Oil in the antifreeze reservoir? That's gonna cost ya.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a '83 Porsche 944. I recently had it towed back to my house, due to oil in the antifreeze reservoir. My questions are what caused it, and what type of money are we talking about to repair it?

RAY: What type of money? The green kind, John. The ones with pictures of dead presidents on them.

TOM: Actually, the "best case" scenario for you is that you just blew a head gasket. That's the cheapest thing it could be. On the average car, a new head gasket costs about $400. On a Porsche, who knows? It could be twice that. But that's what you should pray for, because the price goes up from there.

RAY: Right. You could also have a cracked head. Incidentally, the family has decided that's my brother's problem, too. But seriously, a cracked head would also let the oil mix with the antifreeze. And that would be well over a thousand dollars to repair.

TOM: But wait! There's more! Just when you thought it was safe to read on, there's a scenario that's even worse: A cracked block. And the cost of a new block for a Porsche is approximately the same as the gross national product of Peru.

RAY: And of course, if you haven't lived a good, clean life, John, there's also a possibility that you have all of these problems.

TOM: So you're going to have to pay someone to do some exploratory surgery and find out what's happening in there. And if it's anything other than a blown head gasket, you're going to have a serious decision to make. You're either going to have to bite the bullet and sink a whole lot of money into this heap, or you're going to have to develop a whole new image.

TOM: Yeah. Think of it as a great opportunity. You can finally shed this outdated "sporty look." As I'm sure you know, hedonism is "out" in the 90's, and practicality is "in." How about a nice '86 Hyundai, John?

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One