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I have a 92 Sable with a 3.8 in it. It just passed a 100k miles and last month I had a rad flush done on it. It has been quite cold recently (-25F) and upon start up and for the first few minutes during the warm up there is a distinct antifreeze smell. After a while the antifreeze smell no longer exists. The car does not seem to using antifreeze and there are no appearant leaks. There doesn't appear to be any white smoke, mind you it is tough to tell white smoke from regular exhaust when it is 25 below. I am wondering if it possible that the anitfreeze is coming from a hose connection that has shrunk with the cold or if it is the dreaded head gasket? What are other indications of a head gasket failure? How long can you drive the car while you suspect a head gasket failure?


Thanks
Spiff
 

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Check your oil to see if it looks like chocolate milk. If it is, the gaskets have gone. I'm guessing that you can drive it until it runs out of coolant.

The smell could be coming from the heater core.
 

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Yeah, it would be a better idea to look for where the smell is coming from first before assuming the worse...it might just something as small as a hose or loose connection thats causing coolant to leak (who knows).

Check the oil, try to see if you're getting an antifreeze smell coming out of your tailpipe (dont stick your head in there though...just whiff it up to your nose), and if you're loosing coolant over a long period of time (like over a couple of days to a week). You'll really know when you've got a HG going south when you crank over the engine, it turns over, but then just dies - as if it choked on something.
 

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I could smell antifreeze occaisionally in my 99 sable, thought it was the heater core. Found out the expansion tank was vracked and leaking very slowly, the a/f would get on the block, evaporate and get sucked into the fresh air intake for the ac/heater.

Look for leaks in the engine compartment, along wwith a pressure test.
 
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