Head gasket blown


Old 05-18-02, 09:30 AM
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Unhappy Head gasket blown

I own a 1994 Pontiac Sunbird 4cylinder POS edition
It has been in the shop 3 times in a month, no one seems to know what's wrong with it. It will get me down the road say 20 miles or so away from home then leave me stranded when I try to make it back home. Now they say I have blown the head gasket. And all I have heard is that I'd be better off just replacing the car. I believe somehow, someway this can be repaired w/o costing me an arm and a leg. Can it? How big a job is replacing a gasket? It's just a gasket, take the old one off and put on a new one, seal it and thats it right? How does this thing keep my car from cranking when it's hot? It had been running hot and was losing water but couldn't figure out where the water was going. One said it was just being burnt up. Hoses were ok and blah blah blah. Have had 2 thermostats both now in my glove compartment. It's not had one in it in a month or 2. Is this safe? To not have one in it? Anyway, I would really like to speak to someone about it I think the mechanics are just trying to rip me off because they think women are mechanically retarded. If anyone has MSN messenger feel free to add me so we can get into more detail... [[email protected]]
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Old 05-18-02, 09:44 AM
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If it blows white sweet smelling smoke out of the tailpipe, you have a blown head gasket.

It is not as easy as swapping the gasket for a new one. The cylinder head may be cracked. During the repair, the head is sent out to a machine shop. There, they have special equipment to check for cracks, bad valves and general straightness.

A rebuilt cylinder head is in the 400 dollar range. Many times, the old head can be checked for cracks, verified that the valves are OK, shaved a bit and put back into service.

Most head gasket jobs are fairly extensive in scope, at least labor wise, because it involves a good amount of the engine coming apart to do it. Typical head gasket jobs run 400 to 800 bucks, depending on the make and model.

You have to ask yourself if this is the kind of money you want to spend on a car like this. Is a Pontiac Sunbird a winner? No way, it's one of the most lackluster cars out there. However, depending on the condition of the rest of the car (recent repairs, shape of the body, transmission, interior, etc) it is probably worth fixing.

Sounds like the car has had cooling troubles in the past. Thermostats should be changed with every coolant flush. Coolant should be changed every year or two. Belts and hoses every four years on the dot. Water pumps should be changed periodically at first sign of troubles.

If you overheat an aluminum headed engine (which most vehicles are today), your goose is cooked. Aluminum warps quite easily and can be damaged by heat in a heartbeat.

What might be happening is that the coolant is finding its way into the cylinders. Water/coolant as a mix does not compress well. That is probably why there is difficulty starting when it is hot.

At the same time you have the repair done, have the water pump changed, the timing belt done and the radiator flushed out.

My best guess is the job will probably run in the 800 dollar range.

Hope that helps.

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