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Worth saving?

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Discussion Starter #1
My head gasket has a small crack in the rear facing side. It’ll cost me around $2100 to fix. My car is Blue Book valued at around $1500-3500 (2002, 159,000 miles, MT). The thing is, my car is a Color Concept, one of the rare manuals as well. It’s got a custom carbon fiber hood as well. It’s a pretty special car to me, as it was given to me by my grandfather as my first car. I work part time (student), and if I want to get the work done, it’ll cost ALL of my money that I earn into this fall. Does anyone know if Color Concept cars are worth more? Mine is yellow, with the manual, which I’m fairly certain is really rare. I’m just not sure what to do. It’s a lot of money to fix it, but I want to save the car. I think the gasket has been leaking a little bit for at least a year (I think so because it was the only reason they could find for an issue I had with my oil that’s been going on for over a year). Could this mean more internal damage, and more cost once they pop the head off? Any advice or opinions on the subject would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
 

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The first thing, would be to get a accurate diagnosis; repair costs, can be a open question, as you don't know every possible issue until things are take apart. What testing has been done? How do you know; the head gasket is cracked? What is the "issue with the oil"; you have been having? There are many other areas; that can cause oil leaks and this can cause you to have to keep topping the oil off (valve cover/chain tensioner gasket, oil cooler gasket, very common leaking issues, can cause relatively substantial oil loss). Has the head been removed? You might want to do a combustion leak test, a compression/leakdown test and confirm, the problem, that way you can be sure of things, before spending the money on a head gasket repair.

Having a repair shop, do the work; can get expensive, is it possible for you do the work? This would lower the repair costs but you would need to do things yourself, more work, then just dropping it off and having someone else handle things.

A special car, that has sentimental value; is something to consider saving but financial concerns, are always a issue. At this age and miles; one can expect a number of issues, coming up, that will require repairs. Most of us, keep repairing these cars; many are not worth much these days but that is not, the reason we keep fixing them, we want to keep driving them and that is why we keep spending the money on repairs, keep them on the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The first thing, would be to get a accurate diagnosis; repair costs, can be a open question, as you don't know every possible issue until things are take apart. What testing has been done? How do you know; the head gasket is cracked? What is the "issue with the oil"; you have been having? There are many other areas; that can cause oil leaks and this can cause you to have to keep topping the oil off (valve cover/chain tensioner gasket, oil cooler gasket, very common leaking issues, can cause relatively substantial oil loss). Has the head been removed? You might want to do a combustion leak test, a compression/leakdown test and confirm, the problem, that way you can be sure of things, before spending the money on a head gasket repair.

Having a repair shop, do the work; can get expensive, is it possible for you do the work? This would lower the repair costs but you would need to do things yourself, more work, then just dropping it off and having someone else handle things.

A special car, that has sentimental value; is something to consider saving but financial concerns, are always a issue. At this age and miles; one can expect a number of issues, coming up, that will require repairs. Most of us, keep repairing these cars; many are not worth much these days but that is not, the reason we keep fixing them, we want to keep driving them and that is why we keep spending the money on repairs, keep them on the road.
The issue was that every once in a while, the low oil pressure light would come on. The Volkswagen dealership said no big deal, it’s just one of those things, only worry if it stays on, but then when I was going in to get an oil change I asked my local shop to take a look at it and there was coolant and oil running down the back of the engine. The crack was what was causing me to lose oil pressure. Right now, they’re pulling the head, and unless they see an obvious issue with it right off the bat, they’ll be taking it into a machine shop to get pressure tested. If it’s warped or otherwise not up to spec (cracks, or it’s been milled before by a previous owner), I’ve got to junk the car. I just can’t justify the cost of the entire head. Otherwise, they’ll just be taking a look at it and we’ll be figuring out whether I want to replace everything. If I replace the head gasket because they pull the head and everything checks out, then I’m looking at $2100 out the door, slightly less if I reuse my water pump and timing belt that I replaced 1 year (6,000 miles) ago. I actually told my grandpa about it, because he was the one who gave me the car, and he was saying I should seriously think about whether I want to pour water in the hole and keep repairing things or just get a different car. I do have some nice parts, some take five wheels and a carbon fiber hood, as well as a Neuspeed P-Flo intake that someone on this site may want though. I guess that’s a different thread to make though if I’m junking the car.
 

