Blown Head Gasket?? Okay to drive??


jsnowbordr47
03-19-2009, 09:46 PM
After so many years of reliability, my 95 Suburban went low compression on 1 cylinder (#7). It happened all of the sudden while driving up the Tejon Pass in Southern California. The day before we were showing very good compression on all cylinders (165-170). I also have a slight oil leak coming somewhere underneath where the spark plugs are. This happened back in December.

I'm driving it until I can afford to either have the engine rebuilt, or have the engine replaced. But till then I'm just dealing with it. While driving last week, the temperature started to shoot up and it did hit the red for about 15 seconds (check gauges light came on) but then it cooled back down when I parked. Since it was hot, I couldn't open the radiator, but my expansion tank was full at the hot level at the time. Once I got back onto the highway, the temperature went back down to normal. I originally suspected a thermostat, but when I opened the radiator after the truck had cooled down, I found it was half-empty and it's a brand new radiator.

So I refilled the radiator, and I removed the expansion tank to check to see if the line was plugged, it wasn't (seems the radiator wasn't pulling coolant back in when it cooled back down, so it looked like the radiator was full based on the expansion tank). I then put the tank back and filled it to the "Cold" level.

Since then I've been driving the truck around, and the coolant is slightly low, but not significantly low. And the truck is running very cool now. I see no signs of the oil and coolant mixing. My oil looks like clean oil, and there's no milky substance on my dipstick or oil filler cap.

When running with the radiator cap off, I see a bubble once every few seconds. Also, even after filling the radiator to its fill level, and driving the truck around for a bit, the reservoir level stays the same "Cold" regardless of temperature.

As for the exhaust, when starting in the morning or after it's been sitting a few days, it is white for about 6 minutes, then it goes back to normal, during this period, if I accelerate, the smoke turns slightly bluish (at least it looks bluish in the mirrors).

It seems I have some of the symptoms of a blown head gasket, but not others. Is there anything wrong with driving with a blown head gasket? As long as I keep an eye on the temp and make sure it doesn't overheat, should I be okay for now? I'm doing a trip to Tahoe this weekend, and it's actually cheaper for me to drive this truck than to rent a car (@ $1.99 a gallon it only cots $80 for a round trip vs $125 to rent a car + gas). I mean, I've been driving it long distance before, but after reading all this stuff on the internet about blown head gaskets, I'm getting a bit paranoid about it. If it is a blown head gasket, it must barely be leaking, I've seen other cars with blown head gaskets that overeat after 3 minutes of running, and the bubbling in their radiators is so much greater than what I've got in mine.


As for loosing coolant, that must have happened over the course of 3 months, because that's the last time I could remember actually opening the radiator to check the coolant level, since my expansion tank has always been full since then.


Should I drive or should I rent? I'll be doing a 240 mile round trip to Tahoe.

j cAT
03-21-2009, 09:16 AM
Should I drive or should I rent? I'll be doing a 240 mile round trip to Tahoe.[/quote]your operation of this vehicle


rent a vehicle....
your operation of this vehicle, will damage the engine and other componets.the head gasket leak will get larger as the compression will blow out the gasket material and may also cause you to replace the head..

if this were in another area not a head gasket coolant sealers may work but not with a head gasket...or the water pump shaft seal..

Cusser
03-21-2009, 03:45 PM
My 1988 Suburban had (I believe) a bad head gasket for several years. Why do I say that? I had to routinely addcoolant/water, never had any sign of leakage, went on for a few years. I didn't tell Mrs. Cusser as she would've wanted to sell it or have it fixed. Then one day around town, apparently it started putting out white smoke in the morning, but that didn't hint to Mrs. Cusser that maybe she should ask me about that, no way. So she drove it again in the afternoon, and things got even worse. Add to that a T-bone accident where someone backed up into both side doors, and an "original" transmission, all made it time to sell what was left. Also, all sheet metal screws on that 1988 were all loose, everywhere, whether the plates for the 3rd seat mounting plates, trim, etc, very weird, had to replace all with wider screws (apparently too tough for GM to figure out). At least my newer one 1994 (bought in 2000) seems much better designed and built. Yes, even with the booster and MC replacement.

