Head gasket and oil leaks "fixed" the easy way (1 Viewer)

Joined
May 13, 2019
Messages
64
Location
Alaska
A little back story: I purchased a rust free triple locked '96 with 286k on the clock about this time last year from Durango, CO. No factory roof rack and no rear spoiler with gray interior. She had been a CA and AZ car almost her whole life and her first owner was a Toyota dealership employee, so she had a lot of maintenance records from her first 200k miles. I had a compression and leak down test done before I flew down to buy her. She had leaks from the from the oil pump/front main, rear valve cover, and rear upper oil pan arch. I wanted a project to work on / build so she definitely fit the bill.

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I live in Alaska and drove her back. She burned about a half a quart of oil every 1k miles during the trip back. About 350 miles from home she developed a misfire. She had some PM done just before I bought her, which included new cap, rotor, wires, and plugs.

When I got home I did some poking around and found the #1 plug fouled reddish brown. With a bore scope I could see some moisture on the piston, but no steam cleaning. I checked the coolant and it was indeed Toyota red. I had no coolant in the oil and vice versa. The exhaust was white, but didn't smell like coolant. A chemical test showed combustion gases in the coolant system. So, blown head gasket.

I decided I would do a full rebuild of the engine. I have the skill / knowledge to pull it myself and tear it apart and this was just a project, so I was in no hurry. I had already ordered the parts for the full front axle PM, so I did that and then she sat for quite some time.

Fast forward to last month and I realized I wasn't going to get around to it before winter. I figured what the heck, lets try some stop leak and see if it fixes it enough for some short trips around town. I grew up in the 70's and my dad worked on his own cars, so stop leaks were considered the devil and they did more harm to an engine than good. I figured technology of the products must have advanced at least somewhat and I was going to do a full rebuild any way, so why not give it a try.

I did some research and came down to two brands, with the one I settled on being Bars. I used this one: Blown Head Gasket Leak Repair | Head Gasket Sealer

It took about 8 heat cycles before I noticed the exhaust would settle down to being almost invisible after a few minutes of running. I did a chemical test again and no longer had combustion gases in the coolant system. I replaced the spark plug and it hasn't fouled again. They bill it as permanent, but I suspect if I get a couple of years I'll be happy.

I commute 60 miles each day and it's held just fine for the last month. We're getting below freezing and I park it in a heated garage at my house, so it's seeing some good temperature swings and the stop leak appears to be holding up.

Since the head gasket stop leak worked so well, I figured why not try an engine stop leak. I did some more research and found AT 205 recommended by Scotty Kilmer on YouTube: ATP Automotive AT-205 Re-Seal I like most of the content he puts out so I gave it a try. Took about three days and I noticed no more new oil on the garage floor. I wasn't convinced so I put down some cardboard underneath and sure enough, no more leaks...or at least its slowed down enough that the oil/dirt build up on the engine is keeping it from hitting the floor. I plan to give it a good de-grease and clean, then add some UV dye to confirm, but that might not be till next spring.

At this point I figured things were getting too good to be true, but I decided to tackle the oil consumption issue. During the leak down test the mechanic mentioned he thought the leaks were at the valves because he thought he heard it leaking into the exhaust, as opposed to into the block past the rings. I figured with as much oil as she was burning that they might be a bit gunked up. I decided to try an oil additive to clean the engine. The PO had run Mobil 1 5w30 and I gave it an oil change when I got back using Amsoil 5w30. I added two bottles of Auto Rx Plus two weeks ago: Auto-Rx Plus – A Clean Engine Is A Healthy Engine I don't remember where I got the recommendation for it. After 800 miles, I have no noticeable oil consumption. I did find the two rearmost bolts for the valve cover loose and tightened those.

I'm still daily driving it for my work commute. The one con that I've noticed is that my interior heat takes longer to heat up. It still gets just as hot, but its slower. I assume some of the carbon fiber in the stop leak for the head gasket has partially blocked the heater core. I may try to back flush the heater core in the spring and see what comes out. Before putting in the stop leak I did flush the coolant system and refill it with new Toyota red, just to make sure any gunk in the system didn't interact with the stop leak and cause a blockage. Also the stop leak has some "water wetter" in it, so that might also be part of the reason for the slow heat up.

Before winter I still need to change the rear axle gear oil and do a transmission fluid swap. I also just got a new set of carpet for the inside from ACC.

