Burning Water / losing water W460

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jdring
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OK, so fixed my tappets but the 230GE engine is somehow losing water from the radiator

Noticed when stationary for a while that the temperature crept up and down again when moving and getting airflow.  Topped up with about 2 litres of water and all fine again but the water is getting out somewhere, slowly.

Garage did a pressure test on the system and found no leaks.  They flushed the radiator and the water was a little mucky.  Now monitoring to see how much it loses and wondering how.

Possible head gasket?  Is there a way to test for that?

consur
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Have you checked the little hole underneath the water pump?  When water comes out here it's a warning that the bearing is in the process of failing in the pump.

Pistonhead
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

There are tests available to check for head gasket leaks.

Head gasket leaks can be either a breach in the gasket from one or more cylinders into the coolant system eventually over pressurising the coolant system where one of the checks is to squeeze the top radiator hose and feel how over pressurised it is. One needs to be able to distinguish between normal pressure and over pressurising .

Using a block tester in such cases confirms ingress of combustion gases in the system which would show up in the changing of a dye colour added into the tester apparatus. The second method is to carefully sniff the gases hovering on top of the coolant level with an exhaust gas analyser such as used by MOT Testers and note the hydro-carbon level registering. 

The other way head gaskets may leak is a breach between head gasket and an oil/coolant passage way. Here, oil either  contaminates the coolant system or leaks externally from the between the block the cylinder head. Engine oil may become contaminated with water ingress turning the oil into a mousse. 

Oil in coolant needs to be approached with some caution in particular where gearbox and engine oil coolers may be inbuilt into the coolant radiator as oil breach could be from these areas and not necessarily from the head gasket but I think in the case of the 230GE the coolant radiator is just that a coolant radiator.

Water loss from the water pump is possible and could be more difficult to identify as in some cases a water pump leaks can be self sealing in so far that coolant only leaks at certain temperatures during engine warm up and cool down, out side those temperatures the leak self seals. Look out for water stains as mentioned in the above thread from a hole underneath the water pump body. Or look in this area shortly after the engine either warms ups of cools down for water seepage.

Check your coolant level regularly and frequently on a cold engine!

 

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Thanks for the insights.

Well its losing about a litre of water a day.  Not seeing any drips but will check that water pump.

When warmed up, its very smoky and this doesn't bode well.  More than just leaky valve stems methinks.

I am going to get the water test kit to be sure.  If it is head gasket, that means disconnecting the exhaust manifold, and a lot more besides, and in addition, it could be worse - a warped head that needs skimming ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

I had to laugh. You know what it is like - you start to try to diagnose and research options and its a bit like checking health symptoms with Google - soon enough you figure you have terminal something-itis.

Well, since I am losing water and no leaks found so far.  I am assuming its going out the exhaust which means a pretty large breach in a gasket, or worse. It has a new radiator on it, so there is a chance the old one failed, meaning it could have overheated.  Now the smoking is getting slightly worse (I think) and that could also be oil into the engine via a gasket.  But worse it could be a warped head !!

Now my old 230GE had this happen once, and the head was skimmed to resolve.  So it happens to this engine (M102).  Or the oil could be dripping down the valve stems and the valve stem seals could be the main issue.  But no point doing those until I find where the water is going.

I like this guy - he does really good MB videos:  https://youtu.be/7qXaBhPEVp0 

For now, its running great, apart from the water loss and the smoking.

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Since the smoking is largely oil/blue looking and not white/steam, I am going to go ahead and replace the radiator cap first!

Apparently I could be losing steam through a badly fitting (old) radiator car.  Its not the original, but the seal on it is a bit crappy, and for a £5 cap its a no brainer to try.

Fix the loss of water and then I can have the valve stem seals done.

 

 

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460
Ok so the new radiator cap made bugger all difference, but worth a check. The plan now is to assume there is a gasket issue and try gasket sealer - steel seal. No, I hear you cry. But believe me it is worth 50 quid to avoid the hassle, cost and further issues with a head gasket replacement and probable head skim. So first up is to flush the radiator, which the garage said they did already. Here's a pic of that
Pistonhead
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Get a garage in the know to do a cylinder leakage test - basically it is shoving air in the cylinders and checking for where it leaks out. If as you suspect it is head gasket into coolant, the coolant system would be boiling it with the pressure leakage.

Heads only warp if over heated; many in the trade go for skimming the head to cover their backs but in all the years of my trade experience I have had only one head skimmed - on a Renault. Not saying yours may not be warped, but I suggest to check for its alignment before dashing to have the head skimmed. On G-Wagens it is the exhaust manifolds that warp and more likely on the split manifolds of the 280GE.

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Thanks.  Well my garage (Merc specialist - very nice people) had the car for a week while they fitted in doing the tappet followers and steering damper, and they pressure tested the radiator and found no issue.  They said they didn't experience the overheating really, just the water loss and didn't seem to have a fume tester to check combustion-to-water.  But from my daily experience, the car gets very fumey when warmed up and idling and thats when the water loss is most (a litre in a day).  I suspect the engine expansion increases what is a very small gasket weakness and then it blows it out the exhaust.

So, after thorough flushing of the radiator, I introduced Steel Seal on a cold engine this morning (into the radiator, cap back on).  Ran the car at a high idle for 30mins (1000-1500rpm).  Interestingly, on starting there was a LOT of steam looking emissions today - probably more noticeable because it is colder and raining this morning - note to self - it is easier to see steam emissions if it is not evaporating as soon as it hits a warmish day. 

After about 10-15mins when the engine was warm (and so thermostat opened to allow the mixture to circulate into the engine water jacket) and the light smoke at the rear basically stopped.  Ran the engine for another 15 mins and the temperature never budged from just under the half way point - clearly not losing any water in that time.

