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Old 07-17-2010, 02:40 PM   #1
hoodlivin
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Default how long to drive with cracked head?

I have a 96 SL1 SOHC 5spd that has a nice sheen of oil in the coolant, which I see is the telltale sign of a cracked cylinder head. Does anyone have an idea as to how many more miles I should plan drive this car before drivability is compromised?

At the moment the oil sheen has only been like half a millimeter thick on the coolant and there are no check engine or service lights showing.

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Old 07-17-2010, 06:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Keep in mind that when you have oil in the coolant, your engine can overheat quickly. I personally wouldn't try driving it.

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Old 07-17-2010, 06:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Did you just recently change the coolant type?

If you change from dex to green, and dont manage to get out all the dex, you can get a sludgy type crap in your coolant tank. Looks like oil, but it's not.

Just be sure of your problem first, before you proceed.

I had a 97 SOHC and even though I was hard on it, never had any problems with the infamous crack. My friend still drives it, also no problems yet.

...
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Old 07-18-2010, 11:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

unfortunatly not, ive always used dex, and it's definitely oil as I have siphoned some of the oil layer out just to make sure.

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Old 07-18-2010, 03:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

My guess is, if it is a cracked head, that the crack will expand and get larger. It's physics. Did you ever have a tiny crack in your windshield? It didn't stay that size for long, did it?

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Old 07-18-2010, 04:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Yeah I understand that the crack may get larger and that this will lead to bigger problems soon, I am just curious if anybody with a cracked head saturn has continued driving it and how long it lasted.

Sorry if the question sounded stupid, I just don't have the money or skill to fix an engine problem like this right now and am wondering how long I can get by as is. I understand its a gamble it just might be about my only option at the moment.

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Old 07-19-2010, 02:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoodlivin View Post
Yeah I understand that the crack may get larger and that this will lead to bigger problems soon, I am just curious if anybody with a cracked head saturn has continued driving it and how long it lasted.

Sorry if the question sounded stupid, I just don't have the money or skill to fix an engine problem like this right now and am wondering how long I can get by as is. I understand its a gamble it just might be about my only option at the moment.
You may want to try one of the cooling system sealants that are intended for sealing larger leaks. While I normally would not recommend their use, it may buy you some time until you can afford to fix the car.

Steve

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Old 07-19-2010, 04:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Quote:
Originally Posted by azrocketman View Post
You may want to try one of the cooling system sealants that are intended for sealing larger leaks. While I normally would not recommend their use, it may buy you some time until you can afford to fix the car.

Steve
using that **** will just make it worse to fix. if it can seal cracks, imagine what it does to your cooling passages....

if you drive it, you are going to spin bearings eventually, warp the cylinders, etc.

basically, the more you drive it like this, the more it is going to cost to rebuild the motor come that time (and that time is inevitable btw)

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Old 07-19-2010, 06:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redhotftw! View Post
using that **** will just make it worse to fix. if it can seal cracks, imagine what it does to your cooling passages....

if you drive it, you are going to spin bearings eventually, warp the cylinders, etc.

basically, the more you drive it like this, the more it is going to cost to rebuild the motor come that time (and that time is inevitable btw)
I cannot imagine it making any difference. Sealants are designed to block small openings, say .050 inch or smaller. What is the size of the smallest coolant passage in a Saturn engine; I'll bet it's bigger than .250 inch? If I were to worry about any blockage of critical cooling passages I'd worry about partially clogged passages in the radiator. I do not think the use of sealant will make any difference to the rebuilding or repair of a "death bed" engine.

The original poster indicated he's shy on cash. What is the worst scenario, try to plug the leak and get some time on the engine or run her until she blows?

Steve

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Old 07-20-2010, 12:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

It does seem inevitable that this car will need a replacement engine in the near future. My plan is to get rid of it relatively soon (hopefully as a double package with my 99 SL with a shot tranny) and most likely just buy another S series (i know its unfortunate that I gotta do it this way but i just dont have the resources/skill to do big fixes like these), however here is the impending question for me:

I am trying to drive out to Oregon from Minnesota and back within the next couple weeks. This depends on me either driving this car or getting rid of it and buying something else cheap. Would it be really stupid to try and drive this car out there or is the risk not too terrible as it hasn't ever overheated and the ammount of oil in coolant is relatively minimal?

maybe try the sealant? anybody else got thoughts on the sealant?

thanks everybody for input, and on another note, if anyone is interested in picking up this car and my 99 SL with a hole in the transmission casing as a couple of project cars, I am looking to get rid of them soon, hopefully as a package, PM me if youre interested I can get you all the details on them.

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Old 07-20-2010, 10:20 AM   #11
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

How long to drive with cracked head? Right up until the expensive tow home. That said, how do you know it's not a blown head gasket? You're getting oil in your coolant but is there coollant in the oil pan?

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Old 07-20-2010, 12:07 PM   #12
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

nah, no coolant in the oil pan.

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Old 07-21-2010, 12:06 PM   #13
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Minnesota to Oregon and back? You're talking about a couple of thousand miles at highway speeds on the flats and over the mountains. I'd bet against you if you do nothing. You might improve the odds with a sealant but you're still talking about significant stress on a wounded engine.

I'd be looking at a bus or airline ticket for the trip. Cost might be a push when you consider the cost of gas. motels, and food for the trip.

Steve

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Old 07-21-2010, 12:13 PM   #14
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Driveability is a secondary concern. Primary is engine longevity. Whether it's a major cooling system failure or lubrication failure (spun bearing, oil loss, whatever), anything that would affect driveability from this point forward will also make the repair a MUCH bigger project than the simple cooling system clean-out and head swap you face now.

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Old 07-21-2010, 12:19 PM   #15
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Default Re: how long to drive with cracked head?

Don't take the car on that trip with the problem you've just described. You'll likely find yourself someplace in the vast expanse of Montana with a dead car.

A flight these days costs almost the same as driving and camping. Driving and motels will be more then the cost of flying (the round trip, that is). A couple years ago when I made the trip home to MN from Seattle and back, it cost me (looking back at my records) about 425 in gas (she wasn't running that great though...bad thermostat), and camping. I brought a loaf of, some peanut butter, and other things to eat to keep food costs down.

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