I am just one single case, but this has at least temporarily worked for me. I'm in no ways thinking its actually fixed, but it has kicked the can down the road for me a bit. I still plan to pull the engine and rebuild it, but hopefully when I want to and not when I have to.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 1, 2009
Messages
1,531
Location
South Central PA
Glad it worked out for you ... here are some pics of what BARS does to the inside of your engine and coolant system. This was from the PO of the truck, it ran for a while, but the head gasket did fail eventually. I'm still getting muddy coolant 2 years and countless flushes and new parts later.

Coolant hose off radiator
20170831_125530.jpg


Flushing the cooling system out with water
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Water pump
20181105_103043[1].jpg


Block side of oil cooler
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Removable side of cooler
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BARS is the devil. Once it gets in it will never go away.
 
Joined
May 13, 2019
Messages
64
Location
Alaska
Yeah, I wouldn’t have tried it if I wasn’t planning to do a full rebuild at some point and have everything hot tanked.
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2015
Messages
147
Location
San Diego, California
I tried that same one you used because I knew I wasn't going to get around to it until the school year when autoshop class started. (I overheated due to a fan clutch failure). I never got the fancy bubbling over + steam out the overflow tank, just saw the temp gauge rise suddenly as 80 gauges like to do, pulled over and waited for traffic to die down, and then went home when I could travel fast enough that the fan wasn't needed. It was blowing bubbles and I could practically wash my hands in the exhaust at idle, and when removed it turns out the head had warped 30 thousandths (1/32 of an inch).

The stop leak lasted 6 months, which was well into the school year, and then I was able to use my shop class time to work on it and have all the tools needed.
One mistake I did was to not flush out the radiator when I started taking stuff apart, I just drained it, and it sealed up even the large radiator passages, as it is supposed to when exposed to open air.

Neither heater core was affected. The rear heater definitely still had coolant in it cause of gravity and me not doing the heater hoses till the very end, and I guess the front heater's hose layout meant it stayed full of water too.

Honestly, it was probably a blessing in disguise as it had over 300,000 miles on the original plastic-tanked rad, and the tanks were probably ready to crack soon anyways. The original heater cores worry me, but I keep a length of heater hose in the engine bay to bypass it if they crack their tanks or something.


For the brown coating, is it really an issue? I mean sure it doesn't look good cosmetically, but if it doesn't affect water pump seal life and has a negligible effect on heat transfer, then IMO it doesn't matter. The only reason it would worry me is if I'm buying a used vehicle because it means the car has had cooling system issues in the past, but since it is my car and I know it was fixed right it's not an issue.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
2,462
I assume some of the carbon fiber in the stop leak for the head gasket has partially blocked the heater core.
If it plugs up the heater core in your dash you're in for a big job. In order to get to that heater core you have to take the whole dash apart. Below is a photo taken by another Mud member showing how much of the dash he had to take apart to change/repair his heater core.
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Joined
Jul 10, 2019
Messages
8
Location
Charleston SC
If it plugs up the heater core in your dash you're in for a big job. In order to get to that heater core you have to take the whole dash apart. Below is a photo taken by another Mud member showing how much of the dash he had to take apart to change/repair his heater core.
View attachment 2470615
Thats ridiculous. Is it not possible to buy an oem core and relocate it?
 

flintknapper

SILVER Star
Joined
May 22, 2004
Messages
9,120
Location
Deep East Texas
Glad it worked out for you ... here are some pics of what BARS does to the inside of your engine and coolant system. This was from the PO of the truck, it ran for a while, but the head gasket did fail eventually. I'm still getting muddy coolant 2 years and countless flushes and new parts later.

Coolant hose off radiator
View attachment 2469001

Flushing the cooling system out with water
View attachment 2469004

Water pump
View attachment 2469006

Block side of oil cooler
View attachment 2469011

Removable side of cooler
View attachment 2469013

BARS is the devil. Once it gets in it will never go away.

Yep, same components from my engine 316K on it (NO sealants).

Straight off the truck:

23 yr WP.jpg

OC2.jpg

OC1.jpg
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
2,462
Thats ridiculous. Is it not possible to buy an oem core and relocate it?
If i remember right, the factory heater core for the 91 to 94 trucks is now NLA from Toyota. I think the 95 to 97 heater cores and tubes are still available, but i could be wrong. As for you're idea of relocating the heater core, you must not of spent any time working underneath the dash of your truck, otherwise you'd understand how little space is available. I guess you could always use the factory heater location under the passengers seat, but routing ducting from that heater core to the dash so that your windshield defrosters worked in the winter time could be a problem.
 

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