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I have an '02 Aero wagon auto with 175k miles that I was about to sell. I loaned it to a friend for 2 weeks while his car was in the shop and he drove it a little too long when the belt slipped off due to a big trans fluid leak from the cooler lines getting all over the belt area (since fixed all that). Car overheated enough for the coolant hose from thermostat to radiator to blow off

I believe that because of that the head gasket started to fail. There is now coolant on the dipstick. No other symptoms, 150 psi on all cylinders, but the coolant doesn't really hold pressure and I assume it's continuing to leak in the oil

Is it worth me trying to do the headgasket to resell, or should I just get rid of it?
I've never done it before and have no idea what's involved, but I've done most other things on the car and I am up for a challenge - unless someone tells me it's not worth the trouble and I should let it go

Car is in good condition otherwise, except for some dogleg rust
 

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If you don't know what you're doing, it would be a big job. Unfortunately after overheating like that, there can be other damage to the engine. It's a parts car, or a car for someone with a spare engine and the inclination to swap it.
 

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the head gasket is a "big job" as EdT said but it's doable. The biggest thing you should remember is that (1) you are going to have to take the head to a machine shop to check for flatness and possibly have it planed and (2) when you take the head off it's a 2-person lift to make sure you don't break one of the plastic timing chain guides.

the cost of the head gasket in't all that bad, you should replace the head bolts and that brings teh cost up a bit higher. If you have a place to work and can take your time it's not a horribly difficult job to do.

The big question is was any other damage done with the overheat as EdT says. If it were me while I had the head off I'd pull the pan and replace the main and rod bearings since those can be damaged. they're not horribly expensive and not a hard job to do.

So it depends on what you're going to do with it. If you are still going to sell it, I'd sell it as a parts car noting that it needs at least a head gasket. If you're going to continue to drive it I'd do the work.


(but then again, I swapped teh engine on my 01 Wagon when it spun a rod bearing so I may not be the greatest judge of when it's time to hang it up!
 

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A really clean low mileage 02 I might invest the $1300 or so in it...one with dog leg rust (in my experience if there's dog leg rust there's other rust) then I'd be inclined to pass on the job unless you can do it yourself.
.
 

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If there isn't an emotional attachment, it is a simple math equation.
Value of the running car (given its miles, options, and conditions) - Cost to replace head gasket > Value as a parts car....then fix it.

I would actually say the equation needs to be $500 heavy, it doesn't make sense to replace the headgasket and break even with selling it as is. For the sake of numbers $2,500 (value of a running car) - $1,500 (cost for a shop to mill head and replace gasket) = $1,000 <---If you can sell the car as is for this much or more....do that.

I don't want to be the negative nelly in the group, but if you haven't done a head gasket job before, and don't have a properly equipped shop to do it.....DO NOT DO IT! Don't rely on a helper who says that you can do it in a weekend (they won't show), don't think a chiltons is going to get you through it....call a shop, get an estimate, do the math above. If it works out to fix it, drop it at the shop. A job this big is a great recipe for a novice to have a pile of parts that never assembles itself, taking up space, until you give it away because it is worth less than when you started.
 

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Hunterstein - whether you should take on to replace the headgasket yourself is a bit difficult to answer not knowing your mechanical skills and your previous experiences. As many said already, it is not that difficult of a job but requires some know-how, patience and of course the right tools. See this thread:
Cylinder Head Gasket Replacement Tips
This gives you a good run-down of what you will need to remove to get the cylinder head out of the car. The first time I ever did it, I had never removed a head gasket on any car but successfully did it...albeit the time consumed was probably much longer than an experienced person. I did a lot of research first (searching this forum, googling, speaking to "motorhead" friends) to understand what I would get myself into. Once I committed to undertake this project, I made sure I had all the tools needed, and purchased the items I would need (new head bolts, head gasket, intake manifold gasket, exhaust mfld gasket, etc.). As the engine was overheated, you can almost be assured (as UncleMilte points-out) that the cylinder head is warped and that you will have to bring the head to machine shop. The cleaning and machining will set-you back $200-300, depending on the shop. Alternatively, you can probably find a used cylinder head for about the same money and order that in advance, which would cut-down the total elapsed time to get the job done and you could do it all in a weekend. On the other hand, you don't always know what you get 2nd hand....So the point is that you will have to plan the project. Depending on your situation, can you be without the car 3-5 days while you're waiting for the machine shop to do their thing? The first time I removed the cylinder head, it probably took me a good 8 hours or so(can't remember exactly) to remove the head, but I was pretty anal about things, took my time and put a lot of stuff in ziplock bags, and marked-up what was what to have a better chance to not screw-up the reassembly. But I also took breaks throughout. You also have to be prepared for the unexpected and that some bolts/studs may snap. Plan ahead and spray penetrating oil in advance (maybe several times), specially on the nuts/studs that hold the exhaust manifold and the turbo exhaust pipe as well as the alternator bolts, etc. If you think you can do it (and have the time to invest), it definitely will save you money compared to taking the car to a shop. But you really have to weigh this aginst what you think you can sell the car for. If it is in very good condition and you can get a good price, it might be worth it. If not, Shelby987 gives some good thoughts on how to look at it. Whatever you decide, best of luck!
 

