Friday, February 27, 2009

Head Gasket Fix in a Can, NOT!

Thought that I'd write about the experience I had using three of the Head Gasket Fix products that I found on the internet.

Shortly after buying the 95 BMW 525i last year, I discovered that I had a leaking Head Gasket (actually ended up being a cracked head). I started doing research and came across these three products:

Heal a Seal
Steel Seal

I did some pretty extensive reading over the course of a week or two and decided that I'd try the "Heal a Seal". Let's face it, I was looking for the cheapest way out and the Heal a Seal was the Cheapest that guaranteed success. When it came, the instructions with it looked like it was written by a 3rd grader. It was one long run on sentence. I read it over and over and finally thought that I sort of understood it. It said if you had questions to call their Tech Support, so I did. I talked with this guy who I doubt had much past a 4th grade education. He was abrupt and in my opinion not knowledgeable at all about the product that he was supposed to know about. I let him know that I was going to do the treatment like the instructions said and he basically told me what was written down on the sheets, only more confusing than the written ones.

I'm pretty sure I followed the instructions, but it didn't work. I really didn't want to deal with these guys again, so I did not try to get my money back. DO NOT try this product, you are wasting your time and money if you do.

Next up was "Steel Seal". The product was a bit more expensive than the first, but application was a breeze. The instructions were easy and quick. Only problem was it didn't work either. I spoke to their Tech Support guy and he was very helpful and friendly. Their Customer service guy was great too. I really wish that it would have worked. I left the Steel Seal in the car for about five hundred miles, but it didn't help. I emailed the Customer Service guy and told him what had happened and he immediately refund the full purchase price of the product. Even though it didn't work, it was still a good experience.

Last one I tried was ThermaGasket. This stuff is a two part mix. You have to make sure all of the coolant is out of the system to treat your car. I had read several stories of people who had used it with good results. I figured what the heck, one more try before I do the head gasket the old fashioned way. The stuff came, the instructions were pretty simple. They asked that you call them before you add the second half of the product if the first part of the treatment didn't seal the leak. So, I called, because the first part of the treatment didn't seal it up. I talked with the Tech Support guy who always sounded like he was out on a Highway somewhere when I talked to him, maybe it was just his phone. I explained what I'd done, and he gave me the OK to add the second half of both bottles. I added it, followed the instructions again, and UNBELIEVABLE, the leak seemed to have stopped. I was shocked. I drove the car for a couple of days and it wasn't using any coolant. But soon after it started using coolant again. I call the Tech Guy and he tells me to go and buy a product that is "Compatible" with their product called "Liquid Aluminum". I asked if this would plug up my radiator (I had a problem with a similar product years ago that plugged my whole radiator on another car). The guy says it shouldn't, so I go buy it and put it in the cooling system. I happened to be at work that day and put it in before I traveled home, which is a 40 mile drive. As I'm driving, I notice that the temp gauge is a bit higher than normal. I watch it climb and climb and climb. I turn on the heat to full blast and open my windows. I get in the slow lane just in case I have to pull over. Luckily the temperature gets to just below the 3/4 hot mark, but stays there. I limp it home and park it. Later in the day, I drain the cooling system and flush it several times to get the Liquid Aluminum and the Therma Gasket out. I put clean water back in and drive it around. It seems to be running just a tad bit hotter than it used to, but not that bad.

I was ticked that the Tech guy did that to me. I sent off an email to ThermaGasket's Customer Support totally expecting a pain to get my money back, but they refunded me immediately too. I think it was me telling them that they ruined my radiator that got them to refund me so easy.

I figured that I was going to have to start saving up the money to start buying the stuff I needed to do the Head Gasket. I told my daughter to drive the car and to watch the temperature gauge closely. I checked the coolant level every day and it was not losing any fluid. I drove the car back and forth to work a few times and it was running OK. I left the thermostat out of the system, that was to facilitate the treatments I tried. It took a while to warm up, but it didn't seem to affect the performance of the car.

I wrote about the Head Gasket replacement earlier in this Blog. The ThermaGasket held for about five months. It got me through the summer and I was able to save up enough money and get the tools I needed before it blew.

Even though it worked for a bit, I don't think I'd try ThermaGasket again. I would just go straight for the old fashioned way.


Fred Smith said...

Wow, what an experience. It's sad that you had all of this trouble with a head gasket repair job. I hope you luck the next time it goes out though. Thanks for sharing the experience!

Almost Gone said...

Thanks for the comment Fred. It would have been nice if one of those Head Gasket repair in a can products would have worked. But I ended up getting to learn a lot about myself and the car by actually doing the head replacement. So, I'm not really that upset.

Jason Knight said...

Mine is giving me problems too, but I figured I would read up on it, would you advise taking it into a shop for a head gasket repair, or just get it replaced altogether?

Almost Gone said...

Jason, after my experience, I would not try another "fix in a can" solution. I would go ahead and do the repair the old fashioned way. I feel confident in my abilities to do the job myself. If you don't have those abilities, then I would suggest that you find a good shop and take it to them and let them diagnose and repair it. You're looking at paying at least $1800 and probably over $2000. Good luck.