The RagingT-Bird is close to death…

My beautiful car, my 94 White Ford Thunderbird, is currently hovering at deaths door…and I don’t know how I’m going to save her.

About a month and a half ago, I saw the little light come on that said “Low Coolant”, and having had previous problems with overheating vehicles, I promptly bought more coolant and put it into the car.

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18 thoughts on “The RagingT-Bird is close to death…

  1. White smoke from the tailpipe is never good… means you most likely have a blown headgasket. It’s something that can be fixed by a competent “shade tree” mechanic, but it requires some pretty specialized tools.

  2. I’ve had experiences with this kind of overheating problem. The news is not good.

    White smoke usually indicates that coolant is getting into the combustion chambers. This means that the cylinder head gasket needs to be replaced (I think I remember the repair estimate was around $500-600 for my old car), or you have a cracked cylinder head (upwards of $1,500), or both.

    The news actually gets worse: Although it’s more likely to be the head gasket, from what I understand, there’s really no way to tell which problem you’re having until they pull the engine half apart to get to the problem. I’m also under the impression if it is just the head gasket, that if you continue to drive the car, the damage can spread to the cylinder head as well (not to mention melting or warping other engine components), though you’ll probably want to verify that with a mechanic.

    I’m sorry, Ribeye. I wish you luck with your car.

  3. I feel for you…even minor issues with my car put into a where the fuck will i find the money spiral. On the totally bummer side, white smoke and overheating often mean a blown head gasket, which can mean a lot of money to repair. Hope it’s not, good luck…have you thought of getting a scooter?

  4. Those t-birds are very common to have head gaskets leak, causing the oil to mix with the coolant and thus burn the coolant causing white smoke to come out the tailpipe. Good luck my friend!

  5. I had the same thing happen with my Beamer. Ends up I had oil leaking into the radiator. Way too expensive to fix and I had to let her go. Sorry. Tough time of year for this to happen, too.

  6. Ribeye,
    It may not be that bad. Usually when you are having to add more antifreeze and the car is emitting white smoke it means you have a leaky cylinder head gasket. That means air and fuel are getting into the cooling system. But don’t wait any longer than you have to. Otherwise the cylinder head or engine block can crack, and that’s extremely expensive (i.e. seriously fucked).

  7. We had the same problem with our ’01 Pontiac Montana this past summer, and it turned out to be a cracked manifold gasket. Costly repair in a shop (>$800), but later I found out that I could have done it myself for about $100.
    Hope you’re not sans wheels for too long!

  8. White smoke coming from the tailpipe + overheating + gelatinous coolant = blown head gasket.

    Best case: replacement head gasket. This involves your car being off the road for at least a week, and towed to shop – you’re looking at $1200 (that’s NY pricing, so yours is probably a bit cheaper).

    Worst case: the head itself is warped (happens if it’s driven too much on a cracked gasket). In this case, you’d need a new/rebuilt motor. At least $2000.

    I love your blog and hate to deliver bad news, but I hope the info is at least marginally helpful.

  9. it sounds like you have a blown head gasket repair costs around 500 or so if you cant do it yourself its pretty simple if you have the tools and a little knowhow you have to dissasemble the top half of motor pull heads clean the old gasket off put new ones on torque them down put it back toeghter change oil and plugs fill up coolant and your done time consuming job but not impossible to do you do not need to drive the car till you get it fixed or you will warp the heads and that will cost bigtime

  10. It’s terrible when a much loved car dies. HOWEVER, if it’s a real classic you may be able to find a big car fan who will pay you for it so they can do it up. I know it would be hearbreaking to sell it, but considering it may then go to a good home,it’s worth considering?

  11. I see quite a few others pointed out the obvious – head gasket is blown. Not a cheap repair either, because it’s so far into the engine.

    Spoken from one who has had two different cars blow the head gasket – the classic signs and symptoms exhibited by your car – overheating and white smoke from the tailpipe.

  12. i belive you are in nashville you may want to post a ad on your craigslist to find a mechic to work on it on the side you could save a lot of money that way

  13. well, we HAVE been looking for a new name for the SUV, so I assume it could now be the “RagingSUV” since nothing better has surfaced.

  14. Everyone else beat me to it- sounds like a blown head gasket. If you didn’t drive it hot, you probably didn’t crack the actual head or the block.

    If you are mechanically inclined, you could probably do it yourself for about $200- that would include the new gasket and getting the head shaved at a machine shop(needs to be done to enure the seal around the gasket is perfect)

    I had a 94 Thunderbird that I adored until a deer jumped on the hood as I was driving down the road. That was the best car I ever owned.

  15. Good GOD that sucks.

    I was there about two months ago with my car.

    I wish I had something more helpful to add, just know you’re not alone. Obviously from the rest of the comments here you know that.

    Lack of funds to fix a car sucks. Hell, lack of funds for any reason sucks.

  16. Yep, that happened to me years ago with my POS Escort. I had a great shade tree mechanic (who has since retired) and he fixed it for about 500 bucks. Damn Fords!! My condolences Ribeye, I hope you find something soon.

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