I bought a 1998 LeSabre Custom, roughly 65k, in September. It has a 1999 engine with similar mileage because the first owner drove around with cracked manifolds for a long time. A very honest used car salesman who has sold my family several great vehicles thought it was in good shape. On day one, I had a bit of an oil pressure issue. A bit of thickener solved that temporarily. I used 40 weight thereafter and was fine. The check engine light was on within a few weeks. I took it in. Mechanic 1 lectured me about my gas cap. He assumed it had been loose. He sent me on my way. It came back. He changed an O2 sensor. He said that the others would also fail soon, but that I should wait until the check engine light stayed on. It came on again soon but did not stay on.
It was on briefly, once in a while, through winter and spring. The car sometimes smelled like coolant. When summer came, it sometimes also smelled like burnt rubber after a long drive, but a reputable mechanic in the town where I was doing research could not replicate that and said it was fine. The check engine light finally came back on to stay around Independence Day. The code indicated the MAF. I changed that. It went off for a couple of days and then was off and on some. On July 7th, I decided to take it in. That afternoon, it would crank but not run. There was a deposit of motor oil Mechanic 1 had been condescending, so it was towed to mechanic 2. He had a better attitude. He reattached a vacuum hose, changed some gaskets and the PCV, put in an OEM MAF and charged me very reasonably. The oil pressure was great with a lighter oil. Within a few days, the check engine light was back on. He tested all the O2 sensors, which were fine, checked and cleaned the injectors, which were fine, and changed the upper intake manifold. Within 24 hours, the light was back on and I was smelling coolant again. He took it back and changed the lower intake manifold at no charge. He gave it back yesterday and said he was going to think over the weekend about why it was still running slightly lean. The light is back on. The car nearly overheated today. The oil pressure was almost bad enough to turn the light on. I smelled coolant and, a couple of times, maybe the faint odor of burnt rubber. The oil has a slight, rusty tinge. The oil leak inside the engine compartment is back.
Does anyone know what is going on? Between the three shops that have worked on this, it has confused at least seven mechanics. School is starting. Whether I keep this vehicle or get another, I need this resolved. My senior year of college is about to start. It is impractical for me to live in my housing for the year without a car. Can it reasonably be saved? It has already burned through at least $2200 in repairs, around half its value. Should I go back to the shop or find an exorcist?