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I have an '02 Aero wagon auto with 175k miles that I was about to sell. I loaned it to a friend for 2 weeks while his car was in the shop and he drove it a little too long when the belt slipped off due to a big trans fluid leak from the cooler lines getting all over the belt area (since fixed all that). Car overheated enough for the coolant hose from thermostat to radiator to blow off

I believe that because of that the head gasket started to fail. There is now coolant on the dipstick. No other symptoms, 150 psi on all cylinders, but the coolant doesn't really hold pressure and I assume it's continuing to leak in the oil

Is it worth me trying to do the headgasket to resell, or should I just get rid of it?
I've never done it before and have no idea what's involved, but I've done most other things on the car and I am up for a challenge - unless someone tells me it's not worth the trouble and I should let it go

Car is in good condition otherwise, except for some dogleg rust
I have am 04 9-3 arc I did a cyl. head on mine due to a broken timing chain. I'm a mechanic even doing all labor myself I still had a 1000 dollars init when I was done. Parts are a little pricey however if the head is not cracked and the car is in good shape I would do it your local repair shop should be able to do repair for around 17- 1800 dollars.
 

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I agree with Gidner (and disagree with shelby987) that if you have a medium level of knowledge that you can do this job. Take your time, package up stuff in bags or as I like to do put bolts back into the places where they came out or arrange parts on a table with the bolts together (e.g. when you take off the power steering pump bracket, insert the three bolts that hold it to the head into the holes in the bracket and set it aside) It's not a huge job, but it is going to take some time for your first time.

The only thing you have to be REALLY anal about is when you re-time the engine. Once you have it timed put the tensioner in, and crank the pulley by hand a couple of turns, make sure it turns freely. Then put the timing marks back on for the crank pulley and check it again. Then do it and check it again. If the timing is off you start bending stuff and then you have much more problems.

the link above from Gidner on how to do it is pretty comprehensive. I'll add a few things:

  • as I said above the head is heavy, have help taking it off and putting it back on, you don't want to crack those timing chain guides
  • with the cams in the head at least 2-3 valves will be sticking up beyond the flat part of the head. Don't set it down on something without a spacer (like a piece of wood) on each end or you risk bending a valve.
  • I take the exhaust manifold off with the head, it makes it heavier but it's easier to get out.
  • Take the injectors out of the intake manifold, two bolts, pull the whole assembly out and flop it on the windshield
  • make sure you put a bead of anaerobic sealant along the top of the timing cover and about an inch into the block to cover that 3-way joint under the head gasket.
  • new head bolts!
  • take the head to a machine shop and get it checked for flatness and if necessary get it planed
  • Buy the full set of exhaust manifold studs and replace them while the head is off. I'll bet that you have at least one broken one and they are so much easier to change with the head out (and they are cheap)
you should be able to get into it for $500 or less depending if the head needs to be planed. someone with moderate wrenching skills should be able to do it in two days (one off, one on) with the machine work in between.
 

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The question is whether the time and parts expense will be adequately recouped when selling the car. For someone who finds working on cars fun, it's a lot different equation than if you don't really know what you're doing and are not into wrenching.
 

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The question is whether the time and parts expense will be adequately recouped when selling the car. For someone who finds working on cars fun, it's a lot different equation than if you don't really know what you're doing and are not into wrenching.
Definitely agree, but if you an do the work yourself you'll get that back out in the sale. If you have to pay someone, probably never.
 

