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  1. #1

    Default 2001 Suburban: possible blown head gasket???

    Hey all, been awhile since I posted. I'll be quick, I have a 2001 Suburban 4x4 5.3L w/ 115k miles. For some time now I have had puffs of white smoke come out of the exhaust on cold startup, it goes away after its warm of course (few seconds). It's an intermittent issue because sometimes there is no smoke. One thing that is always consistent is the sweet smell coming from the exhaust. These are all signs of a blown head gasket, likely between two cylinders. The weird thing is my coolant levels have been fine for years, I bought the truck in 2007 with 75k miles and have never had to add any coolant and the level has never changed, wouldn't this indicate no coolant is being burned? But where is the sweet smell coming from?

    * Burns 1.5 qts of oil per 1000 miles (I think this is a lot)
    * Intermittent puffs of white smoke and small of white smoke on cold start up
    * Sweet exhaust smell
    * No milky colored oil
    * Coolant levels have not changed in years, I've never added coolant.
    * Sometimes have a slightly hard starting issue (ignition not cranking), fuel pump was already replaced last year for failure, pressures look fine. Plugs and wires were also replaced.

    What are your thoughts?

    2001 Suburban LT 1500 4x4

  2. #2


    My '89 5.7L does that occasionally, too on cold startup. Only I don't have any sweet smell. I was told that there was some excess oil in the cylinder that had to burn out at startup.

    As for how much oil you use per 1K miles? I usually have to put in a quart about every 300 miles. That's a lot! And I don't see any oil drips on the driveway. I'll have to start thinking about a piston ring job. Of course, I use my truck to tow the family travel trailer back and forth for camping over some mild hills and low mountains. And that is after bringing the trailer home from where I work, pulling it approx 130 miles one way down the freeway. Then I have to tow it back so I can go back to work. I work away from home during the week, and go home on the weekends.

    The sweet smell? Could be antifreeze. To me it is a sickly sweet smell when I get a whiff of it due to a leak or a blown heater core. Not sure about what it would smell like coming out of the exhaust, though.
    Myself, my beautiful wife
    3 - boys
    3 - minivans
    1 - '89 Chevy K2500 Silverado Truck
    1 - 27 foot travel trailer
    Not enough family time!

  3. #3


    A compression check, of each cylinder, would be where I'd start.

    '09 Avalanche LTZ - Black
    '05 Envoy XL (sold)

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