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Seafoaming a Beemer

I own a 1986 BMW 325e with over 240,000 miles on it. I am a female with limited car knowledge. A do-gooder friend of mine put a whole can of Seafoam in my crankcase and left it in there. I trusted he knew what he was doing, but 3 days later the headgasket sprung an oil leak and then the whole head gasket blew. My friend claims the seafoam isn’t to blame and that he is not responsible for destroying my car. Any comments would be helpful.

The Sea Foam did not destroy your car. Period.

Hard to believe a head gasket would eventually give up on a 14 year old car with a quarter of a million miles I know.

SeaFoam didn’t cause the head gasket failure. The 240,000 miles of use on the engine caused the head gasket to fail.


You may be able to place liability on your friend in a “the friendship is over” sense,but any type of “you must make this right” liability is impossible.

I have never read the Seafoam can (I never use any kind of additive no matter how highly rated,yes I will use gas stabilizer,but running till empty is my technique) Are there any warnings or cautions on the can?

What were you/he trying to cure/prevent or make better by adding the Seafoam?

I didn’t think Seafoam was a oil additive (more for the fuel) but again, do the written instructions say this procedure is OK?

I dont know what is exactly on the can but it says 1 pint treats 10 quarts of oil.
In researching Seafoam it seems that everyone knew you are supposed to change the oil after using Seafoam except my friend.

He was trying to “thin” the oil out so it would start easier in the winter…although really, I think he was just trying to be over impressive…

I told him my dad always said don’t use cleaners of any type in old vehicles because
the sludge holds the fluids in. He promised this would help my car.

Here’s the applications for SeaFoam.


What you should do is tell your friend that you’re laying the blame on them on a public forum such as this. Odds are they won’t be your friend any more; nor should they.

Not only are you dead wrong on this issue, you should not be listening to your father anymore either. He appears to be clueless also with the “sludge holding the fluids in” remark.

Ignore your dad, apologize to your friend (or ex-friend), and face the fact the head gasket gave up due to age; pure and simple.

(And the part about “everyone knows You’re supposed to change the oil aftet a Sea Foam treatment” ia also dead wrong.)

I’m just trying to get the facts. I have asked many, many people for their opinion and I’d say the answers are split 50/50. I have also tried contacting the company
that makes Seafoam and have gotten no reply…

You sound like you know more than any of them, so I will definately file your advice away. I don’t want to blame anyone if they are innocent…I’m just trying
figure out what to do.

Oh, and by the way, the car is 23 years old not 14, smart one!

If you are using the correct oil for your BMW then “thinning” out the oil is not needed. Better to change to an authorized winter weight of oil, whatever that is for your car, per the owner’s manual. Secondly, if he put in the full 16 oz can, then he put in twice as much as Seafoam recommends as an oil additive.

That is not good, but should not create the head gasket issue. I tend to stay in the “no additives to my oil” school, because I maintain a good oil change interval and don’t believe these additives are needed under most circumstances.

In your case, old age created the problem. Be careful who you allow to do what to your car. If there is any doubt, wait and consult your trusted mechanic in the future.

I have to agree that the Seafoam is highly unlikely to have caused the problem. On the other hand I doubt if it was needed or would have done any good. Like most all additives, it usually does no harm and on occasion does some good. (Some additives have been connected to problems, but not Seafoam.

Enjoy your car, make sure it gets all the maintenance that is spelled out in the owner’s manual and you should be fine.

Don’t blame your friends and family. They were giving you the best advice they knew.

One possibility could be that you had a head gasket leak that was plugged with sludgy deposits that the seafoam cleaned out.

That’s what I also thought. To Joseph E… I’d love to enjoy my car but the blown
gasket would cost more than the car is worth to fix…but you are right, I’m sure
no one meant any harm.

You’re exactly right that my statement is incorrect when I posted “14” years old. It’s a typo and should have been 24 because I’m referring to model years.

