How can I extend the life of a dying engine

I have a 1998 Ford Taurus with 129,500 miles on it. I bought it at auction for $450 and just plan on driving it till it dies. Right now I am having to put in a new radiator. I have put on new plugs and wires and new air filter. The engine has issues as the no. 1 cylinder has low compression and a leak down test showed air coming out the tail pipe and through the radiator overflow. I only drive the car around town and to work. I want to do my best to maximize the life left in the engine. Right now it is running pretty well, starting right up and such and getting about 20 mpg. I monitor the temp gauge closly and with the new radiator will have good clean fluid and I change the oil regularly. I dont’ excellerate quickly and so far really have not gotten over 60 mph since it is all in town driving.

What other things can I do?

Link This!

If one cylnder has low compression, then maybe a heavier weight oil can help. Maybe you can go from 10W-30 to 10W-40 or 20W-50.

Even with the winter coming on and I live in Indiana where it can get cold?

I don’t see how that is going to help with what sounds like a bad head gasket.
" 1 cylinder has low compression and a leak down test showed air coming out the tail pipe and through the radiator overflow."

I Wouldn’t. You Are Complaining About Compression Leaking Through The cooling System And Tail Pipe, Not The Crankcase. Try Sealing The Head Gasket.
I’d do it first and then the radiator aferwards.


How do you seal a damaged head gasket outside of just replacing it?

Go to your auto parts store and find every additive to stop leaks, rejuventate engines etc and pray. Heavier oil is better too, don’t worry about the cold.

This car’s engine is done, question of when is unknown.

Thanks, I am hopeing it lasts a year till next summer, but 6 months would be great. I plan on doing everything possible to keep it going and everyone’s advise is appreciated. Will the engine just die, or just get worse and worse (gas milage/performance)?

As long as the state you register the car in does not require an emissions test you could get by for awhile. You are not trying to preserve the motor to fix it someday, but rather intend to run it until it dies?

If death is the final answer then keep it off the highway thereby avoiding high rpms and longer trips. You may need to monitor the coolants condition. When it looks grungy, drain it and refill with some cheap stuff from Walmart. Check the oil and if it gets foamy change it too.

The more you drive it and the quicker it will die. It is a matter of hours running more than miles. Use it sparingly and it may last one, or even two years. You can get around on 5 and even 4 cylinders for awhile. You won’t go fast, and you won’t sound good, but you’ll go.

A motor in this state will gradually deteriorate. It will get to the point where it starts but will run “rough”. Eventually it will get harder and harder to start. You are down 1 cylinder now, if it is a head gasket it will start to affect another cylinder, then another, until you may get it to start but have no power to go anywhere. If the leak gets suddenly worse it could pollute the oil quickly and the motor might seize up on you, but I suspect it will have a slow gradual demise.

Indy, I Gave You A link To A Discussion About Sealing Head Gaskets On Terminal Cars. Here It Is Again. There Are Others Here If You Use “Search”.
How do you seal a damaged head gasket outside of just replacing it?

Click this link:


Right now I am getting no leakage outside of loss of antifreeze onto the top of the overflow jug. My engine oil looks good and is about due for the 3000 mile change. With the advise here I am going to ask for a heavy weight oil on my next change.

The engine right now sounds like any other engine only with just a slight miss at idle. I don’t take the car onto the freeway at all and the rpms never really get above 2000 rpms and that is rare as the stay between 1500-2000. I excellerate very slowly, and never gun the engine. I keep a close eye on the temp gauge, but since I got it in July, it never goes but half way and stays there. I have already flushed the antifreeze once and now with a new radiator it is getting all fresh new antifreeze.

The sad part is that the overall body, tires and transmission are in great shape. The idiot who had it before me who allowed for it to overheat and damage the engine really hurt a nice car that could probably have lasted another 100,000 miles easily.

I may give that seal product a test.