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Ron, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Car
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Experience:  ASE Certified Tech
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Hello, I have a question about my 1987 Trooper. I went to start it yesterday, and the e

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Hello, I have a question about my 1987 Trooper.

I went to start it yesterday, and the engine didn't fire... it just made clicking like the starter was trying, with no result. It wasn't weak, as in the battery seemed to be delivering a steady and strong charge. I got out of the vehicle, after a few tries, went inside for a moment, and came back a moment later to see a liquid leaking from the bottom into my yard. I caught some of the liquid in a pan; it is green, and smells weakly of coolant...

I was using it to haul a laden trailer the day before, and she was close to overheating... I checked the radiator, which took some water, but my coolant overflow tank seems to be full to the brim.
Any help would be great... thank you.
Hello and welcome to Justanswer,

How much water did you have to add?

Have you pulled the spark plugs to see if they are wet with coolant?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I added the water the day before when it was hot, and I noticed that the overflow tank was filling. I only had a few ounces of water in a bottle, which it drank up... I had gotten the fluids all topped off the week before.


My overflow tank is still VERY FULL, and while I missed the first few minutes of the leak, it doesn't seem to have been a large amount.


I have not checked the sparks... would the still show signs of coolant on them, though it's been a couple of days since the event occurred?


I'm guessing you're saying I may have bad head gasket, if they have coolant on them?

Matt, if you got close to over heating the engine and now it will not turn over I would start with removing the spark plugs and see if you have coolant in the cylinders, if so this would cause a liquid lock and not allow the engine to crank over. Remove the spark plugs and try craning the engine, if you see coolant blow out then that would point towards a blown head gasket. Give this a try and let me know what you find and we can go from there.
Ron and 3 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So, after we spoke, I went home and randomly tried to start the vehicle. It started right up. I filled up the radiator, which was completely empty (though the overflow is completely full) and drove it to a mechanic.... who told me last night that he could find nothing wrong. So... I don't know. I'm not sure what I should do to stop that from happening again, other than maybe find a priest to perform an exorcism. Nothing the mechanic proposed would explain BOTH the bad starter and the coolant that leaked when I was starting it. He checked all the hoses... and basically found nothing. So, anyhow, I'd take any other advice you have, and so you know I will be rating your work as excellent... it was certainly closer to help than my mechanic attempted. Thank you.

Matt if your loosing coolant it has to be either leaking it or burning it, did he performed a cooling system pressure test? If he hasn't then that needs to be performed, I would also have him run a block test which will test the cooling system for any signs of a head gasket leaking?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Just talked to the mechanic, he says they did do a coolant system pressure check; it was fine.

They did not perform a block test, so I guess if I have another issue (which I'm sure I will) I'll limp her back over there and have them check the gasket. Which is pretty much what I've been worried as being the issue, but I'm not sure how I would evaluate that on my own.

I cooling system block test is fairly easy to perform Matt, they sell a kit the for it and you use a dye in a sniffer that sniffs the coolant in the radiator for any signs of hydro-carbons (exhaust) in the cooling system, If the dye changes color its means the gaskets are leaking.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Excellent. This will help me answer the question I've been trying to avoid answering, and more importantly, trying to avoid paying someone to answer for me. However, you, sir, have earned my money... although I already rated you as excellent, I'm hoping it will let me back in to send a tip. I'm gonna go pick up that kit, right now. Thanks again.

Matt the question stays open to you for as long as you need me even after rating, thank you as well.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I know, but the "tip your mechanic" option is only offered to me when I give you the rating. I attempted to go back to that webpage, and it told me that to do so I would be charged the full price of "asking another question"... I just feel bad, because as far as I can tell, you're the only helpful mechanic I've ever met.

Its not a problem Matt, You can catch me the next time if you ever need me again. No worries here okay.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So, I just called two auto parts stores... basically read them your description of the test kit... they both said they have nothing like that... the closest was soemthing that required a UV light to perform. Is there a more common name that a clerk might recognize, or is this something I need to order from a specialty store?

Click the link below, Auto Zone stocks the kit along with instructions to do it your self.
Here is a U tube Vid for how to do it as well.

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