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I’m new to this forum and posting to get some advice on my 2004 Jetta 1.8T GLS manual wagon. I have no experience working on cars. I’m the original owner, the car has 95,000 miles, never been in an accident, has been running just fine until now. I have it serviced every 6 months. In the last 4 months it’s needed a lot of work: My mechanic rebuilt the rear brakes including calipers and rotors, replaced the rear coil springs and shocks, and replaced the coil packs including all related tubes. It also has all new Michelin tires. But the car has served me really well, and hasn’t been a money pit until now. It’s always been fun to drive - I describe it as a wagon that drives like a sports car!

Recently the red coolant light came on, I had to drive about 1/4 mile to find a good place to park it. The temp gage was at 260. Although its had several coolant sensor problems/replacements in the past, it’s never overheated before. I had it towed to my mechanic. He did a test that showed carbon dioxide in the cooling system, says it’s the head gasket and possibly a cracked head. He says it will be 15-16 hours of labor to fix plus parts, that the timing belt would also have to be replaced as that’s never been done. He recommends I junk the car. I’m in shock - the engine has run perfectly for 18 years. I asked him to try replacing the thermostat but he said he ran the car for 20 minutes before it got hot so it’s not the thermostat. I’m wondering if you all think that it could be something else less catastrophic? I’ve read past posts on this site about overheating and saw these comments: The test for co2 is not always reliable; the head gaskets on Jettas don’t usually fail; a problem with the turbo part can cause overheating. I will greatly appreciate your feedback.
 
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