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Old 05-29-2002, 02:56 PM
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Questions about Head Gaskets

Hello friends.

I have a '93 190e 2.6 (the M103 engine, right?). I took it to the dealership today for new tires and a starting issue, and I just about fell over when they called me back and told me that the head gasket was blown on my car! I've got 73k on it. It has been running just fine; no noticable problems whatsoever in its performance.

I have checked the oil quite frequently, and I have never been "using" any oil. The oil level has been fine and is very clean; no sludge of any kind. The antifreeze tank was kind of murky though. I guess this is from the oil mixing with the coolant and discoloring the tank.

I did some searches on the head gasket issues, and they were somewhat helpful, but I'm wondering about the following:

1. When I have the head gasket done, can I count on this holding up for awhile? In other words, will this be a repair that I will have to re-visit in the future?

2. What can I do as a driver to prevent this from happening again? I wasn't all that familiar with the car's history, so I can't comment on the previous owner. But now that it's mine, maybe there's something that I can do with my driving style in order to prevent this from happening in the future.

3. The dealership warned me about coolant mixing into the engine compartment. If I could, I would let it sit until I take it back next week to have the work done, but I need to make a trip on Sunday ... about 180 miles round-trip. The dealership flushed the coolant system today for me and fresh coolant is in there now. Do you think that I can make this trip and not cause any damage to the engine (which is what I'm most afraid of).

The dealership said that I could probably wait for a little while, but then I told them that I had the coolant system flushed last month (4/02), and they couldn't believe what they saw in a month's time, which makes me NERVOUS!

I guess I'm just sad because I never thought something like this would happen so early. For a graduate student, this is a major blow!! BTW: Donations are most welcomed!! I take PayPal!!!!

Thanks for your help guys,
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Old 05-29-2002, 03:32 PM
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Question No. 1:A new haed gasket will hold at least as long as the first one did. 100 to 150,000mi. is the normal life of this gasket.
Question No. 2: Nothing in term of preventive maintenance or nothing you can do to prevent it from happening again. The driver/owner is not the cause of the failure, except if you overheat the engine.
Question 3: Make the trip: Maybe yes (probably), maybe no. Impossible to tell. If I was temporarily tied-up for cash (I'm not temporarily tight on cash, I am permanantly tight on cash), I'd go on the trip and closely watch the collant temp. gauge. Life is a risk........
If you have the job done, you should inquire about the valve guides. If you car is using oil, it would be the perfect time to fix that problem at the same time. If you postpone this repair, the same labour cost will be incured if you have the valve guides done later.
Best of luck
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