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Would it be safe if I was to drive 500 miles with a bad head gasket ?

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I am thinking of driving to London in about 2 weeks which is about 220 miles each way, so 440 return but I will be driving around London too so let's say 500 miles. I will probably stay overnight in London this time rather than come home the same day.


I am loosing a bit of water and have to top up 2 or 3 cups full of water each week to my coolant tank. I had a chemical test done on the coolant which changed color confirming a bad head gasket. I paid a garage £950 and that was 9 months ago to replace head gasket but found out they only replaced water pump, I went back after the recent diagnosis but they seem to be offering no solution.

My friend said he will do it for me but I am going to wait for a few months until I can save up enough to replace a few other little things while the engine is apart, such as turbo oil feed hose, engine mount, maybe tappets.



My car drives fine with not much power loss (lack of power due to bad maf loom) , no oil/water mixing, no smoke, just wondered, would it be okay to drive 500 miles with a car that had had it's head gasket confirmed as ''gone'' despite it still driving well and only needs topping up once a week ?

I will obviously keep checking water levels on the drive to/from London, I will refill at services or definitely once in London and back home and will leave several bottles of water in my car.





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That's like asking "how long is a piece of string", I'm afraid.  It could be fine, but it could also go completely during the journey (as it could in ANY journey) resulting in a far bigger job needing done at the end of the day and you also being stranded. 

I've had head gaskets weep (burn coolant with no oil/water mixing etc...) for months and never get any worse, but then I've also had them go from a tiny bit of burning to dumping a litre of coolant into the oil in less than 1 mile! 

It is impossible to say.

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2 hours ago, Stoney871 said:


You run the risk of hydrolock which will totally nack the engine.

Small trips- ok, long ones- I wouldn't.


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You say that Clive, but it was on a very short journey (nowhere near full operating temperature) that our 216s head gasket blew.  It's like timing belts - once they get old they can go at any time. 

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7 minutes ago, Stoney871 said:

Agreed, but Rovers were renowned for warping alloy heads anyway.

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Weren't they just!  Beautiful cars though, and without HGF they were great engines (the 1.6 at least). 

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It should be fine as long as you keep an eye on the level and the temperature, motorway miles don't put much stress on the engine, it's driving the city traffic in London that'll be your main issue. 

If anything does go wrong (steam, overheating, hoses burst etc), you need to stop as soon as possible.  If it runs out of coolant and warps the head badly enough it may be too far gone for skimming and would require a new head.


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Simple answer no. It's the head gasket it gone get it sorted before you drive it or borrow/hire a car.

Why even consider it and risk breaking g down and doing more damage to the engine.

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