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Q: Replace engine or head gasket on 2002 Toyota Corolla

2002 Toyota Corolla bought used from dealership with 28K now has 56K over 2years. Some evaporation from engine checked fluids all fine. Two weeks later engine overheats, blows a head gasket and shuts down during overnight trip on freeway. There was no check engine light until just prior (maybe 20-30 min) to overheating, no leaking, oil changed regularly. Inspected and cause still unknown. Head gasket to be replaced because it is warped beyond repair. Should I replace the engine or head gasket? Still do not know if the engine runs...
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Your car has very low mileage for this kind of problem. I'd like to know what failed, a water hose, the radiator, the thermostat?
Often if an engine is over heated severely the piston oil rings or piston themselves can become damaged. The codes can be read from the computer in your car even if the engine no longer runs.
Ask the advice of the shop, ask what warentee would come with the repairs and or warentee on a replacement engine.
When engine light comes on, and is due to overheating, you should shut down within seconds, if at all possible. Otherwise, you severely damage almost any engine made since the Model T Ford.. Best deal for you now is to find a used engine removed from a wrecked car. Call a local wrecking yard and ask them to search their friends. They may be able to find a low mileage, used engine for less than $1,000 or definitely less than buying a re-manufactured engine (typically $1,700 for a 4 cyl). Then have a private (not a dealer) mechanic install it.
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