Soooo I think I just killed this car

My husband bought this car 12 days ago. Had NTB check it out and they said we were good to go.

This afternoon, out of nowhere the car started getting usually hot, even though is was almost freezing outside. (Pic of temp below)

I pulled over and let the car idle for about 10 minutes. It cooled down by an amount so small its not even worth noting. I decided to try to make it home. As I drove it started to drop in temp…then WHAM!

The car started sputtering as I slowed down at a red light. It started to shake. Then it cut off.

I think I made the problem worse because I keep stepping on the gas hoping to get it back on. It did but it shook worse and anything close to 20 mph made it shut off again. It did this a total of 4 times before I made it home. Each time I stepped on the gas repeatedly to get it going again.

Once home I popped the hood and the pictures below are what I saw. Its in what I believe to be the radiator overflow.

I checked the oil, and I do not see it there. I got down on the ground and looked for other leaks but all I see is the gunky stuff.

The consistency is light very watery caramel.

There was like smoke coming from the engine and it looks wet (included below).

Called my local repair shop and they are quoting me 3 grand. They said I need to replace the engine.

My husband can’t get to the car for another week and it is our only vehicle.

Has anyone ever seen this before? Why would the engine need to be replaced?

What is this, a Malibu?

Anyways, your oil and coolant have mixed, which caused the overheating

On this engine, 3.1 or 3.4 general motors V6, the lower intake manifold gaskets are somewhat notorious for failing

If you had stopped the engine immediately, when you noticed the temperature spiking, and had not restarted it, you might have been able to save the engine

But as it is, you’ve probably ruined various bearings in the engine

In any case, it’s not going to be cheap

Thank you, it’s an oldsmobile.

The mistake you made was continuing to drive when the car overheated. Park the car and call a tow truck. The repair could have been in the hundreds instead of thousands. Yes, you probably did do ireputable damage. The engine probably needs replacement because there are too many damaged parts to make it worthwhile replacing them with the cost of the labor that would be involved. What year is your car and how many miles did it have on it ?

Due to reasons I won’t go into, I could not call a tow truck. It’s an 03 and it had well over 150,000 miles on it. It seems to be the consensus that i royally screwed up and now I face a $3000 repair bill. But I thank you for explaining it to me.

You shouldn’t pay 3000 dollars to fix this car, it exceeds the value of it. The average condition trade in price is about 2000 dollars. When you saw the temp go up into the red and kept driving, the car was done for.
That is why you have a temp gauge. When the engine starts to make noise, it’s too late.
I hope you had a $3000 reason for not calling for a tow.

I agree that the engine is likely toast. It’s also possible that this thing had some issues when you bought it and this overheating spell is what put the final nail in the coffin.

I’m not familiar with NTB but I assume they’re a chain type of tire store or something. Not a car inspection on the planet is a guarantee of a problem free vehicle but depending upon the scope of the inspection it’s possible anyway that something was missed.

If someone checked the engine coolant during the inspection and saw a small amount of sludge they may have dismissed it as simply needing a coolant change and brushed it off. Kind of like a warning sign of an impending heart attack… :frowning:

Maybe the seller cleaned the muck out of it and all someone saw during an inspection was fresh clean coolant. Just theories at this point.

Agreed that it would not be wise to sink 3 grand into this car. Ouch.

It is a doorstop. A big doorstop, but a doorstop nonetheless. Not worth putting and engine in at this point. Sell it to a junkyard for scrap. You might get a couple of hundred.

First of all, thank you for the clear photos. That answers a lot of questions.

Unfortunately the engine is history. You might, however, be able to save the rest of the car with a boneyard engine. Talk with your mechanic about the possibility of having a boneyard engine installed. It’s worth a shot to ask.

OK4450, NTB is National Tire and Battery. It used to be part of Sears up until about a decade ago when it was spun off. In my area it has a terrible reputation reputation. It would not surprise me at all if they never looked at the coolant.

However, the OP tried to do the right thing. Most people really don’t know who’s good and who’s not. It’s a zoo out there.

There’s no question that the OP should have shut sown the engine and called a tow truck. But IMHO this car probably had serious problems to begin with. In the end it might not have made a difference. Those photos show a whole lotta muck, indicative of a condition that’s taken time to develop.

