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What Is Engine Sealant?

Engine sealant can prevent small leaks in an engine block.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2014
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Engine sealant is a product designed for use in vehicles with small leaks in their engine blocks. This product is a temporary fix for drivers who cannot afford to replace components like head gaskets and it is not always effective. Many auto parts stores carry it and it can also be ordered online through companies with car supply websites. It is important to use this product as directed to avoid causing damage to an engine and people who do not have mechanical experience may want to consult a mechanic for advice.

To use engine sealant, drivers completely drain the cooling system in the vehicle, taking care to dispose of cooling fluid appropriately because it can be hazardous to the environment, as well as dangerous for animals. Once the cooling system is flushed, a blend of sealant and water can be poured into the radiator. The car is idled for a brief period of time to get the engine sealant circulating, and then driven.

As the sealant circulates and encounters cracks in the engine, a chemical reaction takes place to seal the small leaks, as well as improving the condition of existing seals. This will stop leaks that lead to poor engine performance. However, the engine sealant cannot hold forever and eventually the leaking component will need to be replaced to address the problem.

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It is important to be aware of some caveats when using sealant. It is critical to fully drain the cooling system to avoid dangerous reactions between coolant and sealant. Checking on the size and nature of the leaks before using this product is recommended, as if leaks are large, the sealant will not be up to the task, and it can mix with motor oil and damage the engine. Furthermore, cars with a history of overheating may not be suitable candidates for engine sealant because they cannot run and drive long enough to allow the sealant to fully circulate without damaging the engine with excessive temperatures.

Numerous engine sealant products are available, designed for different types of engines. Some come in kits with all the supplies necessary to run the engine sealant successfully through the vehicle's cooling system. Ultimately, parts like gaskets fail over extended periods of driving, and replacing them saves money by reducing the risk of costly damage to the engine. A mechanic can provide an assessment of whether engine sealant or mechanical labor would be more appropriate for a given leak.

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