, Gloucester, MA

April 9, 2013

Head gasket sealer should be temporary fix

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I’m writing to you again about the 2003 Saab 9-5 turbo; 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, available at automotive parts stores. This can 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, 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.

Car Care Tip: Out of sight and out of mind is where your car’s spare tire lives. However, the day will come when you will need to put it into service. Some cars, but not all, have tire pressure monitors in the spare tire. When having your car serviced at your local auto repair facility, ask to have your spare tire’s pressure checked.

Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. Write to Larry at the Gloucester Daily Times, c/o Auto Scanner, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930, or send an email to