I have a 2000 Buick Century with 85,000 miles. For the past few months it has been hesitant to start. It will begin to fire, but then die within a second or two. It seems to happen more often when its been driven recently. I took it to the Buick dealer, and they suggested that a faulty head gasket may be leaking coolant into the engine. I took it to an independent shop, and he couldn’t find anything wrong with it. He said it even started fine for him. Is there any way to test definitively for a bad head gasket?
Yes. A cylinder leak down test and a coolant system leak down test will show something. I’m surprised neither the dealer nor a shop offered you those tests.
The dealer mechanic put his mouth in gear before his brain. This was a common GM problem, so it would sound credible. If OP left his car there they might just replace the head gasket without doing a test. Agree that a cooling system and cylinder leak down would quickly pinpoint the problem. This should be done very soon to prevent possible engine damage.
Sorry, I got my information wrong. The dealer said that it is a bad intake gasket. How bad is this problem? Is it something I need to worry about?
Yes. Get it evaluated immediately. If it is leaking into the engine, your exhaust should be visible and an unusual color.
You want to get this repaired immediatly.
The real danger when this happens is coolant can end up in the oil pan. When this happens, the oil floats above the coolant when the engine sits idle for an extended period time. Then when the engine is started, the coolant is the first thing that gets pumped through the engine. This will damage the rod and main bearings very quickly.
I’ve replaced countless intake manifolds/gaskets on GM engines. And out of all of these, about 50% of these engines were already damaged.