2000 MERCEDES C230 Engine mounts AND head gasket - sell, donate or repair

My 2000 Mercedes C230 Kompressor’s been riding rough, particularly at low speeds and when idling. I took it in to see if engine mounts needed replacement, and yes they do, but my mechanic also found that I’ve blown or cracked the head gasket. Coolant has solidified around the gasket, keeping it from leaking now, but he indicated that with the next rain, that solidified coolant would be washed away and the car wouldn’t be able to hold coolant.
He estimated $1800 for the gasket repair, and $500 for engine mounts. The car has 160,000 miles, recent brakes and tune up (should he have seen the gasket problem at tune up???).
Should I repair or try to sell as-is and buy new?

If there were signs of coolant on the spark plugs then yes he could have seen the gasket problem, more commonly you would see white smoke out the tailpipe and antifreeze in the oil

The total repair estimate is in the ballpark for what KBB says the car is worth ($2,300) private party sale. Selling as-is with head gasket problems may be difficult unless you advertise it as a mechanics special.

Coolant doesn’t solidify. If the gasket is bad it’ll leak. Are you losing coolant?

It’s not leaking now…he told me it had solidified and that with the first rain when I’m driving and hit a puddle, it’ll splash up and “cleanse” the solidified coolant, leaving the engine vulnerable to leaking coolant from the gasket again…I’m thinking I need a second opinion based on your comment.

You may indeed have a bad head gasket, but this story about water from the road causing it to start leaking? I don’t think so. You’d have to hit a pretty big puddle for water to splash up that high it seems to me. The head gasket it on the top of the engine. Water getting that high would probably stop the engine from running by shorting out the high voltage wires before causing any head gasket to leak.

Absent significant unexplained loss of coolant and no white clouds of smoke out the exhaust pipe, I think what I’d do is ask for a couple of tests be done. Compression. & Chemical test for exhaust gasses in coolant. If both prove negative, I’d probably do nothing, just continue to drive. If there is a problem, some signs of an actual leak, but it is not major at this time, you could ask the mechanic to try re-torqueing the head bolts to spec.

Yes, get another opinion, you mechanic’s explanation isn’t right.

Have you had to add coolant? How much? How often? Has the engine ever overheated?

No I haven’t added coolant, and the engine hasn’t overheated. The only car symptoms I took it in for are a rough ride, engine seems to vibrate in idle and at lower/mid level speeds. The car doesn’t seem steady either - hard to explain, but almost an unlevel or pulling feeling - not exactly like an alignment issue but seems to be compatible with the vibration/roughness. Thanks for these responses - I’m going to take it in in the morning to another mechanic and ask for the tests that GeorgeSanJose has suggested - - - compression, and chemical test for exhaust gasses in the coolant. And if gasket problem is minor, re-torqueing the head bolts. I wonder if that will solve the vibration issue. I’ll post the response I get from the second mechanic.


As far as the vibration goes . . . I would very carefully look at the motor mount and the transmission mount. They tend to collapse over the years. The motor mounts are fluid filled.

Coolant doesn’t solidify on the outside of an engine and prevent further leaking. Even if there were solidified coolant at the head gasket junction, driving in the rain would not wash it off. The “mechanic’s” theory does not wash. You have not had to add coolant, there is no white “smoke”, which would actually be steam, coming out the exhaust. I don’t think you have a bad head gasket. I DO think you have a bad mechanic.

Wow! I cannot believe that some of these “mechanics” are out there charging customers for this kind of advice. Coolant which solidified? Are you kidding me? Imagine the other advice this guy is giving out. To the OP, run away from this guy and find someone qualified to render advice and fix your car properly. Rocketman