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Old 09-29-2012, 11:04 AM   #1
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I think I'm screwed...

I have no idea what I was thinking but I just poured oil into the coolant tank. This is the stupidest thing I've ever done. I know better. I can tell the difference between yellow and blue.

But now it's done and I need to fix this. I have pulled as much fluid as I can from the coolant tank with a turkey baster, but i'm not sure what to do next. Is there an easy fix? Do I remove, clean and replace the coolant tank? How screwed am I here?

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Old 09-29-2012, 11:16 AM   #2
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Its not the end of the world, dont run the engine yet though.

It is a coolant overflow tank so if you have not run the engine much chances are it may not have entered the coolant system proper, especially since oil floats.

If the oil has circulated through the engine then flushing ALL your coolant out
and getting the oil out of the coolant system is necessary.

Start by removing the coolant tank hose from the engine and flush the coolant tank with sudsy dish soap water until the oil is gone.

If there is no oil in the coolant then you are good to reconnect and top up the coolant tank.

If there is oil in the coolant then a complete flush of coolant will start to process of riding all the oil from your system.

I doubt a trace of oil will do any harm since the boiling point of oil is higher than the boiling point of the coolant, but if it were me I would try to get ALL the oil out by trying to use some degreaser to clear all the oil out.

I'd ask an indie mechanic how they deal with that.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:37 AM   #3
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The engine hasn't been run so I'm hoping that no oil has found it's way past the tank. I take it that I will need to remove the tank to properly clean it? If that is the case then I should simply replace it as it is the original tank and probably due to crack soon anyway.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:44 AM   #4
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I have no idea what I was thinking but I just poured oil into the coolant tank. This is the stupidest thing I've ever done. I know better. I can tell the difference between yellow and blue.

But now it's done and I need to fix this. I have pulled as much fluid as I can from the coolant tank with a turkey baster, but i'm not sure what to do next. Is there an easy fix? Do I remove, clean and replace the coolant tank? How screwed am I here?
Assuming you have not run the car, the ideal thing to do would be utilize the different densities of the two incompatible liquids (oil floats on water). You do this by first inserting a small hose through the oil into the coolant layer below, and then insert another small hose just into the oil level. What you are going to need to do is to add distilled water via the hose down at the coolant level and at the same time siphon off the oil layer. You will need to do this several times until you get all the floating oil you can out of the tank. You could then siphon the coolant layer down far enough to insert a small towel attached to something suitable to try and blot up any remaining oil.

You could also lower the coolant level enough to pull the tank and wash it with soap and water to get any residual out if that was easier, but you first need to remove the bulk of the oil by siphoning it out.

And don’t beat up on yourself, you are not the first, and most likely will not be the last to do this; it is a dumb design…………
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:46 AM   #5
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I'm going to give that a shot. Is there any harm if a small amount of oil remains?
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:04 PM   #6
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If a small amount of oil remains, it probably will not harm anything mechanical, but it will emulsify and turn the coolant into some really murky stuff, and this will not be good for the coolant life. Once you've gotten out all you can, you may want to consider dumping everything, filling the system with just water and a suitable system clean out (Prestone makes a good one) and running the car until hot, then dump, rinse, and repeat one or two times to get rid of any residual.
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:07 PM   #7
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What a disaster. Thanks JFP. I was really hoping you would come to my aid
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:15 PM   #8
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Like I said, it is a dumb design; just about every shop sees one or two cars with the same problem every season, only some get run for a week or two with the oil in the coolant before coming in and are a total mess.

Take your time, get it cleaned out and you will be fine.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:18 PM   #9
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I was doing a brake flush after I read your thread and had to triple check that I was not filling my wiper fluid reservoir with blue brake fluid....

Since on Boxsters you cant see where the fluid is going like on a conventional car its less intuitive and you have to read the cap and look at the Euro symbols to see if they make sense.

Fortunately I also read German fairly well for additional confirmation.

...."Drehen Bis Klick"
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:59 AM   #10
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Holy expletive! This job is every bit as nasty as everyone says. Took me over 2 hours just to get the damn thing out.

The good news is that there is no oil contamination in the hose beyond the tank and surprisingly, there was no blood sacrifice (although if I could get the fkr that designed this system alone in a room for 5 minutes there sure as hell would be!). I also discovered that the previous owner (or his mechanic) thought it would be ok to fix a cracked dipstick tube with aluminum tape, so I'll replace that while I'm in there.

Given the difficulty of the job, I'm not putting this 13 year old yellowed tank back in as I never want to do this job again and from what I see here of other people's experiences, this thing is due to fail any time anyway. I'll replace the tank, sender, and cap and it should be good for as long as I own the car. Can hardly wait for the fun of putting this thing back together.

One curious thing - it looks like the oil filler tube between the manifold and the engine was installed with some kind of silcone sealant at each end. Should this really be necessary?

Many thanks again to JFP and JB for jumping in with their advice and reassurance. Yesterday was probably one of my worst panic attacks ever, right down to the instant cold sweat. I try very hard not to be a ham-fisted hack and when I do something this stupid it really shakes me up.

