I blew it (literally, the head something)

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
348
126
Well, I made a mistake, procrastinating on maintenance, and the car pointed this out by getting hot. Rushing it to an oil change place was too late.

'There's foam, not oil'. I haven't had it looked at yet to identify the damage - head gasket, head, etc.

I'm partly in the regretting my mistake phase, but recognizing I need a plan.

This is an older, inexpensive transportation car, that ran fine, 1994 Olds Cutlass Ciera, 90K miles.

Options: get it repaired

If I don't, get another car: new or used?

When that's selected, which type - probably sedan, sporty, convertible, or hybrid

When that's selected which one and where.

My approach is largely 'I'd like to spend less, but it's worth spending more to get a lot more'. I don't like what I see as 'bland' cars a lot, as reliable as they are, like the Accord or Camry, despite the Oldsmobile partly fitting that description. The 'sensible' thing, if not repairing, is probably a 'decent used car with 50k miles'.

Probably not a lot the forum can help with now. If I'm wrong about that, feel free.
 

Eli

Super Moderator | Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
50,422
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What maintenance did you procrastinate on to cause your headgasket to blow? lol
 

Bartman39

Elite Member | For Sale/Trade
Jul 4, 2000
8,878
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91
The car is not worth much and will be somewhat expensive to fix with what your telling of its problems...

I would look around for something used like possibly a Toyota Corolla maybe even a Camry with around 50K-80K miles (good dependable cars)...
 

Arkaign

Lifer
Oct 27, 2006
20,736
1,377
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What maintenance did you procrastinate on to cause your headgasket to blow? lol

Water pump

and / or

Radiator

and / or

Thermostat?

Seems like excessive heat over time can cause Head gaskets to go, or cracked head, etc.
 

Doppel

Lifer
Feb 5, 2011
13,306
3
0
If your credit is good, your finances are good, and you are sick of having an old car/don't want to worry about it you can lease something new for a couple hundred bucks/month and not damn well think about this kind of thing again.

You need a quote before you can say whether repairing that olds is worth it. The car itself is worth basically nothing on the market but that does NOT mean you shouldn't pay more than its value to repair it (since probably for that amount of money you'd basically not be able to buy anything anyway).
 

IcePickFreak

Platinum Member
Jul 12, 2007
2,428
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The car is not worth much and will be somewhat expensive to fix with what your telling of its problems...

I would look around for something used like possibly a Toyota Corolla maybe even a Camry with around 50K-80K miles (good dependable cars)...

This.

Those motors are a PIA to work on (ie. lots of labor hours) so it isn't going to make much financial sense to sink any more money into it to have them pull the heads, not to mention the other parts you'll likely have to replace along the way (water pump, timing chain, etc).
 

Zargon

Lifer
Nov 3, 2009
12,240
2
76
if its a 2.8/3.1/3.4 my bet is the lower intake manifold gasket, which will cost anywhere from a few hundred to 700 to have replaced......its a known failure point in those cars and the recommended interval is 75-100k
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
348
126
Thanks for the replies so far. Eli, it was out of oil and water. Aikouka, I hear the same. Zargon, is that consistent with the above and the heat? If it would be in the 400-700 range to fix that, it'd be a good idea, but before spending 100-200 just to get it diagnosed and be told 'needs a new head', it'd be good to know there's a chance it's something less serious. Doppel I agree keeping a transportation car can make sense. If I do get something, I do not plan to lease. Still considering what to do.
 

IcePickFreak

Platinum Member
Jul 12, 2007
2,428
9
81
if its a 2.8/3.1/3.4 my bet is the lower intake manifold gasket, which will cost anywhere from a few hundred to 700 to have replaced......its a known failure point in those cars and the recommended interval is 75-100k

Pretty sure a 94 Cutlass Ciera has the 2.2 4cyl in it.
 

Fern

Elite Member
Sep 30, 2003
26,907
173
106
-snip-
...it was out of oil and water.

Not good.

There are any number of serious (i.e., expensive) problems that may have developed while running w/o oil & water, such as cracked heads/block and/or bearings scortched/ruined.

Fern
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
102,414
8,356
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no oil and no water? yikes. amazed you were able to get it to a change place.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
348
126
no oil and no water? yikes. amazed you were able to get it to a change place.

Funny thing is, it still drives ok, you don't really notice a problem, on city streets, though I'm avoiding driving it now to try not to make it worse while I decide a plan.
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
102,414
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Funny thing is, it still drives ok, you don't really notice a problem, on city streets, though I'm avoiding driving it now to try not to make it worse while I decide a plan.

those 3800s really are bulletproof, then. i had a head gasket blown and you could definitely smell the burning oil

edit: wiki says the 3800 was not available on 94s
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
348
126
those 3800s really are bulletproof, then. i had a head gasket blown and you could definitely smell the burning oil

edit: wiki says the 3800 was not available on 94s

Yes, it's a 3100 SFI V6.

I might take it in to a shop for diagnosis.

It's been stolen and recovered twice and is no longer in great shape from all that, though it drove fine until this.

Probably shouldn't have watched the top gear marathon.
 
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Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
348
126
What are a few cars - probably used, but if not ok - that make people say 'I can't believe what a great, comfortable car I get for that price!' now, of the types listed above?
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
102,414
8,356
126
your interests are all over the place and you've got no particular budget atm so...

go drive the new focus (not the old one)
used and new miatas
hybrids are going to be expensive both new and used, and outside of the little honda are rather boring to drive.
the new v6 mustang with the track pack is supposed to be a good drive. but there are a billion mustangs out there.
sedan wise - used G35s certainly aren't boring, they have a good reliability reputation, but they do suck down gas.


last time i shopped for a new car i was looking at all sorts of things, mustang, G35, tsx, accord, focus, mazda3, wrx. i eventually decided on the mazda because it made financial sense, was a decently nice place to sit, and ultimately it drove really well. i suspect the 2012 mazda3 will drive better than the focus due to the former's hydraulic steering. dealers may be very willing to deal on the 2011 mazda3 as the styling hasn't been a sales hit (being restyled after 2 years), and the fuel economy is basically worst in class now (2012 gets a much improved base engine and should do 40).