SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

April 6, 2013

Head gasket sealer should be used only as a temporary fix

Q: I’m writing to you again about the 2003 Saab 9-5 turbo. Just found out that it’s leaking antifreeze. After three days in the shop, I was told it’s leaking from the head gasket. My question is, do any of the head gasket repair kits work? It seems to be a small leak right now, and I know it will get worse.

A: There are a few very good products available that are labeled as “head gasket sealer.” My favorite is the Blue Devil brand, which is available at automotive parts stores. This be used as a temporary fix only. The head gaskets should be replaced, as well as the head bolts, after the heads are machined. Now, a little-known secret is that you can go to the drugstore and pick up a bottle of sodium silicate, which is known as liquid glass. This compound will flow into the coolant system and fill in the aluminum cylinder head gaps due to the higher temperature. The sodium silicate costs around half the price of the automotive products. The difference is that some of the automotive products come with a manufacturer’s guarantee; the sodium silicate does not have a warranty for head gasket failure repair. Postponing the proper repair of head gasket replacement may cause the coolant to get into the oil, which would cause a catastrophic failure.

Q: I purchased a 2011 Honda Odyssey van to go to Florida. The last trip coming home was rough, and as a result, we plan on flying to Florida. The van will just be an around-the-town vehicle. My question is, when will I need to change the oil? Honda says to use synthetic oil every 6,000 miles. Also, when do I flush everything that is in radiator, transmission, etc.? I estimate I’ll be driving approximately 4,000 to 6,000 miles a year.

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