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Checked the oil yesterday, and noticed a black "tide mark" around the top of the coolant water tank. :(

It was only renewed about 3 weeks ago when the belts were all changed. The oil is totally clean, as is the dipstick and the oil filler cap. The car starts and runs as normal. Mechanic mentioned sometimes cars with oil coolers can get this, but just hoping it isn't the head gasket. It still has about 3 weeks of warranty left. He's going to have a good look tomorrow and flush it all out. I'll let you know the outcome.
 

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Not you as well - I think the head gasket has failed on my father-in-law's Saab 9-5, going to have a look at it this week.

Fingers crossed! Not something you hear of on Alfa V6's very much - I wonder if a stone in the oil cooler, or corrosion there, might be the issue? But then you'd expect the oil to come out pretty sharpish, under pressure...

Let us know and good luck!
 

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Yes my fingers are well and truly crossed! I did have a slight oil leak from one of the pipes into the cooler in the summer, so *might* be related. Will keep you posted
 

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I expect your mechanic was referring to the oil/water heat exchanger type coolers that the non-GTA 156/147/GT get. The GTA doesn't have simple ways for the oil to get into the coolant...:(
 

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I had an Oil cooler go once ( not on an Alfa ). The water got into the oil, not the other way round. The oil ended up looking like mayonnaise, white and thick.

Not sure under what circumstances you'd end up with oil in water and when it would be water in oil though.

RG
 

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I expect your mechanic was referring to the oil/water heat exchanger type coolers that the non-GTA 156/147/GT get. The GTA doesn't have simple ways for the oil to get into the coolant...:(
D'oh!

By the way, found a small (<0.5cm long) bit of solid in the water tank aswell, would describe it as like set glue, clear and rubbery. What are head gaskets made from nowadays?
 

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Just been on to the garage....

They've flushed the system out, he DOESNT think its the head gasket. He said not much "stuff" at all, and that it looked very clean. He reckoned head gasket failures tend to leave emulsions and mush, whereas this was clean looking. I wonder if there is some corrosion inhibitor or something similar??

Anyway, he's cleaned it, so I'll monitor it over the next few days, deliberately "pressing on ":D, and see what happens
 

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Does anyone know what the cooling radiator is below the radiator water tank?? You can see it through the honeycomb grill, behind the front drivers side spoiler. Is it power steering or oil or brake fluid? Either way mine appears to have loads of black crud on the top, looks oily. Wonder if this is the source?
 

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The left front is the power steering cooler
The right front is the engine oil cooler (drivers side for RHD)
 

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So facing the car this is on the left, so that is the engine oil cooler. I wonder why theres loads of oily crud on the top of it then?
 

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Was the old coolant really 'mucky' that was drained off? When was it previously changed? The scum mark in the header tank could be residue from the old coolant. If it's done extensive mileage,anyones guess as to what may, or may not, have been added to the cooling system.
 

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ZF, the coolant was only changed about 3 or 4 weeks ago. It looked very much like oil. The coolant itself wasn't mucky, it just had this layer on the top. I tried to get a sample (cos I work in an oil lab!) but proved too difficult.
 

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I'm no expert on this, just give you a few as found coolant instances. Drained 'crap' from cooling system, horrible grey slop! Left a scummy, crusty, gungy mark in the header tank. Removed header tank, allowed strong solution of detergent to soak in it, then shook hard keeping inlet, outlet's blocked off. Repeated this until it was pretty clean. Filled system with a 50/50 mixture after flushing same with hose pipe topped up with water collected from my garage de- humidifier, nice bright coolant. When the corrosion inhibitors are finished, the coolant gradually goes crappy, as they cease to work. Hence the recommended change intervals. Watch the colour!:) PS this wasn't our 147, but a high mileage banger, we now use as a hack vehicle. Don't reckon it had ever had a coolant change.
 

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Hopefully this will give you some confidence.

I bought my 155 V6 when it was 6 years old, 6 years ago. I went to look at it a couple of times before handing over the cash because it is a rare spec and I wanted to be sure. Anyway, the only factor that was going to deter me from buying is of course the head gasket scenario. So I opened the bonnet and to my horror saw a dark residue in the water header tank as if some oil had been in there in the past. I suspected the owner had simply changed the oil and water and I would get a nasty surprise when I got home. I then told him to 'shove it' and left sharpish with a sunken heart (aaww). He phoned me the day after and said he has had a mechanic look at it (which I am anyway) and there are no problems with the engine, he can assure me. I took his word for it for the time being and thought I could easily visit him if he is trying to stitch me up. So I bought the car and to this day (6 years and 40'000 miles later) I have not experienced any problems. The black mark is still there on the header tank and will stay for a long time I think.
 

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Thanks for that. The point is it wasnt there last time i looked, about a month ago. Oil is still clean as a whistle, as is the oil filler cap. Performance is still great, and it starts first time. And surely the water is under more pressure so if anything, water more likely in oil than the other way round.
I'll just monitor it and see what happens.

Just one other point, the water pump was changed with the timing belts.
 

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If you feel so inclined, get the expansion tank checked for combustion gases leaking into the coolant, by having your friendly MoT guy, to put his 'sniffer' (no not his nose) analyzer in the header tank, not in the coolant, obviously, to check for gas leakage. Not an infallible test, but may give you abit of re-assurance.:)
 

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I can probably do that myself at work, I'll check if we can do it!
 

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Just one other point, the water pump was changed with the timing belts.
probably a small ammount of residue from the protective grease on the waterpump... a good mechanic will usually take the new pump apart and re-pack it with new grease (given that it could be anywhere up to 3 or 4 years old but unused) and obviously clean off the protective grease that gets put on to stop it going rusty, but if they havnt thats most liekly what you have. If your HG had gone youd know all about it by now
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I was thinking along those lines aswell UKOS. I analysed some of the coolant at work this afty and there was nothing alarming in it, so relief there
 
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