Take an Adventure or Ship it?

I am looking to make a choice on driving a 2002 Lexus RX300 from Rhode Island to Colorado, or having it shipped. The Lexus has always been taken to the dealer for its repairs. It has ~160K on it and is in a perfect drivable state except one thing. It was recently taken to a mechanic and the individual (mother-in-law) was told that the head gasket has a minor leak (oil not anti-freeze). Now she has always gone to this mechanic and he has always fixed whatever he has found with this vehicle but this job he told her was not an issue. She is in the market for a new vehicle and if purchased is going to give me the vehicle for free. She doesn’t like my current vehicle since my wife and i have a baby on the way. This is where the problem starts do I take a flight out to RI and drive it to CO with this problem or do I have it shipped? My current vehicle is a 1990 Jeep Cherokee with 140k that has plenty of issues on its own it is my toy but also my daily driver. I have no problem driving that from Denver to Moab, UT which is around 730 miles round trip and putting the stress of off road driving on it plus multiple trips to trails in the mountains in Colorado. I maintain it and fix it’s problems as I get around to them. if it is critical I will do it now if not I will just wait and add the appropriate lubricant until I finally feel like fixing the leak. I am willing to drive it, and willing to ship it but don’t really feel like shelling out the money for shipment.

If the oil leak is minor then that would not stop me from driving it. It’s possible that a leak like this can be stopped by removing the valve covers and snugging the head bolts back up. Just keep an eye on the oil level and it should be fine.

Several other car makes and models over the years have suffered from head gasket oil leaks or weepage and it’s normally more of an irritant than anything else; assuming that one just doesn’t flat ignore the dipstick.

The one issue that might make me hesitate would be the timing belt. If the timing belt/water pump/tensioners have never been replaced then it’s way past due and is a ticking time bomb.
If the belt pops engine damage will occur as this vehicle has an interference fit engine.

Short of the timing belt scenario, I’d drive it.

If possible, have the head-bolts re-torqued and drive it. Or just drive it the way it is. If you make it, great! If not, leave it where it dies and get on the bus…

Have you actually priced out shipping it?

A plane ticket + fuel costs + food + one night hotel etc vs shipping?

When you add up all the costs of airfare and driving it probably equals the cost of shipping, but I’d drive it just for the fun of the trip.

What an opportunity! If you have the time, do it.

I would have no hangup about driving this car to Colorado, but I would keep an eye on the oil level, transmission fluid level and temperature gauge.

If the oil leak is between the engine and transmission, be prepared for a major expense if the leak gets worse. A friend of mine has such a vehicle, a 2001, and it will cost $2000 to get the leak fixed!!! The entire engine has to come out to fix that type of leak. Since you are getting a very good vehicle free, even a $2000 espense should be bearable.

yes I priced out the trip and it is a little less driving it than shipping it. the difference between the 2 is in the $100 range.

this is nice to know. and so is the other info you all have given me. I know all maint has been performed by the book, this is its only hang up and her mechanic was just not concerned about fixing this one thing other than that the vehicle is fine condition to drive. I was just unsure of this vehicle if head gasket weeping was expected later in life of it and known or was this rare. I believe I may be driving it. Thanks for the help!

Seems like a no brainer to me. However a personal choice.