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head gasket, piston rings, valves, cracked head or other?

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Discussion Starter #1
Good day all. Thank you for all you guys/gals do here, very informative stuff.

I have a 2006 Ridgeline. It burns 1 QT of oil and ~4 to 6 ounces of water after driving 80 miles. It smokes whispy white/blue smoke out the tailpipe upon startup, after taking off from a stop sign or stop light, but it is intermittent and I'm not always able to duplicate the smoke (sometimes it does it, sometimes it doesn't). Obviously, I can't tell if it's blowing smoke when I'm up to speed. The vehicle idles fine and runs great. I know that smoke out the exhaust is a major problem, so I'm trying to diagnose and fix the problem.

So here is some more info: I changed out all 6 spark plugs today. When I did that, I did a compression test, here are the results:
1: 240 psi
2: 207 psi
3: 240 psi
4: 100 psi (after doing the first test, we added some oil to the cyl and re-tested and got 115 psi). Upon removing the #4 spark plug, the threads were coated in oil.
5: 230 psi
6: 235 psi

The Haynes manual says that compression should be between 135-163. So could I have excessive carbon buildup in the cylinders? Or are the 200+ PSIs in Cyl 1,2,3,5, and 6 something to be concerned about?

Are there any other tests I can run to determine whats likely the problem? Do you think I have a head gasket issue or piston ring issue?

If I start tearing down the engine and replace the head gasket, is there anything else I should do while in there? This would be my first time doing any engine work, but I have access to some friends who are pretty savvy mechanics.

Thanks for your help.
 

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Wow, Definitely have a problem you need to sort out. Loss of coolant sounds like head gasket. Low compression could be cracked block or cylinder scoring issue... maybe even valve issues?

Regardless, I don't think you have a single problem, but more likely multiple failures.. or near failures.

How many miles and what has been the maintenance history?
 

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Few things to go with.
Also, forgot to mention it earlier, the variance is not from what the manual says, the variance (10% or 15%) is between each cylinder. I recommend you search cylinder pressure testing on YouTube and look for videos created by engine builders or tuners; not some backyard mechanic who claims to be a 'senior tech with ASE certification' for 1-billion years.

Few questions
  • when was the last time your coolant was fully changed?
  • how is the transmission fluid?
  • when you look at the bottom of the radiator, how does it look? do you see greenish build up?
  • have you taken the valve cover off? how does the valve train look like?
If you end up removing the head and finding out that the cylinders are scored or other things are wrong, besides the head gasket, you may want to look for replacement engines.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow, Definitely have a problem you need to sort out. Loss of coolant sounds like head gasket. Low compression could be cracked block or cylinder scoring issue... maybe even valve issues?

Regardless, I don't think you have a single problem, but more likely multiple failures.. or near failures.

How many miles and what has been the maintenance history?
230,000 Miles. I've only owned it for 5 months, so I'm not sure what was done before I owned it. I'll address maintenance in the next post down.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Few things to go with.
Also, forgot to mention it earlier, the variance is not from what the manual says, the variance (10% or 15%) is between each cylinder. I recommend you search cylinder pressure testing on YouTube and look for videos created by engine builders or tuners; not some backyard mechanic who claims to be a 'senior tech with ASE certification' for 1-billion years.

Few questions
  • when was the last time your coolant was fully changed?
  • how is the transmission fluid?
  • when you look at the bottom of the radiator, how does it look? do you see greenish build up?
  • have you taken the valve cover off? how does the valve train look like?
If you end up removing the head and finding out that the cylinders are scored or other things are wrong, besides the head gasket, you may want to look for replacement engines.
I did have all the spark plugs out when I did the compression test.
I have not changed the coolant, but will do this weekend or next.
Transmission fluid was changed 300 miles ago, just before this problem started.
I have not looked under the radiator, but will and report back.
I have not taken the valve cover off yet. What would I be looking for specifically?
 

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2,947 Posts
Valve train can tell a couple of things; blown head gasket or valve lash out of spec. Color of the oil around the valve train can tell you that coolant is getting into the oil and is being pushed around everywhere; as opposed to just pouring into the cylinder.

With the scope, you can see if the cylinder walls have scoring or the piston surfaces have any missing pieces. This would be an indication of piston damage.
Piston rings do not go bad under normal operation in the J35 as it is a very de-tuned engine. It operates way below its max threshold.

however, with the coolant and oil being retrieved is a tell tale sign that you have a headgasket issue as that is the only way to get oil and coolant to mix. Additional tell tale sign is the smoke out of the exhaust being of a whitish color. Blueish color is typically burning oil. You will see this best with the engine is idling and also when the engine is at higher part of the rev band. If you have someone drive behind you and you guys are at a steady 60mph and then you gun it so it shifts down and you take it as high as 5K, your buddy behind you maybe able to smell and also see that 'puff' of smoke.

What I suspect is that in Cylinder #4, you probably leaned out bad and the cylinder pressure went up and deformed the headgasket around its bore. Your #4 spark plug, before adding the oil-cylinder-test, would have told you many stories. With you burning oil and coolant in the cylinder, you will be raising the cylinder temperature fast. Though oil would 'really' make the combustion richer as there is too much hydrocarbons, but since its not gas and does not combust fully and get blown out, it starts to deposit on the piston head, cylinder head, and valves retaining heat.

let us know what you find.
 
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