Blown head gasket

Tiny
MATT MCCLURE
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 SATURN SC1
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 200,000 MILES
My car suddenly showed low coolant levels and the temperature was red-lined but I do not think it seriously overheated as it was not really smoking much. Unfortunately there was oil coming out of the coolant reservoir. I let it cool and refilled the coolant, it started right up and drove fine but only went about ten miles and it happened again. My question is could some of that blue devil sealant actually work, or is the problem beyond that point? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Saturday, April 8th, 2017 AT 5:00 AM

10 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If those "mechanic-in-a-can" chemicals really worked, there would be no need for engine specialists. I'm sure there must be some cases where they solved a problem, otherwise they wouldn't be able to market them, but they are rarely a permanent solution. Head gasket material is a lot stronger than anything that can be poured out of a can. Once the gasket is corroded, the pressure from the cylinder will push through the leak, and it will blow out any chemical that tries to settle there. The rest of the gasket is just as old, and is likely to corrode through soon too in another place. The best repair is to do it right, and do it just once.
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Saturday, April 8th, 2017 AT 6:52 PM
Tiny
MATT MCCLURE
  • MEMBER
Unfortunately the car isn't worth the $1300 they want to fix it so I was just trying to find out how likely a $50 mechanic in a can might get me a couple more thousand miles out of it. I know that between the can and an actual mechanic that the right way would obviously be more reliable. The car just ain't worth doing it the right way. It's either the can or the scrapyard.
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Saturday, April 8th, 2017 AT 7:09 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I have a third alternative. Consider looking for a nearby community college with an Automotive program. We were always looking for live work, and a couple of dozen people in our area would sit on a broken car until it fit what we were teaching because they knew the value of the learning experience.

The advantage is we charged ten dollars per hour for the number of hours the job was supposed to take, and we got parts at real good discounts, then marked them up ten percent to form a "breakage" fund in case we damaged something. This job can be expected to cost around $300.00 to $600.00.

The disadvantage is the job can take a few weeks. My students were only in class four hours per day, and some of that was spent in the classroom. Also, engine work is only done while teaching the Engine Repair class, and that might only be once per year. You'll have to wait to have the work done.

You'll also want the students to verify your diagnosis. You described two conflicting symptoms. Oil is going into the coolant reservoir, but the level is going down. Your engine could use some type of oil cooler that transfers heat from the oil to the coolant, and that could be corroded and allowing the two fluids to mix. If that is the case, the most harm can be done by waiting to make the repair. Antifreeze in the oil will dissolve the soft outer layer of the engine bearings, and that will cause those bearings to become torn up and destroyed. The resulting repair will cost more than for a head gasket.
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Saturday, April 8th, 2017 AT 7:56 PM
Tiny
MATT MCCLURE
  • MEMBER
That's not a bad option except I would probably just donate the car. I'm a long way from home and I will be needing to go home in a couple weeks. I'd rather donate it than sell it for pocket change to a scrapyard. Thanks for the help
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Sunday, April 9th, 2017 AT 4:37 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Just to give my expert experience on this car and your problem. The head is cracked it's a common issue on those single cam s model Saturn's. The cam journals cracked and leaked oil into the cooling system they even had a extended warranty period for this happening but your car is over that period.
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Sunday, April 9th, 2017 AT 7:20 PM
Tiny
MATT MCCLURE
  • MEMBER
Thanks so much for your responses
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Monday, April 10th, 2017 AT 2:54 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Your welcome atleast you know what your up against you have to change the head all the rubber coolant hoses thermostat water pump coolant bottle etc plus flush it good.
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Monday, April 10th, 2017 AT 8:28 AM
Tiny
MATT MCCLURE
  • MEMBER
Unfortunately the car isn't worth that kind of time and money. That's the only reason I was asking peoples professional opinion about the sealant. It was just a last hope that I was wondering was even worth attempting. I was guessing it was too late for that to have any chance but was still hoping. Thanks again
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Monday, April 10th, 2017 AT 10:17 AM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
I've heard good things about 'Blue Devil' from some of the local shops.

They say follow the directions exactly! (An endorsement from 3 local shops near me)

I'm sure that the life of it is probably dependent on the severity of the 'wound'.

I have a diagonal crack in my '46 Willys Jeep block. It's about 5 inches long and is perfectly centered up on a freeze plug. It was found after the block was machined back in 1995.

'The Crowd' demanded I get another block/ or drill the beginning and end of the crack to 'stop it'/ follow a pre-heating torch with a nickle welding rod. Otherwise I was screwing up!

I'm hard headed!

But mostly was 'Financially Challenged'

At the time, I had to just "go with it".

The machinist gave me 2 're-builder's blocks' (like 1 inch square x 2 inch long carbon/ charcoal like blocks) to stick in my radiator after it started seeping coolant.

This worked well for about 2 months then I noticed a little moisture on the crack. I added another block.

It's now 22 years later, the crack is still visible, NO MOISTURE at all crack has not grown!

Click on 4th pic below

So I reckon if you are not in love with this vehicle (As I am with my two Jeeps), If you get good results with the sealer, but fear a relapse, dump that puppy on Craig's List/ news paper/ Auto Trader/ in the yard with a sign on it while it is doing well!

Moral of the story

It's your call!

The Medic
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Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 AT 5:56 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
You can try it but it's a cracked oil passage way much higher pressure then coolant. Also you would still have to replace the water pump thermostat and the rubber hoses coolant bottle and flush the system if it did work. But honestly I highly doubt it will work I was a Saturn factory trained tech for over 16yrs that's where my experience on this car is coming from.
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Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 AT 6:01 PM

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