How To Fix A Blown Head Gasket Without Replacing It

By on 28 October 2020 / Leave a comment Updated on: 3rd February 2021

Having your car in the garage, bill looming and without transportation is no-one’s idea of a good time. Car troubles are inconvenient at the best of times, but can be downright annoying at others. Head gasket failures are among the most common of serious vehicle malfunctions and also regrettably, one of the most expensive to cure. Unfortunately, this is a situation that many of us may find ourselves in and taking your car down to your local trusted garage is the only way to solve it, or is it?

If you are indeed experiencing the common symptoms associated with head gasket failure, then first we would advise that you test whether or not the head gasket is really to blame. Expensive strip down work on your engine, only to find no issues to resolve is costly and could leave you without your keys for no good reason. It is recommended therefore to first test whether your head gasket is leaking (link to head gasket testing article). In the case that it is, you could look to other options to repair the head gasket, without the need for expensive garage services.

Is It Worth Repairing The Head Gasket?

With such a large expense it is only natural to question whether or not it is worth it to replace the head gasket, particularly if the car in question is inexpensive or short on usable life anyway. We all grow fond of our vehicles over time and letting them go due to a mechanical failure can be frustrating, but sometimes your head needs to rule the heart. In some cases, it unfortunately doesn’t make financial sense to have the head gasket replaced.

If, however, you plan on keeping your vehicle for the long term then replacing your head gasket is a very worthwhile job. It is the only true way to solve the symptoms experienced with head gasket failure. For those planning on keeping their vehicle reliable for the foreseeable future, it is worth digging further to find the root cause of said failure, helping prevent future issues.

However, those who don’t have the funds or time to get the gasket replaced do not need to worry just yet. Cancel that appointment with the scrapheap, gasket sealing additives may just be your saviour.

Use a Head Gasket Sealer

First it must be said, head gasket sealers have received mixed opinions over the years with questions over whether head gasket sealing additives really work at all. Most of this has been silenced by the huge sales numbers, return customers and glowing reviews for such products across the web. Plus, in such a sticky situation, a cheap, easy fix for head gasket woes is surely worth a try.

There are hundreds of products out there, so doing research to ensure you get the best head gasket sealer for your application is vital. Not all products are created equal, while picking the right additive for a certain fuel or engine type will improve your chance of success.

Using an additive formula will not only save your wallet and possibly your vehicle. It’s also an almost instant solution. No waiting for a free slot at the garage, waiting for parts and the mechanic getting the time to fix your car. Simply apply the additive and follow the instructions on the bottle, the issues could be fixed in minutes without leaving your street.

How to Use a Head Gasket Sealer

For the best results, sealing additives should be used as soon as possible, after confirming the head gasket is the source of your issues. Additive formulas may struggle to fix leaks that have been allowed to enlarge due to continued use, likely hindering their longevity and performance.

pouring head gasket sealer into radiator

To apply, ensure the product is thoroughly mixed (shake the bottle) and pour into the radiator or header/ expansion tank (any way you can find to get it into the cooling system). The additives are formulated to mix with any type of coolant, without negative or dangerous reactions occurring. Next, turn on the vehicle and allow it to reach normal operating temperature, leaving it idling for a while will do or you can perform a short drive to speed up the process. It is recommended by some to turn the heater on max to spread the coolant throughout the system but is not always required. The product should have worked its magic by now. You can either leave it in there (it will do no further damage to any cooling system parts) or drain and replace the coolant with a fresh batch if it has been contaminated with oil, as a result of the initial head gasket failure.

Each product and manufacturer will have their own specific instructions for how exactly to use the product best but this is a rough guide that shows how simple it is to complete the task, no expert knowledge or tools required.


Everyone pictures that car at the side of the road, likely overheating, steam billowing from under the bonnet and the owner stood, head in hands, distraught at the thought of getting their vehicle recovered and the garage bill that is sure to follow. Head gasket failure is a nightmare and it can happen to the best of us, even in our usually reliable modern vehicles.

Stay one step ahead of the curve and be prepared for the worst by considering the alternative to replacement if the worst should happen to your car. A permanent fix for a minor leak or a temporary measure to seal that head gasket and carry you over till pay day. It may just to keep that old banger on the road for a few more months. Give a head gasket sealing additive a try and you may just find that it works better than you might have expected.

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Jack Gill

Car journalist and fully qualified mechanical engineer, Czok’s newest contributor and long-time automotive writer. Lifetime passion for all things automotive, from new supercars to rusty old hatchbacks. If I’m not behind the wheel, I’m likely under the bonnet or browsing the classifieds. Having spent over 5 years in the automotive industry and under the bonnet of my own car at home, I want to share the knowledge and learning that I have gained, with others without the time to study or the expertise, who just want their car to get them from A to B every day. We aren’t all interested in trawling through endless internet pages and forums. I aim to gather all the information up and roll it into a quick summarised format, to give only the information you really need.

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