Elbert
03-22-2009, 12:56 AM
don't drive it, don't start the engine until you get it fixed.

jsnowbordr47
03-22-2009, 10:39 PM
Yeah, I ended up renting a Chevrolet Malibu, such a nice car. Problem is, the weather report lied, and instead of getting rain showers late in the evening, we got snow pouring much earlier.

This was the first time that I ever drove a non 4x4 in the snow, but I have to say, with the TCS and Stabilitrak working the whole time, it handled very well. It was a really exciting drive, but I think next time I'll stick with my Suburban.lol


When my dad comes back to the state, I think we're going to tear down the engine to see if it's really just a head gasket, or if the head is cracked. Either way we're going to get the engine fixed, or put in a new engine. People keep telling me to just get rid of the truck and by a newer model, but this truck and I have been through so much. I could never get rid of it.lol

jsnowbordr47
05-14-2009, 08:25 PM
Truck is now at the dealer getting a GM Goodwrench engine put in. It costs way more than an arm and a leg, but after our experience trying to fix our 94 Suburban (2 dead cylinders) we don't have the energy, especially if the result is going to be the same.

We thought the 94 only had a blown head gasket, or maybe bad exhaust valves. Unfortunately after tearing down the engine and lifting those really heavy heads off the block, we found that the heads on the passenger side were cracked. But even worse, we also found that the engine block was cracked. It's offcially dead.lol

Anyone got a 5.7L lying around that they wanna sell for cheap?lol

j cAT
05-15-2009, 10:39 AM
Truck is now at the dealer getting a GM Goodwrench engine put in. It costs way more than an arm and a leg, but after our experience trying to fix our 94 Suburban (2 dead cylinders) we don't have the energy, especially if the result is going to be the same.

We thought the 94 only had a blown head gasket, or maybe bad exhaust valves. Unfortunately after tearing down the engine and lifting those really heavy heads off the block, we found that the heads on the passenger side were cracked. But even worse, we also found that the engine block was cracked. It's offcially dead.lol

Anyone got a 5.7L lying around that they wanna sell for cheap?lol


why install a new engine in a 1994 vehicle ???
also having the dealer do this is not thinking correctly unless you like/have money to BURN....

usually scrap yards will do this,or engines aquired from a scrap yard will be suffecient ...

sounds like you for some reason don't want to part with this beast...for a few thousand in my area you can pick up another used vehicle like yours..

J-Ri
05-17-2009, 01:20 PM
This was the first time that I ever drove a non 4x4 in the snow, but I have to say, with the TCS and Stabilitrak working the whole time, it handled very well. It was a really exciting drive, but I think next time I'll stick with my Suburban
I actually prefer a car in light snow, the handling is sooo much better in a car. If I start to slide, I can correct it every time. In my truck, once I slide, there's a 50/50 chance I'm going into the ditch, although I can drive it out every time. If there's more than 6" on the road, then you need a truck, but my Cavalier will keep going until I can feel snow pushing up on the floor pan. (Both vehicles with good snow tires)

why install a new engine in a 1994 vehicle ???
also having the dealer do this is not thinking correctly unless you like/have money to BURN....

usually scrap yards will do this,or engines aquired from a scrap yard will be suffecient ...

sounds like you for some reason don't want to part with this beast...for a few thousand in my area you can pick up another used vehicle like yours..
If everything else has been maintained well, I'd put an engine in it, although I'd do it myself. Lacking the tools or time, I'd have an independent shop do it.
Having a salvage yard employee swap an engine!? Now that's "not thinking correctly" :) I recently sold a junk car to one that I wanted to keep the wheels off of and as a result had to spend hours there out in the yard. Long story short, don't ever let them touch a vehicle that you want to run right ever again! I saw firsthand the people that work in these places, you don't want them doing work on a car ever. If anyone really wants to know what all I saw, shoot me a PM and I'll type it all out. I won't give the name of the place out (but they're actually the best in town :uhoh:), so don't ask that. But I do agree about a salvaged engine, but rebuilding it first is probably best.
A used vehicle probably has lots of problems and would be thousands more to fix everything, goes back to how this truck has been maintained.