I don’t know that you necessarily killed this car. By the looks of the coolant and the amount of chocolate milkshake in it the death was a long time coming. That coolant didn’t get that sludged up in 12 days.

The engine may have died on your watch, but the previous owner and lack of maintenance and repair ensured that the engine was going to die soon anyway.

I just showed your images to my son.

The first thing he asked was, “Is that a GM vehicle?”

And when he learned it was, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “Check the transmission fluid.”

He just had Aztec come in with the exact same thing. And what had happened was the transmission cooler in the radiator had ruptured, and transmission fluid was getting into the coolant, and coolant was getting into the transmission fluid.


@Tester So it probably needs a transmission too? I’m not so sure. It doesn’t seem to be afflicted with SMOD (Strawberry Milkshake Of Death) which is caused by the red tranny fluid. It seems to have CMOD (Chocolate Milkshake Of Death). That being the case, the issue was probably caused by the lower intake manifold gasket failing. In either event, she seems to have had a bad case of “getthereitis” resulting in the demise of an engine that could have been fixed.

@the same mountainbike, thanks for the info on NTB. I’ve never seen or heard of them before but assumed by the letters they were a TBA type of store; (tire, battery,accessory)

Tester has a good point about the transmission fluid. It certainly doesn’t hurt to check the trans fluid and see if it’s full and/or cloudy. It was impossible for me to determine what the engine oil is like from that pic.
My assumption, right or wrong, is that the engine has failed from the looks of that stuff, the overheating, and the diagnosis of the car by the shop that has hands on it.
Those pics remind me of Subarus after the head gaskets have surrendered.

I tend to agree that car had issues before it was purchased and wonder if the seller was a car dealer or private seller.

Your son is a knowledgeable man. He may just be right. And that will cause the engine to overheat to the point of shutting down, exactly as you described.

If that is the case, it unfortunately means that the engine needs to be assessed for possible damage due to the overheating before making any decisions. If the milkshake is from tranny fluid it is possible that the coolant never got into the bearings, and unless there’s heat damage like a blown headgasket the engine might be able to be saved by a good flushing. Trouble is, the tranny needs to be assessed as well, as it might be toast.

In short, you might just luck out and be okay with a good flushing of the engine, a good flushing of the tranny, and a new radiator and T-stat. I sincerely hope that’s the case.

Again, I wish I knew what the mechanic has checked. I wish I knew how he came to the conclusion he did, and I wish I knew if he’d done a leakdown test.

If the temp gauge didn’t get above where it was in the photo, I’d have been inclined to continue driving myself – absent any other problems, and no long distances involved. I’d just turn on the heater to max is all and continue to monitor the gauge. But the other symptoms you report do indicate a good chance of some major engine damage. If a pro’s diagnosis confirms major engine damage, might be time for this car’s turn in the crusher. It might come back to life as a brand new Hyundai!

The thing that surprises me is that in the photo of the engine oil dipstick it doesn’t appear that coolant got into oil, just oil into the coolant. It’s just possible the engine might be savable with work on the heads and new gaskets. But, of course, is the car otherwise worth fixing?

Edit: Taking a closer look at the dipstick I’m not sure there is anything on it. So, all bets are off.

This all goes back to Tester’s comment about the trans fluid. The oil on the engine stick looks clean to me but then again, my close range vision is not what it used to be.

It might be noted that the failed engine diagnosis and price estimate was provided by a shop that has not had their hands on the car and was working off comments made over the phone. Any comments about being wet under the hood, overheating, and smoke could very easily have been taken as a failed engine depending upon the phrasing of the comments made to the shop.

If the OP’s son is right and the breech is between the coolant and the tranny fluid, that would explain why there appears to be no evidence of coolant getting into the oil.
Unfortunately, it means it’s in eth tranny.

I have seen coolant get this color on its own when the inhibitors have been completely depleted. Dexcool will turn this color.

The oil on the dipstick looks OK. If the tranny fluid looks OK, then the next question is, did the engine make any knocking sounds? If it just won’t run but didn’t make any loud knocking noises, it me be fixable for a lot less money, but NTB would not be the place to do it. You need a good independent mechanic.