It all started with my supervisor at work telling me about his horrific trip along a similar route many years previous when his car broke down several times. It was pretty terrible. He told me the story 3 days before our trip. The next day we had a check engine light that turned out to be a faulty sensor. The day after that we had a flat tire. After getting that all fixed we figured we were in the clear. How wrong we were.
Just outside of Connell, WA the car over heated. We pulled over and let it cool. We were low on coolant so we added some and continued. We made it to Pasco, WA and overheated again. We stopped and again added water. At this point I knew we needed to cut our losses. We went and rented a car and dropped off our car at a mechanic and said "fix it and we will see you in a little over a week"
We had a great time on our trip and about halfway through, the mechanic called to tell me we had a blown head gasket and that he would get it fixed. Right on! We continued to enjoy our trip and nice new rental car.
At the end of the trip we went back through Tri-Cities and landed at the shop. Tracy didn't have good news. It turns out that it blew because it stripped out 3 of the head bolts at the back of the engine (a common problem evidently.) The car was going no where and was going to need a new engine.
We liked our rental enough (and didn't want to think about the car) that we rented it one way from Tri-cities to Pullman and headed home.
I did some research and discovered that it was indeed a common issue on Toyota Camrys and there was a way to fix it. All I needed was a special kit to rethread the holes and put in steel inserts that fit the oem head bolts.
The next weekend we drove back to Tri-Cities and rented a dolly to tow the car back to Pullman. We brought it back and put it in my Sister's garage. So that's what I've been doing for the last month. I fired it up last night and it is all working so far. I took pictures along the way.
It was a fun project but I was stressed about it. It is really good to be done.