Blown Head Gasket? Try this:
Poor Hank Sims broke down by Richardson Grove, so he tells us in his latest Town Dandy column. Turns out his car had a blown head gasket. Before you take the car to the junk yard, Hank, or spend megabucks on getting it fixed, you might try some of that stop leak stuff you use for radiator leaks and such. It worked for me.
I used to drive an old Volkswagon Rabbit Diesel. Great gas mileage. One day while I was driving out on Walnut Drive, heading home to my place in Cutten, the temperature gauge went from normal to overheated really fast. I get out and open the hood and there's bubbles in the plastic water reservoir, an obvious sign of something wrong.
To make a long story short, I wasn't too far from home and just drove the overheated car the rest of the way.
For reasons that escape me, I couldn't figure out just what the problem was and took it to the Volkswagon dealer in Eureka. I don't even remember what they did or recommended but I ended up, for whatever reason, buying a new radiator. It was pricey at over $300.
I put the new radiator in and drove off, having left the car in the dealer's lot for a couple days. I hadn't driven more than a few blocks when the temperature gauge goes into the red again. I turned around and went back to the dealer. I tell the parts guy what happened and he suggested maybe I had a blown head gasket and it would be real expensive to fix but suggested I try some stop leak stuff he had.
I thought it was a bit pricey at $10 for the can. The stuff inside was some kind of jello type silver colored balls in a black liquid. I poured it in the water reservoir and took off again. I didn't make it more than a couple blocks before the engine overheated again. Luckily, the Sequoia Auto Supply store was right nearby- on the corner of 7th and E Streets.
For some reason I was fixated on the stop leak solution and went in to Sequoia Auto in search of more stop leak. They had a small tube of silver grey powder for around $3.00. I felt kind of foolish having just spent $10 for something that didn't work and decided $3.00 was a pretty cheap alternative.
I poured the powder into the water reservoir and drove off, and drove and drove and drove. I drove that car- later it became the wifey's car to drive- for years and it never overheated again. We'd probably still be driving it if it hadn't gotten wrecked while parked a few years back.
That probably the best $3.00 I ever spent. The only downside being the $300, or more, radiator I bought that I didn't need after all.