j cAT
05-18-2009, 03:17 PM
A used vehicle probably has lots of problems and would be thousands more to fix everything, goes back to how this truck has been maintained.
The area you live in ,,,,If it is IOWA....makes some sense,, in your thinking...
In my area these suburbans don't haul 10 head of cattle around...more like 10 head of young children...

the vehicles in this area arn't farm equiptment usage types ..so they are usually with low mileage and not much damage.


scrap yards here do have a good reputation and much competition...the amount of good drivetrain/engines available is great with this type...the cost to replace with new engine and then what happens if its totaled...the insurance will payoff nothing...scrap value on this age..

I have seen that in the farm areas of the country prices for these vehicles and availability is not the norm as here..

jsnowbordr47
05-21-2009, 02:12 AM
The area you live in ,,,,If it is IOWA....makes some sense,, in your thinking...
In my area these suburbans don't haul 10 head of cattle around...more like 10 head of young children...

the vehicles in this area arn't farm equiptment usage types ..so they are usually with low mileage and not much damage.


scrap yards here do have a good reputation and much competition...the amount of good drivetrain/engines available is great with this type...the cost to replace with new engine and then what happens if its totaled...the insurance will payoff nothing...scrap value on this age..

I have seen that in the farm areas of the country prices for these vehicles and availability is not the norm as here..


Actually, my insurance has been pretty generous to us regarding our older vehicles that have been totaled. We had a 1985 Chevy Van 20, it was in horrible shape (paint faded, hard to start, A/C didn't work, etc) But when it was totaled, the insurance gave enough for a down payment for a new vehicle (much more than we thought we would get). Actually, that's how we bought our first Suburban. We also, had a old Mercedes that was absolute garbage by the time it was totaled in an accident, we got a nice hefty sum for that vehicle too. So I'm confident, that my insurance company would be fair if this vehicle were to be totaled in the future. However, I drive it (and park it) in a way that I usually don't have to worry about that sort of stuff. BTW each of the cars were well over 13 years old when they were totaled, so I'm not sure where you get the idea of "scrap value at this age"



why install a new engine in a 1994 vehicle ???
also having the dealer do this is not thinking correctly unless you like/have money to BURN....

usually scrap yards will do this,or engines aquired from a scrap yard will be suffecient ...

sounds like you for some reason don't want to part with this beast...for a few thousand in my area you can pick up another used vehicle like yours..


Why install an engine on a 1994 vehicle?

Well, first off, it's the 1995 Suburban that's getting the new engine. We're going to throw the engine from the 95 into the 94, because the 94 has a cracked block, and the 95 only has a blown head gasket (we hope.lol). As for installing a new engine on a 1995, it's because I love this vehicle. I've been through much with this truck, and it has never let me down. 95 was one of the most if not the most reliable year for a 90's era Suburban. In my family, we tend to keep our cars until they utterly die in an accident or are stolen. To me, cars are not disposable items. That's the difference between fans of American cars vs fans of import cars. All my buddies who drive Nissans and Honda's always seem to be trading up for the newest model every 2 years. My buddies who drive Chevy pickups all still have the same rides we had 5 years ago in high school.


When it comes to having your vehicle serviced by a dealer, you have to be smart. I called 8 dealers within a 50 mile radius of my home town, and I had bids as high as $5500, and bids as low as $4200. Guess which one I went with. And on top of that I talked and made friends with the guys at that dealer service department, and they waived my core charge (even though I wasn't sending the old engine back), and threw in free hoses and a free transmission service. On the other hand, I also got a few bids to have an engine installed via an independent auto shop. And most of them were $1300-$1500 more than the dealer I went to. And only one of them would allow me to use the engine of my choice, everyone else required me to purchase a Jasper Remanufactured Engine. (nothing against Jasper, but their remanufactured Chevy Small Block 350 cost more than a brand new GM Goodwrench 350).

