Today we got a call from our mechanic. He said there is a crack in the head gasket of my dad’s dodge neon. The car still runs pretty well so we picked it up and took it to another place who came back with the same results. The car car has 125000 miles on it and is 12 years old. My dad (92 years old)lives on a fixed income and doesn’t have the resources to fix it. My question since we can not afford to fix it, how long will the car keep running? Both places said it could be a week or a year or more. He doesn’t drive it but maybe 100-150 miles a week around town (my sis drives it also to work) and it’s all in town driving.
Call a local pharmacy and ask that they order you a bottle of sodium silicate for about $20.00, and pour this into the coolant to stop the head gasket leak. This is what I use when an owner of vehicle can’t afford to do the head gasket repair or when the vehicle isn’t worth doing the repair, and they still need the vehicle up and running.
You can read about sodium silicate here and why it stops head gasket leaks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_silicate#Automotive_repair
What side is the crack on? Is there water coming out of the side of the negine, or is there water getting into the inside of the engine. If the crack is toward the INSIDE, your car is living on borrowed time; it could go in a week, or a month or a year, depending on the size of the leak. Did your mechanic tell you where the leak is, as the result of a pressure test?
However, if there is a small leak towards the OUTSIDE, I would just keep topping up the water. Watch the tepmperature at all times.
A friend of my wife had this happen on a Saturn (very common problem) and she drove it for a year before trading it.
It’s impossible to guess without more detail on the magnitude of the crack, such as how much coolant is being lost, but I can tell you in one word what to watch out for. Overheating.
If the engine begins to overheat, it needs to be repaired or it will self-destruct. If it’s simply burning some coolant and not overheating, he may still have some useful life in it.
Monitor the coolant and oil levels religiously.
You might also want to check locally for a community college or technical school that offers automotive technology courses. They may be willing to repair it for just the cost of the parts as a part of their lab time. He may even get a discount on the parts.
Right now he is having to replace about a gallon of antifreeze a month. We have looked for the leaking but couldn’t find it, but the continued loss of antifreeze is why we took it in. The compressions are down to about 95-100 per cylinder. There is no white smoke or any other problems yet.
A gallon a month is a lot…a whole lot.
Any community colleges around? If you lived in the southern NH area I could hook you up with one. Free labor and 20% off the parts.
No luck on the community college. Just hoping it will last until sis can find a job and get a car loan to replace his car.
Will this sodium silicate stuff work on a leaking water pump gasket?
While I’m not a fan of additives, in this case I think you should try Tester’s miracle cure, sodium silicate. You have nothing to lose, and if Tester says it works I’m willing to believe him.
Just make sure you pour it into the radiator, and not into the engine.
If you get a year or two more out of the car you’re way ahead. If you ignore the leaking head gasket it will continue to get worse.
As McP suggested, try Tester’s miracle cure. It just might work for you.
A great holiday to you and yours.