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So the main reason I got my new '19 Colorado is because my trusty '02 Chevy S-10 Xtreme (4.3L Vortec V6, RWD, Ext. Cab) bit the bullet on me coming home after 17 very loyal years and only 93,000 miles (the first owner barely drove it for the 3-4 years he owned it) of good service. As I was driving home the engine began to heat up rapidly and the warning lights start coming on. After struggling to drive it another mile, I was forced to park the truck in a local fire department's lot and come back with a trailer. Thankfully my good friend is a mechanic and speculated a few possible causes:

1) I lost water out of the radiator via a leaky hose. (Highly unlikely because I had just replaced the radiator after diagnosing a persistent water leak.)
2) I blew an intake gasket again. (Likely because this happened several years ago because the truck still ran with the pink Dex-Cool antifreeze in it and it ate through the gasket.)
3) A head gasket is compromised and water is in the engine oil.
4) I cracked a head or the engine block and water is in the oil.

After inspecting the dipstick, I find that the engine has swallowed a couple GALLONS of water and the oil is the consistency of a melted milkshake. We also attempted to refill the radiator with some water, but the water very quickly seems to disappear without starting the engine. No leaks on the ground. Completely defeated I towed the car home and got it off the trailer and into my driveway. A couple days later we get supplies together to flush the engine of the contaminated oil. I buy enough to flush the engine out twice and we also completely drained all the water out of the vehicle. Thankfully after the second oil change, the oil appears to be clean with no haze in it nor thick texture. The engine also runs fine for a couple minutes minus water, but full of the requisite amount of oil. Has anyone else ran into similar issues with this occurring on S-10s with the 4.3L engine at all and have you ever found the cause? I'm not overly concerned at this point because my friend and I are prepared to part the truck out for any sort of profit it may bring if the engine is fatally compromised from a cracked block.
 

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The 4.3 motor is known for having thin water channels and when they fail and crack it is inside the block. I leraned this from a marine motor that froze and instead of the freeze plug popping it cracked the inside of the block. You now have a very large milkshake making machine.....
 

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If you replaced the lower intake manifold gasket with the factory part, that was the mistake. Only use Fel-Pro with the metal insert in those old 4.3s. This is the known issue with these engines. DexCool was not a factor in the failure; that is a mistaken myth. The problem was the plastic factory LIM gasket that would stretch and tear over time due to temperature caused expansion/ contraction between the block and heads. Once again, do not try to blame DexCool for the gasket's failure, Dex works just fine. Replace the entire gasket set with Fel-Pro and problem solved.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maybe head gasket? More so when the engine is hot?

How do the spark plugs look?
I have yet to inspect spark plugs, but I'm going to take a day to check that real soon. For the time being I flushed the engine to the point the oil was clear, drained the water completely and parked it for now. Next steps is to either take it to my friend's garage or start small work on it where it sits. The engine runs as smooth as it did before the failure, so I suspect they should be mostly fine. Anything in particular I should look for?

What he said. Very common, especially after 100k. Of the two, the intake gasket leak was the more common, but head gaskets weren't far behind.
The car failed at 93,000-ish on the odometer, and they were relatively gentle miles on the car. I really didn't beat the thing to death much. The only reason I'm not suspecting gasket leaks (yet) is because like I said before, the night it failed I attempted to refill the radiator with some extra water just to limp the car onto a trailer so it wouldn't instantaneously overheat, but when I checked the water level after pouring a whole gallon or so the water vanished almost immediately leading me to believe there was a fairly large hole somewhere in the bottom half of the engine because my radiator flows from the bottom.

Get your mechanic friend to pull the intake and heads off and inspect for damaged gaskets.
That was my objective once I get it to his garage. We're going to tear the engine down to the short block and inspect as much as we can to attempt to track the problem. If it's just heads or gaskets, then we replace those and reassemble the engine. If we can't find a symptom or any trace of a failure point, we're likely going to replace the entire engine to be safe.

