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    Thread: Head gasket in a can: thoughts?

    1. Member Bakounine's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 11:29 AM #1
      I have an old (1990) GMC Rally van that gives out a little puff of white smoke on start-up. I suspect the gaskets dried-out as it only has 120,000 km (75,000 miles) on it. Good van for hauling kayaks and bikes around, but I don't want to spend a fortune to repair it as I paid about 1K for it a few years ago. So, what do you guys think of the "miracle in a bottle" head gasket sealers? Worth a try? Anyone has first-hand experience with the stuff? Any recommendations on the brand? Thx.

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    3. Senior Member AZGolf's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 11:35 AM #2
      There was an episode of Roadkill this year I believe where they had a vehicle with the same general issue and joked that although they figured it had little chance of helping, they poured in a can head gasket sealant or whatever. That resolved the issue for the rest of their time with the vehicle, if I recall correctly. It's certainly less expensive than overhauling the engine and I see no downside to giving it a shot.

    4. Member alex_bgnet's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 11:38 AM #3
      I'd say that the stuff works. D3 A8 oil pan gaskets only come in a tube. If Audi deems it reliable enough to use on every 4.2 FSI then it must be somewhat good.
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    5. Member Bakounine's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 11:41 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by AZGolf View Post
      There was an episode of Roadkill this year I believe where they had a vehicle with the same general issue and joked that although they figured it had little chance of helping, they poured in a can head gasket sealant or whatever. That resolved the issue for the rest of their time with the vehicle, if I recall correctly. It's certainly less expensive than overhauling the engine and I see no downside to giving it a shot.
      Yeah, I saw that episode. Hence my curiosity and my question about real life experiences.

    6. Geriatric Member ValveCoverGasket's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 12:35 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by alex_bgnet View Post
      I'd say that the stuff works. D3 A8 oil pan gaskets only come in a tube. If Audi deems it reliable enough to use on every 4.2 FSI then it must be somewhat good.
      ....different application on an oil pan under almost no pressure v. a headgasket which (depending on the port) is under quite a bit of pressure.

      but, if its a cheap beater van, who cares. try it and see. worse case youre having to get in there anyway!

    7. Member Chockomon's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 12:47 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by ValveCoverGasket View Post
      ....different application on an oil pan under almost no pressure v. a headgasket which (depending on the port) is under quite a bit of pressure.

      but, if its a cheap beater van, who cares. try it and see. worse case youre having to get in there anyway!
      ...and then replacing a bunch of other stuff once the "miracle fix" clogs other things
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      08-14-2019 01:30 PM #7
      Come and see me at the Partsource on Merivale, I'll sell you a can.
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      08-14-2019 01:42 PM #8
      Like Bar's Leaks?

      That stuff is silicate fibres in suspension. It works by clogging the holes in the coolant passages. The only issue is if you are leaking coolant into the oil, and then you get fibres in your oil galleys.

      So check that you have no coolant in your oil, and then go for it.
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      08-14-2019 01:49 PM #9
      Does this have the 350 in it?

      If yes, it's valve stem seals. My Dad's '88 had this problem start around 70k miles.

    11. Member Crispyfritter's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 04:32 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by Bakounine View Post
      I have an old (1990) GMC Rally van that gives out a little puff of white smoke on start-up. I suspect the gaskets dried-out as it only has 120,000 km (75,000 miles) on it. Good van for hauling kayaks and bikes around, but I don't want to spend a fortune to repair it as I paid about 1K for it a few years ago. So, what do you guys think of the "miracle in a bottle" head gasket sealers? Worth a try? Anyone has first-hand experience with the stuff? Any recommendations on the brand? Thx.
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      Does this have the 350 in it?

      If yes, it's valve stem seals. My Dad's '88 had this problem start around 70k miles.
      Yeah, that seems like valve stem seals, not a head gasket leak. Try some Restore and see if that doesn't at least reduce the smoke.

      Also try replacing your PCV valve.

      As for the Head Gasket in a can thing, I personally have never used it, but some of my friends who don't believe in doing things the right way have used it with varying results. One guy swears by it because it stopped his head gasket from leaking in his Crown Vic, and another who used it on his old 8V 1.8 and it didn't do a thing.