You or anyone else who thinks Sea Foam contributed to this leaking head gasket problem are both sadly and badly mistaken and if you think a single lousy can of Sea Foam caused a head gasket failure then that car was doomed from the get-go and should not even be leaving the driveway; Sea Foam or no Sea Foam.

Quit looking for a scapegoat, ignore any advice from your dad or your friend, and quit throwing your friends under the bus.

So, you think I should ignore any advice from my Dad, who has been working on cars for over 50 years, who warned me NOT to use chemical additives in old vehicles, which is also the opinion of many other people I have talked to, and listen to you
A mechanic once put a fuel system cleaner in my 85 Chevy Blazer. Cleaned it out really good! 3 breakdowns and 4 fuel filters later, it ran like a charm! Listening
to my wise old Dad then would have prevented a few tow bills.

Your 1986 . . . 240k mile BMW has given you good service, and you need to decide if you’re going to repair or retire it. The Seafoam did nothing to cause the head gasket failure . . . this is mere coincidence. Your car is not destroyed, a head gasket repair (while questionable on the year/mileage) is not the end of the world. How’s the rest of the car? Rocketman

As I usually do, I agree with ok4450.

Your friend was not correct about Seafoam “thinning out” your oil, but the fact remains that Seafoam did not, and would not, cause a head gasket that is in good condition to suddenly spring a leak. Yes, he did use ~twice as much as the can specifies, but that error would still have no connection to a head gasket problem.

This comes under the category of coincidence, and blaming this problem on the Seafoam is no more valid than claiming that it caused one of your tires to go flat. This is all mere coincidence, and nothing more, coupled with the fact that a 24 year old car can develop any kind of problem without warning–yes, even a BMW.

You owe your friend an apology. And while you should be polite to your father, and you should make believe that you are listening when he gives you advice, I would suggest that you ignore his automotive advice in the future.

Unfortunately, Dad was wrong, as was your friend, and by extension, so were you. However, one thing is clear, and that is the fact that head gasket failure was not caused by the use (or misuse) of Seafoam.

I’m not trying to be combative with you at all but you’re getting some bad advice from dad and believing it simply because it is your father.
The part about “sludge holding the oil in” is bogus.

Let’s assume for a minute (incorrectly I might add) that “sludge is holding the oil in”. The Sea Foam is added and this sludge disappears followed by oil leaking from the head gasket.

What in the world does this have to do with a blown head gasket? Answer? Absolutely nothing because oil weeping from a head gasket will not in any way, shape, or form contribute to a blown head gasket.

It’s not hard to see what’s happened here. You (by your words) have limited automotive knowledge, your friend (boy type maybe) also has limited auto knowledge and suggested the Sea Foam treatment. Your problems developed shortly afterwards and your dad (also with limited auto knowledge) found an instant scapegoat.
If your father REALLY knew anything about engines he would not be dishing out advice like this or being the root cause of the blame being placed on the friend.
Am I right? Did your dad point the finger at the friend?

As for this mechanic who put a fuel system cleaner in your Blazer and caused 3 breaddowns and 4 fuel filters, all I can say is that apparently he needs to find another line of work also.

I’d love to enjoy my car but the blown gasket would cost more than the car is worth to fix

In spite of that, I think you should consider doing this repair anyway. I have seen Beemers from the 1980s still on the road with more than 400,000 miles on them. If the rest of the car is in decent shape, this car could continue to serve you for a long time.

The rest of the car has minor problems here and there, except for a bad ball joint and needing new struts, the car ran great. I have a hard time finding anyone in my town willing to work on this old BMW, though. The dealer quoted me $1100 just to replace the head gasket, but that was only when it had oil leaking externally. Now
that the water is mixed with the oil, I don’t know yet what kind of damage that will
do, and how much that will cost.

My friend and I are still friends, incidently, and in the beginning he thought it WAS totally his fault. HIS dad told him the Seafoam didn’t do it.

MY dad doesn’t even know about this, he lives 3 states away. This was just something he has always said over the years.

The BMW still runs, and I didn’t even know the headgasket was blown until I saw
steam coming out of the tailpipe…while the car was turned off.

I’m not sure what to do with it…