If you replaced the lower intake manifold gasket with the factory part, that was the mistake. Only use Fel-Pro with the metal insert in those old 4.3s. This is the known issue with these engines. DexCool was not a factor in the failure; that is a mistaken myth. The problem was the plastic factory LIM gasket that would stretch and tear over time due to temperature caused expansion/ contraction between the block and heads. Once again, do not try to blame DexCool for the gasket's failure, Dex works just fine. Replace the entire gasket set with Fel-Pro and problem solved.
IIRC the first time I replaced the intake gasket (this was over 10 years ago), we did get Fel-Pro gaskets and replaced the antifreeze anyway due to finding some debris in the system from the disintegrating gasket.
 

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If your spark plugs are cracked it could be from the anti freeze getting into the cylinder. Any smoke coming out the tail pipe. I have had bad head gaskets and the car ran fine. But keeped loosing anti freeze and was not on the ground.

Lots of other great suggestions on this thread to check.

If you do need gaskets use as suggested in the thread. cheap gaskets dont last.

Good Luck!
 

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I have yet to inspect spark plugs, but I'm going to take a day to check that real soon. For the time being I flushed the engine to the point the oil was clear, drained the water completely and parked it for now. Next steps is to either take it to my friend's garage or start small work on it where it sits. The engine runs as smooth as it did before the failure, so I suspect they should be mostly fine. Anything in particular I should look for?



The car failed at 93,000-ish on the odometer, and they were relatively gentle miles on the car. I really didn't beat the thing to death much. The only reason I'm not suspecting gasket leaks (yet) is because like I said before, the night it failed I attempted to refill the radiator with some extra water just to limp the car onto a trailer so it wouldn't instantaneously overheat, but when I checked the water level after pouring a whole gallon or so the water vanished almost immediately leading me to believe there was a fairly large hole somewhere in the bottom half of the engine because my radiator flows from the bottom.



That was my objective once I get it to his garage. We're going to tear the engine down to the short block and inspect as much as we can to attempt to track the problem. If it's just heads or gaskets, then we replace those and reassemble the engine. If we can't find a symptom or any trace of a failure point, we're likely going to replace the entire engine to be safe.



IIRC the first time I replaced the intake gasket (this was over 10 years ago), we did get Fel-Pro gaskets and replaced the antifreeze anyway due to finding some debris in the system from the disintegrating gasket.
How you drove it has no bearing on the gasket issue, it was a design problem. Some went slowly (as mine did) while others seemed to go quick, though I suspect they too went slowly but were either unnoticed or neglected by the owner/driver. As a side note, the Orange Dex coolant is not the problem. Over 90% of the problems people have/had with this coolant resulted from bad radiator caps that would allow the system to suck dirt in when cooling down and thus contaminate the system. The intake gasket failure is from other causes, though since you said you replaced that gasket, it shouldn't be the culprit. I've not heard of one going bad once replaced as the replacement gaskets incorporated a fix. So that leaves a head gasket as a suspect. You may also have a warped head. Though less common than the gasket issue, it can happen. Have you pulled the spark plugs and run a compression test? If it's the rear cylinder on the passenger side, I'd bet money on the gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
the Orange Dex coolant
Mine wasn't orange, it was hot pink. But I would assume this had little bearing on the rumors of gasket-eating anyway.

If your spark plugs are cracked it could be from the anti freeze getting into the cylinder. Any smoke coming out the tail pipe. I have had bad head gaskets and the car ran fine. But keeped loosing anti freeze and was not on the ground.
Good to know about cracked spark plugs. There was no smoke coming out of the tail pipe the night it overheated, the worst it ever got was the temperature gauge pinned at the max reading. I pulled over almost immediately when I noticed that. I waited for the car to attempt to cool off for about 30 minutes while I waited for someone else to arrive to look at it, and it did, but when I started it back up the temperature gauge would rise slowly but steadily almost immediately after about 2-3 minutes of idling. When I loaded it on the trailer that night, it did begin to misfire and run incredibly rough, but nothing was coming out of the tailpipe.
 
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