Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

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Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby par » Wed 20.01.2016, 00:15

Removed the front bumper for better access while I spruce up a few things and noticed the oil cooler appears to be totally clogged up, should I be worried? It doesnt really smell like oil but I suspect it there must be a leak of some sort as the intercooler on the other side is bone dry in comparison. If this was just a build up of road grit over the years I would expect both sides to look similar.

Image

Image

What is the best way to check it over - give it a good clean and dry and leave to see if I can spot any leaks or would it need to be under pressure to really show? The car has been parked in the garage for few months and there is no oil drips on the floor but that might just be all the gunk soaking it up.

All advice appreciated.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby theelanman » Wed 20.01.2016, 10:03

erm.....the only way I know of checking it is to take it out and pressurise it...or get someone else to pressurise it....
might as well send it off for a refurb once its out tho'
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Artaban » Wed 20.01.2016, 12:22

Well I've never seen anything like that and my cars done 144K. Can you tell what it is as it doesn't look from the pictures like normal road dirt which I would expect to wash off with gentle soap and water. Be careful of pressure washers as they can damage the cooling fins; better to use a hose. However it looks almost deliberate, as if someone has caked it in something to prevent a leak.

I would agree you need to see if it will wash off and then get any leak fixed properly. Apollo is selling a secondhand one on eBay at the moment for £69.95 if that helps.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Rambo » Wed 20.01.2016, 12:47

Artaban wrote:Well I've never seen anything like that and my cars done 144K. Can you tell what it is as it doesn't look from the pictures like normal road dirt which I would expect to wash off with gentle soap and water. Be careful of pressure washers as they can damage the cooling fins; better to use a hose. However it looks almost deliberate, as if someone has caked it in something to prevent a leak.


Looks like that to me too. My oil cooler fins don't look like that at all :shock: Perhaps SMS bodged it up before the sale.

Maybe Scott can give an indication of what the oil cooler was like when he had the car and whether there'd been any previous problems ??

PS I was forever telling him that using Nardini's used chip oil wasn't a suitable substitute for a good synthetic oil :twisted:
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby esprit888 » Wed 20.01.2016, 17:56

Weird!, one things for sure its isn't cooling anything! it almost looks like someone has sprayed an undercoat protection and decided to cover everything, including the oil cooler, the fins should look the same on the front as they do on the back and be clear as its dependent upon air flow across the surface area of the fins. It needs to be removed and cleaned if possible, replaced if not.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Rambo » Wed 20.01.2016, 19:12

esprit888 wrote:Weird!, one things for sure its isn't cooling anything! it almost looks like someone has sprayed an undercoat protection and decided to cover everything, including the oil cooler, the fins should look the same on the front as they do on the back and be clear as its dependent upon air flow across the surface area of the fins. It needs to be removed and cleaned if possible, replaced if not.


I agree. It looks like undercoat protection or that bituminous tar that you paint on shed roofs (before adding the felting)
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby HJ2 » Wed 20.01.2016, 19:22

I'd throw it in the ultrasonic cleaner first, then pressurize it to see if it survived this 'treatment' :chair:
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Fredjohn » Wed 20.01.2016, 19:41

If you can get it off in one piece take it to your local radiator builder. (I'm lucky I have one in Kenilworth only 1 mile from home).

They will clean it up (probably in a suitable acid bath) then pressure test it for you. If it's too bad to clean look elsewhere on this site for coolexperts for a new one, or ebay for a used one (appollo996 or maybe surfboardfiller).

Good luck.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby par » Thu 21.01.2016, 00:42

Thanks for all the responses!

Had another look tonight and it is definitely just road grime that is clogging it up, unfortunately it is being bound together with oil from somewhere. The upside is that it isnt anything sinister that has been deliberately packed in or coated in body underseal, the down side is that I need to find out where the oil is coming from. Obvious suspects being the cooler matrix, the couplings/fittings or the hoses - all have a coating of oil at the moment.

The degreaser I have is struggling to clear in between the fins so as suggested above most likely course will be to remove it and find somewhere that can give it an ultrasonic clean & pressure test.

