Looking at your levels isn't a fair measure of its conditions

Get it checked out quickly, if it is blown you don't want rust setting in.

Usual symptoms are:
white smoke while driving, not just at start-up
foaming in oil
different sound sometimes when engine is running
lower compression found by compression check.
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Old 04-27-2012, 07:43 AM   #5
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Another possibility could be the heat exchanger. I think they can cause similar symptoms. Maybe someone with more knowledge will chime in. Do a search on this forum for "heat exchanger"..

good luck!
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:25 AM   #6
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Compression check is the only way to know for sure. If you seriously think that this might be the problem, get it checked right away because it will only get worse with time and its better to fix it now while its *just* a head gasket rather than wait and end up overheating the entire engine when you lose most of the coolent.
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Last edited by thstone; 04-27-2012 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobbieKnobbie View Post
I had my 2006 Boxster S out for a leisurely drive last night and noticed at a stop along the way that there was a slight sweet, coolant, smell to the exhaust. I'd always seen a little white puff on start up, but I'd never noticed the smell before.

Supporting evidence...
06 Box S
57k miles
I've never seen the temp gauge go above 175 since I've owned it (2k miles)
I had the emissions tested some two months ago and it passed without issue. (would a state emissions test pick up coolant?)
The coolant level looks a little low, but the idiot light hasn't come on
No dipstick, so I can't see if there's discoloration to the oil
motor is completely stock
oil was changed 3 weeks ago, no water was noticed (but the engine was hot so it would have boiled off anyway)
The oil level since has been high

So I guess my questions are...

1. is there anything *other* than a blown head gasket/ cracked head that this could be?

2. would a blown gasket throw a code? I connected a friends generic OBD reader and it didn't find any stored codes.

Thanks guys!
From your post I'm not sure you have a problem but these engines don't blow head gaskets, heads do crack & 175 seems low for engine temp. CEL is there for emissions compliance, it is only concerned with increased emissions.

I would monitor coolant level, remove oil filter housing & send off oil sample to a lab to check for coolant (sodium) in oil, & inspect sparkplugs to look for signs of coolant in cylinder. Looks like your car is due for a change anyway.
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:08 AM   #8
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Quick way to find out if you have a blown head gasket is to check the oil dipstick, if it has a milkshake color you have a blown head gasket. Also do a compression check for each cylinder.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel-Box-ster View Post
Quick way to find out if you have a blown head gasket is to check the oil dipstick, if it has a milkshake color you have a blown head gasket. Also do a compression check for each cylinder.
Good advise for most cars, not this one, no dipstick, don't blow headgaskets according to Jake Raby.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:56 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies.

I made an appointment, she's going in Tuesday I won't drive her in the meantime. They said that they will run a compression test and look for elevated hydrocarbons in the coolant (???).

I have a water pump, belt, plugs and seals in the garage - all waiting for a warm weekend to be installed, but I think I'll have the shop install all that stuff while they have the car.

Sounds like I'll also have the coolant changed out at the same time - whether they're doing the head or not. And I'll make sure they pay special attention for impeller shaped plastic bits in the coolant


Whew... it'll be like a new car!
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:10 PM   #11
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***update***

so just because I was raised by a TV set and thus have no patience... I took the Boxster out today to see if I smelled coolant again or notices anything different.

First I looked in the coolant tank, looked like normal watery coolant. no sludge, no splotches of oil, nothing.

Started the car - the usual little puff, followed up by clear exhaust, then a few seconds of condensation burning off the pipes. Nothing unusual there. No specific smell to the exhaust.

let the idle kick down, by now the exhaust is clear. No smell, coolant, oil or anything else.

Drove around the neighborhood a few minutes, stopped on the side of the road for another sniff. Plain old car exhaust. No sweetness, no oil.

Went out onto the main road. By now the temp gage was up to 175 (where it always tops out at. Drove for another five minutes.

Went home and conducted another sniff test. Normal.

Had the better half spin the motor a little, 2 - 2.5K. No smoke, no coolant smell, no burning oil. Completely normal.

Shut the motor down, opened up the coolant tank again. Clear, normal coolant. no oil, no oatmeal, nothing.

So am I missing something or is it time to go back on my Thorazine? Throughout the whole 20 minute exercise I didn't smell a lick of coolant and everything ran perfectly. Could the coolant smell the other night be from the light rain somehow? Or is 20 minutes not long enough to start cooking off coolant???
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:12 PM   #12
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I'd go back on the Thorazine AND keep your appt to have the car checked on Tuesday. Best to cover all of your bases!

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