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Car won't start

My '86 Toy overheated, I added coolant and oil and it worked fine on one short trip. The next time I tried to start it, the starter cranks and cranks, no start and air bubbles are going into coolant reservoir. What’s wrong? Mechanic pushing new engine, but it ran fine after overheating. I don’t believe I need an engine.

You just described a classic incident of blowing your head gasket - overheating first & then later air bubbles blowing through the coolant. That air is supposed to be trapped in the cylinders in order to be mixed with fuel, compressed, and then blown up. Yours is not getting compressed. Its probably escaping through a bad head gasket instead. As a result, there is no blowing up part - so the car doesn’t run.

Anyway, there is no need to guess. You just check the compression.

I agree with cigroller. It certainly sounds like you have a breached head gasket and/or a warped cylinder head.

As to replacing the engine, unless your mechanic is willing do the job (engine + labor) for about $500 or less, I suggest that you move on to a vehicle made in the last decade. You should absolutely not spend much more on repairs than this car would be worth if it was in good condition, and–at best–this car is worth a few hundred $$.

Mechanic says compression is bad and is pushing a new engine. Is a head gasket apt to do it? He quoted me $1500 for head gasket, and many other required new parts. Is that reasonable? Used engine $1675, new engine $3000. Seems too much.

I think I agree with what VDC was saying. IMHO, you’d be wiser to take your $1500-1600, try to scrape up and extra $1000 or two (I know that’s not easy for many people - including me), and use your mechanic to help you find a newer car that’s been well maintained. Once you get to the $2500 - $4000 range or so there are plenty of used cars around that you might be better off with in the long run. These will be old & higher mileage cars but not as old as your current one.

In that price range its not that hard to find things like Chevy Prisms (Corollas that don’t sell for as much b/c of the Chevy name plate); Ford Taurus/Mercury Sables; things like that. They’d be safer, and while older cars always need attention it probably can’t be more than your current one requires.

If that vehicle happens to be a Toy 4Runner or Land Cruiser, they often command more than their book value…provided the body is in good condition. Many people like to modify these for off-roading, hunting, and stuff like that.

Now, if it were an '83 Toy Trekker 4x4…that would be something.
Edit: This is not mine, but I’d certainly get it if I could.