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Old 04-29-2002, 10:13 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 56
117 Motor, when does it become time to replace head gasket?

My 1980 500SE (euro) has 172,000 mi. Other than replacing timing chain & rails about 20K ago, nothing has ever been done internally. I use about 1 qt. of oil every 800 to 1,000 miles. My left side head gasket has been leaking oil for the past two years. I am not experiencing any coolant loss and no oil is seeping into the coolant. I just did a compression check and the right bank is 195, 195, 195, 200 PSI and the left is 190, 192, 195, 195.

I am thinking of replacing the seals to see how my oil consumption improves. The problem is I still have the leaky head gasket. I hate to replace it if I do not need a valve job at the same time. How long can I live with a leaky gasket and do I chance having a catastrophic failure at some point?
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Old 05-15-2003, 05:24 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 766
Jack500, I'm curious about this too, as I'm in about the same situation with a slight oil leak around the head gasket, similar consumption (I think), and 145K. I do notice that the only time I see blue smoke is on acceleration from rest after standing, and the longer I've been stationary at idle the more I see. The car is new to me this season, and I *think* that I see more consumption in big-city stop-and-go freeway work than I do in my normal mid-size city driving without major freeway tieups. My guess is valve guides rather than anything else, but would appreciate your own insight--and, of course, words from the gurus will be most welcome!
Craig Bethune

'97 SL500, 40th anniversary edition

'04 Olds Bravada (SWMBO's)
'06 Lexus ES330
'89 560SL (sold)

SL--Anything else is just a Mercedes.
(Kudos to whoever said it first)
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Old 05-15-2003, 08:02 PM
Benz Fanatic
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 31
I have a 1987 260E with a leaking head gasket, it has leaked for 50000+ miles and that is with lots of redline driving. The car has been in my family over 4 years like that. No oil in coolant or visa versa, just a prepetually wet side of the engine, towards the rear. Maybe your engine is the same situation. I read that keeping your coolant changed at preoper intervals will prolong the head gasket life, as old coolant can eat the head gaskets due to PH changes or something like that
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