97 Saturn SL1 Has Oil In Coolant, But No Coolant In Oil.

Posted in Crank, Oil and Piston

At the last oil change, I found the oil level about 2 quarts low, and when I looked at the coolant reservoir it had overflowed with oily goo. I guess that the oil had leaked into the coolant, but there was no coolant in the oil as I have seen happen when head gaskets go. What else could it be if not the head gasket?
And if there is a leak where oil gets into the coolant, when the engine is shut off, shouldn’t the pressure in the cooling system force coolant through the leak and back into the oil?
The car still runs fine. No loss of power. No idiot lights ever came on. The temp gage never went into the red or even above normal.
There are two thin lines that go into the right side of the radiator(as you look at it) that come from the engine. Our next stop will be to the dealer (and maybe not for a new head?)
The transmission fluid is still red and clear

There are 11 Answers for "97 Saturn SL1 Has Oil In Coolant, But No Coolant In Oil."

    1. tsh_66 says:

      need the results of a compression test to really answer that one there spanky. perhaps a cracked head or bad head gasket. either way prepare to open up your wallet. You my friend have screwed the pooch. How hot did you run that thing anyway???? when the little red light comes on that says coolant on it… thats bad. when the little needle moves to the red… thats bad. You probably should have done that cooling system maintenance when the local repair shop recommended it and you thought they were trying to take your money. well get ready to pay now. Why dont any of the folks on here start with stating how they have abused the vehicle before they ask for the answer. its the same at the shop you fools figure if you lie to me It will change the condition of your vehicle. what stupidity….. Good luck.

    2. Pumper Tech says:

      ask your saturn dealer for a copy of Technicial Service Bulliten (TSB) 96-T-65B. It describes a defect in the Cylinder head camshaft journels that crack and allow oil to pass into the cooling system. Basicly, you need a new head, and remember to flush the cooling system. Note that having oil in the system will cause your rubber hoses to swell and you may have to replace all the hoses and water pump also.

    3. nufoundglory82 says:

      sometimes oil flows(in seperate piping) into the bottom end of the radiator for a little extra cooling. Chances are it isn’t leaking into the oil from there but it could be a possibility.

    4. idaho69442 says:

      If you’re getting oil in the coolant, its probably your oil cooler. If you had coolant in your oil it would be a head gasket most likely. Good luck.

    5. Adam M says:

      are you sure its oil and not transmission fluid?Usually the radiator may have an internal leak and cause your tranny fluid to mix with the anti-freeze coolant try checking your transmission fluid and see if it look funny should be dark red,i have never heard of nor seen oil in your coolant only tranny fluid hope this helps you if this is the case you need to replace the radiator and flush the tranny

    6. Dondi says:

      Best guess I can make is a blown head gasket. oil port has blown into the water port. The oil pressure is greater than the water pressure, so it will get into the water, and the water should stay out of the oil for the most part. Just make sure your oil doesn’t start getting a light gray or dirty milk color in it, that indicated emulsified water. Get to your mechanic pronto.

    7. book writer says:

      Time to Trade the 3 T’s

    8. Mike H says:

      it has a blown head gasket .. they are know for that

    9. Charles C says:

      Oil now comes in gallon sized jugs which are easily confused with antifreeze jugs. Is it possible that someone mistakenly put oil in the cooling system? Add to that the fact that cars are always developing oil leaks, and you’ve found yourself lined up for a world of confusion.

    10. christina J says:

      You probably have a contaminated coolant system. You need to flush, run, and recheck. Only use Dex-Cool coolant, nothing else. And you cannot add green coolant to Dex-Cool. The two lines that you see running into your radiator are transmission cooler lines. There is no worry there if they are not leaking or seeping. Start with that and go from there.

    11. conallgold says:

      What does the tranmission oil have to do with oil in the coolant. Anyway, definitely a head gasket. (hint: just buy a new car! It’ll be cheaper).