Dead cylinder on a 96 Lincoln Continental

I have a dead cylinder on a 96 Lincoln Continental. It was diagnosed about three months ago, and has run fine (it idles a bit rough, but otherwise fine) since. My question is, without getting the valve job that I was advised would be needed to fix it (I trust the shop that looked at the car), how long will the car run before becoming inoperable?

The answer I have is ‘Unknown’. Of course, the situation will only get worse, and may go from a cylinder head recondition to a cracked head requiring replacement. Of course, this is a 12 year old car, and either repair may be expensive enough not to be worth it. It’s your call. But, I see at least $2,000 for the valve job getting both sides done, mostly labor, or $3,000 if the cylinder head becomes unrepairable.

If the state you live in requires an emissions check for registration your car will fail until the dead cylinder is resolved.

Additionally, the dead cylinder is presumably passing unburned fuel into the exhaust stream, where it is going into the catalytic converter and burning. You can expect a VERY overheated and probably failed catalytic converter if this goes on for very long.