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My car just ruined its head gasket, is it worth trying to repair?

By Slayer_ ·
Tags: Off Topic
So I come to a stop on the highway after setting off this morning, and smoke starts coming out of my hood on the left hand side. I stick in in neutral and rev the engine, more smoke comes out. CRAP.... So I drive it to work anyways, about a 15 KM trip.
Pop the hood, and check and sure enough, the rad overflow is bone dry, I unscrew the rad, and its about half full (Hard to tell with a flashlight). Everything was full when I left (I check every day)

So chances are, the head gasket is gone.

The car is a 96 Chev Lumina car with the 3.1 engine, 180,000km on the engine. Its worth (when working) about 100 dollars for the charity receipt I'd get for donating it to a scrap yard. But its worth about 4k to the insurance company (I tried my hardest but no one would rear-end me on the way here).
A car of equal crap would cost about 4-5k dollars, and could have the exact same problem. A good car would be closer to 7-10k.

So, should I try and get this thing repaired? Or scrap it, take the financial hit and get another car?

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Reponse To Answer

by Darryl~ Moderator In reply to Worse yet, it has a full ...

I had an Olds with a full tank I scrapped a couple years ago.....I drilled a hole in the bottom of the tank & drained it into a couple 5 gallon jugs.

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Isn't that a fire hazard?

by Slayer_ In reply to Reponse To Answer

Metal drilling on a full tank of gas?

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Only with a "spark" :)

by Darryl~ Moderator In reply to Isn't that a fire hazard?

I had the luxury of my friend's garage with a hoist, air tools and other equipment.

I wouldn't use an electirc/cordless drill because of the chance of a spark from the motor....if you're really concerned, get a couple self tapping screws (a large one & a small one)...using just a normal screwdriver make a pilot hole with the small screw then make the hole larger with the other screw.

Or....if you can get under the car and have lots of room to reach around under there....take the fuel tank filler neck off & then it can be siphoned more easily.

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On the other hand, a spark might just be what I need

by Slayer_ In reply to Only with a "spark&q ...

Then I can get that insurance money.

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an idea for pricing

by PurpleSkys In reply to My car just ruined its he ...

keep in mind, that's just the cost of the part...labour will likely run anywhere from 30-70ish an hour http://www.racepages.com/parts/head_gasket/chevrolet/lumina.html so honestly, prolly cheaper to buy another beater. Good luck though :)

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Funny thing is it was supposed to be put into storage today

by Slayer_ In reply to an idea for pricing

It was just because it snowed all weekend that I am driving it for one more week.

I probably would have then thought the storage time had killed it.

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Probably scrap

by JamesRL In reply to My car just ruined its he ...

If the engine is ok after the head gasket went, and its possible, then it might be worth saving, but what will it cost to find out.

I recently faced a similar dilemma. My transmission was dying on a 2002 Mazda MPV. I loved the van and the way it handles. But the autotrans was slipping, and I knew it would just be a matter of time. And rust was eating it away as well, despite 1200$ worth of body work 18 months ago.

I decided that 3000$ on a rebuilt tranny wasn't a good investment. I bought a 2007 used van for $10K. The body is near perfect with no rust at all.

If the gasket went and the engine is ok, it could be $800 or so to fix. But as others have pointed out, there might be another issue down the road. My Intrepid was like that, one problem after another.

The GM 3.1/3.4 l engine is known for the head gasket issue.

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I wonder if this is difficult to do myself

by Slayer_ In reply to Probably scrap

To just take the head off myself and check it. As I drove it here, the engine sounded fine, no loss of power or anything, just lots of steam/smoke.
I haven't checked the oil yet, I will in an hour on my lunch break.

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Update to problem

by Slayer_ In reply to My car just ruined its he ...

Looks like I'm ok, the oil is still perfect even though it drank about a gallon of anti freeze on the way here. It appears to be spraying out of the top of the engine. And I mean spraying, its coming out all around the thing, not just in one spot, and its misting and spraying.

Probably still an expensive repair.

I went shopping briefly at lunch, except for everyone flogging off Chev Aveos, no good deals. Everything is over $8k.

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Oil looks good?

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Update to problem

In that case, I've changed my mind. You may be able to do this yourself; Google it and talk to the guys at your auto parts store. If you can, it will be considerably cheaper than paying to have it done, cheap enough to be worth trying and not regretting if it doesn't work.

I'd stop driving it in the meantime.

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