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    12. Member Bakounine's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 04:54 PM #11
      It's the 305. Same issue as the 350? I assume they are quite similar...

    13. Senior Member Cousin Eddie's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 05:32 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by Bakounine View Post
      I have an old (1990) GMC Rally van that gives out a little puff of white smoke on start-up. I suspect the gaskets dried-out as it only has 120,000 km (75,000 miles) on it. Good van for hauling kayaks and bikes around, but I don't want to spend a fortune to repair it as I paid about 1K for it a few years ago. So, what do you guys think of the "miracle in a bottle" head gasket sealers? Worth a try? Anyone has first-hand experience with the stuff? Any recommendations on the brand? Thx.
      I don't believe in any mechanic in a can, ever. I think the right way to fix things is the only way HOWEVER I too owned a cheap vehicle that I was unwilling to sink time/money into.

      It was also the dead of winter and -25C with no garage space at the time to work on the car makes you say "welp, **** it let's see what happens".

      I had a 98 Cavalier 2.2L sedan. It was just shy of 200,000kms at the time and in the middle of January the head gasket started to leak on one of the corners where they usually fail on those cars.

      I bought a bottle of Rislone Liquid Copper for $29 figuring if it works and I get another year out of it, great. If not? Well... Not a huge loss.

      I ended up driving that car to 340,000kms and never even removed as much as the valve cover.

      I am fairly certain it ****ed up the heater core though. It still blew heat but smelled like coolant or something was funny in that department, I forget.

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    14. Geriatric Member BRealistic's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 05:44 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      Does this have the 350 in it?

      If yes, it's valve stem seals. My Dad's '88 had this problem start around 70k miles.

      I used a small can of something that "rejuvenated old dry seals" from Kmart back in 2001 to fix the valve seal smoke in the 180k mile 88 3.0 Caravan.
      Worked like a charm.
      Can't find it today, but Lucas Engine Oil Stop Leak should work.

    15. Member Pnuu's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 05:48 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by Bakounine View Post
      It's the 305. Same issue as the 350? I assume they are quite similar...
      Yep.

      I had a cheap Volvo S40 commuter with bad valve stem seals back in 2011. I was about to tear into the engine, when a trusted friend/parts manager/guru recommended I try a can of Liqui Moly Motor Oil Saver as a last ditch effort. Within a couple drives the symptoms were gone, and last I heard the car is still running strong today.

      So I'd totally give it a try in your van.

    16. Member Jimmy Russells's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 06:46 PM #15
      If the thing isn't actually consuming coolant, don't put anything in anywhere and just drive it.

    17. 08-14-2019 06:57 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      Does this have the 350 in it?

      If yes, it's valve stem seals. My Dad's '88 had this problem start around 70k miles.
      Yes,, that was what I was thinking... valve guides or seals... leaking oil into the chamber when its parked,,,so yes,,, you get a "puffer" when you first start it as this oil burns off.


      But water would also get you a "steamer" when you first lite it off as well... so... are there bubbles in the radiator???? leaker would throw bubbles at you in the radiator. Or test the radiator for exhaust gasses before trying the head gasket sealer... a leaker would also have lower compression on one cyl.. or more...

    18. 08-14-2019 08:18 PM #17
      I'm going to 3rd, 4th, 5th? on it being the valve guides seals.
      You can try some Marvel Mystery Oil in the crankcase, or I also remember hearing a half quart of ATF can swell them up a bit.

      But overall, if you keep your eye on the oil level, that little puff really isnt that big of a deal........... IMO

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      08-14-2019 09:49 PM #18
      Don't try to fix something that isn't broken. That never ends well.
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    20. Member Jimmy Russells's Avatar
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      08-14-2019 11:28 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Iroczgirl View Post
      Don't try to fix something that isn't broken. That never ends well.
      Agree. It’s an SBC I think even god’s chariot version has leaky valve seals and piston slap.

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      08-15-2019 12:14 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      Does this have the 350 in it?

      If yes, it's valve stem seals. My Dad's '88 had this problem start around 70k miles.
      Bingo. This is your problem.
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      08-15-2019 12:17 AM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Russells View Post
      Agree. It’s an SBC I think even god’s chariot version has leaky valve seals and piston slap.
      My LS3 has a noisy valve train. Can confirm.
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