1999 Saturn with cracked solar head

I really love this car! But my mechanic said there is oil in the antifreeze. Without taking everything apart he said the problem is most likely a cracked solar head which is quite spendy to fix. The car has 131,000 miles and I really don’t think it is worth another $1500.

Any input out there? Time to buy new? Of course there are no more Saturns so I might be leaning towards a Subaru. Not sure if that is the way to go as they don’t get the gas mileage I like.

solar head?

If there is indeed oil in the antifreeze, something is cracked or leaking, but there is no “solar” head. You might want to call your mechanic and ask him again what’s wrong, and post it back here so we know exactly what he said. Whatever he said, it didn’t have the word “solar” in it.

That’s hard to say without having the head removed and knowing the details behind the failure. If this has been an on-going problem with overheating involved, engine rattling, etc. then it may be time to move on.
This problem may be no more severe than a blown head gasket rather than a cracked head.

However, if your intent is to buy a used Subaru be aware of 2 things.
One is the chronic problem in regards to head gaskets. (use search at the top for this)
Two is that if the timing belt/water pump/tensioners have not been replaced then that is an expense you will have right off the bat unless you feel like gambling.

I’m also unaware of what a “solar” head is. ?

In retrospect, maybe solar means SOHC?

I’m assuming this was a mistranslation of cylinder head - whether misheard or whatever. Personally, if I loved the car and everything else is kept in good condition - especially the transmission & its fluid - then I would fix it. But I also do a lot of car work myself so keeping an older vehicle safely & reliably on the road doesn’t cost me what it does others who rely on mechanics. Its just that $1500 probably isn’t that much in comparison to what you’ll need to lay out to get into another car. However, if next month it is struts and the month after the brakes, and then the tires etc. etc.- then you’re better off scrapping it.

I probably didn’t hear him correctly on the terminology. But I know he said it was a very labor intensive situation to fix. Brakes were done last fall and it has fairly new tires. But things could start going. Looking at the blue book value, it is not worth much more than $1400.00 Since I cannot do the work myself and other things might need done within the next 6 months to a year, $1500 would go a long ways to a new car.

Additional facts - the car has not overheated and seems to be running fairly well. The mechanic is saying to keep an eye on the oil level and antifreeze. So I think the car can keep going until I can figure out what to buy. Maybe not a Subaru. I want something with better gas mileage.

I have a 96 Saturn that had a cracked cylinder head. I had it repaired as soon as I discovered oil in the anti-freeze. Here is why: The car runs great and gets great gas milage. It isn’t loaded with complicated, expensive to replace or repair components. I don’t have large monthly payments that stretch far into future. At 131,000 miles and 12 years, it has plenty of life left, but only you can decide if you must have a new car. If you buy a new car, you are signing on for a long time of car payments in addition to whatever repair and maintenance costs come along. Also, the minute you drive your new car off the dealer’s lot, it has depreciated.If you decide to keep the Saturn, get it fixed as soon as possible, driving around with a cracked cylinder head will lead to other expensive troubles quickly. Oldmotorist

$1500 seems a little high. Ask if he can put a salvaged (inspected) head on it. Its definately worth fixing.


With that many miles and facing a costly repair…I would buy myself a bottle of BLUE DEVIL…aside from fixing the head gasket leak correcty…Blue Devil can and will permanently fix your issue. I have used it with great success many times at the urging of people who didnt want to fix a high mile car…they are still motoring around today many years later. Blue Devil…follow the instructions on the bottle and say bye bye to the problem.

Blue Devil is the best of the Head gasket fixes in a bottle BAR NONE. It costs between 50-60 bucks and it works…its pretty amazing stuff actually.

And I meant to ask before but what exactly IS a SOLAR HEAD?..lol. We know you mean CYLINDER Head…right?