As for getting an engine from a scrap yard and just throwing it in my truck, I'm with the other guy, that's not thinking. You don't know what that vehicle went through. Just think, there's a reason the vehicle the engine came from was in the scrap yard. If you have time and money to burn to take apart a scrap yard/pick-n-pull engine, then yeah, maybe then it would work. But I'd never trust a scrap yard engine unless I was planning on taking it apart and rebuilding it. A buddy of mine did that at the local Pick-N-Pull, he spent the whole day their with his brother pulling an engine out of an 85 Blazer, only to find out it had low compression on all the even cylinders. Luckily, Pick-N-Pull does have a warranty.lol And yeah, about the kind of people who work at the Pick-N-Pull, or at least my local pick-n-pull. If they had free valet parking, I wouldn't even trust them with my least favorite vehicle I own (Ford Aerostar). I remember once a guy in front of use in the checkout line had already paid and was on his way out, when another employee at the pick-n-pull (who wasn't even working checkout, he was just working the entry window) told him to stop. He then called the lady who had checked out the guy and told her, that she could charge him for even more pieces. Luckily for the guy, people in the line start to speak out on his behalf. Eventually they let him go, after all, it was their mistake.


As for a used car, you never know what you're gonna get, plus, the only places that sell these era of GM trucks nowadays are those smaller car dealers that don't have the resources that the bigger dealers do to do a 100+ point inspection. We once almost bought a 98 Chevy Tahoe from one of these smaller dealers, and the guy was telling me the specs of the truck. Problem was, I'm an expert when it comes to 90's era Chevy Tahoes and Suburbans, and everything that salesman was telling us was totally incorrect.lol And who knows, the person who traded in that Tahoe may have never done a tune-up or had the transmission serviced.

We actually purchased our 95 used in 1998. However, it was from a dealer that specifically specialized in Chevrolet and GMC Suburbans and Tahoes from 1995-1999. We knew we could trust a dealer like that.


I guess the biggest reason that I chose to have the dealer buy and install the engine is because I plan to keep this truck forever. And I'd rather have my engine installed correctly (and fairly quickly actually) by guys who work with these (GM) engines on a daily basis, and who have a passion for GM products (I talked to the mechanic who worked on my truck, he was their most senior mechanic, and he's a diehard Chevy guy). Also, they got one heck of a warranty 3 years 100,000 miles.

I tell ya though, I was kinda discouraged after calling the first few dealerships, especially my local dealerships, they were so expensive. But the dealer I ended up working with, really went to great lengths to accommodate me and my budget. They gave me daily updates, and always asked if I was enjoying my free rental (Chevrolet Silverado). I mean, just by talking to those dudes, you can see they're really passionate about the work they do and they really care about the customer. That's something you typically don't get at the scrapyard.lol

Those are the kind of people you want to work on your car.

j cAT
05-22-2009, 10:31 AM
you are aware that next week GM is going into bankruptcy...
then california is next...


paying thousands of dollars on a vehicle 10 plus years old to install a new engine that the dealship is installing is very foulish ,,,,MY OPINION...

my area a vehicle 10plus years old may get 800-1500 from insurance company.....this is how it is here...

you want a down payment on new vehicle???congress now is looking to pass a gas guzzler bill...scrap your pig and get up to 4500 for the purchase of a high mpg vehicle...


when you talk of mercedes,,,this is like comparing gold to steel ...GM does not come close to the quaility, durability of design with this type of vehicle...the resale on these vehicles is quite high in my area....

bottom line here the insurance company will give you book value minus the 500/1000 dollar deductible....you won't have enough to pay the taxes..

used engines here are a big business as they are given a warrantee...and most will use them when their engine dies and the vehicle is over 10years old....to have cash to get this new engine installed on a vehicle this old sounds like you have the cash in your pocket////I hope not on the charge card....

