Replace head gasket or not?
My 2002 Saturn SL has 108000 miles. I have owned it since it was new. I have had to replace a front spring and tie rod (on the same side) within the past year. I am now told it has a small head gasket leak. The car has been serviced according to the book (probably more). My choice is to add oil or replace gasket to the tune of $1200. Since the car is only worth $1400. I would like to fix it but people are telling me that it is not worth it. Please help
If you plan on selling it soon, then I wouldn't worry about fixing it. But it's worth it if you like the car and plan on keeping it for some time. Do get some other estimates to see if you can get it done for a little cheaper. I suspect you can get it done in the $600-$800 range.
Is your oil a chocolate/milky color on the dipstick and over full? IF so, it's not a small head gasket leak, it's big and "big" can mean an opening the size of a pencil lead and IF it is in fact a blown head gasket it will only get worse real fast ..does it over heat John?
Better answer than mine Tom. By far
Like David said, check for the chocolate milkshake on your dipstick and in the coolant bottle. A percentage of heads on these cars have a casting defect and develop a crack in the head, leaking coolant into the oil. But from your suggestive answer to "add oil" Im assuming that the problem is primarily oil burning, in which there is no cure for(save rebuilding the bottom end). Let us know which of the 2 problems youre having.
Thank you for your suggestions Alex. I have driven about 150 miles since the oil change. The oil is nice and clean (no milkshake). There are spots in the driveway and my parking space at work. Is it worth have the "bottom end" rebuilt or should I just add the oil. I never mentioned that I only drive this car about 6000 miles per year now. It would more cost effective to add the oil but way less green. I am thinking that by rebuilding the "bottom end" that the top end (if there is such a thing) may need rebuild sooner than later.
Just run the car if youre not driving it that much. These motors are notorious for burning oil if you dont change the oil religiously every 3000 miles. The problem is that the pistons in these motors do not have oil drain back holes to allow oil to fall back down into the bottom of the engine. There are only 2 little reliefs on each side of the piston to let oil fall back down. As a consequence, the dirty grimy oil will gum up and make the oil control rings get stuck, therefore allowing the oil on the cylinder walls to get burned up during combustion instead of getting scraped off by the rings.
In short, its not worth the trouble and cost of rebuilding the engine. That is the only "defect" of these motors. You could try the Marvel Mystery Oil piston soak to try and loosen up the gunk around the rings, but thats up to you. Most Saturns will burn a quart of oil every 500- 1000 miles. Even more if the rings are stuck pretty bad. Just keep checking your oil levels every couple hundred miles and add the necessary amount and it'll run forever.
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