The Clunker



Hey guys,

I have a 1998 Chevy Lumina with 197,000 miles on it. (I still drive my high school car!) It has been leaking coolant for some time now. I have had to fill up the coolant tank 3 times in the past 2 months. So, I took it in to have it looked at and they told me that I have a upper and lower intake gasket leak and that it is going to cost around $2,500 bucks to fix. Obviously not worth the trouble, but what can I do to keep my car running for as long as possible given its current state?


The car is really on its last legs. You could try some of the stop leak remedies which may slow down the leaking.

For small leaks some posters will recommend you dump some black pepper into the radiator.

With luck you may get another 6 months out of this vehicle.


I would get another estimate for the repair and see if it is in the same ballpark. If you got a dealer price, you can do better at a good independent shop. If the gasket is causing an internal leak so that the coolant goes nto the oil, you don’t have much time left if you don’t do the repair. If the leak is external and you can see the coolant leak, I suppose you could just keep adding coolant.

Years ago, I sealed a crack in the engine block around a valve seat (flat head 1947 Pontiac 6) with K & W seal. I ran the car another year and I saw it on the streets 2 years after I sold it. If you aren’t going to make the repair, you might try a sealer. I don’t know if K & W is still on the market, but there is probably an equivalent product.


As a last ditch effort, it can’t hurt to retorque your intake manifold and heads. It might close a gap just enough to go a bit longer and it won’t be that hard to do. You might even find some loose bolts.


Check around on this. No way should this cost anywhere near 2500 dollars; unless this estimate is assuming head gaskets and whatnot.