Anyway, even though it is going to be expensive, there was no damage done and I have a plan. Today is a better day!
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:11 AM   #11
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Mark,
Good to hear all you are going to do is get a little greasy... at least the Mickey-repaired oil filler tube and coolant tank are going to get fixed properly.
Before long I'm going to start investigating if/when parts like the coolant tank, filler tube, water pump, CV boots to name a few should be replaced on my 2000 S, likely when it gets put away fot winter hibernation.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:52 AM   #12
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Holy expletive! This job is every bit as nasty as everyone says. Took me over 2 hours just to get the damn thing out.

The good news is that there is no oil contamination in the hose beyond the tank and surprisingly, there was no blood sacrifice (although if I could get the fkr that designed this system alone in a room for 5 minutes there sure as hell would be!). I also discovered that the previous owner (or his mechanic) thought it would be ok to fix a cracked dipstick tube with aluminum tape, so I'll replace that while I'm in there.

Given the difficulty of the job, I'm not putting this 13 year old yellowed tank back in as I never want to do this job again and from what I see here of other people's experiences, this thing is due to fail any time anyway. I'll replace the tank, sender, and cap and it should be good for as long as I own the car. Can hardly wait for the fun of putting this thing back together.

One curious thing - it looks like the oil filler tube between the manifold and the engine was installed with some kind of silcone sealant at each end. Should this really be necessary?

Many thanks again to JFP and JB for jumping in with their advice and reassurance. Yesterday was probably one of my worst panic attacks ever, right down to the instant cold sweat. I try very hard not to be a ham-fisted hack and when I do something this stupid it really shakes me up.

Anyway, even though it is going to be expensive, there was no damage done and I have a plan. Today is a better day!
Great job Mark.

I replaced my coolant tank a few months back and I know how difficult it is.
How did you access the hose clamps behind the firewall?
I had to buy a special tool and can't imagine how else it can be done.

You are almost there - keep at it.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:27 PM   #13
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look at it this way... at least it wasnt the other way around.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:07 PM   #14
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Those clamps were the time-eater. I basically followed Pedro's DIY (thanks btw Pedro... again)

I was able to get at the oil filler tube clamp from the top at the engine end, which then allowed me to carefully pull the manifold far enough into the trunk to access the manifold end clamp on all but the coolant tube which I was also able to disconnect from the engine end and then remove from the manifold once I had pulled it and the coolant tank out. I did not try Wayne's method of removing the brace and trying to get at it from underneath, but I may need to do that when it comes time to put it all back together.

What really helped was a good assortment of weasel tools like cable actuated clamp pliers, 11" angled and straight needlenose pliers, and a variety of hose picks. Couldn't have done the job without them. Most of my tools are Snap-on and I think having good quality tools always makes the job go better.

Very true, Bruce. Things can always be worse. Now that I'm into the job and I have a plan it's actually not so bad.

I loved that line in the DIY about the job being easier to do with the transmission out of the car. Like, seriously? Who builds cars that way?
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:49 PM   #15
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Who builds cars that way?

Porsche. There is no substitute!
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_T View Post
Those clamps were the time-eater. I basically followed Pedro's DIY (thanks btw Pedro...

I loved that line in the DIY about the job being easier to do with the transmission out of the car. Like, seriously? Who builds cars that way?
You might have saved me a lot of time and afford with that sentence.
I have a new tank waiting to be installed as preventive maintenance.
I might as well add it to the IMS+clutch project I'm planing for this winter.

Thanks.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:09 PM   #17
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Mark T,
I've just logged on & read your mishap after replacing the cracked coolant tank in my Boxster S this morning. Getting it out was difficult (I couldnt find the cable operated hose pliers here in Australia), but getting the damned hoses reconnected again was worse - finished up dropping the engine cover plate / cross members to get access from the bottom. I guess if I was a 2ft tall midget with 3 arms & the strength of a gorilla it would have been OK, but......
I also used new screw type clamps instead of the factory spring type.

There should be no silicon on the oil fill tube - works the same simple push on as the coolant lines but with a larger spring clip.

Why the design engineers (??) didn't have the manifold permananty fixed to the bulkhead and the coolant / oil fill pipes removable from inside the boot (trunk) has got me baffled.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:23 AM   #18
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Who builds cars that way?

Porsche. There is no substitute!


All of them!! My dad used to say the designers don't have to wrench on em. Think the 986 is tough try an X/19 and wasn't there as Monza or some GM product that needed the engine to be moved for plug changes? They all do it, given what had to be crammed into the 986 it is nothing short of a design marvel.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:32 PM   #19
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Diesel engines tend to leak oil into the coolant when the oil cooler fails. My ford powerstroke did this, one trick diesel mechanics use is to drain all the coolant, replace it with water and then add dish washer detergent, Important: the not the suds or foaming kind (NOT THE KIND YOU USE IN THE SINK) the kind that goes in a dish-washing machine because it will not foam (I used Electrasol). Then drive around for a while and get the engine nice and hot, the detergent will break down the oil just like it does with the grease on your dishes. You can then flush a few times with clean water before replacing with new coolant.
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Old 10-02-2012, 07:39 PM   #20
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It is confusing, yellow oil dipstick, yellow oil fill (see word "Oil")...blue cap for blue water?
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