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Opinions sought - what's more likely head gasket or cracked head?

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Opinions sought - what's more likely head gasket or cracked head?

Old 01-12-2018, 09:44 AM
Senior Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 658
Default Opinions sought - what's more likely head gasket or cracked head?

Hi gang,
I came across an S40 for sale for pennies but there's apparently a head issue. I've cut and pasted the email that I got back from the seller providing more detail on history and work done to date.

I've already got a V40 that I'm quite happy with but I pretty confident that I can fix this thing pretty cheaply and resell for a modest profit.

What I'm trying to get a better handle on risk-wise is, assuming this car previously overheated (let's say because the rad leaked maybe) what is the likelihood that the head is still good and just needs to be resurfaced vs. head being cracked and needing to be scrapped?

For any of you who have had to get into this kind of work, what kind of $'s did you put into having head assessed by a pro and/or having head reconditioned?

Any info you could provide would be appreciated.


email from seller:

It is a Volvo. So it has its usual small perks related to thismodel.
It has never left me stranded, it started -30c without any issues.I needed a bigger car so instead for sinking more money into the car Ipurchased a station wagon.
It has been in the family since 1 or 2 years old, was purchasedfrom Volvo Villa.
It had regular maintenance at Volvo and then Green and Ross.
I bought the car two years ago from my aunt.

I did:
tune up ( plugs, wires, air filter, cabin filter )
timing bel, tensioner, water pump
serpentine belt
thermostat, housing, seal
coolent reservoir
radiator and related hoses ($600 )
control arm
transmission service with Volvo full synthetic oil
replaced the remote controls
always used full synthetic oil
brakes have been serviced
and probably more just have to look up the details

car has a head gasket issue. I was loosing coolant, but no realdripping under the car. changed all parts related to coolent loss, see above,but as it continued, the last resort is the head gasket. I usually used up ajug of premixed coolent in about 2 weeks. I was quoted by my mechanic about 500to fix the gasket, mostly labour, as the gasket is not expensive.

usually Volvo issues:

the heater relay, sometimes blows the warm air faster sometimesslower on its own, but heater works. not worth to service because it willhappen again according to Volvo, so as long as the heater works, leave italone.
cd player does not work, radio is fine. replacement unit is 40 buxat the used Volvo place
cigarette lighter does not work, replacement is 10 dollars pluslabour
power antenna stem came apart, motor works, reception works, Ihave the parts
it has been sitting so discs have to be machined and breakschecked but car starts, runs and and drives


Last edited by pierremcalpine; 01-12-2018 at 10:05 AM.
Old 01-13-2018, 04:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Ridgefield, CT
Posts: 4,160

If the car has never overheated big time, then its likely just the gasket. Cracked heads often come about because the head gasket went and the engine overheated.
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