A blown head gasket is only one of a couple ways coolant could be leaking into your cylinders and out of the tail pipe. You could have a blown intake gasket, cracked cylinder head/block.
Unfortunately, if you aren't experienced with rebuilding motors, I don't recommend you tackle this job yourself. No matter how handy you are with a wrench.
And I'm assuming your engine has over 100K miles on it? If so, don't bother replacing your head/intake gasket. That'll cost you several hundred of your hard earned dollars, and be like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. It's not worth pouring money into a motor that'll suck it up and blow it right back out of the tail pipe.
Instead, shop around and you'll find a used motor for $400-$500 bucks, with labor being another $400$500. Yes, this is a lot. But it's only a few more hundred than you'll pay fixing a motor that'll konk out on you in another couple thousand miles anyway. (If your motor got hot enough to blow a head gasket, I guarantee you the rest of your motor is ready to kick the bucket)
And remember to shop around, and don't be afraid to tell a mechanic that someone else is offering to do work for a cheaper price. In this economy, any mechanic will fight for your business.
If I've helped you, please take the time to vote for me, as my reputation pays my bills. Thanx, Ernest.
Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 AT 9:17 PM