Longevity of motor with a leaky head gasket?

02-05-2011, 08:44 PM
Wife's '01 Impala has a leaky head gasket. Under oil cap is kinda milky and radiator has some rainbow colors in the coolant from oil.

If we don't fix it, about how long can the motor run with a leaking head gasket berfore it dies? Will changing the oil more frequently help it last longer?

Hoping to get another car in a couple years, so that is why we don't want to put another $1000 in this one.


02-05-2011, 09:16 PM
Usually leaking gaskets only get worse. The worse the leak, the faster the oil is contaminated and the more damage will be done to engine bearings, camshaft etc.

With the limited info you have provided, I don't think it will last 2 more years without repair.

Realistically, $1000 to get another 2 years out of a car is a reasonable cost. Furthermore, if its in decent running shape at that time, it still might be worth something to sell, so you can get some of the repair money back.
If you just let the engine destroy itself, your car will be worth almost nothing.

02-19-2011, 01:06 AM
Worst case scenario? It will last from your house to the junkyard where they'll give you $200 for it :)

Seriously... fixing it now will be the cheapest by far. Every mile you drive, you risk causing major damage. It may last a while, but the type of failure you describe is not forgiving. Fix it right away.

Sorry to sound apocalyptic, I just would hate for you to cause additional damage.

02-19-2011, 03:39 PM
A headgasket job isn't hard to do on a lot of GM engines. Take it apart now before the engine suffers catastrophic failure beyond basic repair.

02-22-2011, 03:40 PM
Could be the more common lower intake gasket, make sure the hd gasket is the real culprit here.

03-24-2011, 01:52 AM
If you have a milky appearance under the oil cap, then you have coolant in the oil. If you have coolant in the oil, the bearings are all short-timers.

You'll spin a bearing long before the engine fails due to the head gasket.

As Maxwedge states, I'd put more stock into the lower intake gaskets, as these are a sore point for this engine (3.4) and this is what they do when they fail.

03-24-2011, 10:09 PM
Chances are the extra cooling system pressure will pop the heater element inside the car and possibly the radiator expansion tank too.

If you either fix the problem or swap the engine now, you will be better off than having to replace these when it goes in style. What would a good used engine cost?

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