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Actually, the oil pressure light; coming ON is, potentially, a BIG deal! Their blase, attitude about that; is not a very good sign, that they care or are a good place, to take your older VW (did they confirm the oil pressure was in spec?). Checking for oil pressure, worn bottom end bearings and a possible clogged oil pickup tube, are all normal things to check. As to the head replacement; you can get a advance exchange rebuilt head and that is a viable option. I don't know, what our "budget" is or how much, you want to spend, to get it back on the road. One philosophy, is it is better; to work with "devil you know", rather then, try to find a cheap $2000-$4000 car with potentially, a bunch of unknown issues. You are starting to creep, towards 200k; so, one has to expect repairs, along the way of ownership, of (at this point), a semi vintage, 18 year old VW. The labor, is typically; what costs the most, when doing semi major work of this kind! :( Life choices, how much money, you have to spend; if a older vehicle, fits your current needs, are all issues to consider, only you can, "count the costs", see if it works or doesn't work for you. (tough call).

I just did a head on 2001 Audi TT with e 1.8T; we got a rebuild head, from theses guys and it worked out fine. https://www.shop.headsonly.com/VW-AUDI-18-20-VALVE-TURBO-REBUILT-CYLINDER-HEAD-VOLKSWAGEN-AUDI-18-20V.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Actually, the oil pressure light; coming ON is, potentially, a BIG deal! Their blase, attitude about that; is not a very good sign, that they care or are a good place, to take your older VW (did they confirm the oil pressure was in spec?). Checking for oil pressure, worn bottom end bearings and a possible clogged oil pickup tube, are all normal things to check. As to the head replacement; you can get a advance exchange rebuilt head and that is a viable option. I don't know, what our "budget" is or how much, you want to spend, to get it back on the road. One philosophy, is it is better; to work with "devil you know", rather then, try to find a cheap $2000-$4000 car with potentially, a bunch of unknown issues. You are starting to creep, towards 200k; so, one has to expect repairs, along the way of ownership, of (at this point), a semi vintage, 18 year old VW. The labor, is typically; what costs the most, when doing semi major work of this kind! :( Life choices, how much money, you have to spend; if a older vehicle, fits your current needs, are all issues to consider, only you can, "count the costs", see if it works or doesn't work for you. (tough call).

I just did a head on 2001 Audi TT with e 1.8T; we got a rebuild head, from theses guys and it worked out fine. https://www.shop.headsonly.com/VW-AUDI-18-20-VALVE-TURBO-REBUILT-CYLINDER-HEAD-VOLKSWAGEN-AUDI-18-20V.htm
Yeah, that Volkswagen tech must have been smoking something that day. Now I have my work done exclusively by a shop near my house that’s always been great. That head actually looks great. I’ll definitely talk to them about that if it ends up being an unusable head. I want to keep my car, but I question the practicality in a year or two when I’m in college. I’m thinking that right now, unless it’s way too expensive, I’ll probably try and fix the car to keep until at least when I can save up enough money to sell it and buy something with 4WD and a roomier back seat. Right now, my mechanic is pulling the head, and if there are no visible issues with it, it’s off to the machine shop to be pressure tested.
 

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If you want to keep it. I assume its a 1.8 engine but regardless these engines are very easy to pull. I pulled my daughters engine last year to change her clutch and do some catch up maintenance. If the engine proves bad, go to the junkyard get another from a Beetle, Golf or Jetta and replace it. You can do it yourself.

 
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