Preventable Epic Fails…..

This month’s story comes to us from Jessy Beaudry, an automotive technician in Sudbury, Ontario. It reinforces the importance of paying attention to warning lights in your instrument cluster, and not ignoring them until next time your ride happens to be in the shop.

Beaudry shares a story about a customer who drives a Chevrolet Cobalt. The customer’s car arrived in a non-drivable state, as the engine wouldn’t start. An expensive engine replacement followed, with a hefty bill. Thing is, as Beaudry discovered in a conversation with his customer, this should have been a considerably less expensive job.

Beaudry’s customer wasn’t in the practice of checking vital fluids like coolant or oil, and apparently, wasn’t in the practice of checking the instrument cluster for warning lights either.

“We had a conversation about what we would do for this customer. They needed a new engine, plain and simple. This one had been driven for days, or maybe more, with a blown head gasket, and engine coolant and oil contaminating one another.”

Why did the head gasket on this otherwise healthy Cobalt fail? Beaudry suspected overheating, a common cause of head gasket failure. Turns out, he was right: he asked the customer if they’d noticed any warning lights in their instrument cluster in recent weeks. Turns out, the customer had been ignoring a “low coolant” warning and engine overheating condition for some time.


The cause? “We found evidence of a very small radiator leak, which likely allowed some air into the cooling system, and some coolant out of it. Both of these situations caused the engine to overheat. This would light up a warning in the cluster; but in this case, the customer didn’t know what the light was for, and decided they’d have it checked out the next time they were in for an oil change, which would have been about three months later. Needless to say, the engine didn’t last that long before it blew.”

Beaudry adds, “Most engines can withstand overheating for a brief period, provided the owner follows the instructions in their manual, and gets the car in right away. But an engine can’t stand overheating on a regular basis for days on end, especially with sludge being pumped around inside of it.”

Further, as the overheating condition was so serious and prolonged, simply changing the head gasket wasn’t sufficient to save the engine, as the cylinder head itself was warped and internal engine bearings were likely destroyed.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: