Cost benefit analysis: should I fix/replace cylinder head before I sell my Jeep?

I have a 2000 Jeep Cherokee Classic with 105K miles, this weekend it has developed all of the quintessential signs of a blown head gasket: steam/dripping from exhaust, coolant loss, some bubbles in the radiator while running, and high cooling system pressure after turning the car off. After seeing these symptoms I checked out the cooling system, replaced thermostat, checked the radiator and water pump (both are in good order) and did a cooling system flush and the symptoms remain. So I’m fairly sure it’s a head issue. The car never overheated according to the dashboard temp gauge, and there is no coolant in the oil and no oil in the coolant.
I’m going to assume that I have a cracked cylinder head, which is very very common problem on these Jeeps.

Clearly, this is a big issue. I only drive this car on the weekends so it’s not a problem to be without a car now. However soon, I will need to commute ~40 miles daily and I am in the market for a more fuel efficient vehicle.

The question: should I fix this car before I sell it or should I sell it with the cylinder head issues. Obviously, I would be upfront about the problems, I plan on trading it in anyway.

I haven’t gotten any estimates on a fix, I can imagine I’ll be quoted ~$2000-$3000 (mind you I live in Palo Alto, CA). The blue book value on this car is $4k on a ‘fair’ car. Other then the cylinder head the car is in great shape, well maintained, clean interior, no rust, no dents only very minor scratches.
I’m also capable of fixing it myself, in that case it would cost me: ~$700 for a new head and gaskets and a weekend.
But, is it worth it?

I would love to hear what people think.
Palo Alto, CA

If you fix it yourself, it is worth doing. You can sell it immediately if there are no major problems. But you limit the market and cut the asking price dramatically if you sell it as is. If you are correct on price of the Jeep and repair, you might as well give it away.

Definitely worth doing yourself. I say go for it.

You might spend less if the head can be trued up or repaired. Is this the straight 6?


I agree with the others

Fix it yourself

You said the truck was otherwise in great shape, so you should get several good years out of it

Do it yourself if you have the know how and time. But even if you get someone else to fix it, you’re going to come out ahead if you fix it before selling it. Only a very few want to buy a vehicle with a major engine problem, they will pay peanuts for it, and it will take a long time to sell.

U can count? Fix it urself for 700. Pay someone 2000. See the difference?

Yup, it’s an inline 6.
Asking around, people have been telling me that removing the head on this engine is about as straightforward as it gets.
Thanks for the input everyone, I’m going to replace the head myself!

I was hoping it was that engine. OHV engines are simple compared to OHC engines. Only way it’d be easier was if it had a flathead! I’d get the Haynes manual, it should have pretty clear step-by-step instructions.

Check parts prices at junk yards and compare them to new replacements. You might get a good used manifold at a great price, for instance.

One alternative might be to check with your local high school or junior college, see if they’d like to take it off your hands and use it to teach their students.

It depends upon the condition of the body and the rest of the mechanics. The body, IMHO, had better be pristine. You are now spending money to gain time that the rest of the car may not keep up with. Any other issues ?

My advice is,sell it to a junkyard and get on with your life a cracked head can just be the tip of the iceberg-Kevin

I got a new cylinder head for $400 at Pep Boys. I’ll put that on this weekend. With gaskets and new head bolts the fix will be around $600. Not cheap, but not horribly expensive.

There are no other issues with the Jeep that are apparent, but yeah, I am worried that the head was the tip of the iceberg.
Next, I going clean the Jeep up a little and get it in condition to sell/trade in. The main goal of the fix is to buy some time so I don’t have to make a rushed decision on what car I should get next.

On that… what do people recommend?
I think I want a hatchback, the new Ford Focus looks pretty nice and gets great gas mileage.


How much can you afford on your new car? Do you need the money from theJeep to buy it?

I was looking to spend in the range of $15-20K.
I don’t need the money from the Jeep for a new car.

OK. You might consider keeping the Jeep after you get your new car. Price using both as a commuter car and the other as an occasional driver with your insurance company. It might make sense to have 2 vehicles.

Also look at the Honda Fit if you want a hatchback. It starts at $15,500. The Chevy Sonic gets good reviews and starts at $15,000. Mazda3 starts at $19,000. Compare them with options you want to get comparable pricing.