Blue Devil seems a product targeted very_narrowly for head gasket repair. I’m not convinced that’s what has happened, in spite of the smoke/steam and antifreeze smell. In any case, before seeing the comments about blown head gaskets, I had already chosen a plan: put enough water in the car to get to a good mechanic.
I took it to the nearest of the three shops listed by Car Talk: Japan Automotive Specialists (JAS). They said a) replacing the blown hose will only get me a few more miles to the next repair, b) nearly all the coolant hoses are old and either leaking or will soon leak, given their dry, rusty condition, c) the level of rust in the coolant suggests the engine lost corrosion protection for a significant part of its life. [Either there was too much water per coolant, or the coolant broke down because it was left in too long.] Given the level of rust in the coolant, he did not suggest replacing all the hoses. He said JAS could keep fixing the car, but that might not be in my best interest.
He also noticed the reddish tints all over the engine, but suggested they were from multiple small coolant leaks around the engine, not just from the hose with the major leak. That seemed to fit better, since the major leak was down low, and the red tinge was all over.
In Dec’09, I had to replace the catalytic converter to pass smog inspection; it’s due again next month. The mechanic said the loud noise from the rear is an exhaust leak, and the car will likely fail smog again.
Leaving the shop I was thinking:
a) To get more than 225k/21yrs from a car, even a Camry, I needed to be more meticulous about maintenance.
b) It’s probably time for another car.
I was hoping to hold out for a mature plug-in true-serial hybrid, something near 100mpg … but that may be farther out than I’d hoped. I was hoping Aptera, but having given their pre-purchase deposits back, that looks like a real long shot now.
Rethinking recent maintenance, I spent $1700 on an AC compressor with a 3yr warranty, and $900 on a catalytic converter. If things stay at that level, that’s just over $1000/yr. I’m thinking I should ask JAS to do a compression test. IFF that suggests a blown head gasket, replace the car.
- replace ALL the coolant hoses (as I should have from the start to minimize labor costs)
- fix the exhaust leak.
The rust level may be high, but replacing all the hoses, doing a good flush, adding chemicals to slow further rusting, and fixing the exhaust leak could get me another 10000mi/2yrs.
I’d also heard that the oil it’s burning has likely killed the catalytic converter; so fixing the exhaust leak won’t get me through the smog test. Comments?