AUTO Q AND A: Try the cheap fix for leaking head gasket
Question: I've got a 2001 Range Rover with a leaking head gasket. It's leaking externally, and you can smell it while driving. I have to add only a few ounces of antifreeze a week, and I know I cannot let the car overheat. I can't afford the $2,5...
Question: I've got a 2001 Range Rover with a leaking head gasket. It's leaking externally, and you can smell it while driving. I have to add only a few ounces of antifreeze a week, and I know I cannot let the car overheat. I can't afford the $2,500 cost of the repair, so I was thinking of using a stop-leak/gasket repair product. The mechanic is strongly against this, saying it may clog small openings in the radiator and heater, which will cost a lot to replace.
Answer: I've had remarkably good success at slowing or stopping coolant leaks with stop-leak products. Mendtite, Silver Seal and Solder Seal have been very effective in stopping intake manifold and external head gasket leaks on several of my vehicles. I would not hesitate to try one of these on your vehicle. I'm not concerned with any type of radiator or heater core blockage -- the products are designed to work in modern cooling systems -- and the alternative is a major repair bill. Stop-leak products may not be a complete or permanent fix, but they're worth a try.
Q: A few weeks ago, a flange on my exhaust pipe gave way and dropped the pipe onto the pavement. The pipe is in good shape, so I would like to preserve it for as long as I can on my 1996 Infiniti G20 with 206,000 miles. I bought some self-tapping sheet metal screws and metal strapping. In my haste, I screwed this into my gas tank.
I don't think the tank is leaking, but I now need two do-it-yourself solutions. My thought on the tank is to "prep" a second screw with some kind of sealer and then do a quick change -- unscrew and re-screw in about 10 seconds.
What do you recommend for sealant? What about the exhaust pipe? It's loud, and the flange is rusted to the other half of the exhaust pipe, but no other damage has been done.
A: If the tank's not leaking, why do anything until it does? But if necessary -- and with all due care -- coat a replacement screw with a gas/fuel tank stop-leak product like Permatex 12020, a putty-like two-part epoxy. This product, according to its spec sheet, does not require draining the tank. Obviously, the risk is gasoline leaking during the swap, so I'd suggest trying to run the vehicle virtually out of gas, then place jack stands safely under the side of the vehicle closest to the screw. You may be able to tilt the near-empty tank enough to keep gas away from the hole during the repair. Good luck -- and be very, very careful.
Regarding the exhaust pipe, check with a muffler/exhaust shop to see if it can be repaired economically.
Q: About twice a year, my 2000 Chevy Silverado 1500 won't completely turn over for exactly 8 1/2 minutes -- then it will start right up. The mechanics say they can't diagnose it, and the dealer wants about $1,000 to put a new fuel pump in.
A: If the engine cranks over normally but won't start, the fuel pump, fuel pump relay and ignition switch are possible culprits. Next time this occurs, just turn the key to the "run" position and listen carefully for the sound of the fuel pump running for about 2 seconds, then stopping.
Does the vehicle's security light illuminate when this occurs? If so, the security system might also be disabling the fuel injectors for 10 minutes before resetting. A scan tool might identify fault codes for the Passlock security system.