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Possible blown head gasket

 
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Old 06 Jan 2013, 03:45 pm
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Default Possible blown head gasket

I have an 02 Cruiser with about 175K miles on it. I had the auto transmission rebuilt not too long ago. It was touch and go as to whether or not I was going to scrap the car and get a new one or get the transmission fixed and try to get at least another year out of it. I opted to fix it because the rest of the car is in pretty good shape, but with the mileage and broken transmission, its value was minimal.

Well, I am questioning that decision now because after getting the car back and driving it for a week, it overheated on me when I stopped for some a breather and a snack while driving through a pretty good snowstorm. I could here it boiling over when the temperature gauge spiked.

I still haven't determined what caused caused the overheat, but I suspect its the fan as the thermostat looks to be working and the water pump/timing belt were done only 30K miles ago. I did check the compression and all 4 cylinders were within specs. The coolant and the oil both looked good. However when I left the rad cap off and started it, the coolant shot up into the air. I believe this is the sure giveaway of an issue with the head gasket or head as it indicates that compression from the engine is making its way into the coolant system. Also, I have noticed my fuel mileage plummet.

So now, decision time. I feel like I am almost forced to throw more money into this thing after paying for the transmission rebuild, but I hate to throw good money after bad. I'm thinking of picking up a good rebuilt cylinder head for about $400, pulling the head off and checking the gasket as well as the head. The catch is I have to get this done in one weekend...which is I why I was planning to pick the reman head ahead of time so I have it on hand. From the sounds of the work involved in doing the head swap (I have not gone that for into this engine yet, so it would all new territory for me), maybe it would be easier just to find another engine and drop it in here. That looks like it would cost me another $1500 or so.

A few other items of note:
My engine has a healthy appetite for oil...about a quart every 2-3 weeks (which equates to equates to 1000-1500 miles).
The previous owner did mention an overheating incident, which I believe is what caused the water pump replacement...so yes it is possible this has had a head issue since I bought it.
Anyone have any thoughts (other than I probably shouldn't have rebuilt the transmission)?
J

Last edited by jksoft; 06 Jan 2013 at 09:20 pm. Reason: Adding a few other pieces of info
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Old 08 Jan 2013, 12:50 pm
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Default Re: Possible blown head gasket

Why so jumpy as to get a new head? If you are already worried about money, why not take the head off and inspect it before blowing 400 on what might not even be the problem, it might only be a $20 gasket. The other thing is, be prepared to do the timing belt yet again as to remove the head, you have to remove the timing belt. It does sound like the headgasket though with how it shoots up when you crank it over without the cap. Best of luck~!

Nick
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Old 08 Jan 2013, 01:31 pm
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Default Re: Possible blown head gasket

I guess my main motivation in picking up a cylinder head is more of a timing thing. I don't know what its condition is and I won't know until I get it out of the car and can inspect it. It will prevent this from being an weekend or even a long weekend project if I have to acquire a head once I get in there.

I agree..if the head is good to go, no reason to change out a part unnecessarily, but I was thinking having the head on hand would be good insurance.

A lot of posts I've seen aren't too high on the reman'ed heads...should I have any preference one way or the other between a warrantied reman'ed head for about $400, or a junkyard head for around $200?

J
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Old 08 Jan 2013, 01:38 pm
Ray_Dockrey's Avatar
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Default Re: Possible blown head gasket

It may not be the head gasket. My daughters 06 did the same thing. Just knew it was a head gasket. Took it in and they found a hole in the lower hose that leaked out all the coolant. When I filled it up it was trapped air in the system that was causing the spewing. They replaced the hose, ran some checks on it and filled it up and bled the system.
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Old 08 Jan 2013, 04:30 pm
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Question Re: Possible blown head gasket

It seems like several mechanics or friends I have spoken with have had overheating issues with their PT Cruisers. After two head gaskets on my 02 PT Cruiser I gave up and bought a beat up old car to drive for a while.


My husband thought he would do some single mom a favor and take over her car payments of her '04 PT Cruiser that she published in Craigs List. She told us to take the car, and that it needed a thermostat and an oil change, and she would take care of the thermostat. We drove away and the car and told her we would make two payments for her tomorrow. However, on the way home, the car overheated just like my '02.

Thinking it was just the thermostat on this one, my husband sold our old car for a mere $500 as it was an oldie.

We replaced the thermostat on the 04 because we weren't getting calls back from the lady who told us to take her car. After the thermostat issue it continued to overheat and the oil light kept coming on. So we took it to a shop and they said it is definitely the head gasket and was likely not a thermostat issue.

Today we finally heard back from her, told her the situation, and now she is threatening to sue us, and that if we don't bring her car back and pay her $1000 by tomorrow, on top of her $340 car payment, her daddy will be calling us.

Unfortunately my husband has cancer and can't deal with our auto issues anymore.

Would a second opinion be beneficial re. the head gasket? It is definitely not the thermostat.

OR would head gasket repair from auto parts store do anything for it?

