Repairing my 94 camaro z28

HELP! I need some advice quick!
I have a 94 Camaro Z28 which I bought in 2008. It’s been pretty reliable and I’ve invested in quite a few things in this car so far. I took it to a mechanic a few weeks ago to have it totally checked up and fixed as it was having some trouble with the distributor. This mechanic fixed the car, putting in a new distributer, put new brakes pads and rotors in, replaced air conditioning compressor, oil change, oil & filter change, fixed oil sensor problem, and removed gunk from driver’s door lock due to vandalism, all to the cost of $2500.

Took it home and a week later, I noticed the red check engine light coming on about 2 minutes after I started engine. Shortly after that, the car started shooting smoke inside the car from the vents! I let it cool down and drove it back home. But this happened 2 times again. Finally towed it back to mechanic’s shop, where it is still under warranty.

Shop now tells me ‘engine is burnt up’ and this is something completely different and new since they had it and checked it. Mechanic claims he drove it for 35 miles without seeing any of this current problem! He says it is leaking coolant and to fix this, he says it would require getting inside the engine and possibly putting in a new ‘crate’ motor, to the cost of about $6000!

I almost fainted! My questions are:

  1. Should he have seen this in previously checking the car?
  2. Would any of his warranty cover what is going wrong now?
  3. Would it really cost around $6,000 to repair?
  4. Is it even worth repairing?
  5. I’ve seen a 2000 Chrylser Sebring, very nice condition, that would cost $2900. Would I be better off just getting another car and letting this one go, even if I’ve plunked more than $2500 into it?

I LOVE my Camaro but I don’t know what to do! I personally don’t know if it’s worth plowing another $6K or $7K into it!

Here is the ad for the 2000 Chrysler Sebring:

Here are 2 pictures of my 94 Camaro which has been appraised in writing for $12K.

It sounds like you blew a head gasket …and bad. I presume that it was steam that was pouring into the car when it went out. If it was a head gasket, the mechanic would have no warning that it was about to go bad.
Nothing on the list of repairs would have caused him to touch the engine coolant system, so I don’t think he should be blamed.

AS for the price…I think it might be a lettle high, but not much.

When the Red check engine light came on, did you shut off the engine, or continue to drive to your destination?

How many miles on this engine?


I think the big mistake was continuing to drive it after the CEL came on the first time. You should have shut it down and had it towed back immediately.

I’m inclined to agree with Yosemite. I suspect that the blown headgasket became a destroyed engine by continuing to drove the vehicle, albeit after letting it cool down.

Whether to get the crate motor is an entirely personal decision. Any car you get for $2500 is likely to need a few grand worth of work anyway, so you have to factor that in. You might be just digging your hole deeper by getting another car. Did you ask him about a boneyard motor?

Just a few questions for you to get a better idea of whats going on.

1… Is there any smoke coming out the exhaust?
2. Is the oil free of coolant and the correct level?
3. On the LT1 motor the water pump has to be removed to replace the distributor, there is a possibility that an air pocket was left in the cooling system after the repair. There is also a drive coupler that runs the water pump that would have been taken off when the distributor was replaced.
4. Did they give you an exact diagnosis such as a head gasket?

The easiest way to work on this motor is to lift the body off the engine and trans assembly. It ties up a stall if the shop does not have a fixture to move the car once its apart and they may charge additional for this. 6K sounds about with all parts and labor for a long block. If you are suspicious about the work take it to a second shop for an estimate.

“…the car started shooting smoke inside the car from the vents!”

Was this smoke like something burning?..Smell like exhaust?..Smell like coolant (sweet)?