The 2nd hand one on ebay looks to be in a similar condition to mine just cleaned up a bit so a bit reluctant to pay nearly £80 so will investigate other new options.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Rambo » Thu 21.01.2016, 10:19

Par - the only problems I have ever had at the oil cooler end was when one of the hoses gave up. My garage got Pirtek to make a new one (or new fittings, can't remember which)

If there has been a small weep over time this would account for the build up looking like it does, especially with all the grit and dust on our roads.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Rambo » Thu 21.01.2016, 10:27

I forgot to say it's worth going down the Pirtek route if its a feed or return hose as they are expensive new. £70 each plus vat, packing etc from SJS. If you're looking at a brand new oil cooler its £200 + extras :shock:

I know everyone slags them off, but it might also be worth contacting Steve Strange at DVB if only to get a comparison on used prices. He might even have an oil cooler they has been cleaned up and fully pressure tested
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby GeoffSmith » Thu 21.01.2016, 11:25

Are you sure it's not Scott's hair gel?
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby par » Fri 22.01.2016, 00:44

Rambo wrote:Par - the only problems I have ever had at the oil cooler end was when one of the hoses gave up. My garage got Pirtek to make a new one (or new fittings, can't remember which)

If there has been a small weep over time this would account for the build up looking like it does, especially with all the grit and dust on our roads.


I suspect it may be one of the hoses also, so I will remove the cooler and the hoses. I have found a radiator specialist not far from the office in Dundee who hopefully should be able to clean and test both. Can you recall how much it cost from Pirtek to make up a replacement hose?
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Rambo » Fri 22.01.2016, 11:24

Rambo wrote:Par - the only problems I have ever had at the oil cooler end was when one of the hoses gave up. My garage got Pirtek to make a new one (or new fittings, can't remember which)

If there has been a small weep over time this would account for the build up looking like it does, especially with all the grit and dust on our roads.


par wrote:suspect it may be one of the hoses also, so I will remove the cooler and the hoses. I have found a radiator specialist not far from the office in Dundee who hopefully should be able to clean and test both. Can you recall how much it cost from Pirtek to make up a replacement hose?


Just checked my records and found out I also had the oil cooler renewed back in Oct 2008. The oil cooler pipe was repaired by Pirtek as one of the ends had gone. It looks like the repair by Pirtek cost £45 and the new oil cooler + fitting the oc and repaired pipe was £160 (+vat)

Hope this helps ?
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby par » Mon 25.01.2016, 19:15

Rambo wrote:
Just checked my records and found out I also had the oil cooler renewed back in Oct 2008. The oil cooler pipe was repaired by Pirtek as one of the ends had gone. It looks like the repair by Pirtek cost £45 and the new oil cooler + fitting the oc and repaired pipe was £160 (+vat)

Hope this helps ?


Thanks Mark, gives me an idea of the possible costs. Dropped off the oil cooler and hoses this morning to be tested so will see what needs replaced.

This is how it looked after a good soaking with degreaser, still well clogged up:-
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby Enright » Tue 26.01.2016, 14:42

Just a thought, but when I bought my last Elan the seller was quite proud of the fact that he'd had the oil cooler properly cleaned out, and he said that as a result his oil was now staying a lot cleaner.
I must admit I was a bit sceptical when I first heard about this, but on seeing it I thought "hey, perhaps it could be a good idea after all".
Now I know you were talking about the outside rather than oilways, but if nasties are floating around in there and they are always pushed by the pump one way INTO the oil cooler, then they could in theory cause blockages, and never get caught and disposed of with an oil filter change.
But while the oil cooler isn't symmetrical, the fittings (and positions of them) look as though they are. So if you trust the filter to do its job, it might be quite feasible to connect the cooler backwards for a while, run the engine to blackflush it, and then change the oil and filter to get rid of any loosened deposits.
That's assuming that the aforementioned loose deposits are going to get caught in the filter before doing any damage anywhere else.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby par » Wed 27.01.2016, 00:11

When draining the oil once the cooler was removed it was very thick and gloopy, considering the oil was changed less than 1000 miles ago it seemed a lot blacker than I would have expected - the oil on the dipstick is still clear.

So it makes sense that the old sludgey oil has ended up in the bottom of the cooler as normal oil changes will never drain and replace this part of the system.
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Re: Oil Cooler - Does this look right?

Postby epipete » Wed 27.01.2016, 06:31

par wrote:So it makes sense that the old sludgey oil has ended up in the bottom of the cooler as normal oil changes will never drain and replace this part of the system.


True, I guess, if there has been a poor oil change regime in the past, otherwise, even the old oil would be pushed around the system along with the new, so there will always be done contamination of new oil, nevertheless your situation would suggest that the scheduled oil changes were at some time neglected, hence the thickening and blockage. Alternatively, could a sometime failure of the pump ne a cause, be interesting to remove the sump and see what's in there!
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