Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Blown head on Previa

I have a wonderful 190 k toyota previa all trac that just popped it’s head. The repair will be $2200 or up due to the engine in this thing being impossibly built under and in the car. Labor to pull it is $1500?

It may be cheaper to buy a 2 wheel drive version.

Now the question, “Steel Seal”?

$69 and refundable if it does not work. There is some other chemical fix that is $280, no guarantee.

Any thoughts on this stuff?

It’s a crap shoot. Some people have gotten it to work. Others have had no luck. Very few have seen a repair that has lasted. If the head blew because of general wear-n-tear (aluminum head on cast iron block), chances of success are better. If the engine was allowed to overheat, you may have a warped or cracked head, and the stuff doesn’t work well for that.

PS. Also, read that ‘refundable’ mouseprint closely. I would suspect that there are enough ‘outs’ for them to deny a refund.

besides loss of $ and time, is there a downside? will it damage anything? most mechanics have told me these sealers “gunk up” everything and sooner or later will plug the heater core. what do you think? i am in a similar situation, and $100 or so sounds lots better than $1200 to redo the head on my 2002 dodge caravan 3.3.

You really need to clarify this a bit further. “Blown head” may be a matter of semantics but still.

If this engine was severely overheated and the head gasket blew out then the odds of Steel Seal or anything else curing it is about none.
Some products may seal off certain things related to the head gasket but as to standing up under several thousand pounds of pressure from a firing cylinder, I do not think that will ever happen.

The labor sounds high to me for just pulling a cylinder head and if this 190k miles engine was severely overheated enough to blow a head gasket then it may be time to throw in the towel on this vehicle because odds are the piston rings are gone. (Will be an oil burner afterwards in other words.)

I have no idea what the reference/relevance of buying a 2WD version of the van is. But the question of what you do is related to your long term plans. The chemical seal stuff, even when it works isn’t an actual “repair.” It would be something to try when your only next move is the scrap yard.

That said, one of the regular posters here (Tester) has used this kind of strategy on otherwise scrap yard bound cars. But apparently the active ingredient is “sodium silicate” that can be purchased for much less in its generic form.

Use the Search feature that the top of the page and search for “sodium silicate.” You’ll find it around in quite a few threads.

$2200 is still cheaper than another car that will be used and have unknown maintenance and issues. If the rest of the van is in good shape and you’re not sick if it, it may be worth getting repaired. I’d shop around–this is labor-intensive, but I think you could do better than what you were quoted. Was it the dealer that did the quote?

The sealer could indeed gunk up cooling system passageways in the block, or your heater core. If you go this route, I’d do it as a last resort, and follow the directions EXACTLY. If it fails and you end up replacing the engine anyway, you still may have some of this gunk in your heater core and the rest of the system. Even if the sealer works, it likely will not be a permanent fix.

Thanks for all of the replies.
Blown head gasket, is what I understand it is but not from anyone inspecting the engine. Huge clouds of white, not just smoke. There was so much smoke I thought the underside of the car was on fire. The engine had not overheated and does not burn oil. It just started to run roughly and one minute later i pulled over and shut it off
This engine is built under the car and my mechanic says the book gives some high labor time for it. Everything must be disconnected and the engine sitting on the floor.blocks as the van is lifted up and away. Apparently the trans and engine come out together.
The idea of the 2wd rather than the all trac, is it will be cheaper to replace. I really don’t need the awd on this car. Needing to replace all 4 tires at once sucks.
I need a van and it will have to be tried and true for several uses a year. I do craft shows.

I have little to lose with the sodium silicate, Steel Seal.
I have a pint of the S.S. that I use elsewhere.

For $2200 you are half there to buying a fairly decent minivan with 100k miles that was made in the last decade.

The Previa is done. I would dump your last resort chemical with no expectations.

I got the van back from my mechanic, 3 months and $2700 later, the head was cracked and needed to be replaced. While in there he did the gaskets, spark plugs, seals and everything except the rings and valves.
The van runs fine but does have a miss at idle, see that posted elsewhere.
I will know if this was a good idea in a few years, when or if it is still running

So why does he give you a rough running van back? That miss at idle may be something minor or it may be something much worse along with being something that may cause other serious problems.

What would I suggest? Running a compression test and determining if you’ve flushed 3 months and 2700 dollars down the drain.
If you do this I would also suggest posting the results.

Just to elaborate on ok4450’s note, largely because he frequently says it himself - when the compression is checked get the actual number for each cylinder in PSI and report that. Many people are just told or say compression is “good” - what counts as “good” isn’t the same in everyone’s book.

The Previa is an iron block and head. If you blew the head gasket it really took some doing. As a former Previa owner I can tell you that you are at the end of the road. Parts on this baby are expensive as they are frequently “dealer only” and they are almost always hard to get at and install. I loved my Previa and sold it (still running) with 220.000 miles because it kept biting me with expensive repairs that would have been cheaper on a newer van. You also don’t have traction control, side airbags or a second sliding door. Upgrading to a used Sienna or Odyssey will give you a much better vehicle with more safety features and MUCH cheaper repairs. I now drive a 2004 Sienna and it is ten times the vehicle my Previa was, although it is very bland in the styling department.