If I was going bankrupt next week I would offer you a million mile warrantee!!!!!!

jsnowbordr47
05-22-2009, 02:39 PM
you are aware that next week GM is going into bankruptcy...
then california is next...


paying thousands of dollars on a vehicle 10 plus years old to install a new engine that the dealship is installing is very foulish ,,,,MY OPINION...

my area a vehicle 10plus years old may get 800-1500 from insurance company.....this is how it is here...

you want a down payment on new vehicle???congress now is looking to pass a gas guzzler bill...scrap your pig and get up to 4500 for the purchase of a high mpg vehicle...


when you talk of mercedes,,,this is like comparing gold to steel ...GM does not come close to the quaility, durability of design with this type of vehicle...the resale on these vehicles is quite high in my area....

bottom line here the insurance company will give you book value minus the 500/1000 dollar deductible....you won't have enough to pay the taxes..

used engines here are a big business as they are given a warrantee...and most will use them when their engine dies and the vehicle is over 10years old....to have cash to get this new engine installed on a vehicle this old sounds like you have the cash in your pocket////I hope not on the charge card....

If I was going bankrupt next week I would offer you a million mile warrantee!!!!!!


If they file or bankruptcy, GM will be filing for Chapter 11 (restructuring) not Chapter 7 (liquidation). Also their bankruptcy is being funded by the government. I'd say there's a good chance they're going to be around in the future. Unfortunately, consumers don't understand the differences between bankruptcy filings and they run away whenever they see the "B" word. So GM's sales will probably suffer during the bankruptcy.


As for dealer installation, it's your opinion. In my opinion, when the it's cheaper to get a brand new GM Goodwrench engine installed at the dealer, than it is to get a rebuilt Jasper engine installed at a local shop, that's a steal. Scrap yard engines are too big of a gamble unless you have the fund/facilities to rebuild the engine, and if that's the case, why not just rebuild the engine already in your truck? Plus, it would be a waste of money if I spent $800 for a used engine out of a wrecked Suburban and then another $600-$1000 on the installation at the wrecking yard or a local shop, just to have that used engine die after another 2500 miles. Even if it were under warranty, the hassle of not having a truck/car for a while isn't worth it, especially since I doubt a wrecking yard would provide you with a free rental while they replaced the engine, again.



As or insurance payouts, maybe it's your insurance company. Like I said, my insurance company has been fairly generous both on a Chevrolet Van and Mercedes Sedan. Actually, we got more for the van than we got for the Mercedes.


Speaking of Mercedes, you mentioned it's like gold vs steel. You do realize gold is much weaker than steel, right? But I guess that makes sense then since Mercedes is horrible in terms of reliability, I don't know where you got the idea that Mercedes was good in terms of reliability. Chevrolet has actually been pretty good over the years.


As for the warranty issue. Government is backing the warranty right now. And even if GM were to transition from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7, the warranties would be sold to a third party, and would be covered by that third party. GM warranties are safe in all situations.

j cAT
05-23-2009, 09:13 AM
I'm very surprised at your position that the goverment will take care of any warrantee issues...

the GM problem last night it was stated,, will be worse than chysler...
the bond holders are said to fight the restructuring.....why ...because they will get only 10% on the dollar...where others are getting 60%....

this action will force GM into total bankruptcy, to avoid the bond holders demands,,,which is something that is very wrong as the distribution is quite different,,,

I guess OBAMA will just have to get his tool box ready if you and others with warrantee issues arise..

Carsrcool100
05-23-2009, 09:17 AM
If you drive it, it can harm your car. Just rent a car like one of these guys said until you get it fixed.

j cAT
05-27-2009, 10:21 AM
looks like the bond holders said NO WAY....
the federal goverment is said to be the new owner 70%....interest...
looks like obama will have to perform your warrantee requests....


the goverment should not run these businesses...if they fail, then they should go into bankruptcy like everyone...

now we all are stock holders in GM...this company has lost billions every quarter for several years now....

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