Head gasket

My 94 Corolla needs a new head gasket. It’s been 3 weeks since I learned this and I will get a new car, but, how long do I have? I check the coolant level and the oil level and color once a week and everything is ok for now. I also know to look for the temperature gauge to go up and white smoke when driving. I feel I have some time left but don’t want to ‘blow’ it. Please give me some words of wisdom. Thanks, Teresa

Two things to look for:

  1. Oil in coolant
  2. Bubbles in coolant (while engine is running)
    If you have neither indication, use a coolant stop-leak and you should have time to make your decisions.

Consider this. If it needs a head gasket, it’s trade or sale value is reduced. If it gets additional damage due to the head gasket, it will be worth much less.

It may even be worth it to fix it now.

No one can really tell you how long.

All I can tell you is if you think it will last two months it will last seven weeks.

It could last a few months or just a few hours…Really impossible to tell over the internet.

Head gaskets are things you need to fix; no one will buy a car with that problem. If the leak is very small, a coolant stop leak might work.

Who told you you had the leak, and how did they explain it?

Are you going to ditch the car when it finally self-destructs? It may have some value now as a trade, even with the problem. If you are going to get a new car do it now. You can make some bad decisions if you are walking and buying.

If you aren’t using coolant or oil, what led to the diagnosis of a bad headgasket?

If there is a little oil dripping down the side of the engine from the head gasket area, you might have nine years to go.

I took it in to the Toyota dealership for reg maintenance and they said (on invoice) - head gasket leaking, oil in coolant - they will fix for $2400 and other things need some work too so I decided to bail and time for a newer car anyway. They showed me to look at the coolant overflow when stone cold and if the level is below ‘low’, to add water. They said to check the oil for level and if it looks milky. I was going to pay more attention to the coolant but read on Car Talk that checking the oil is the important thing - that coolant in the oil is worse than oil in the coolant. That without the proper lubrication, things could seize while I’m driving. Bad news. And yet, while I decide on the new car, why get a rental if things are going well… I guess for safety, towing bill and hassle. I guess if the car doesn’t have much resale value now, why fix anything on it. Just looking for anyone else’s experience with this as I don’t know about cars. Thanks for your time.