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Discussion Starter #1
I'm confused.

I inherited my dad's'96 Impala when he passed in 2016. I just got it on the road a few weeks ago after having a shop replace some AC components and the PS front wheel well. My dad wasn't great with maintenance, and the car has been sitting, so I want to go through the car and do some things.

My dad had a problem with no/low heat for years. I can recall replacing the t-stat for him, but it didn't solve the issue. Last week, I decided to flush the heater core and then do a full cooling system flush.

I followed the directions on the bottle of cleaner by draining the radiator, adding the bottle to the system, and filling it with water. I drove the car for the week and have now been getting the car up to temp, draining the radiator, adding water, and repeating. My goal is to do this until I get clear water out since I will know all the old coolant is flushed.

Today, while working on this, I had the car running and noticed a "bubbling/burbling" sound coming from the PS tail pipe, along with some water droplets. I didn't know what to think. It sounded like there is water in there. I checked the dipstick and sure enough, there is water in my oil!

So, this feels sort of terrible and I'm trying to figure out what has happened. Did I somehow create a head gasket leak just from my efforts to flush the system? When I flushed the heater core, I used a garden hose on low pressure to push water through the core in both directions. Otherwise, I haven't used anything with pressure on it.

Do you guys know what is likely to have happened here? I'm guessing I won't be driving the car anymore, but am I looking at pulling the heads now? Did I do something wrong here?


Update: After typing the above, I checked the oil again after the car had cooled. I couldn't find any traces of moisture on the dipstick, just brown oil that needs to be changed. The car probably hasn't had an oil change since my dad did it in maybe 2014 or 2015. Someone suggested that maybe the moisture in the oil is just getting boiled off and that I should drive the car hard and change the oil. I have been driving it back and forth to work for over a week, but that's a short and easy fifteen minute drive.
 

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I doubt that you did any harm with the flush unless the "cleaner" you put in was pure muratic acid.

There's naturally quite a bit of water in the exhaust gasses of a gasoline powered car. My two 96's do the same thing, sounds like it's running "underwater" as some of the moisture collects in the muffler/resonator and sloshes back and forth with the exhaust gas pulses at idle.

Keep an eye on the oil level, take it out for a good 1 hour drive with some sustained load (high speed highway driving) which will help get all the fluids up to temp and any moisture boiled off.
 

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Best way to get all the coolant is to pull both knock sensors on the block before flushing.

Do you have a FSM?

An oil change is a must.
 

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… Last week, I decided to flush the heater core and then do a full cooling system flush.

I followed the directions on the bottle of cleaner by draining the radiator, adding the bottle to the system, and filling it with water. I drove the car for the week and have now been getting the car up to temp, draining the radiator, adding water, and repeating. My goal is to do this until I get clear water out since I will know all the old coolant is flushed.

Today, while working on this, I had the car running and noticed a "bubbling/burbling" sound coming from the PS tail pipe, along with some water droplets. I didn't know what to think. It sounded like there is water in there. I checked the dipstick and sure enough, there is water in my oil!

So, this feels sort of terrible and I'm trying to figure out what has happened. Did I somehow create a head gasket leak just from my efforts to flush the system? When I flushed the heater core, I used a garden hose on low pressure to push water through the core in both directions. Otherwise, I haven't used anything with pressure on it.

Do you guys know what is likely to have happened here? I'm guessing I won't be driving the car anymore, but am I looking at pulling the heads now? Did I do something wrong here?

Update:
After typing the above, I checked the oil again after the car had cooled. I couldn't find any traces of moisture on the dipstick, just brown oil that needs to be changed. The car probably hasn't had an oil change since my dad did it in maybe 2014 or 2015. Someone suggested that maybe the moisture in the oil is just getting boiled off and that I should drive the car hard and change the oil. I have been driving it back and forth to work for over a week, but that's a short and easy fifteen minute drive.
Basically what Fix Until Broke said.

If you want a quick 'street' test, park the car uphill, do a COLD start, temporarily remove the coolant reservoir cap, and note the coolant level.
If you see coolant bubbling in the reservoir, get nervous, that's a telltale sign of a headgasket leak.
If you don't see any bubbling, eventually, the coolant level will rise; get the cap back on before it overflows, then go for a long drive.
At the next COLD start, remove the cap again and note the coolant level. If it's the same as the last time, you should be m'kay.

At the next oil change, pay close attention to what actually comes out.
If your coolant level remains the same, though, it's probably just condensation, which means you either need a 180°F thermostat, or hotter fan-on settings for your short drives.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, everyone. I'll post an update once I have some time to change the oil and finish my coolant flush.
 

