95 Toyota Celica multiple issues - please advise

95 Toyota Celica wouldn’t start. Jumped off the battery and it starts but kills after only a few minutes. White smoke pours from the engine area - smoke not steam. I’m selling this car and have been starting and running it a couple times a week. This is the first time it’s done this.

You have a blown head gasket among other problems. If you sell the car make sure the buyer knows it’s going to be fairly expensive to repair.

Thank you. Can you give me a ballpark figure to replace head gasket so I can set a price on the car? Is the blown head gasket the reason it won’t stay running after I jump it off?

You need to determine where the smoke is coming from, could be a bad battery, caution any smoke has the potential to be dangerous.

You need to get a local estimate. In my area the cost is generally $400-$600 depending on the make and model of the engine. A blown head gasket can cause the engine to run poorly or not at all.

Okay, thanks for the estimate. Is the head gasket between the top of the engine where the spark plugs are and the bottom of the engine. I noticed a thin orange rubbery substance sticking out all around the top half of the engine and also tiny pieces of same substance had fallen off. Wondering if this substance was a disintegrated head gasket.

It’s like a two-layer cake. The top layer is the head. The spark plugs screw into the head. The head is bolted to the bottom part of the engine, and in between is the head gasket. The bottom part is where the cylinders and crankshaft and oil pan are located. It’s usually not possible or very difficult to see any traces of the head gasket on casual inspection on an engine of this age. Too much gunk hiding it. If you post a photo we might be able to tell you what that orange stuff is. I expect it is bits of the valve cover gasket, not the head gasket. The valve cover is like the icing on the cake, on top of the head.

Steam could theoretically be from a cooling system leak, not a head gasket leak. But since you say the engine barely runs, that sounds more like a head gasket problem. It can affect compression and allow coolant into the cylinder, both of which cause a poorly running engine. And if it were a really bad leak it could also allow coolant to escape as steam into the engine compartment.

Now it is possible that you have a coolant leak and that leak is shorting out something in the electrical system too, which would cause similar symptoms.

It’s not possible to say one way or another with any certainty, so the advice above to have a good inde shop find out the cause is your best bet. You may get lucky.

Thank you.

Make sure you keep your coolant topped off in the meantime. Check the level both at the plastic overflow tank and the radiator when the engine is cold.

The smoke may have come from the alternator. You should recharge the battery and test the charging system before condemning the engine. Head gasket failures usually occur after an ignored cooling system issue.

If possible you might post a pic of where this smoke is coming from. I tend to agree with Nevada_545 about this being related to an electrical issue rather than a head gasket.

“I noticed a thin orange rubbery substance sticking out all around the top half of the engine and also tiny pieces of same substance had fallen off.”

That sounds like OP is talking about a valve cover gasket

If the valve cover gasket is shot, and oil is leaking onto the hot exhaust manifold and burning off, that could be the cause of the smoke

But that is clearly NOT the cause of the engine not running

Sounds like there are much more serious issues to be diagnosed and repaired

Depending on what those issues are, this car may not be worth fixing

I sure hope OP fully discloses to any potential buyer, that this car has serious issues and will not start on its own, smokes, and will not stay running

No offense intended to anybody, but this car is not really fit to be sold at this time


I think the orange substance you refer to may be RTV silicone that was used to seal the valve covers.

GeorgeSanJose’s discription is correct but add in another top layer which is the valve cover.

The alternator being siezed up could cause the smoke, but then anything driven off the serpentine belt too, could bog the engine down enough to not allow it to keep running.

If you can loosen the serpentine belt and spin each pulley by hand…it may indicate what item is frozen up.


I’ll see if I can get a photo of it, thanks.