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Head gasket sealer?

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2011 Subaru Forrester with 120,000 miles on it now has a head gasket leak. Since the boxer engine has to be pulled to replace the head gaskets, I've gotten quotes that are almost what the K.B. value of the car is.  I don't want to go that route because I know something else major will probably soon fail, but would like to do a temporary fix with a head gasket sealer and hopefully get another 5-10K miles before having to replace the car, HOPEFULLY after used car prices decline some.  Any of the newer nanotechnology sealers work better than the Bars Leak or Steel Seal?  And, if the gasket starts leaking again after XXXX miles, can the sealer be repeated?

4 Answers
4

replace the head gaskets. You'll get plenty more life out of your car.

that sealer junk doesn't last and it'll probably mess things up even more.

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Sorry to hear that.  The answer is, not really.  And yeah, replacing the gaskets will be very expensive. But if you have kept up with maintenance, and the car is in good shape otherwise, it is probably worth it. With new, UPGRADED head gaskets, your forester will probably give you as much life as anything you would replace it with for the same investment.

Take a look at MrSubaru1387 YouTube channel and search for “head gaskets”. He has posted a lot of material on the subject, and can help you understand it thoroughly before you make a decision. 

PS - maybe have an inspection from a Subaru specialist to tell you exactly what other problems, if any, you should budget for in the next 30-50,000 miles.

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None of the "sealers" are more than temporary bandaids at best if they work at all. There is no such thing as "nantechnology" in this context, it is just marketing/advertising hype.

At worst those products will clog up your cooling system instead of your leaky head gasket.  I would not count on a second treatment doing any good if the first fails.

If you want to give it a try Scotty has said quite a few times the favors the Bar's Leaks product in the silver bottle.

Some say it is possible to replace Subaru head gaskets without removing the engine but it's still a pain in the rear job no matter what.

 

So it is POSSIBLE to replace the head gaskets without pulling the engine. I thought the head was supposed to be milled when changing before putting in a new gasket. If not, and the gasket didn't have a crack or void, wouldn't that be about the same as tightening the bolts at least up to spec or maybe a bit more?

As for how long the temporary fix will last and any clogging, this guy says at least two years and there's no radiator clogging.

I guess if "this guy" says it then it must be true, right?

 

The head would only have to be milled if it was warped. If it is warped, tightening the bolts more will not make it seal any better.

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Posted by: @pfwag

So it is POSSIBLE to replace the head gaskets without pulling the engine.

It's not just possible, it's standard procedure. You do not remove engines just to change head gaskets.

I thought the head was supposed to be milled when changing before putting in a new gasket.

Aluminum heads should be , yes. But you still don't need to remove the engine.

wouldn't that be about the same as tightening the bolts at least up to spec or maybe a bit more?

No. Heads must be tightened a specific way. No more, no less. If the head is warped you will be doing the job again, properly.

As for how long the temporary fix will last and any clogging, this guy says at least two years and there's no radiator clogging.

Go for it. Roll the dice and see what kind of prize you win. Maybe it'll be a whole new car.

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