Head gaskets are costly to repair. Even though it is a cheap part, mechanics have to remove the top most part of the engine in order to replace it. This requires dropping the engine’s fluids and removing several large components like turbochargers and the exhaust and intake manifolds.
If you suspect you have a blown head gasket, then you might be able to try a product like Steel Seal Head Gasket sealer as a first measure. If it works, then you could save thousands of dollars!
Mechanics like Scotty Kilmer on YouTube recommend Steel Seal, having used it for over 20 years. Let’s see if it’s any good.
Why is it important to fix a head gasket?
Failing to repair a leaking head gasket can cause catastrophic engine failure. Because you have a relatively cool liquid seeping through the failed gasket into the hottest part of the engine, the temperature difference can shock the top part of the engine and cause it to warp or crack.
Surfaces can also corrode and become pitted, further compounding the problem or causing engine oil to become mixed with the coolant and losing its ability to lubricate components properly.
Cylinder heads are not cheap like head gaskets, they can run as much as $1500. With labour and parts, you could be looking at a $3,000 repair bill.
How do I know if my gasket has failed?
You’ll have a one or a number of the following symptoms:
- Leaking coolant, check the cylinder head and block, is it wet?
- Wetness around manifolds
- Steam escaping from anywhere around the engine
- White, odd smelling smoke from muffler
- Puddles of coolant on floor beneath car
- Foam or bubbles developing in coolant overflow tank, because exhaust gases are forced back through the gasket leak and into the antifreeze
- Temperature needle rises and engine is always running hot
- Spark plugs have a white, crystallized deposit on them
- Engine oil is white and milky in appearance
- Rough running or misfiring
Exhaust gases flowing into the cooling system can even blow your radiator apart, so get it looked at as soon as possible!
What is Steel Seal?
Steel Seal is one of the more popular head gasket sealing products. It is a polymer-based thermo-chemical bonding agent. The product was designed in the USA and has been put through some strict independent laboratory evaluations.
Unlike other gasket sealers, which fill the leak and eventually can break down, Steel Seal should remain bonded to the repair area for a lot longer.
Steel Seal is a green chemical liquid that is formulated to set like steel in areas that are leaking. The seal repair can even expand and contract just like the surrounding metals used in the engine’s components.
What should I be aware of before using Steel Seal?
Steel Seal is not compatible with all coolants. You should check the instructions to make sure it will work with your coolant. If it does not, you will need to drain and flush the system, refill with water and Steel Seal, wait for the repair to take effect and then drain the fluids and refill with fresh coolant. This is the recommended procedure for all cases to give the best possible results.
Steel Seal has been designed to work with all sealed, water-cooled motors, whether gas or diesel.
Steel Seal will not stop leaks in:
- Coolant hoses and pipes
- Water pumps and coolers
- Large fractures in the head or block
- Non-running motors
Instructions for Use
For safety reasons, ensure the engine is cold.
Remove radiator cap and pour into the Steel Seal solution. Make sure there is enough space for the product.
If the vehicle is running and road legal, start the engine and drive at highway speeds for 5-6 miles, holding the revs at 3,000 – 4,000. Then cut the ignition.
If the vehicle is not road worthy, turn the heater and fan to full. Start the motor and run to operating temps (needle sits in the middle of temperature gauge). Hold a fast idle (up to 1,500 rpm) for half an hour. Switch off the engine and allow to cool completely.
Then, top up your system and replace the radiator cap or expansion bottle lid.
Also note that if your oil has become contaminated with water, that too must be replaced without hesitation.
For 4 cylinder engines, one bottle is enough. For 6 and 8 cylinder motors, you’ll need 2 bottles.
Does Steel Seal work?
We have found many people online who swear by it. This product is quite different to others that work as fillers and shouldn’t cause a building up of material in the coolant passageways or pipes.
Many people online said this stopped their leaking head gasket problem altogether. You can use this product in an emergency until you get to a shop or even as a permanent repair.
Steel Seal offer an unconditional warranty that is automatically invoked 30 days after using the product. If you feel it did not work, they will send you further bottles to retry.
That’s quite unique, they are obviously confident in their product. At a cost of around $40, versus up to $3,000 for a head gasket swapping, it’s definitely worth giving it a go first.