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I have a 2000 Buick Century with about 150,000 miles on it. It has been relatively trouble free. Recently, the "low coolant" light began to come on. I took the car into a garage where I was told there was oil in the coolant and the sensor had been compromised. The cooling system was flushed and cleaned and a new sensor installed. The "low coolant" light continued to come on. I took the car back in. I was told the wrong sensor had been installed. When I went back for the car the second time, I was told the oil in the coolant was preventing the new sensor from working and there was nothing more the garage could do. I asked questions, primarily how serious was the condition, and couldn't get a straight answer. I am due to drive from Connecticut to Florida in November. I would like to take it to a garage there. Is it save to drive it as is? What are the implications of oil mixing with coolant? What is causing it to happen? Is it time to buy a new car and, if so, is it safe to wait until I'm in Florida?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Barb Petrey, President - DBK Enterprises Inc at Jiffy Lube If it's motor oil the odds are that you have a leak I cylinder wall or the engine head. Both are very expensive repairs because they both require the engine to be changed I wouldn't drive it to Florida.

Helaine Kurot, Owner/Technician at 360 Automotive Did they check the oil level? If oil is going into the coolant, then your oil level will be dropping also. The only way for oil to get into the coolant on a gas motor is if the head gasket is leaking. I would not drive the car to Florida or any where else like that. That motor is on borrowed time before it gives out. You are most likely looking at either a replacement motor or a head gasket job to repair this, on top of most of the cooling system (hoses, radiator, heater core, etc) would need to be flushed out or replaced. If contaminated coolant goes into the replacement motor, that motor will also have cooling issues. This will not be an inexpensive repair. As far as repairing or replacing that vehicle, it depends on what it would cost to repair it verses what it would cost you to replace the car. I would ask them to check over the whole vehicle and make sure everything else is in good shape so you don't have any additional high dollar repairs on top of fixing the head gasket issue.

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