Here’s the situation: I have a ’94 Ford Escort with 61k miles. Most of its life was spent in my grandmother’s garage. It’s got one of those neon metallic teal paint jobs, i.e. the best paint job. Until I moved to Washington, DC (what a mistake) it never gave me any trouble. But about a year ago my water pump busted and timing belt snapped at about the same time. I got both replaced at a certified Ford shop, shelled out $1100 for the job. Fast forward to now and the car has been running hot. I took it into a local shop and they tell me that the head gasket is busted, the cause being low coolant resulting from…a leaky water pump. They quote me $1400 for the whole job. I call the Ford shop and they say that the water pump is under warranty and they’ll replace it for free, but the head gasket replacement is not covered, even though it “may or may not” have been caused by the leaky water pump. So, they’ll do the pump but charge me…$1400 for just the head gasket job.
Here’s the rest of the situation: One way or another, I need a car because I’m moving to Texas at the end of the summer and it’s impossible to live down there without one. I don’t have money for a new car, or even a decent used one. So I’m inclined to get the work done, even though the car is quite old. When I paid for the water pump and timing belt replacement last year I was hoping to get at least another several years out of it, and I wouldn’t be having this problem now if the pump hadn’t been faulty. So I have two basic questions:
Considering the low mileage, am I right to think I’ll be able to get another few years out of this car if I go through with the repairs? Will I at least be able to confidently drive down to Texas in the midsummer heat? (the cost of a plane ticket and shipping my stuff would be just as much as the repairs, so it’d be worth it just to accomplish that). The mechanic said nothing else appears to be wrong with the car and that when they dissemble the engine they’ll let me know if additional damage from overheating has been done, rendering this all pointless.
Is it worth pushing Ford to cover the cost of replacing the head gasket as well? I talked to a couple Ford shops my family in knows and they said that they could very well be liable, but the shop that did the original repair down here in the wasteland of the Potomac is insisting that they are not. Is there a good strategy for approaching that?
Thanks so much in advance for any advice!