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Old 12-28-2015, 06:15 PM   #1
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Wrench SL2 Head Gasket Troubles

Hi there,

I'll be the first to admit I'm a Toyota loyalist. I swear up and down by their Camry line. I love everything about that model. So I know absolutely zilch about a Saturn. I've done SOME work on it, replacing the radiator and a few oil changes. But nothing in depth like it now requires.

That said, my sister owns a Saturn. SL-2 specifically. 1998 automatic.

Recently, she came back to me from the mechanic telling her the head gaskets are in need of repair. Assuming this is true (we're waiting on confirmation from a second source) how difficult are these to replace yourself?

Since it is the head gaskets, I know part of the engine has to come off, but how much?

How dire is it? Will she just burn oil more than usual or is she in danger of something more serious melting down? I know on my old Camry, even a defect with the oil pump housing didn't have that much of an impact.

How worthwhile is it to replace the gaskets? The thing has upwards of 175,000 miles on it, but was owned by a granny beforehand. So it probably wasn't driven very roughly but it's still quite old.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-28-2015, 06:47 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: SL2 Head Gasket Troubles

1-What proof does this mechanic have to say with certainty that the head gasket needs to be replaced?

*Is compression down on cylinders? Zero compression in at least one cylinder can be either a blown head gasket or more likely a burned exhaust valve. Lower compression below 185 psi would be more likely worn/stuck oil rings.

*Does the engine run rough and overheat, leaking into the coolant and creating chocolate, blowing coolant out the container?

*Have a hard time starting as coolant leaks into a cylinder or two and causes hydrolock preventing the engine from turning over?

*Is steam constantly coming out the exhaust pipe?

2-Maybe something else is causing problems and not require major surgery to line someone's pocket from your wallet?

There are many things that needs addressing, most already covered in hundreds of threads here. Perhaps starting with the sticky at the top of the Thread list may help as no history of this car is given.

Last edited by fdryer; 12-28-2015 at 06:53 PM.
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head gasket replacement, high mileage, repair, sl2 1998

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