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Hi, I wonder if all the flushing let something loose in the cooler builtin to the RAD for oil?
that happened to me and got the dreaded milkshake :-(

I agree with others, oil change first, get coolant system filled and bleed [many threads on how to do this], then warm it up and feel the heater core hoses to be sure coolant is flowing,[ wear glove don't burn yourself]. Then test drive.

It's a 96 so Android phone with free Torque app and a ELM-327 i think bluetooth dongle for the OBD2 port and you can watch plenty of stuff while you drive.
i have this one
https://www.amazon.com/Tzadoks-Tech-Interface-Bluetooth-Diagnostic/dp/B07WMYCCR8/ref=asc_df_B07WMYCCR8/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=385169511321&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1771065254792359508&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003276&hvtargid=pla-875266338927&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=81184753329&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=385169511321&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1771065254792359508&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9003276&hvtargid=pla-875266338927


-ALF out...
 

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On the Knock Sensors be careful with those. They can rally get stuck in the Block and the Socket/Lid on top will not take much torque before breaking. Look at the threads for some tips on how best to get those out cause they can be painful. Also, reinstall and fill the block with water, remove the KS and let it drain again. do this a few times to get the block as clean as you can as a lot of sediment gets in there. I just kept doing this til the water came out clear.

Also it is not unusual to see Moisture inside the Oil Fill Tube or underside of the oil cap. Don't panic, its just condensation.

Also a very good idea to replace the Plastic tee and Flow Restricktor and throw a new 15 or 18lb (whichever you car has) Cap and of course T-Stat.

Edit - not sure if it was mentioned but flush out the Heater Core as well and reservoir. I just used the Hoses to push Water in and out of the HC a few times...again til water was clear. Then with Air Tank set at 20 PSI used air to blow all wather out of the HC. The reservoir is nanother thing that is a PITA to get fully clean, but remove it and clean as best you can. There are a few threads on this topic too and different methods used. There are just a lot of baffles in there and difficult to clean internals. If all old reminents of any Orange Coolant (Dex-Cool) were in the car, you can switch over to Green if you like (I prefer) but keep in mind you need to maintain system more often.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm sort of concerned about removing the knock sensors to get out all the old coolant given what I am hearing about the possibility of them breaking or being hard to get out. The last thing I want is to have a basic coolant flush turn into a situation where I am on my back under jack stands trying to deal with broken sensors.

If I keep filling with water, running the car to open the t-stat, then draining coolant from radiator, won't I eventually get it all out and just have clear water?
 

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Just a crazy thought here....

Remove the thermostat completely and re-assemble to prevent/eliminate the need to get the engine up to operating temp.
Take the upper and lower hoses off the radiator and extend them with ??? - maybe shop vacuum hoses or similar?
Fill up a kiddie pool or similar 50+ gallon container with water and put the hoses from the engine in the water.
Start up the engine, establish flow in/out of the hoses - Run the RPM's up/down to "flush".

I'd think that some time at 4500 RPM with a setup like the above will do more to flush sediment or anything out of the engine than re-circulating within the system on the car.
Using a kiddie pool or similar will allow a nice visual of what is coming out of the engine as well as give the water time to slow down and sediment to settle out before getting drawn in the suction side. When the pool gets dirty, drain, refill with clear water and repeat until the water stays clean.

Maybe just disconnect the lower hose from the radiator - extend the hose from the engine to the pool for suction and then connect the lower port of the radiator to another hose to the pool for discharge - this will flush the radiator as well.
 

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Just a crazy thought here....

Remove the thermostat completely well.
Study the lt1 thermostat,
Remove it and the by pass port is wide open. The coolant just goes round and round, never leaving the engine.
 

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Study the lt1 thermostat,
Remove it and the by pass port is wide open. The coolant just goes round and round, never leaving the engine.
Effectively remove the throttling element of the thermostat such that it forces the water to circulate through the radiator and not re-circulate around the engine as it does in warmup.

Yes, you'll destroy a thermostat and need to buy a new one.
 

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If I keep filling with water, running the car to open the t-stat, then draining coolant from radiator, won't I eventually get it all out and just have clear water?
Short answer is No. Sometimes there is so much crud in the block that even removing the KS, you have to poke the opening with a screwdriver. Not sure you get it all out but to do a True Flush you really need to drain the Block - IMHHO

It's not as intimidating as it sounds and if you break 1, not like there aren't ways to get the base of the KS out of the block. I've had good success by first tigtening it in just a little and then back it out. But really, do what you're comfortable with and just leave them in if you prefer. There is still guaranteed to be junk in the block which will be in the system which in turn could clog up your heater core. Plus GM used Clay/Ginger root? tablets in these cars that can gum stuff up.

