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The Rick
09-16-2006, 08:55 PM
I have a '97 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24. It's probably worth about $2000. Lately, I've been having problems with it running pretty hot and with it leaking coolant. Took it to a place and they said the head gasket was the problem and needed to be replaced. Cost? Easily $1000.

My first question is what would you say is the "magic formula" for whether or not to fix a car given the cost of the repair, how much the car is worth, etc.

Basically, before all of this I was planning on replacing the car in the next 6-12 months. The wife and I have been working our tails off trying to pay off all debt (Dave Ramsey method). That will be done in the next 6 months or so. Then, the plan was to save up some quick cash to buy a new(er) car for each of us. We make really good money now (6 figures between the two of us) so the plan was to save up about $12,000 over the course of 3 months and use it to pay cash for a car for one of us. Then, do the same thing for a second vehicle.

That was the plan anyway. Now, this has come up. If I don't fix it right away, is it safe to drive and how long can it be driven like it is as long as I continue to fill it with water (antifreeze when it gets colder)?

I did buy some liquid stuff that supposedly can maybe fix the leak that I'm going to try. However, I have to figure out how to drain the coolant and flush the system. Then, I need to let it sit for up to 24 hours according to the instructions on the liquid. I don't know when I'm going to find a time where I can do without the car for two days given our busy work schedules.

So, to summarize, my questions are:

1. Is it worth fixing knowing my financial situation and plans? I mean, it's not that I can't afford the $1000...it's more the principle.

2. How safe/good is it to drive under it's current condition as long as it has coolant in it? Even with it full of coolant, it still runs hot (never touches the red, but it's up there).

Thanks for the advice in advance. This is what I love about the Planet...

munkey
09-16-2006, 09:02 PM
Unless you really love the car sell it for a grand and walk away from it.

AND I wouldn't drive it...let the person that buys it do that. Not only will they know its a problem BUT if it breaks down on the way home you don't have to tow it to a mechanic.

JBucc
09-16-2006, 09:03 PM
That happened to a van someone I know used to drive. I don't know how to fix it though, they just sold it and bought a new one.

rad
09-16-2006, 09:04 PM
1. Yes. Find a better price or you and a friend do it yourself. When you buy your new car(s), keep this one as a backup. Having something to drive in case of emergency is worth alot more than what you will get in trade.

2. Not safe/ good at all. you will more than likely compound the problem by ignoring or "quick-fixing" it.

Skip Towne
09-16-2006, 09:04 PM
How bad is it leaking? I use a combination of Bars Leak (with the rat turds) and the Gunk aluminized stop leak. Use the Bars Leak first and wait a few days then use the Gunk. I had a large leak in my heater core last year and this stopped it. You can keep driving it and adding water/ antifreeze forever. (Or at least until you forget to add it)

The Rick
09-17-2006, 05:08 AM
How bad is it leaking? I use a combination of Bars Leak (with the rat turds) and the Gunk aluminized stop leak. Use the Bars Leak first and wait a few days then use the Gunk. I had a large leak in my heater core last year and this stopped it. You can keep driving it and adding water/ antifreeze forever. (Or at least until you forget to add it)
Bars Leak is what I got. Heard it was the best. I don't really know how to flush everything like it says on the bottle. Found the drain at the bottom of the radiator though. Is flushing the system very hard?

Bill Parcells
09-17-2006, 06:28 AM
the only vehicles I have experienced with a blown head gasket were diesel trucks..and even after they were repaired there were still ongoing problems..

I never had leaks though..

the engine would just run super hot and the reservoir overflow plastic container would have boiling water in it!!

boogblaster
09-17-2006, 07:04 AM
dont use the bars-leak..go to the drug store get a product called plumbers-glass drain and flush your system..then follow instructions..i think just water and the p-glass let the motor run for said time then drain and let set 24 hrs. refill with coolant and drive the bitch..it will seal the head-gasket....

brorth
09-17-2006, 07:12 AM
Boog is right. It's actually called waterglass. I think it's real name is sodium silicate. You won't find it at an auto parts store, because it's basicaly illegal to use ( if you're a car dealer). The stuff is super soluble in water, but you have to be careful with it. Once the water dries, it forms a seal as strong as any epoxy you've ever seen, viola! no more head gasket leak. It will work for quite a while, but you will be done with the car if and when the seal pops again.

BTW The reason you don't see a leak is because you motor is drinking it and spitting it out your tailpipe. Stand by your exhaust and see if you smell antifreeze.

4th and Long
09-17-2006, 07:24 AM
Full Coverage Insurance
+ A Few Gallons Of Gasoline
+ A Match
________________________
Problem Solved.

Bwana
09-17-2006, 07:39 AM
Hmmm? As far as driving it, if you have it full of coolant and drive it short distances and watch the heat gauge, you should be ok. If it gets to hot, you will likely warp the heads. As far as product, hands down, the best out there is a product called Blue Devil Engine & cooling sealant. They get $49-$59 for a quart, but it works in 95% of the vehicles if people follow directions, pull the thermostat and run it free flow. With my job, I am a lot like a pharmaceutical rep only in the auto parts business. I have pallets of crap showing up at times at my house full of various product and a case of this stuff was one of them. I gave two quarts to a mechanic buddy and he put one in a Honda and one in a Saab and it healed both of them. Hell, if you were around here, I would give you a quart. Give that stuff a try, follow the directions and it should take care of it for you. Good Luck. Greg

Skip Towne
09-17-2006, 07:58 AM
Hmmm? As far as driving it, if you have it full of coolant and drive it short distances and watch the heat gauge, you should be ok. If it gets to hot, you will likely warp the heads. As far as product, hands down, the best out there is a product called Blue Devil Engine & cooling sealant. They get $49-$59 for a quart, but it works in 95% of the vehicles if people follow directions, pull the thermostat and run it free flow. With my job, I am a lot like a pharmaceutical rep only in the auto parts business. I have pallets of crap showing up at times at my house full of various product and a case of this stuff was one of them. I gave two quarts to a mechanic buddy and he put one in a Honda and one in a Saab and it healed both of them. Hell, if you were around here, I would give you a quart. Give that stuff a try, follow the directions and it should take care of it for you. Good Luck. Greg
Whe did you change jobs? I thought you were doing market research.

