1996 Chevrolet Suburban

Engine problem
1996 Chevy Suburban V8 Two Wheel Drive Automatic 155000 miles

Have a '96 suburban with Vortec 350. Engine ran great, but had a slow coolant leak in a accessory hose that caught up to me in traffic. Overheated, resulting with water in oil and white smoke ==> blown head gasket.

Called around - dealer repair price is $2200 (12hrs) + additional head work needed. A new GM crate engine is $2400 + 18hrs labor which I estimate to total close to $6000.

If the damage was more severe than the head gasket and heads, I will have spent that money in vain as a new engine will be required. Either case is more than the value of the truck, but definitely less than the $40k for a new suburban.

Even with the blown head gasket, the smoking actually goes away as soon as the truck warms up, so I don't think the block is cracked. What are the probabilities that the head gasket/head repair will suffice? Is there anything I can check beforehand to make my decision as to attempt the cheaper repair, or should I dive into the new engine?
January 23, 2008.

Was the engine quiet before? No obscene noises on cold start? Good power? Did it use oil? If it was all good before, I wouldnt hesitate to do the heads. Be warned, those are thin-wall castings and I can almost guarantee one of them is cracked. Might want to shop around a set of heads and have them installed, By the time they get done " bumping" you, the price will be higher than your estimate.

Jan 24, 2008.