If I'm going to bother with a flush, I'm going to do it all. Whatever you do is certainly better than doing nothing. Just don't get yourself to a point that you don't trust your skill set and get stuck. I was also worried that I could have a PITA if it broke but knew full well what was involved if it happened and had one that the Lid broke off (just a couple of tack welds) but managed to get it out.
 

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Study the lt1 thermostat,
Remove it and the by pass port is wide open. The coolant just goes round and round, never leaving the engine.
Effectively remove the throttling element of the thermostat such that it forces the water to circulate through the radiator and not re-circulate around the engine as it does in warmup.

Yes, you'll destroy a thermostat and need to buy a new one.
Yes, but i was replying to you post that said REMOVE it.

Also, hacking out the part of the valve that is closed cold, will still leave the part of the thermostat that closes the bypass port open because it is open cold.
 

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Chemically it will take over 20 gallons to flush out 99.999% of the old coolant. Distilled water is recommended. Does this get all the solid particles out? Everyone will have a different experience. If you look up coolant flush for crown victoria on utube you can see a guy rinse and repeat until the water looks like water.


I cycled out my neglected car's coolant several times and have been watching for particles or color change of the coolant. I will be doing a flush yearly for a couple of years. Real warm up from driving and the heat/cold cycles from driving will keep releasing particles long after you have done the first emergency cleaning. For me this is a summer project where I can dump out the system then drive for a day or two then repeat.
 

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Yes, but i was replying to you post that said REMOVE it.

Also, hacking out the part of the valve that is closed cold, will still leave the part of the thermostat that closes the bypass port open because it is open cold.
You're right, if you did that, that is what would happen - don't do that.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ok, so you guys have me feeling like this weekend I need to get the car up off the ground so I can get under it and remove the knock sensors, then flush out the coolant through those passages. This means four ramps/stands so the car is up high but level, I assume.



Maybe I should have just left well enough alone since the car was running and driving, but I wanted to address the heat issue and I knew the coolant was neglected and filthy.


While you guys are in here helping me all friendly like, would anyone like to suggest why my electric fans now don't seem to be coming on, even when the car is hot? The temp gauge is going higher than ever, but these fans aren't coming one. I saw them coming on a few days ago as I was doing this process. Now, nothing. Coincidence? Do I just turn to crap everything I touch to work on?
 

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I wouldn't take the knock sensors out. Just make sure the level is correct, and bleed it properly. If you have to replace a heater core, no big deal.



Fans: car on, turn AC on MAX. Fans on? Next, unplug temp sensor on water pump. Fans should come on.


Change that oil... drive the car. Best thing you can do for a car. The more you drive it, the better it will run.
 

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Ok, so you guys have me feeling like this weekend I need to get the car up off the ground so I can get under it and remove the knock sensors, then flush out the coolant through those passages. This means four ramps/stands so the car is up high but level, I assume.



Maybe I should have just left well enough alone since the car was running and driving, but I wanted to address the heat issue and I knew the coolant was neglected and filthy.


While you guys are in here helping me all friendly like, would anyone like to suggest why my electric fans now don't seem to be coming on, even when the car is hot? The temp gauge is going higher than ever, but these fans aren't coming one. I saw them coming on a few days ago as I was doing this process. Now, nothing. Coincidence? Do I just turn to crap everything I touch to work on?
Dont be skerred, you got this. Good call doing this as you said it's "neglected and filthy". Take a look online at a KS replacement part and you'll see the 6 or so little welds that secure the Socket (22mm?) head/lid and have an idea of how little they can take and then the lid just spins. Check the threads here too and you'll get some good ideas of what to expect. I've posted some experiences of this exciting job.

The KS is only supposed to have teeny 14 lbs of torque to install and they wont take a lot of abuse to remove...so go easy there big fella.:smile2: On the pass side it may be worth the short time it takes to remove the Starter. Gives you so much more room to work and see. Once their out, you can test the resistance of the KS and think it was about 500 ohms. Probably hold off replacing if they check out or just get new....dont think they're too costly.

On the fans, gary has a nice diagnostic thread on his site and heres the link...

Caprice / Impala SS / Roadmaster | IW

GL and let us know how it goes
 

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My 1996 Impala SS suffered large amount of water in the oil and combustion chambers, after I did a coolant flush. This on a 128,000 mile car. I figure the rust desolver brand I used was too aggressive and the engine may have been weak.
 
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