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What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? #5456135 06/17/20 02:31 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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This happened a couple years ago but it's always bothered me.

I pulled a head on my buick and found cracks between the valves so I replaced them. The head gasket didn't take on the front cylinder bank. I cleaned the bolt holes, used copper spray a gasket and took extra care to line up the dowel pins and gently place the heads on the gasket. Even torqued the head bolts to 37 lb ft plus 120 degrees.

After firing it up and test driving it I noticed a substantial loss in power. I pulled the front head and found a lot of coolant in cylinder number 5. The rear cylinder bank sealed right up without any issues.

What could of caused that to happen?

Last edited by Hemispheres; 06/17/20 02:32 PM.

2009 Buick LaCrosse (3800 Series III) - 137,000 miles.
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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456137 06/17/20 02:33 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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I also torqued the head bolts in sequence as per the service manual btw.


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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456143 06/17/20 02:36 PM
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What’s the application? And why did you use the copper spray? IMO it isn’t mean to be used on modern MLS head gaskets. It’s meant for old flat head engines and copper gasket head gaskets.


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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456144 06/17/20 02:38 PM
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Astro14 Offline
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Was the new head flat? Did you properly clean the block*? Did you clean the threads in the block*? Did your service manual suggest using that spray*? Does GM allow you to re-use the head bolts*?



*My quick search of Google on this topic suggests that you need to clean the block, chase the threads, use good gaskets (which means no spray ) and use NEW bolts.

Failure to follow those procedures will likely result in a gasket failure...and, of course, if the head itself isn't checked for flatness, that could cause it, too...


Last edited by Astro14; 06/17/20 02:42 PM.

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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: mattd] #5456147 06/17/20 02:43 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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Originally Posted by mattd
What’s the application? And why did you use the copper spray? IMO it isn’t mean to be used on modern MLS head gaskets. It’s meant for old flat head engines and copper gasket head gaskets.


3800 V6. There were very fine scratches in the sealing surface and someone suggested the gasket spray.


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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Astro14] #5456149 06/17/20 02:47 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Astro14
Was the new head flat? Did you properly clean the block*? Did you clean the threads in the block*? Did your service manual suggest using that spray*? Does GM allow you to re-use the head bolts*?



*My quick search of Google on this topic suggests that you need to clean the block, chase the threads, use good gaskets (which means no spray ) and use NEW bolts.

Failure to follow those procedures will likely result in a gasket failure...and, of course, if the head itself isn't checked for flatness, that could cause it, too...



The heads were milled 15 thousanths and I checked the block with a straight edge and feeler gauge. I took an old head bolt and cut grooves into to use as a cleaning tap and chased all the bolt holes in the block. Service manual did not suggest the spray, permatex did. I replaced all head bolts as they are torque to yield.

I also cleaned the block by using a white roloc pad followed by a fine 3m sanding sponge.

Last edited by Hemispheres; 06/17/20 02:50 PM.

2009 Buick LaCrosse (3800 Series III) - 137,000 miles.
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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456152 06/17/20 02:48 PM
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I would have even a new head checked to make sure the surface is flat. Check the deck too. Block and head must be clean. New bolts . What torque wrench? Is it's quality wrench? A cheap clicker may not be accurate enough for this. Lubed the head bolts?


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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: spasm3] #5456155 06/17/20 02:52 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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Originally Posted by spasm3
I would have even a new head checked to make sure the surface is flat. Check the deck too. Block and head must be clean. New bolts . What torque wrench? Is it's quality wrench? A cheap clicker may not be accurate enough for this. Lubed the head bolts?



Didnt lube the head bolts since they went into the coolant jacket. Used an AC Delco digital torque reader for the first pass and a torque angle meter on the second pass.


2009 Buick LaCrosse (3800 Series III) - 137,000 miles.
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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456167 06/17/20 03:06 PM
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What did you use on the head bolts in the coolant jacket? I just did a head gasket job a couple of months ago and had excellent results with this product:
Loctite head bolt and water jacket sealant. https://www.amazon.com/Loctite-1158514-Jacket-Sealant-50-milliliter/dp/B004QXL4F2

Last edited by gonefishin; 06/17/20 03:07 PM.

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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: gonefishin] #5456168 06/17/20 03:07 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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Originally Posted by gonefishin
What did you use on the head bolts in the coolant jacket? I just did a head gasket job a couple of months ago and had excellent luck with this product:
Loctite head bolt and water jacket sealant. https://www.amazon.com/Loctite-1158514-Jacket-Sealant-50-milliliter/dp/B004QXL4F2


The bolts came with a sealer on the threads.


2009 Buick LaCrosse (3800 Series III) - 137,000 miles.
PZ Plat HM/Mobil 1 HM
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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456181 06/17/20 03:30 PM
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Did you burp the coolant system once it was buttoned back up? Some older GM's has small bleeders to get the air out of the passages. Failure to bleed resulted in steam pockets that could ruin gasket seal. Don't ask me how i know this. sick

Last edited by Kawiguy454; 06/17/20 03:31 PM.
Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456184 06/17/20 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Hemispheres
This happened a couple years ago but it's always bothered me.

I pulled a head on my buick and found cracks between the valves so I replaced them. The head gasket didn't take on the front cylinder bank. I cleaned the bolt holes, used copper spray a gasket and took extra care to line up the dowel pins and gently place the heads on the gasket. Even torqued the head bolts to 37 lb ft plus 120 degrees.

After firing it up and test driving it I noticed a substantial loss in power. I pulled the front head and found a lot of coolant in cylinder number 5. The rear cylinder bank sealed right up without any issues.

What could of caused that to happen?




Can you clarify what you replaced ?


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Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Kawiguy454] #5456191 06/17/20 03:42 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Kawiguy454
Did you burp the coolant system once it was buttoned back up? Some older GM's has small bleeders to get the air out of the passages. Failure to bleed resulted in steam pockets that could ruin gasket seal. Don't ask me how i know this. sick


Yes I bled it.


2009 Buick LaCrosse (3800 Series III) - 137,000 miles.
PZ Plat HM/Mobil 1 HM
Bosch/Purolator/Mobil filters
Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: PimTac] #5456192 06/17/20 03:42 PM
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Hemispheres Offline OP
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Originally Posted by PimTac
Originally Posted by Hemispheres
This happened a couple years ago but it's always bothered me.

I pulled a head on my buick and found cracks between the valves so I replaced them. The head gasket didn't take on the front cylinder bank. I cleaned the bolt holes, used copper spray a gasket and took extra care to line up the dowel pins and gently place the heads on the gasket. Even torqued the head bolts to 37 lb ft plus 120 degrees.

After firing it up and test driving it I noticed a substantial loss in power. I pulled the front head and found a lot of coolant in cylinder number 5. The rear cylinder bank sealed right up without any issues.

What could of caused that to happen?




Can you clarify what you replaced ?


I got remanufactured heads.


2009 Buick LaCrosse (3800 Series III) - 137,000 miles.
PZ Plat HM/Mobil 1 HM
Bosch/Purolator/Mobil filters
Re: What would keep a new head gasket from sealing? [Re: Hemispheres] #5456199 06/17/20 03:50 PM
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demarpaint Offline
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The head could have been warped, the gasket damaged, dirt or foreign matter on the mating surfaces, torqued incorrectly, or at the wrong value, etc. Bottom line is it could have been a lot of things.


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