I'm helping a neighbor who overheated his 98 Rodeo (3.2L V6, I believe).
198,000 miles, well maintained. He had a hole in the radiator and the
temp gauge was pegged. He limped down the shoulder of the freeway to a
gas station. The engine was making clicking/popping sound, he said,
along with lots of steam from under the hood, obviously.
He had it towed to a shop closer to home. They didn't even open the hood
and told him his engine was cooked, and for $3500 they could put in a
He knows very little about cars, so he gets in and drives home from the
shop(!!!)....even on the freeway. The car runs fine all the way home.
Tonight I got some tools and went to the vehicle. Besides the big hole
in the top of the radiator, it looks normal. Oil looks OK.
The car has been sitting outside for a couple of weeks, but I was able
to start it with took LOTS of cranking. It was running real rough and
blew a bunch of water vapor out of the tailpipe. I thought, yep, engine
toast. BUT, after shutting the engine down for a bit, I restarted it
and it's running ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY.
...BUT, after a few minutes of idling, the exhaust started slowly
getting steamier, and steamier, till it was clearly blowing vapor. Head
If engine has good compression and the oil is not milky, should he get
the head gaskets done and keep driving it? I plan to swap the radiator,
run a compression test,inspect the plugs, and swap the oil/coolant,
followed by a cooling system pressure test.
Do these cars tend to crack heads, or just blow the gasket? How much
would a shop charge to pull + service the heads and swap gaskets?
I'm tempted to do the job, as I've done lots of head gaskets, but the
wife may change the house locks if I did, and the bench in the garage is
not a good place to sleep.