Help For A Fellow Reader

Had a reader contact me a few days ago about a problem he’s found with his Porsche. Thought maybe one of our smart readers might have some advice for him:

I have C2 996 mod 2001, one day the temp went high so i checked on the water level i saw oil mixed with water in the coolant like coffee cream color, the oil level in the engine is lower am wondering if is it from the head gasket or the oil cooler? please can you help me out

thanks in advance

If anyone has any tips, advice or troubleshooting help for him, throw it in the comments.



  1. Depends how much. A small amount of emulisfication is common due to condensation in the filler tube, especially if you do short runs.

    Otherwise, it could be a number of things – best to take it to a specialist quickly to be checked.

  2. Have your reader check out

    There is a wealth of information about 996’s and oil/coolant
    contamination is a very common subject covered extensively.

  3. Christophe says

    Very common issue in the early 996s.. Sadly, this means the end of life of your 3.4.

  4. In my experience these are symptoms of a head gasket, the only way the oil cooler would be at fault is if it shares the radiator. I don’t think they are connected but I will ask my mechanic friend tomorrow.

  5. That is tough to diagnose with the car in front of me, tougher over the web. You do have an oil/coolant heat exchanger (as you may already be aware of). Not being intimately familiar with the oil system I can’t say if the oil is under pressure inside the cooler and if so is the pressure higher than those in the cooling system (allowing oil to pass into the coolant but not vice versa). If you had an emulsified mix in the oil system only it could just be from moisture (very common in high capacity oil systems and cars that see little driving), but mix in the cooling system means there is oil getting in.
    Unfortunately it is bad news for you whether it is head gaskets or exchanger. The seals and hoses in the cooling system are not oil resistant and they will start failing eventually. If it is the exchanger you will need to replace all the hoses and seals in the cooling system and have your radiators flushed. If it is the head gaskets the engine will have to be disassembled, inspected and repaired (or, gulp… replaced!). Not sure how cost effective just replacing the head gaskets would be. There are a lot of peripheral parts and work to be considered. And you will still have to flush the radiators and replace all seals and hoses.
    Really it comes down to whether or not you have a trusted mechanic who can diagnose the problem and give you a realistic assessment of your options and the relative costs/benefits.
    Good luck.