Thank you for answering me, I know nothing about cars but I do know I love PT Cruisers, head gasket or no head gasket...
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Old 08 Jan 2013, 09:06 pm
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Default Re: Possible blown head gasket

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlcayers View Post

Would a second opinion be beneficial re. the head gasket? It is definitely not the thermostat.

OR would head gasket repair from auto parts store do anything for it?

Thank you for answering me, I know nothing about cars but I do know I love PT Cruisers, head gasket or no head gasket...
Overheating is a typical cause of a blown head gasket and the overheating is usually caused by some kind of failure in the cooling system such as a clogged radiator, broken water pump, leak, bad radiator cap, OR a thermostat that is stuck closed. The head gasket is probably not causing the overheating, but instead is a result of it.

It is possible the previous owner had an overheating event or two and that is how they learned the thermostat was bad.

A second opinion is never a bad thing, but given the events you describe, it is possible that the car is in need of a thermostat (relatively small job) and a head gasket (big job). Did you get an estimate for what it would cost to do the thermostat/head gasket job?

I am dealing with my own overheating/possible head gasket issues. The first step which I am still working on is determining with certainty what is causing the overheating and asses the condition of the engine.

J
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Old 08 Jan 2013, 10:56 pm
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Post Re: Possible blown head gasket

Whew, I am glad you got this all in writing otherwise it's your word against hers.





QUOTE=jlcayers;461841]It seems like several mechanics or friends I have spoken with have had overheating issues with their PT Cruisers. After two head gaskets on my 02 PT Cruiser I gave up and bought a beat up old car to drive for a while.


My husband thought he would do some single mom a favor and take over her car payments of her '04 PT Cruiser that she published in Craigs List. She told us to take the car, and that it needed a thermostat and an oil change, and she would take care of the thermostat. We drove away and the car and told her we would make two payments for her tomorrow. However, on the way home, the car overheated just like my '02.

Thinking it was just the thermostat on this one, my husband sold our old car for a mere $500 as it was an oldie.

We replaced the thermostat on the 04 because we weren't getting calls back from the lady who told us to take her car. After the thermostat issue it continued to overheat and the oil light kept coming on. So we took it to a shop and they said it is definitely the head gasket and was likely not a thermostat issue.

Today we finally heard back from her, told her the situation, and now she is threatening to sue us, and that if we don't bring her car back and pay her $1000 by tomorrow, on top of her $340 car payment, her daddy will be calling us.

Unfortunately my husband has cancer and can't deal with our auto issues anymore.

Would a second opinion be beneficial re. the head gasket? It is definitely not the thermostat.

OR would head gasket repair from auto parts store do anything for it?

Thank you for answering me, I know nothing about cars but I do know I love PT Cruisers, head gasket or no head gasket...[/QUOTE]
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Old 09 Jan 2013, 05:45 am
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Default Re: Possible blown head gasket

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray_Dockrey View Post
It may not be the head gasket. My daughters 06 did the same thing. Just knew it was a head gasket. Took it in and they found a hole in the lower hose that leaked out all the coolant. When I filled it up it was trapped air in the system that was causing the spewing. They replaced the hose, ran some checks on it and filled it up and bled the system.
I'd love to believe that it is something that simple, and hopefully that turns out to be the case, but I think a lot of the other evidence tends to point against it.

The one thing I don't really have a good explanation for is the dramatic sudden drop in fuel mileage that started around this time. I'm not sure how they exactly are linked, but it is listed as one of the symptoms of a head/gasket issue.

Jeremy
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Old 09 Jan 2013, 08:20 am
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Default Re: Possible blown head gasket

There are passages in the block that go to the head that have coolant and water. A bad head gasket can let coolant and oil mix, or let oil and/or water into the combustion chamber.
I appears you have a bad head gasket (probably cause by earlier overheating due to fan?) that is letting coolant and oil into combustion chamber, which will make for poor combustion, making mileage suck, casuing overheating, and consuming oil.
With car running, inspect exhaust - is it cloudy? Can you smell it?
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Old 10 Jan 2013, 06:07 am
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Default Re: Possible blown head gasket

Quote:
Originally Posted by quicksilverdon View Post
There are passages in the block that go to the head that have coolant and water. A bad head gasket can let coolant and oil mix, or let oil and/or water into the combustion chamber.
I appears you have a bad head gasket (probably cause by earlier overheating due to fan?) that is letting coolant and oil into combustion chamber, which will make for poor combustion, making mileage suck, casuing overheating, and consuming oil.
With car running, inspect exhaust - is it cloudy? Can you smell it?
That makes sense. From that I would say there has probably been an issue since before this most recent overheating incident because the poor gas mileage started a few months ago. I do smell that sweet coolant smell when I am outside the car. I don't notice any huge puffs of white smoke though. I would like to conclusively determine if there are exhaust gasses in the coolant but I don't have any of the equipment to do that. From what I understand, there are several ways to test for it:
1) A chemical test kit (test the coolant)
2) An exhaust gas analyzer (in the coolant reservoir)
Perhaps neither of those are necessary and I have all the evidence I need. I am going to spend some time this weekend going through the coolant system and figuring out for sure what is not working. My guess is the fan just based logic and process of elimination but we shall see.

J
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