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Dirty coolant dipstick (yellow sludge)

Discussion in 'VF Holden Commodore (2013 - 2017)' started by VFSSBlackLS3, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. VFSSBlackLS3

    VFSSBlackLS3 New Member

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    I have done a search on this but can't seem to find anything consistent on it...
    Basically when I check the radiator cap, the coolant is clean, red, and consistently full... But Today I was doing weekly check on fluids and other things. I checked the coolant dipstick and found it was coated in a yellowish sludge that completely covered the markings on the dipstick!
    My mates with LS2 VEs reckon they get it too but I cant seem to see anything about it online.
    Is it actually normal for Gen4s to do this?

    My engine is the 6.2ltr LS3... Everything looks, seems and runs perfect, apart from seeing this.

    Is it something to do with the stuff in the coolant? Can anyone confirm if this is normal and part of the LS2,LS3s nature?
     
  2. Skylarking

    Skylarking Well-Known Member

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    Was curious so read up a little about long life coolants here. This indicates GM uses an organic acid technology (OAT) coolant known as DexCool within their vehicles.

    Variants of OAT coolant, including DexCool in some instances, have/are also been/being used by other manufacturers.

    To quote the article, “All DexCool-approved coolants to date use two organic acid rust/corrosion inhibitors, one called sebacate, the other called 2-EHA (which stands for 2-ethylhexanoic acid). These organic acids are very stable and last a long time, although they take thousands of miles to become fully effective in protecting coolant passages”.

    The other interesting bit is “The inhibitor 2-EHA poses another issue: It's a plasticizer (softens plastic), so it has been blamed for coolant passage gasket leakage. Softening (and the resulting distortion) was reported by Ford, which encountered gasket leakage problems when it tested a DexCool-type formula on its V8 engines”.

    Then there is the issue of mixing different types of coolants during top up which can possibly increasing corrosion within the cooling system (not so good).

    All this makes for a rather interesting subject which I’d love to know more about.

    So to answer your question, with some speculation as I’m no expert, it may be the DexCool used in our LS3s results in the plastic overflow tank and plastic dipstick going a little gooey over time while the rest of the system suffers small leaks as Ford found out... the yellow sludge is dissolved and deposited plastic (which doesn’t sound ideal)...

    I don’t know what was wrong with the old coolants that were replaced every 2 years as they always worked well in my cast iron block, alloy head, copper & alloy radiator vehicles without issue... as long as they were frequently flushed and replenished... Progress for the lazy I guess....
     
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  3. VFSSBlackLS3

    VFSSBlackLS3 New Member

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    Thank you for that, there's some clarity I needed to see! The main question I have then, is what is the best coolant to run in the Gen4 V8s that may prevent this from occurring
     
  4. panhead

    panhead Well-Known Member

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    I have an LS2 which by the way is a HSV only engine in Australia and I haven’t encountered this problem.

    I'll now have a look into it in case I've missed something.





    .
     
  5. 426Cuda

    426Cuda SUBLIME!

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    Thanks. Very interesting!
     
  6. immortality

    immortality Home of the smoky breakfast Bacon! Staff Member

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    I do believe there is or was a court case about this, i.e GM been sued by it's customers....
     
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  7. VFSSBlackLS3

    VFSSBlackLS3 New Member

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    Do you use DexCool?
     
  8. Skylarking

    Skylarking Well-Known Member

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    Interesting.

    Going further down the google rabbit hole, it seems the 2008 DexCool class action settlement and the 2009 chapter 11 bankruptcy protection GMfiles shafts impacted GM customers. Yep, GM agreed with the courts to settle for $150m at $50 to $800 per impacted customer but via the bankruptcy got away with only paying out an estimated 30%... I’m sure the executives got a bonus out of this mess :(

    This DexCool issue being “resolved” in 2008, the more relevant question is whether our cars will develope some issue or did GM/H learn and change their coolent formulation?

    [edired to add following]
    My VF2 owners manual states to use DexCool conforming to GM6277M but I have no idea what formulation this is and whether it is still problematic. The 2003 version of this GM spec was supposedly last updated in 2012 but it’s only available for a price as far as I have found.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
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  9. immortality

    immortality Home of the smoky breakfast Bacon! Staff Member

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    Yep, that was it, bloody hell time has passed quick...

    The GM "bankruptcy" didn't just **** the customers, it also fucked a lot of their staff retirement benefits etc.
     
