Head gasket issue?? 2001 PT Cruiser
My 01' Cruiser (211k) has been running great, up until last
Thursday. I noticed for about the past month that the
temperature gauge would occasionally get up near the red. I
always shut it off or turned heat and blower on, and it would
always come back down. I figured the thermostat was
probably sticking shut( or open) so last Thursday I changed
the thermostat and put the car back the way it supposed to
be. I'm no ASE tech, but have done my fair share of brakes
and tune ups. I noticed the top of the PLASTIC radiator
casing had a minor crack in it. This must have been recent
cause I look for things like that and hadn't noticed it before.
AnywAys, I filled the radiator and coolant tank ( with coolant)
and proceeded to start the car to take my kids to school. It
kinda started rough and acted as though it might stall, but it
didn't. Shut it off and checked for codes. I got a P0303 which
tells me misfire on cylinder #3. Started it up again and it ran
fine. Took kids to school 4 miles away, no problem. Had to
run up route 70 about 11 miles and so far, no problems. When
Im a mile from my exit, I hear a fast " tap tap tap tap" coming
from engine. Sounded like a stuck lifter valve maybe, I
thought. Wasn't running hot, I'm anal about watching temp
gauge. As I'm coming down the ramp, the car started
sputtering and knocking, then shuts off. GREAT I say to
myself. Put in Park, turn the key over ( but not crank the
motor) and the temperature lights on and pegged on HIGH.
Go to crank the engine, nothing but starter whining. It
seemed like the flywheel wasn't even turning. Got it to
shoulder, sits overnight, neighbor brings me the next day. I
start to put water in, and it looks like its running straight out
the exhaust ( had a broken exhaust clamp right at the end of
the header pipe, and thats were the water was running out).
We tow roped it home and I pulled #1 and 4 plugs. Water on
the tips. Pulled dipstick and water in the oil. After all of that,
my question to someone who knows is if it is the head
gasket, or something else? I pistons are still pumping on both
cylinders and there's no oil leaking anywhere so I'm hoping
the blocks ok?? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Stranded in MD
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing without pulling the cylinder head. It could be a head gasket or a crack in the head or block. Only an inspection of the parts will tell the true cause.