HI --- I know virtually nothing about cars and need some advice. I
have a 1984 Ford Thunderbird (302, V8, 130,000 miles on it, air
conditioner hasn't worked in 5 years) that I may have killed by
letting it overheat too much.
I was driving down the interstate at about 70 mph when the red engine
light came on. (The car doesn't have a temperature gauge -- kind of
scary, I know). I stopped the car at an exit. I let it sit for about
10 minutes and then made the mistake of taking the radiator cap off.
Coolant spewed everywhere. I added 1/2 gallon of water (which was hot
from being in my trunk) and drove the car down to a nearby Exxon
station. The mechanic there hosed the engine down with cold water
(which worried me --- I thought there might be too extreme a
temperature difference). He then added more cold water to my radiator
while the car was running and told me to watch for the engine light to
go off. It did after a few minutes. He told me to get the radiator
serviced when I got to my destination (which was 150 miles away).
Well, only a mile down the road, the engine light came on again. I
thought it might go off as the water circulated (wishful and foolish
thinking on my part). About 5 miles later, it started making noise
under the hood. I was afraid to stop on the interstate with cars
whizzing by at 70 to 80 mph. I drove it a few more miles to the next
exit ramp where it stalled in the middle of the road and massive
amounts of white smoked billowed up from under the hood.
After an hour and a half of waiting for a tow truck, it was finally
taken to a local garage. The owner/mechanic said it looked like the
water pump went. He said he'd replace that as well as the thermostat.
He had trouble getting the pump off due to a bolt that wouldn't budge.
It ended up breaking so he had to take the timing cover off. The whole
job costs nearly $400.
The mechanic test drove the car for 20 minutes before he planned to
give it back to me, and guess what ... It overheated. Now he says 1)
there may have been more damage to the engine that he had originally
thought, 2) the engine block may be cracked, though it doesn't show
symptoms of that, 3) a head gasket could have blown, 4) it may need a
new radiator (it still has the original one in it).
It'll be 3 days before the mechanic can do any more work on it. I'm
worried sick. I was stupid not to stop immediately when the light came
on. What should I do if the engine block is cracked or a head gasket
is blown? Until now the car has been very reliable for an old clunker.
I'm unemployed and really can't afford another car. And I'm kind of
emotionally attached to my old T-Bird anyway.