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  10. Ron Burgundy

    Ron Burgundy Well-Known Member

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    More likely transmission fluid mixing with the coolant in the radiator...
     
  11. 426Cuda

    426Cuda SUBLIME!

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    Ummm not sure how that would happen Ron?
     
  12. kleanphil

    kleanphil Active Member

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    Isn't the trans oil cooled in the radiator ,maybe a hole in adjacent parts could allow it to mix , but it is yellow , i would assume a pinky or brown colour if that was the case . The last time i had sludgy yellow in the rad was a crack in the block or head , allowing sump oil to mix with the coolant or in my case water cos i never used coolant in any of my cars untill now

    EDIT: No sorry , from memory it was the actual sump oil that was a yellowy sludge
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
  13. monty_vfssv

    monty_vfssv Active Member

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    I noticed the yellow sludge on my coolant dipstick and syphon tube when changing my LS3 cam at around 4000kms. But coolant passages were clean as a whistle so didn't worry about it too much. Might try a waterless coolant next time but need to do more research on the stuff.
     
  14. 426Cuda

    426Cuda SUBLIME!

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    Yeah. On cars without a trans cooler, the trans fluid runs through pipes in the bottom mb tank. But, I've never heard of one splitting and mixing with the coolant. Doesn't sound impossible though.
    As you say, creamy sludge in the radiator, or the engine, or both, is usually a blown head gasket. That said, it seems this small amount of yellow slime in the coolant tank is due to the coolant reacting to plastistcs? As noted by Skylarking and Immortality. Out of interest, I've not seen this on any of our private or work VF's though.
     
  15. Skylarking

    Skylarking Well-Known Member

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    In the older 70’s and 80’s Holdens, autos were cooled by running a pipe through the bottom of the brass/copper radiator. In poorly maintained cars, it was not uncommon for this pipe to corrode and then allow water to mix with the transmission fluid killing the auto in the process.

    With the improvements in vehicle design, this seems to not occur so much these days. Whether it’s improvements to materials, coolant or both, I don’t know, but I still don’t like the idea of cooling the auto fluid via pipes running through the engine coolant radiator. It’s simply a cheaper solution than having a separate oil/air radiator dedicated for the purpose of auto fluid cooling.

    Me, I’ve never had auto fluid leaking into the coolant radiator so can’t say what the coolant would look like but I’ve had coolant leak into the engine where the oil ends up like capachino froth with similar froth in the radiator, all due to a blown head gasket.

    In any case, if DexCool may still cause seal damage due to the OAT additives, so any oil in the coolant system, any coolant leaks or any plastic going gooey could be likley be due to that known OAT seal/plastic munching mechanism that was the cause of the class action. Alternatively, GM may have simply made a batch of coolant dipstick out of crap plastic that just won’t last?

    Meanwhile, checking for combustion gasses in the coolant due to blown gasket is a rather simple and cheap test one can do. Not sure if there is a similar test that checks for the presence of engine oil or auto trans fluid in the coolant?
     
  16. panhead

    panhead Well-Known Member

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    Everything is possible, you only have to mention ‘Milkshake’ to the Ford boys and they start to shudder.

    They have a well-known problem where the heat exchanger which is hooked to the coolant lines fails and the transmission oil mixes with the coolant writing the trans off.

    To get around it they fit an external air to oil cooler.




    .
     
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  17. VFSSBlackLS3

    VFSSBlackLS3 New Member

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    That can happen with 3.8ltr holden V6s... My mate nearly lost his trans as a result of trans fluid and coolant mixing in the radiator of his VT
     
  18. dgp

    dgp Well-Known Member

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    Just as a point of reference to the OP, I have a 2016 October built VFII Redline nearing 50k km’s on the clock and checked my coolant dipstick today, it is perfectly clean.
     
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  19. monty_vfssv

    monty_vfssv Active Member

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    interesting.. anything on the rubber hose that sits inside the coolant reservoir??
     
  20. chrisp

    chrisp Active Member

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    I just had a look at mine. It’s an October 2016 Redline with about 33,000 km on the dial.

    The coolant dipstick has a slightly yellow deposit on it...
    B76E62D9-B892-42E2-B743-0C035C0CEFFD.jpeg

    The yellow seemed to wipe off quite easily with a single wipe....

    E11F9479-7067-42D6-8181-77179908C6BB.jpeg

    The coolant itself seems to be clear like water.
     
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