Should I Buy This Cheap Used Car?

Reader Question

Hi Austin,

We had a 1997 Suburban that was recently totaled and we are looking to replace it. We have found one Suburban that is priced very well, but seems to have a major issue. It’s getting coolant in the oil following an oil change. It seems like it might be a blown head gasket or maybe even a cracked block.

I’ll post the seller’s description below. We would like to know the likely culprit as well as the worst case scenario and the probably costs of the repairs. It’s priced well enough that even if we had to put $2000 in it it would be a good buy. Much more than that and it’s probably better to pass. The motor has 116k miles and it’s a 1999.

The seller said:

I changed the oil and filter and after that the oil pressure pegged the needle. The gauge reads up to 80 psi. I was told to put a new filter in as there had been some bad filters that would not bypass and could cause this problem. I did and the pressure returned to normal. After that I started getting coolant into the oil.

Some more questions and a little internet searching and the conclusion is that the high oil pressure pushed out one of the pressed in plugs in the oil galley and therefore is letting coolant get into the oil. I have completely flushed the coolant and oil, with new oil and a filter. It is now sitting with no coolant in it at all.

Thanks for your insight.



Well hello there Ann,

Thanks for your email. Honestly……I would steer clear of this vehicle, there are just WAY too many good used vehicles on the market with less problems. This engine COULD need a head gasket replacement or some other internal engine repair and your $2,000 could be used up pretty quickly. This is a 10 year old vehicle and there will be other maintenance and repair issues as well as this major one you know about.

If you are DEAD SET on this vehicle….and kinda seems like you are, take it to your local auto mechanic and tell them your concern and that you want a “cooling system pressure test” to see if there is an internal coolant leak. I personally would leave the pressure tester hooked up to this vehicle for an hour or more to make sure there is not an internal coolant leak.

If it passes the test…..then I would take a chance and buy it. if it failed the test and there is a confirmed coolant leak, I would pass.

I have had some great results with this inexpensive over the counter head gasket additive.

Head Gasket Repair

I got my fingers crossed for you!

Austin Davis

1 Comment on "Should I Buy This Cheap Used Car?"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. David Nando says:

    I would start with Austin’s statement, steer clear of a used car with such a problem. There are many reasons why used cars are sold and one of them is that the car may have hidden chronic problems which the seller may not disclose to you and therefore it is upto you to discover such problems and boy, it is not easy to unearth them. You need to take calculated risk and you must quantify that risk with certanity otherwise, steer clear!

Got Something to Say?