. I had ABS, engine, battery lights all come on while driving. No loss of power. I stopped the car and restarted it but no change. What is this?
172,000 km The car has been burning up coolant but doesn't seem to be leaking, mechanic says it needs new head
Sounds like you have multiple issue. First off, your mechanic is probably correct in that you will need some new headgaskets. If your loosing coolant and you don't see any leaks, you are probably burning it. If it is bad enough you will see white smoke out the exhaust. The ABS and check engine light is probably a faulty wheel speed sensor. Battery light can be a faulty alternator and or battery. Have your mecahinc scan for codes, this will pinpoint them in the right direction. If you don't trust your mechanic, get more estimates.
There are also many cases where a failing alternator that still puts out 11-12 volts will allow the car to run but will cause other things to not work. I have personally seen a suburban that completey shut everything down (cluster, guages, power windows) except the engine. Last week a dodge neon had all the cluster lights on and the car was stuck in first gear because the alternator was at 11.6V instead of 13.6+. As far as the coolant goes like tom said get a second opinion on everything. if anywhere ever gives you a price of $150+ and its not something you are educated on, get a second opinion.
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