Head gasket and intake gasket

I have a 2001 Saturn SL1 with around 66,000 miles. (It’s given me a host of problems.) Now, the head gasket is leaking as well as the intake gasket. The oil leak is not much. Is a rate of around $900 to fix both problems (mostly labor) reasonable? My mechanic suggested that I should drive it for a while without fixing it (monitoring oil levels) but that the oil could leak onto the alternator and take that out.

Head gaskets rarely leak just oil. The more likely scenario is a coolant/combustion pressure leak as they are under pressure. If you have oil leakage issues, did he say “valve cover gasket” rather than head gasket? Intake manifold gaskets are similar in that they usually leak coolant into the crankcase. A very bad scenario for your motor as constant bathing in coolant quickly destroys engine bearings. So clear that up, are you talking about external oil leakage issues only?

The mechanic used a dye test to determine where the leak was coming from; he did this because he could not determine if the oil leak was coming from the front cover or the head gasket. After I took it back, he said it was definitely the head gasket (if I recall, where the oil feeds into). I asked him about coolant too (I did some research); that is, if there was any coolant leaking, or getting into the oil and vice versa, and he gave me a definitive no. For the intake gasket, he said that there would be air leaking and causing the engine to “chug” or hesitate when I was stopped at a light, for example.

If I may, I would like to add to your mechanics last statement.

If there IS an air leak in the intake manifold gasket, AND your engine cooling system is using the GM Dexcool coolant, the coolant mixes with the air and turns acidic.

The result of that is a leaking intake manifold gasket which in turn allows the coolant to leak into the engine oil and proceeds to eat up the crankshaft bearings.

You may have come across this during your research.

If I were you, I’d get a second opinion before giving up your $900 to him.

As far as the repair cost of the intake and head gaskets are concerned, it’s about in line as the intake has to come off to get to the head gasket.

The high cost is due to the labor involved getting TO the gaskets.

Now, before some on here start hollering about ‘Deathcool’, let me tell you that as long as there are NO air leaks in the intake manifold there will be NO gasket failure from using GMs Dexcool.

I use it in both my '00 Olds van and '02 Tahoe with no problems (since I changed the intake manifold gaskets in the van 4 years ago). I change out the Dexcool every three years instead of five like GM says.