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Between the miles and the dog leg rust, I would say contact a local saab garage and ask what the cost would be, and inquire if they are purchasing parts cars.
How long did the ATF leak go on for? Clutches don't like to be short on fluid for very long, youtube makes people believe that you can pour ATF back into a smoked transmission and drive 50,000 trouble free miles.
Again, if you are asking the question, it is probably too much to take on solo.
 

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Well he did state: "I've never done it before and have no idea what's involved, but I've done most other things on the car and I am up for a challenge".

That actually sounds like the position I was in before I undertook the project. Had not worked all that much on cars other than doing minute things like changing brake pads, rotors, oil, spark plugs, coolant, etc. But like I said, I researched it quite a bit before I built-up the courage to take it on. But I felt confident that I could do it and also have a lot of tools. And I did it by myself. Trickiest step was lifting the head out of the car and making sure you don't hit the timing chain guides (like U-Miltie says, a whole other ball game if you break the guides).

Back to your potential head gasket problem. Looked back at your original post and got some questions.
1) When you say you have water on the dipstick, does that mean "froth" or do you actually have a milk-shake going on?
2) Did you change the oil and did the coolant in the oil reoccur?'
3) Was compression done on a cold or hot engine, did you do the dry or wet test (or both)?'
4) When you had plugs out, did you see water on plugs or down in the engine?
5) When you check dipstick, is the level of oil (and water) increasing on the stick

Before you start any tear-down (if you decide to take this on as a project), you need to 100% confirm that the head gasket is really blown. A compression test is not reliable to confirm the head gasket and you should do an engine leakdown test and/or pressure test of the coolant system. The reason I asked whether you see "froth" or real milkshake on the stick is that condensation can cause 'frothing', which can be misinterpreted as coolant in the oil.

You could also get coolant in the oil from cross-over at the turbo (which is cooled by oil and coolant). Ask me how I know this! I was convinced that I had blown the headgasket, but through some troubleshooting I actually managed to pin-point the problem to the turbo. Coolant was actually leaking into the oil inside the turbo, Once I changed the turbo, my problems disappeared.

Prior to pin-pointing the turbo as the culprit, my symptoms were very similar to yours. Definitely could see coolant in the oil (not just "froth".. a lot of water). But compression was ok and consistent across the cylinders (although in think my results were 185-190 PSI in each cylinder on a warm engine). Usually you would see on or more cylinders that have low compression when the H/G is blown (not always, but a good indicator).

Do you have any other symptoms or is the engine running good? Do you see white smoke coming out the tail pipe? Any wetness at the tailpipe?
 

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@hunterstein555, I'll add my $.02 here, because why not? I am probably in the "medium" knowledge camp. I am not as advanced as some of you these forums, but I have a lot of Saab knowledge and an intermediate amount of mechanical knowledge and tools. I also enjoy the car (and Saab brand) tremendously, so to me there's more to the equation than just money.

I have never done a head gasket before, but I'd still attempt the job. In my situation I barely drive due to COVID, so I could be without a car for several weeks and it wouldn't matter. @unclemiltie and others have put some very good guides on these forums about the head gasket job on the 9-5. With a car that isn't worth a ton to begin with, you don't have a ton to lose, except your time. I'd say go for it. Try to fix it up and keep it or sell it! I definitely think you could handle the job.

I also agree with @Gidner that you should 100% be sure it's actually the head gasket before you tear into it!
 

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Do you have any other symptoms or is the engine running good? Do you see white smoke coming out the tail pipe? Any wetness at the tailpipe?
OP has 150 on all cylinders, cooling system does not hold pressure and coolant is in the oil..HG seems most likely.
.
 

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Agree that it is a likely outcome that the HG has cracked but it is not definite and it I s worth spending a little bit of time troubleshooting before tearing everything down. If you read what I wrote, I had exactly same situation but it turned-out it was the turbo that cross-contaminated coolant into the oil. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the HG but everything pointed to it.
 

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If you read what I wrote, I had exactly same situation but it turned-out it was the turbo that cross-contaminated coolant into the oil.
You had a turbo cross contaminating coolant into the oil and the cooling system failed a pressure test?
.
 

