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I have a 97 Legacy GT with about 190K miles. It has had a slow leaking rear main seal for about 80K miles which I have pretty much ingnored. It has also had a slight hot smell regularly and very light whispy smoke from the engine compartment occasionally. This has gone on also for 80-100K miles. Recently the temp guage rocketed up while driving. I shut the car off and allowed it to cool and checked the oil. The level was OK. I checked the coolant and it appeared to have oil in it.

Does it sound like a head gasket to you guys? Should I have the head gasket, rear main seal, and timing belt done all at once? Should I just junk it and start with something newer? I hate to give up on it because it was been great for 5 years...pretty much just oil and brakes.

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My guess is that you have the head gasket opportunity. If the rest of the car is in OK shape it should have a lot of miles left with new gaskets, seals, cutch if necessay, timing belt, oil seperator, and good to go.

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the rest of the car is pretty solid. what is recommended to do while hitting up the head gasket? I am also doing the timing belt. Water pump? you mention seperator...anything else?

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Don't forget to check the radiator, too. Just because the headgaskets are leaking doesn't mean they're the cause of the overheating... they could be a symptom.

 

I went through h3!! and back, dealing with the used car dealer I got my '97 OBW from. It wouldn't stop overheating, and consequently toasting headgaskets. Two engine swaps and a lot of fuss later, I ended up swapping the radiator out myself. The old radiator had chunks of mineral deposits falling out of it when I tipped it upside down.

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the engine typically would be fine for quite some time beyond this. but you are at the point that for reliability the timing belt pulleys need to be addressed as well. kind of a risk to replace belts and water pump but leave 200,000 mile pulleys and bearings in place. the pulleys loose grease over time.

 

buy new ones (pricey) or repack them. i posted a thread on how to repack the timing pulley bearings for zero cost (well the cost of grease and 3 minutes of time). if you're looking to do this job and run it another 100,000 miles, i'd go ahead and do it right if reliability is a concern, which it sounds like it is since you're talking about buying "newer".

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Water pump and reseal the oil pump and crank seal while you are in there. That should close it up on front for several years.

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