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2002 Hyundai Elantra Bad Head Gasket


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thedudeabides
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Jan 18, 2012, 8:03 PM

Post #1 of 11 (5918 views)
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2002 Hyundai Elantra
2 liter engine
108,000 miles

A little history. I've owned this car since 2002. Around 2007 I was driving home late at night and didn't notice my car was overheating until I saw smoke from the engine. By that time it was too late. Warped head gasket, all places recommended a new motor. So it was replaced.

About a year ago I noticed the temperature of the engine would creep up occasionally to about 3/4 of the way up, then go back down.

I spent the next year trying to get the issue sorted, and ended up replacing the radiator and water pump a few months ago, thinking it was fixed.

Literally two days before I move to NYC from Seattle, the check engine light comes on. Cylinder 1 misfire, after diagnostic I'm told I have yet another bad head gasket.

At this point a) could not afford the repair b)didn't have time anyway I was schedule to leave in a couple days and they couldn't have gotten it done in time

So I took a gamble and drove across the country with a bad head gasket. The car luckily got me to NYC, the only issue I had was springing a leak in the upper radiator hose in Wyoming, once it was fixed I was on my way. And surprisingly the check engine light turned off about 1/2 way across the country.

Since I've been in NYC, in the last week the temperature would creep a bit and then go back down. And then the other day it started smoking and I had it towed to a mechanic. Another leak in the upper radiator hose and he said the thermostat needed to be replaced.

The car was running again at least but today it was creeping up too high and staying at 3/4 up and not going back down. Its looking like I've gone as far as I can go with this car without dropping some more serious cash on it.

The head gasket job is definitely worth more than the car at this point.

My question: Even if that's the case, would it be so ridiculous at this point to go ahead with the repair? If the job costs me $1500-$2000 and I have a reliable car again, it seems to me that would still be cheaper than buying another car.

Is it possible to get a reliable used car for under $2000?

I know I'm in NYC and most would assume I don't need a car but I still do. I live in Brooklyn and work in Long Island, Queens, Connecticut...all over.

Given this info, do you think the head gasket job would solve my issues?

Thanks in advance.


Hammer Time
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Jan 18, 2012, 8:14 PM

Post #2 of 11 (5909 views)
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Re: 2002 Hyundai Elantra Bad Head Gasket [In reply to] Sign In

I really question the initial diagnosis of a blown head gasket. I find it very hard to believe that it would drive across the country with a blown gasket. I think I would get a second opinion now. If you do ultimately confirm it, I think it would be worth fixing and I wouldn't expect it to cost over $1200, assuming the rest of the car is in decent enough shape. Make sure the transmission is still healthy before making that investment.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



thedudeabides
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Jan 18, 2012, 8:29 PM

Post #3 of 11 (5902 views)
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Hammer Time,

Thanks for your response. I found the diagnostic notes here, maybe this will shed some light onto the situation. I didn't mention that I omitted the opinion of the blown head gasket to the guy working on my car now to see what he says. After bringing my car back to him, he said that's what he suspects given what I told him. I also forgot to mention that I was leaking coolant during the past year and would periodically have to pull over and re fill.

Today when I did that as soon as I cracked open the radiator cap the coolant came shooting out with a bunch of steam.

Here's what the guys in Seattle said:

"Coolant System Diagnostics.

Includes verifying proper coolant level, pressurizing coolant system to check for coolant leaks, test radiator for cold spots (blockage), testing coolant for quality and freezing point, verify proper thermostat and radiator cap operation, check water pump belt tension (when accessible) and verifying proper coolant fan/fan clutch operation.

Vehicle did not overheat, stayed just below 1/2 on temperature gauge, based on customers description, sustpect possible heade gasket issue. Checked coolant and oil levels and condition. Coolant slightly low (1 pt) wet on right inner fender area around over flow. Oil is dirty and has some water droplets on dip stick. Topped off coolant, started vehicle with pressure tester on - light steam from exhaust and builds pressure failry rapidly. Turn vehicle off and removed pressure tester and performed block test. Block test and fluid turned yellow pretty quickly and tube filled also with exhaust smoke. Scanned computer and confirmed code :P0301 = Cylinder misfire detected.
Bad head gasket and possible cracked head. Ignition wires are original as well.
Recommend complete head gasket job, pull head send out for pressure test and re surface, recommend timing belt and ignition system tune up at the same time."


Hammer Time
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Jan 18, 2012, 8:39 PM

Post #4 of 11 (5880 views)
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There is something about those notes and your driving experience that just don't jive. I've done many chemical tests for blown head gaskets and to say they are easy to verify a blown head gasket would be a stretch. Everything you are saying about the way the car drives would indicate a very small leak if any at all and to say that the fluid test turned yellow quickly is very hard for me to believe. I think I would want a better form of verification than that. That is the only actual test that all this is being based on. Everyone else is basing things on symptoms that you describe and that isn't reliable at all. The only reliable ways to confirm a blown head gasket is with either using and exhaust analyzer to sniff HC at the radiator or to actually see coolant in a cylinder after a long pressure test. Pressurizing the cylinders with air pressure and looking for bubbles in the radiator with the engine off would be another reliable method.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Mycar Isjunk
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Jan 20, 2012, 6:59 PM

Post #5 of 11 (5840 views)
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Re: 2002 Hyundai Elantra Bad Head Gasket [In reply to] Sign In

Wouldn't a simple compression test reveal a bad head gasket?


Hammer Time
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Jan 20, 2012, 7:01 PM

Post #6 of 11 (5839 views)
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No, not usually. There is usually some compression loss but not usually enough for a confirmation. The loss could be due to other reasons also.




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thedudeabides
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Jan 21, 2012, 2:31 AM

Post #7 of 11 (5829 views)
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Well after I got it back the second time it seems to be running fine now. It seems he adjusted the thermostat to release coolant sooner or something, I dunno. Not a car guy myself as you can tell. And I don't know if this is a band-aid fix or addressing the real issue but either way I really don't want to have to drop a bunch of money on my car right now.

And now my heat works when I'm idling, which hasn't been the case in years.

Anyway, thanks for the info.


Hammer Time
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Jan 21, 2012, 5:57 AM

Post #8 of 11 (5821 views)
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You need to find better repair shops. There is no such thing as "adjusting a thermostat" and installing a lower temp stat or even worse, removing it would be a big no,no. The engine requires a minimum temperature.




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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



thedudeabides
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Jan 21, 2012, 1:46 PM

Post #9 of 11 (5804 views)
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Well I think he might have installed a lower temperature thermostat. Adjusting it was just my vague recollection him telling me about something I don't understand. I'm sure you're right either way however. Could I see if he just pulled it out altogether by popping the hood?


Hammer Time
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Jan 21, 2012, 3:11 PM

Post #10 of 11 (5801 views)
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No, you won't be able to see it. Either ways, it's the wrong thing to do.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
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Jan 22, 2012, 7:50 AM

Post #11 of 11 (5787 views)
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An IR thermometer could be telling without taking t-stat out and looking and if no thermostat it's big trouble as HT has said,

T
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