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Smoke while idoling and going through antifreeze like crazy

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Old 22 Dec 2017, 09:48 am
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Default Smoke while idoling and going through antifreeze like crazy

Hello! I have an 04 PT Cruiser, 2.4 non turbo, TE, with 185,xxx miles
I've recently replaced the heater core, all the belts and pullies, water pump, thermostat, gave it a tune up, changed oil, and a few other things up front. A few weeks after doing so my car starts smoking while I'm at a stop light, but not over heating and cooling itself down just fine. There's nothing leaking, no puddles after being parked for the weekend. No antifreeze in my oil, but I'm running through antifreeze like nobody's business. The only error codes I'm getting are for a random misfire and a misfire in the 3rd cylinder. I've also noticed that after I turn my car off there will sometimes be a lingering antifreeze smell.
I'm really hoping it's not a gasket....

Anyone have any idea or can help with what I need to do? Thank you in advanced!
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Old 22 Dec 2017, 10:31 am
Obsessed Cruiser
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
Posts: 7,495
Default Re: Smoke while idoling and going through antifreeze like crazy

Welcome to the forum.

I would suggest you introduce yourself to the forum. Tell us a little about your Pt Cruiser.
On the link below just click on new thread.

I would suggest you have an engine coolant compression test done. This will tell you if the engine coolant system is sealed or not.

If the engine coolant system is not holding pressure I would pull the spark plugs and see if you have coolant in the engine cylinders. See if you have coolant residue on one of the spark plugs. If you do you might have a blown head gasket where the coolant is leaking out the exhaust.
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Last edited by ptcruisersteve; 22 Dec 2017 at 10:50 am.
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Old 22 Dec 2017, 11:07 am
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 15,518
Default Re: Smoke while idoling and going through antifreeze like crazy

Welcome to the forum

Are you the original owner, or did you buy it used?

If you bought it used but from the original owner, you might try to get any service or maintenance history from them. You could also try going by a dealership and see if they can pull up any service/maintenance history on it in their system.
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Old 24 Dec 2017, 05:00 pm
Cool Cruiser
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: southeastern PA
Posts: 370
Default Re: Smoke while idoling and going through antifreeze like crazy

Head gasket, #3 cylinder, my guess.

Back in 2008 I had to have the head gasket replaced on my 2001 Cruiser (purchased new). The symptom was needing to add coolant to the reservoir frequently. It's been OK since.

Many years ago I had an '83 Plymouth Scamp with the 2.2L motor. It started emitting a puff of white smoke on start-up and was running through coolant. My brother, a mechanic, diagnosed it, here's what we did. Removed all the spark plugs. Connected a cooling system tester (a hand pump w/gauge that has a hose to a cap that fits where the pressure cap goes). Then we pumped up the system to full pressure, 15 PSI. After a bit, my brother took a special flashlight that had a small bulb on a flexible stalk, and inserted through the spark plug holes. It illuminated inside each cylinder and we could see the top of the pistons. Inside the one cylinder we saw green coolant pooling on top of the cylinder. Diagnosis - leaking head gasket. It could also be a cracked head, but the gasket is the much more likely culprit, especially if you haven't over heated it.

Good luck.
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Old 27 Dec 2017, 01:55 pm
SpaceMouse's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: SF Bay Area / Central Valley
Posts: 209
Default Re: Smoke while idoling and going through antifreeze like crazy

Classic symptoms of a leaking (albeit a small one) head gasket.
I'd start with a peek at the #3 spark plug and cylinder. A small leak may not show up as a spark plug that's wet with anti-freeze. I had something similar happen on my '63 Ford Falcon. There was just enough coolant leaking into one of the cylinders that it was turning to steam- it literally steam cleaned most of the usual carbon deposits off of the piston crown, leaving a shiny aluminum piston and a very clean spark plug. And as already suggested, a compression check may also point the way.
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