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You had a turbo cross contaminating coolant into the oil and the cooling system failed a pressure test?
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Yes, the coolant pressure test showed that pressure did not hold and that there was a leak somewhere. When I pressurized it, By chance, I also went-under the car while I had the pressure tester rigged-up and noticed a leak from the flange between the turbo and the down-pipe. I stillI thought it was a bad cylinder head and that coolant was coming out of the cylinder head exhaust but I finally managed to prove it was the turbo. Swapped the turbo-out and did another pressure test and voila...pressure held and problem solved and I saved myself the time to remove the cylinder head (which would not have solved anything and caused more aggravation). I am not saying that this is the OP's problem, as a cracked turbo is probably more rare than a blown head gasket but my only advise is to troubleshoot a bit before jumping to conclusions. Imagine the frustration if you replace the head gasket and then still have the same problem afterwards? This is why I asked a few more questions of the OP. His compression is not great (150 PSI) but if this was done on a cold engine, it is probably what one could expect. The interesting thing is that all cylinders produce the same pressure; 150 PSI. While it is not a given, but one would expect to see at least one cylinder that is much lower when the head gasket is blown (say 110 in one and 150 in the others if this was done on a col car, or something like that). That's the only reason my antenna went-up and thinking back on my own experience...my compression result were consistent across all cylinders but were around 190 PSI on a HOT engine. If it was me, I'd still do a leak-down test and a pressure test in order to validate that it is the head gasket before investing time in doing the tear-down. Just my $0.02 worth of opinion.
 

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You had a turbo cross contaminating coolant into the oil and the cooling system failed a pressure test?
.
Yes, the coolant pressure test showed that pressure did not hold and that there was a leak somewhere. When I pressurized it, by chance, I also went-under the car while I had the pressure tester rigged-up and noticed a leak from the flange between the turbo and the down-pipe. I stillI thought it was a bad cylinder head and that coolant was coming out of the cylinder head exhaust but I finally managed to prove it was the turbo. Swapped the turbo-out and did another pressure test and voila...pressure held and problem solved and I saved myself the time to remove the cylinder head (which would not have solved anything and caused more aggravation). I am not saying that this is the OP's problem, as a cracked turbo is probably more rare than a blown head gasket but my only advise is to troubleshoot a bit before jumping to conclusions. Imagine the frustration if you replace the head gasket and then still have the same problem afterwards? This is why I asked a few more questions of the OP. His compression is not great (150 PSI) but if this was done on a cold engine, it is probably what one could expect. The interesting thing is that all cylinders produce the same pressure; 150 PSI. While it is not a given, but one would expect to see at least one cylinder that is much lower when the head gasket is blown (say 110 in one and 150 in the others if this was done on a cold car, or something like that). That's the only reason my antenna went-up and thinking back on my own experience...my compression result were consistent across all cylinders but were around 190 PSI on a HOT engine. If it was me, I'd still do a leak-down test and a pressure test in order to validate that it is the head gasket before investing time in doing the tear-down. Just my $0.02 worth of opinion.
 

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Yes, the coolant pressure test showed that pressure did not hold and that there was a leak somewhere. When I pressurized it, By chance, I also went-under the car while I had the pressure tester rigged-up and noticed a leak from the flange between the turbo and the down-pipe. I stillI thought it was a bad cylinder head and that coolant was coming out of the cylinder head exhaust but I finally managed to prove it was the turbo. Swapped the turbo-out and did another pressure test and voila...pressure held and problem solved and I saved myself the time to remove the cylinder head (which would not have solved anything and caused more aggravation). I am not saying that this is the OP's problem, as a cracked turbo is probably more rare than a blown head gasket but my only advise is to troubleshoot a bit before jumping to conclusions. Imagine the frustration if you replace the head gasket and then still have the same problem afterwards? This is why I asked a few more questions of the OP. His compression is not great (150 PSI) but if this was done on a cold engine, it is probably what one could expect. The interesting thing is that all cylinders produce the same pressure; 150 PSI. While it is not a given, but one would expect to see at least one cylinder that is much lower when the head gasket is blown (say 110 in one and 150 in the others if this was done on a col car, or something like that). That's the only reason my antenna went-up and thinking back on my own experience...my compression result were consistent across all cylinders but were around 190 PSI on a HOT engine. If it was me, I'd still do a leak-down test and a pressure test in order to validate that it is the head gasket before investing time in doing the tear-down. Just my $0.02 worth of opinion.
That's REALLY WEIRD

The oil galleys that go into the turbo are exposed to the journals an bearings for the turbine, because well the oil is used to lubricate those bearings.

The water jacket is only on the center cast iron block, the water is never supposed to come out of anything other than the in and out fittings. So you must have had a cracked cast iron center part, which I've never heard of before.

Not saying it didn't happen, but that's a really, really weird scenario.
 
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