Attached is recent compression test results. Car started pumping white smoke out exhaust (and firewall side of engine, but probably exhaust manifold) very suddenly and noticeably about 3 weeks ago along with new tapping noise (lifters?), so I stopped driving it. Wet test in attachment seems to indicate worn rings. I’m thinking of removing heads and taking a look before deciding what to do next. Don’t really want to rebuild the entire engine, but don’t want to continue driving it the way it is, as it will surely die. So an incremental, relatively-low cost repair that at least stops the coolant seepage and allows the car to continue to be driven is what I’m thinking: maybe a new set of rebuilt heads for $350, and all the gaskets upward. Some would say this is waste of time without doing some work to the lower half of the engine. I say maybe I just want the car running again (as a 3rd vehicle) and I don’t care about the reduced power.
This vehicle was purchased brand new, put into service mid-1998, and has always had oil changes every 3k-3.5k miles (by me). There may have been some trace coolant loss through the engine over the years, but with the oil changes done routinely, I’m thinking any damage was minimal. It’s only recently that the billowing white smoke started.
Opinions? Have you ever been in this situation, repaired just the top end, and taken your chances to continue driving the car? Also, if I did touch the bottom end, I couldn’t just replace rings, right? I’d have to rebore the cylinders, and that means the engine has to be pulled, etc, and the cost spirals upward (even if I do it myself), correct?