96 Ford Escort blown head gasket

Old 08-22-05, 05:59 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Smile 96 Ford Escort blown head gasket

I have a 96 Ford Escort 1.9L, I took it into a shop because my serpentine belt was starting to shred. They replaced belt and also the crankshaft pulley. I drove less then 5 miles after picking up the car when it began to overheat, make a "clunking noise", and the transmission was acting funny (as if it wouldn't shift gears, the car is an automatic). The mechanic advised me to try to drive it back to the shop. I attempted to do this until the point where I could no longer keep the car running at a stop light. I then had it towed to their shop. When I got there, they opened the radiator cap and made note that it was nearly dry. They poured coolant in it which promptly ran out the bottom.
When they called me with an estimate Monday morning, they advised me that the radiator was leaking at the seam and that it had a blown head gasket.
I guess my first question is, is possible that the repair to the serpentine belt and pulley could have caused the radiator to overheat, thus causing the head gasket to blow? Secondly, is it possible him advising me to drive it back to the shop (especially when I told him I would call and have it towed), could have caused it to blow the head gasket since the car was already overheating and making clunking noise, etc?
And one last thing......is it possible that a ratchet extension, stuck between the radiator and my fan been the cause of this whole mess?
Apparently one of their mechanics dropped his tool down there and was not aware or forgot to get it out.
Sorry this is soooo long. Thank you for any advice or help you can offer.
Old 08-22-05, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,860
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
All of those are possible, but didn't the temperature gauge go all the way to the hot mark way before the engine started acting up?
Old 08-22-05, 11:28 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
It didn't really. First thing I noticed was steam coming from under my hood....I looked at temp. gauge and it was normal. But when I took off from the light the temp gauge would go up and then come back down and it did this everytime I stopped at a light. Steam, normal temp reading, accelerate from light it would spike then come back down, as fast as it went up.
Old 08-22-05, 11:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,128
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
What's the question?

From your post, I would assume you're wondering if the shop screwed up initially and whether or not you have recourse...... Not being a big believer in coincidence, I would say it's quite possible that, during the course of replacing the serpentine belt, the mechanic screwed up. Proving it and getting recourse is another matter. Be "up front" with the shop manager - explain your concerns and ask for an explanation. If it is a reputable shop, he might be willing to compromise.

On the other hand, as explained above, any of the things you mention could have caused the problem........... Making the decision to continue driving the vehicle with steam coming out of the hood - was yours.
Old 08-22-05, 11:58 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I do indeed have proof. I have the ratchet extension with the technician initials etched in it, and I took pictures of where I found said tool.
The only thing I have to say about "it being my decision to drive it".....is that, I initially called the shop and explained to him exactly what the car was doing. Asking his advice (basically) on what he thought I should do. I also explained to him that I had AAA and could have it towed back to the shop if he thought that would be best. He's the mechanic, not me. Looking back, of course, I realize I should have had it towed and ignored what he said, which is eventually what I ended up doing. I called the shop 4 times in the matter of an hour as I was trying to "nurse" the car back to his shop.
And just as a little side note, the shop has two tow trucks and could have offered to tow the car themselves, but they didn' t, he just kept telling me to "try to nurse it back here".
Old 08-22-05, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,489
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
obviously a ratchet in the fan was probably the reason it overheated in the first place and you should talk with the shop about it and see if they are willing to cover most of the repair if not you could have it towed to another shop for the repair, and take the previous shop to court.
Old 08-23-05, 04:46 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
That's what I plan on doing bejay, but the manager at the shop is already giving me a hard time, telling me they're not going to take responsibility for it, that my radiator was all rotted out in the first place and leaking when I originally brought it in. All of which are not true. I really haven't had any major problems with the vehicle, other than a tie rod end and I had the transmission lines replaced years ago. I'm the original owner and I know my car, almost instinctively when something is wrong. I change the oil every 5,000 miles (as recommended in my owners manual...lol), just did a tune up last summer. So when this occurred it blew me away and I knew it had to be something they did. They're acting like I'm an idiot, which is originally why I posted this, to get other people's opinion.
So thank you for your post and those who posted before you and any that may post after.
Old 08-23-05, 07:52 AM
the_tow_guy's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: SW Fla USA
Posts: 12,278
Received 262 Upvotes on 213 Posts
I agree with bejay.

FWIW we tow a LOT of vehicles that have overheated where the driver knew it was overheating but tried to nurse it to ____________ (fill in the blank), thereby turning a $50 repair into a $500 repair REAL easy. I'm with you, however; THEY are the experts. I'm flabbergasted that any reputable garage would advise a customer with an overheating engine to try to drive it back to the shop. That alone tells me all I need to know about the quality of their work.

One possibility is that in the course of doing the serpentine they had to remove a hose (thereby draining off some of the coolant) and when you left the shop the coolant level was very low. This would account for the inconsistent temp readings; the temp sensor works when it is in contact with a liquid. If there's mostly air in the cooling system, you may never get a "hot" reading on the gauge.

I would also ask that shop manager if he is in the habit of releasing vehicles on which they have noticed a major, potentially dangerous, problem (the alleged rotted, leaking radiator) without informing the customer. Like to see his face while he tap-dances around THAT one.

They should AT LEAST go half with you on the repair.
Old 08-23-05, 01:03 PM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thumbs up

Tow guy,

That's awesome info. Because now that I think of it, the manager, showed me the worn pulley (before he replaced it) and I noticed coolant on the floor. I had forgotten all about that. I'm sure it could have been from any vehicle prior to mine, but the manager also said they hadn't been busy that day and this was prior to noon that I took it in. And I'll have to bring that up about them releasing the vehicle with a rotted radiator core (I'm not sure if it even is rotted). Whether it is or not, his mechanics tool banging around down there against my radiator I'm sure didn't help at all.
I hate to imagine the damage it may have caused had it been left somewhere else. Worse case scenario, it could have turned into an unguided missle.....lol. It's an 8in long piece of solid metal!!!
I also asked them, why they didn't take it for a test drive (at least around the block) his response to me was "we don't normally do that unless it's a drive-ability issue that was repaired".
Now remember, I'm just some "dumb woman", but wouldn't the pulley and serpentine belt have a lil something to do with drive-ability, since without the belt the car damn near shuts down??
I'm just trying to cover any and every angle that this shop owner might take with me. I already know that they're going to fight me tooth and nail on this. I just want to have all my guns loaded and ready.
Once again, thank you to all of you who have posted.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title: