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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So, I notice a little leak at the bottom of the radiator while I was crawling around underneath trying to figure out another problem.

I open the resevoir and I see some gunk along the sides of the resevoir and what appears to be some oil spots.

Now I'm wondering if the previous owner knew about the leak and used one of these "stop leak" products y buy from the auto parts store. That might explain the crud on the inside of the resevoir but the oil spots have me worried...

What should I be worried about (other than the cost of repair)? Doing some rudimentary Google searches, I'm reading head gasket, cracked block, cracked head..... Oyyy....

Should I drain the radiator, flush it with fresh water and refill with coolant to see if the spots come back or is it something that needs to be addressed right now pending implodment?

 

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What history do you know? When was the coolant changed last? Was the system flushed during that change?

It is possible it is just a little oil left from some past repairs. Or, there is a leak allowing some oil to get into the coolant. Check the oil. Coolant in the oil is really bad. It can ruin bearings in short order. Oil in the coolant (as long as it is just little bit) is not the worst thing. But it is not likely to get better on its own, either.

If compression is good, it could be one (or more) of the O-rings between the block & head is leaking allowing oil to seep into the cooling system. You can try a cylinder head re-torque. It doesn't usually fix it but it can't hurt.
 

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That looks a LOT like a bad head gasket o-rings.

Oil in the water is a problem, but water in the oil is a disaster. It will ruin the bearings on the crank. I would not be driving it until it's fixed.
 

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Should I drain the radiator, flush it with fresh water and refill with coolant to see if the spots come back
As others have written, you probably have oil getting past the cylinder head / o-rings, and getting into your coolant. A cracked head or block is unlikely: Alfa heads don't commonly crack (though they do warp), and you would probably have overheating and coolant in your oil if things were that bad.

You could just change the coolant and see if the oil residue reappears. Re-torque the head as ghnl advised. Maybe you'll be lucky.

As jcslocum wrote, verify that you don't also have coolant in your oil - if that symptom is present, then you do have to fix the leak immediately. But since the oil is at a higher pressure than coolant, often these leaks just produce the symptom you observed.

Note: You can flush with a hose, but when you're done flushing, re-fill the radiator with de-ionized water, not tap water (and, of course, 50% antifreeze). If your water is at all hard, it will leave deposits that will eventually clog the radiator. DI water is sold by the gallon in supermarkets and is cheap - look for the stuff recommended for steam irons.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I definitely do not have water or coolant in the oil because I just did an oil change and there was no indication of a foreign liquid in the oil waste. I would think that water or coolant would "pool" in the oil.

So, I think I'm going to take the advice by several members and do a radiator flush and refill with fresh coolant and DI water and see if it returns. If so, I can move onto the o rings, gaskets and pins....

Maybe I'll get lucky...:thumbup:
 

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AFineRide,

It has been my experience that coolant in the oil will show up as very small drops on the dip stick.

I hold my breath every time I check...

All the best.
 

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The cooling system has a higher pressure once the engine is shut down and that is why these leaks can go BOTH ways. They usually show up as oil first tho, as the higher pressure makes the first leak.

I would retorque the head first, before anything else, change the coolant and give it a go. Be warned that the coolant in the oil will be near instant death for the bearings.
 
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