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starrkate83's avatar

I'm not sure if my head gasket it blown but will adding sealant just to make sure hurt it in anyway?

Asked by starrkate83 (9points) February 14th, 2010

My car is overheating badly. I did some random steps to make sure it wasnt a blown head gasket but will putting sealant in just to make sure hurt it in anyway? I dont know what else to try as I replaced the thermostat last week and the waterpump a few months ago. Any other suggestions to try to see if it fixes the problem?

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12 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

Check the radiator; make sure that’s working. Check oil and antifreeze levels. Make sure there are no leaks. Check fans.

starrkate83's avatar

I checked the oil and antifreeze levels and they all look find. As far as the radiator I’m not sure how to tell on that. As far as the fan that should come on automatically after is runs for a little bit right?

lilikoi's avatar

I think the only things that can cause a radiator to malfunction is if it is rusted (which you’d be able to see) or if it is clogged. I’m not sure how to tell if it is clogged. I guess you could feel it after the car has been running for a while and if there is any difference in temperature from one spot to another that would indicate a problem…but I’d be afraid of getting burned. I think you should be able to hear and feel, or maybe even see, the fan running. Here’s a link that might be helpful.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I think @lilikoi has the right idea.

If your fluid levels are up near the top, then you don’t have a leak. A loss of coolant means a pending loss of the engine, so that’s the first thing. But after the car is warmed up, the radiator hose from the top of the engine to the radiator should be hot, indicating hot water return to the radiator. If it’s not, then you’re getting insufficient cycling, indicating pluggage, probably in the bottom of the radiator, where rust and sludge accumulates.

You can buy radiator flushing kits at any auto parts store, and that should contain good instructions and safety tips on how to set it up and perform a good flush. That may be all you need.

Take care when flushing the radiator that you don’t want to leave pools of coolant in the driveway or street; the ethylene glycol in coolant is sweet-tasting and will attract various animals (including pets) who lap it up for the taste. It’s a deadly poison. It shouldn’t hurt the environment (I think) if it’s allowed to run into storm drains or soak into the ground. Just don’t leave it to accumulate. If you have questions, then container of anti-freeze that you buy as replacement should have proper disposal instructions. (Twenty years ago when I did my last flush, we didn’t consider such things because we were evil then.)

starrkate83's avatar

I’ve noticed it only overheats extremely bad when the car is running ruggedly. When its in Idle it feels like its going to die at anytime but that doesnt happen all the time. Sometimes it runs just fine and it doesnt overheat as fast. I looked at the oil and theres nothing in it that suggests that there is antifreeze leaking into it. Also it doesnt have white smoke out the exhaust. The guy at the autozone said that it didnt look like a blown gasket. Should I try flushing out the radiator? Would that make it run ruggedly sometimes?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I think that what you’re describing as “running ruggedly” (and it’s not clear what you mean by that) is a symptom, and not a cause. That is, if the engine is running “rough”, then that’s probably because it is overheated. Is the top of your radiator / radiator return hose hot when the engine is hot?

A friend of mine in the late 70s had a Chevy Monte Carlo that started to run very rough and overheat and run low on coolant on our normal Friday night run to Myrtle Beach, SC (from Eden, NC—500-mile round trip). We stopped at various places along the way to keep filling the radiator (including a drainage ditch one time when we were miles from anywhere and desperate).

The next week (thankfully the return trip was in wet, cool, weather, and even though the engine didn’t overheat it was running very badly) he took it in to the shop to find that one of the cylinder walls was cracked. So that cylinder wasn’t firing (obviously) and the coolant was going out the exhaust. I don’t recall if he rebuilt or replaced the engine, or just got a new car.

starrkate83's avatar

The hose isnt hot but when the car is running it doesnt have pressure in the top hose. By ruggedly I mean that it feels like it missing or not firing correctly. In Idle its like its going to die and thats when it overheats the most. But thats not all the time. Sometimes it runs just fine like a car should and it takes longer to overheat. I’m going to try flushing out the radiator tomorrow and checking the thermostat. If its not a blown head gasket but I put sealant in just to make sure, will it hurt the car? It doesnt seem like a blown gasket but then again I’m a girl and I know absolutely squat about cars lol.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If you don’t have any loss of coolant, then I don’t think there’s a problem with the head gasket, and I wouldn’t mess with it. From your description I think a radiator flush will correct the overheating problem… let’s just hope the engine isn’t damaged from the previous overheating.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@starrkate83 I agree with @lilikoi about fluids. Make sure you you are not getting slime golden colored on dipstick or bubbles in radiator. When was last tune-up ? Check distributor and wires to spark plugs… Putting in sealant maybe ok but you need to fix it not plug it. If you understand.

starrkate83's avatar

No bubbles in the radiator or anything on the dipstick. That all looks fine. So the rough idle shouldnt have anything to do with a blown gasket then right?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Maybe yes maybe no. There is something causing the roughness and the overheating. One thing could be a cracked head or block—Worst case. Maybe plugged injector or fouled spark plug. Also on list is plugged muffler or tailpipe and any combo of sensors for fuel system. If this is your only ride take it to more than one mechanic for estimates. Today’s system interconnection on new cars can cause all sorts of poor running.

davidbetterman's avatar

Did you check your thermostat?

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