When I was driving home from band practice Wednesday evening, it was about 10* and I noticed the van was running hot. The temp gauge was hovering just south of the red zone, which I thought strange given the frigid conditions. Thursday and Friday were snow days, so I didn’t go anywhere. Yesterday we did some shopping, but we drove Eric’s car. This morning, on our way to church, a mile from home the temp gauge went into the red. We turned around and took the car instead. The van is at the mechanic now; we took it up and dropped off the keys right after church. The shop is less than three miles from home, and the temp gauge was pegged past the red when I parked, but the van seemed to be running all right.
At this point, I think it’s the thermostat. It’s just too cold out for the engine to be overheating so quickly. However, the van has topped 116,000 miles and it’s a Pontiac. It could very well be the head gasket. We’ve replaced four of them in 17 years, all in American cars.
I grew up in a General Motors family. Many of the men in my family worked for GM in some capacity. Everyone drives GM vehicles. I’m all for brand loyalty, but four head gaskets (maybe five) in less than two decades seems excessive to me. I do drive vehicles until they drop; 150,000 miles is common for us. I’m wondering now, though, if it’s time to consider a foreign car. We don’t buy new vehicles, so it really doesn’t matter what we buy. It’s more a matter of where we buy. As long as we stick with an American dealer or a private seller the money will stay in America. We’re not in the market to buy a vehicle anytime soon, but there will come a time when we need an additional car. If anyone drives foreign cars, I’d love to hear about how they hold up. It would be great not to have to replace a head gasket before 250,000 miles!