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91' S-10 with at least a blown head gasket

So, my wife’s grandfather bought this truck for me for $300 on my son’s first birthday. Been a great truck, it has a 7’ long bed, painted flat black with a combo of brush and spraypaint :slight_smile: For a few years now I have been losing tons of water (takes about 3 gallons to fill it from dry) I have forgotten antifreeze and froze it at least once every winter, resulting in overheating… It always pulls through… I change the oil about every 10,000 miles… filter every other time… anyway, for a while my coolant has been dirty brown (still thin and watery unlike most blown gaskets I have seen.) There isnt any sign of water in the oil, and I havnt really noticed any performance issues. The Temp gauge is pegged out, unplugged sensor… nothing, replaced sensor… nothing… obviously it works because the truck wont run without the temp sensor plugged in… Heater hasnt worked in years… so… I decide to try some Blue Devil Head Gasket Sealant and a new radiator cap… I read the instructions… noticed I would have to replace my tstat afterward… so I looked… no tstat… I must have taken it out years ago… anyway I flush all of the brown oily water out via a splice in flush kit (The radiator is still lined with oil) and pour in 3/4 of the bottle with engine cold, running, and heater on… supprisingly the heat starts working… anyway, the next day I notice an increase in performance (I can accelerate up a slight incline from 60mph in 5th gear!) During my lunch break I poured the rest of the bottle in… No loss of coolant now… heater seems intermitant now… that night I changed the oil and put a tstat in… the next morning the heat isnt doing so well… when I get on the interstate around 60mph, the truck starts backfiring… like 2 dozen times over the course of 1-2 mins… I turn the heater off… 30-60 seconds later, the backfiring stops… heater back on… backfires again… That afternoon on the way home I tried to recreate the backfiring to no avail… Well… now once the truck warms up the oil pressure drops (it used to do this) 0 with check gauges light at idle/stopped 20-40 during driving (maintains 40 with slight variance due to rpm until it warms up) coolant day 3 is still full, oil looks good… I add a new air filter fix a vac leak and install a gasket between carb and air filter housing… day 4 coolant levels still good but the brown oily appearance has returned… I flush again… heater still only working on occasion. So after flushing again im checking things out… I dont see circulation in my radiator anymore… had noticable circ the day I used blue devil… (if the heater core is clogged and the tstat closed, should I notice circ?) anyway… I disconnect the top radiator hose and get no flow out of it… Take the tstat out and I get backflow through the engine from the bottom radiator hose… anyway… just took the heater core loose and it was uber hard to blow through… used some solvent… air passes one way pretty easily now… still a lot of resistance the other way. Any input would be appretiated.

Input? You’ve just made yourself a top contender for the most successful ever at squeezing the last bit of utility out of a truck the engine and cooling systems both of which are seriously sick… and all while abusing it beyond anything ever recorded. And you’re still abusing it even more.

I don’t know quite what to say. Except… will you pick my lottery ticket for me this week?

“For a few years now I have been losing tons of water (takes about 3 gallons to fill it from dry) I have forgotten antifreeze and froze it at least once every winter, resulting in overheating… It always pulls through… I change the oil about every 10,000 miles…now once the truck warms up the oil pressure drops (to?) 0…”

You’ve done your best to kill this truck and now you want to save it? I’m confused…

Imagine how long this truck would have lasted if it had been treated right! You bought a tank, not an S-10! Seems like it needs a head gasket, a radiator, a heater core, and hoses. Once you’ve pulled the engine out to do the head gasket, replacing all those cooling components will be easy (except the heater core). But it seems like you already know what’s wrong with the truck – just go and fix it!

Or you could probably sell it to someone who wants to do the work. You might even get your $300 back and call it a few good years with a free truck!

‘So, my wife’s grandfather bought this truck for me for $300…’ ‘For a few years now…’

Dude, you got your $300 worth and more out of this thing. Sounds like it was on it’s last leg a few years ago. If you want to fix it, do the headgasket and other things as mentioned before. If you want to limp it along more, try another round of Blue Devil, only by-pass the heater core this time. And, don’t leave it in any longer than the directions say to. Leave it in too long and it will plug up coolant passages.

With all the previous abuse and problems, it’s not even worth the cost of the Blue Devil.

If the post/question was serious, rather than an attempt to demonstrate how to destroy a vehicle through lack of maintenance and outright abuse, all I can say is…stick a fork in it…it’s done.


alright, new heater core and radiator… going to watch fluid levels for a few days… after going through the trouble installing the heater core, a head gasket job doesnt seem like too much effort (took all day to dissasemble and reinstall the dash… going to watch it for a week, if symptoms of a blown gasket persist Ill do the job on payday… temp gauge now starts at 0 and creeps up about 15% at opp temp… falls a bit in response to heater… oil pressure still drops at opp temp, I think once the tstat opens the head leaks its oil into the water, losing pressure… just a hypothesis, Im an electrician, not an auto mechanic.
Oh and another vehicle that can survive such abuse is the 89 model ford probe (mazda build) I bought one for $250 and ran it regularly low/no oil for years, leant it to a friend in need… flat tire, he didnt tell me… towed away and lost. (Learned how to hotwire a car with that one.) Cavaliers (3) and nissan trucks (2) can not be abused like that. Oh pontiac grand ams (2) arnt very resiliant either.

I think blue devil killed my water pump… all the hoses heat up at the appropriate time but I dont see flow in my radiator like I used to (slight circular movement observed now instead of rushing waters through the coils…

hmm … well there’s a lot of issues here, but you might be able to remove the heater core from the coolant circuit if you want to prove/disprove the heater core as being part of the problem. On many vehicles its possible to remove the two hoses from their connections that go through the firewall and use some type of applicable fitting to temporarily connect them together, bypassing the passenger compartment heater core. You won’t have any heat though.

Despite your best efforts the truck continues to run. You apparently aren’t up to the challenge. Give it to a vocational school and they will put it out to pasteur.

I don’t know if this is lesson on vehicle abuse or example of how to waste your money.

I’m guessing this is a 2.5 liter which explains why it’s taken so much abuse and neglect. It has a cast iron block AND head which stands up to overheating much better than aluminum.

Edit: the other cars you mentioned have aluminum heads.


You abuse vehicles, and you’re proud of it

you already knew many of your truck’s problems before you even posted

Go fix them or walk away from the truck

Don’t take this the wrong way, but your truck’s biggest problem . . . IS YOU

I’m wondering if maybe you’re really young, perhaps still in your 20s, because I can’t think of anybody else who brags about all the abuse they’ve subjected their vehicles to

Another bit of free advice . . . don’t ever buy a newer vehicle. Because I think a modern vehicle with an all aluminum engine and an automatic transmission wouldn’t survive your abuse

I think the OP is fooling himself, but I wish him all the best.

I can’t even offer advice to someone boasting about flogging something to death.

Scrap metal is going for about 180 bucks a ton around here.

Ill post again once I have it running right. Im afraid the water ports in the block may be clogged… if so the only solution that comes to mind is using a solvent once I have the head off… anyway, thanks for the input (even the flames.)