Bwana
09-17-2006, 08:31 AM
Whe did you change jobs? I thought you were doing market research.

Heh! About a year and a half ago. That turned into a giant CF. :shake: It seems the market research boys were using the "NEW MATH" when it came to the amount of travel I was in for. They said 50% at most, which is why I agreed to the position and it turned out it was closer to 95%. I told my regional supervisor in Seattle I would continue my employment with them if they stuck to their original agreement, but he wouldn't do it.

I called the corporate office down in Clearwater, FL the next day and told them they could hang their job where the sun doesn't shine and that they had 24 hours to come and get their company car off my property or it was getting the hook. The clowns even tried to bone me out of my last check to be pricks, but I still had one of their laptops and most importantly, several files of very sensitive information.

I called the Regional once again who was messing with me and told him they had 48 hours to FedEx down my check, or those files would pull a Houdini and disappear. I also explained that if they “got lost” and ended up in the wrong hands, it could cost them 200K in corrupted research. I had a check in my hand the next day.

Bill Parcells
09-17-2006, 08:37 AM
Heh! About a year and a half ago. That turned into a giant CF. :shake: It seems the market research boys were using the "NEW MATH" when it came to the amount of travel I was in for. They said 50% at most, which is why I agreed to the position and it turned out it was closer to 95%. I told my regional supervisor in Seattle I would continue my employment with them if they stuck to their original agreement, but he wouldn't do it.

I called the corporate office down in Clearwater, FL the next day and told them they could hang their job where the sun doesn't shine and that they had 24 hours to come and get their company car off my property or it was getting the hook. The clowns even tried to bone me out of my last check to be pricks, but I still had one of their laptops and most importantly, several files of very sensitive information.

I called the Regional once again who was messing with me and told him they had 48 hours to FedEx down my check, or those files would pull a Houdini and disappear. I also explained that if they “got lost” and ended up in the wrong hands, it could cost them 200K in corrupted research. I had a check in my hand the next day.


:eek: somehow..I never pictured you in a job like that ;)

you are a smart cookie!!!
you played that nicely!!!

Brock
09-17-2006, 08:39 AM
It isn't worth the trouble.

Bwana
09-17-2006, 08:43 AM
:eek: somehow..I never pictured you in a job like that ;)


LOL, what did you picture me doing, branding cows? :hmmm:

Bill Parcells
09-17-2006, 08:44 AM
LOL, what did you picture me doing, branding cows? :hmmm:
NO!!!

I picture you working outside..blue collar..not a corporate big shot!!! ROFL

dtebbe
09-17-2006, 08:45 AM
I would just go ahead and find that used car you were going to buy in a few months, finance it now on a 4 or 5 year note to keep the payments low, and keep on your debt elimination plan. Then when you have your other debts out of the way turn the elimination focus over to the car payment and double or triple up the payments or just pay it off outright. I don't think it makes much sense to put $1000 into a car worth $2000 that you wanted to get rid of in a year anyway. And the thing about aluminum heads is that if you have overheated it alrady, you will probably never be able to get it to seal right again anyway, because you just usually can't take enough material off the head to get it true again.

DT

Bwana
09-17-2006, 08:49 AM
NO!!!

I picture you working outside..blue collar..not a corporate big shot!!! ROFL

Well, you're half right. I have a "home office" when I'm in town and am on the road in MT, WY ND and SD about 50% of the time. I guess you could say, I work on the road and play hard outside with a lot of my free time.

OldTownChief
09-17-2006, 08:54 AM
Check your oil dipstick for water/bubbles in the oil. If its there, change it. You can damage the engine by driving it depending on how bad it is. Brorth is right, the water is going through you engine and out the tail pipe.

Bill Parcells
09-17-2006, 08:54 AM
Well, you're half right. I have a "home office" when I'm in town and am on the road in MT, WY ND and SD about 50% of the time. I guess you could say, I work on the road and play hard outside with a lot of my free time.
good for you man!!!!

so do I!!!

I would kill to live out by you!!!

it's just that my line of work entails being around snobbish pain in the asses with lots of money..I only have 9 more years until I move out of this craphole!!!

this is my company..

www.growing-concern.com

Coach
09-17-2006, 09:03 AM
Full Coverage Insurance
+ A Few Gallons Of Gasoline
+ A Match
________________________
Problem Solved.


Nice way of defrauding the insurance company. :p

Archie F. Swin
09-17-2006, 09:27 AM
I dont have any advice for you one way or another, but the reason a head gasket change is so costly is because its labor intensive. What stands between the wrench and the head gasket is only every engine component and accessory under the hood save for the engine block.

I witnessed a shade tree wrench change a head gasket on a '80 Pontiac Sunbird....it wernt pretty