If you notice milky coolant in your car, it could indicate a serious issue with the head gasket. But what exactly is milky coolant, and what should you look out for?
What Is Milky Coolant?
A strange dark or gray, milky color in your coolant, or white antifreeze, is caused by a significant problem with your head gasket. One of the jobs of the head gasket is to keep the motor oil and coolant separated from the combustion chamber. When you notice milky oil in the car, it’s because the coolant has leaked into the combustion chambers and mixed with the motor oil, so the color is from the diluted oil.
When the oil and coolant are diluted, the oil will not be able to provide the necessary lubrication to the engine parts, and the coolant will not be able to cool the engine as it’s supposed to. This issue will cause the engine to run at a higher temperature than normal, which will eventually blow the head gasket completely.
What to Watch out For
Checking under the hood of your car periodically is the best and easiest way to identify this issue. Most vehicles have a reservoir in the engine for the coolant, so by simply checking the reservoir, you can monitor the coolant color and level. Coolant is normally a bright orange, green or lime green.
If you haven’t checked under the hood, or if your car is older and doesn’t have this reservoir, remember that there are other symptoms to keep an eye out for. One of the most obvious signs of an issue is the engine overheating, which indicates that the cooling is not doing its job for some reason. You’ll know this is happening when the temperature gauge on your dashboard rises to about the mid-level mark.
You may also notice the engine jolting or stalling frequently, which is a sign that the combustion is abnormal and the engine may be close to failure. It’s possible that you might also physically see leaking coolant. Check underneath the car for any signs of moisture or puddles.
If you notice any of these signs, there’s likely damage to your engine that needs to be dealt with right away.
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