So the final test will be to use daily and see if its permanent/fixed, checking the water level each day.  I gather the chemical reaction is a one time thing, but the instructions say to leave it in the coolant system, so I assume that reaction is triggered by the extreme heat of engine metal, and not merely by hot water less than 150 Degrees.  I need to make a note to make up to 50% antifreeze for the winter months (assuming it lasts, which I am optimistic about).

Other than that the engine (oil, rocker gear etc) is clean clean clean and seems well maintained.  If the engine is still a little oil smokey and I notice any more than basic oil use, I will book it in for Valve Stem Seals to be replaced in the summer.

 

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Oh no.  Disaster.

Only the 3rd or 4th trip since the Steel Seal and big problem surfaced.   Engine lost power at a mild 45mph and applying acceleration just resulted in nasty top end knocking.  Limped to a layby.  No water loss.  No raised temperature and no oil issue.  It just was like the car was running on 3 or even 2 cylinders.  Any revs produces a deathly hard knocking.

Not blaming Steel Seal (yet), but it is too much of a coincidence for it not to be related.  The car was running so smoothly.  Hope the garage that did the hydraulic followers didn't replace something wrong either.

Had to call the AA (been a member for 20+ years) and all they could check was that the spark plugs were very clean burning and there was a spark to them.  The knock might be related to the replacement hydraulic followers a couple of weeks ago.  Potentially, now that full compression is restored by sealing the gasket, there is more load on everything?  Maybe I just uncovered the next weak link.  Maybe the overhead cam was clamped back wrong and has snapped seized (impossible?) !  Basically, the garage needs to inspect - the AA man towed my SWB G to my local garage where they will not be able to look until next week.

Gutted because it was running sweetly.  

Any ideas?

spike1
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Hi, sounds like a total nightmare, I can see you are in Oxfordshire, there is a Merc specialist close to me in Northants, H A Lock, very old school but they only deal with Mercedes, the number is 01933 313077, if it's not too far you might want to give them a call

 

panzer
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Broken Camshaft on a 230 is not impossible been there and done it. If it is the camshaft not the end of the world. I found a replacement at Eurocarparts. Had the head gasket changed head skimmed, new valves and guides and 6 years later all is still well on an engine that has done over 200K.

 

 

 

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460
I am thinking about it, as you do, waiting for the garage to take the rocker cover off and take a look, check compression(why?) Etc Likely ideas seem to be a lifter issue, timing belt tensioner or big end bearing. From viewing and listening to you tube examples(!), I am leaning towards bid end bearing on no.4. Bugger if so. So, IF it is such - who recommends an engine switch or rebuild? What engine could I drop in here? Keep in mind the 4 speed auto box is in dire need of a 5th gear, and should probably be overhauled also :(. Given that, a rebuild is probably the simplest? The joys of older cars. I was looking at upscaling to a G500/G55 so another option is cut losses and ditch for another to do. Any interested?
jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

There are not too many contributors on here at the moment, but I will keep updating :)

Diagnosis is there is no compression at all on Cylinder 3.  Garage non-committal on what it 'could be' and not prepared to take on the job of re-build engine or replace.  "Its just not something we do anymore".  

I am trying to think what could have caused such a failure.  I am thinking valve through the piston, given that I had valve work done (new hydraulic followers).  But why the knocking?  The steel seal treatment worked a treat and stopped the water leak stone dead, but I suppose the HG could have blown elsewhere.  Would that cause complete loss of compression in an instant?  No. And again the knocking suggests something more terminal.

I am thinking, little end or big end bearing gone, causing the piston to rise higher and come into contact with the valves and potentially put a hole in it.  WDYT?   Does that happen?   Apparently the OHC and valve gear all looks clean and nice.

Either way, its an engine out and take the head off job to see the problem, then decide if rebuild this engine or put in a replacement.  Or just go for engine switch straight away.  What do the economics look like for either option.  Assuming I can find a garage that will actually do the work....they are all too busy with ECU resets and oil changes.

 

 

Pistonhead
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Now if it ascertained an engine is required then in my opinion it would be cheaper overall to fit in to yours a engine from a saloon if available. Note: An engine from a saloon would be of higher compression compares to those fitted to the G's in general. 

To check, as you suspect the crankshaft bearings, then the sump can be dropped to check this out - need not be an engine out at this stage.

As far as diagnosis of the head is concerned, I still favor a cylinder leakage test and if need be an inspection with a borescope.

Should you be struggling to find a local garage then I know of a good one in Loughborough, East Midlands. PM me only if you are at a dead end. 

jdring
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Re: Burning Water / losing water W460

Latest is that the local garage dumped it back on the road outside my house (lol) rather than waiting for transport to the next place.

The report clarifies that there is no compression in 3 or 4, so that does rather point to a blown HG between the two.  Quite possibly sealing the water HG leak increased the compression a bit and caused the next part to go.  HG could be 30 years old after all, or the head may have had some extreme heat (noted the car had a new radiator when I bought it - not definitely after an overheating, but quite possible).  As Rakesh says, the head may not need skimming, so will have to check it with a straight edge when it is off.  That is the plan now - find mechanic that can get that head off, check it, rebuild anything needed, new HG and replace.

What sort of things to do while the head is off?  I am still unsure about the knock/rattle - thinking new big end bearings.  Can they be done with the engine in the G? From below.  The trouble is that old cars are like teeth.  Don't look too closely or you end up finding loads and the jobs are never ending.

I used an endoscope gadget to look in the cylinders 3 & 4 (got video).  TBH - difficult to see anything.  Just appears to show no damage to the surface of the pistons, but can't tell much else.  Those gadgets are not that great.