A few weeks ago, I had a little mishap. I added some water to the reservoir as I still leak a small amount of coolant. I then took off for Magdalena.
As I climbed the big hill (4500 ft to 6800 ft), I noticed the temperature gauges was climbing rapidly. I stopped the car, popped the hood and checked. There was steam and smoke coming from the engine as the heat was beginning to cook off some of the oil that was spilled on the outside of the block. Right next to the overflow bottle was the radiator cap that I had neglected to replace.
I waited a few minutes, then drifted down the hill. As the temperature climbed, I shut the car off and waited again. Over the course of two hours (and eight miles), I made it back down the hill.
The next day, I added some coolant and ran the car to see if it overheated. It did. I figured there was plenty of air in the radiator, so I let it cool (I didn’t let it actually overheat, just saw if it was headed that direction). I checked the fans to make sure they were switching on properly (they were).
A few days later, I added more coolant and “pumped” the hoses to try to get the air out of the system. Still, it was approaching overheating. This time, I could see a little white smoke coming from the tailpipe, and there was a steady drip of coolant from the head gasket. Given the massive oil leak (see May 2015), it wasn’t worth repairing the head gaskets.
I love this car. It has over 369,000 miles on it, 325,000 of which I put on it across most of the states in the country (VT, SD, MN, WI, ND, MT, HI, AL, WA, and OR are the only ones this car never saw). But, that block will never run again.
I checked online and called around. It was worth $105 in scrap. It’s hard to euthanize a friend for $105 in scrap. I called around for a replacement engine: $3500 installed was the estimate, for a used engine with a 90 day warranty. Craigslist is full of other Malibus, with lower mileage for $1500. One or two parts cars have been sitting for a few weeks at $300, but they often need an engine as well.
I cleaned out the car and fasted for a day. I also came up with a “plan.”
I bought myself a tow bar, and I will tow the Malibu to my house. It will probably live out the rest of its days as a shed or a greenhouse in my back yard. Maybe one day, steel prices will increase, or I’ll really need the money, and then I’ll send it to the crusher. Maybe one day, I’ll figure out how to pull the engine, and get another one from a scrap yard for $130. Maybe I won’t. I don’t know.
Today, I cancelled the insurance on the Malibu. I will keep you updated. Maybe one day, it will ride again.