Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs
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Northstar Engines and System Technical Discussion Discussion, Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; ...
  1. #1
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    Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Courtesy of Eric & AJxtcman.

    From GM Techlink March 2004:



    Cooling System Seal Tabs What’s made of ground-up ginger root, almond shells and binder? And causes confusion in auto service departments?

    Some people call them coolant pellets, but the proper name is Cooling System Seal Tabs. And we hope to clear up some misunderstandings about them.

    How They Work
    Seal tabs are dissolved in the engine coolant and the resulting fibres circulate through the cooling system. At a microscopic level, the tabs break down into irregular, long, thin fibres. When a small leak or seepage occurs, the coolant carries the fibres into the opening, where they cluster up and jam together. (Think of logs and branches in a beaver dam.) This mechanism is very effective at stopping leaks. Any fibres that make it to the surface will crust over and enhance the seal.

    This sealing method is useful only for small-scale leaks and seepage, and tends to work best in conditions where the surrounding parts aren’t moving. The seals tend to break down in areas between metals that are expanding and contracting with temperature changes, for instance.

    A Secondary Benefit
    The traditional green-colored coolant, used until DEXCOOLŽ was introduced in 1996, contained silicates, which deposit on cooling system surfaces. The tiny fibres from the seal tabs acted as scouring pads, removing silicate deposits from the water pump seal faces, which contributed to longer water pump seal life.

    Side Effects of Seal Tabs
    In addition to the benefits of sealing small leaks and scrubbing silicates from water pump seals, seal tabs also have some side effects.

    After awhile, a brown, dirty-looking stain may form on translucent coolant bottles. Residue may form on the backside of the radiator cap. And deposits that resemble rust may be found in the cooling system.

    These are not problems, in the sense that they cause no physical harm. But their appearance can be alarming, especially on a new vehicle. Both customers and well-intentioned technicians can be misled by these deposits.

    Another side effect comes from overuse. When seal tabs are used in the prescribed amounts, they will not cause restrictions or plugging in an otherwise properly operating cooling system.

    But, if a little is good, a lot must be better. Wrong!! Overuse can lead to plugging, especially in the relatively small tubes used in heater cores.

    Some History
    There was a time when seal tabs were installed in every new vehicle, at the factory, to account for the inevitable small leaks that occur in castings, joints, and so on. By the mid ‘90s, manufacturing and machining techniques had improved to the point where the seal tabs were no longer needed on a universal basis.

    With the introduction of long-life coolant, silicate deposits were no longer a concern, so the scrubbing action from the seal tab fibres was no longer needed.

    TIP: GM plants, as well as other manufacturers, still occasionally use seal tabs to address specific concerns.

    Today’s Recommendations
    In short, GM no longer endorses universal use of seal tabs. Procedures in SI have been specifically written to discourage their use in most cases.

    When a condition appears in which seal tabs may be beneficial, a specific bulletin is released, describing their proper use. One such bulletin is Customer Satisfaction Program 03034, dated 7/7/03. This applies to specific 3.8L engines only, and is in effect until July 31, 2005.

    TIP: After performing the procedure in the bulletin, be sure to install a recall identification label to the vehicle to indicate that the seal tabs have been installed.

    TIP: If seal tabs were installed in a vehicle at the factory, it’s OK that the proper amount of tabs be installed if the coolant must be drained and replaced.

    What’s a Recommended Dose?
    TIP: Use this information only when instructed to do so by bulletin or SI procedure.

    The proper number of Cooling System Seal Tabs depends on the capacity of the vehicle’s cooling system. Use between 1 and 1 1/2 grams of tabs per liter of cooling system capacity.

    TIP: Cooling System Seal Tabs are packaged in two sizes.12378254 Small tabs (4 grams each) 5 tabs per package
    3634621 Large tabs (10 grams each) 6 tabs per package
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    AJxtcman's Avatar
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Quote Originally Posted by AJxtcman View Post
    This is a little information on coolant. I am still testing the coolant when I service it, but I have not found any that has been acidic.

    TSB #00-06-02-006D: Engine Coolant Recycling and Warranty Information (Aug 15, 2006)
    Portion of the bulletin that talks about Sealing Tabs and Dex-Cool

    Sealing Tablets
    Cooling System Sealing Tablets (Seal Tabs) should not be used as a regular maintenance item after servicing an engine cooling system. Discoloration of coolant can occur if too many seal tabs have been inserted into the cooling system. This can occur if seal tabs are repeatedly used over the service life of a vehicle. Where appropriate, seal tabs may be used if diagnostics fail to repair a small leak in the cooling system. When a condition appears in which seal tabs may be recommended, a specific bulletin will be released describing their proper usage.

    Water Quality
    The integrity of the coolant is dependent upon the quality of DEX-COOLŽ and water. DEX-COOLŽ is a product that has enhanced protection capability as well as an extended service interval. These enhanced properties may be jeopardized by combining DEX-COOLŽ with poor quality water. If you suspect the water in your area of being poor quality, it is recommended you use distilled or de-ionized water with DEX-COOLŽ.

    "Pink" DEX-COOLŽ
    DEX-COOLŽ is orange in color to distinguish it from other coolants. Due to inconsistencies in the mixing of the dyes used with DEX-COOLŽ, some batches may appear pink after time. The color shift from orange to pink does not affect the integrity of the coolant, and still maintains the 5 yr/150,000 mile (240,000 km) service interval.

    Back Service
    Only use DEX-COOLŽ if the vehicle was originally equipped with DEX-COOLŽ.

    Contamination
    Mixing conventional green coolant with DEX-COOLŽ will degrade the service interval from 5 yrs./150,000 miles (240,000 km) to 2 yrs./30,000 miles (50,000 km) if left in the contaminated condition. If contamination occurs, the cooling system must be flushed twice immediately and re-filled with a 50/50 mixture of DEX-COOLŽ and clean water in order to preserve the enhanced properties and extended service interval of DEX-COOLŽ.

    After 5 years/150,000 miles (240,000 km)
    After 5 yrs/150,000 miles (240,000 km), the coolant should be changed, preferably using a coolant exchanger. If the vehicle was originally equipped with DEX-COOLŽ and has not had problems with contamination from non-DEX-COOLŽ coolants, then the service interval remains the same, and the coolant does not need to be changed for another 5 yrs/150,000 miles (240,000 km).


    Think about the head gaskets
    TSB #05-06-02-001: Information on Aluminum Heater Core and/or Radiator Replacement

    The following information should be utilized when servicing aluminum heater core and/or radiators on repeat visits. A replacement may be necessary because erosion, corrosion, or insufficient inhibitor levels may cause damage to the heater core, radiator or water pump. A coolant check should be preformed whenever a heater core, radiator, or water pump is replaced. The following procedures/ inspections should be done to verify proper coolant effectiveness.

    Technician Diagnosis
    • Verify coolant concentration. A 50% coolant/water solution ensures proper freeze and corrosion protection. Inhibitor levels cannot be easily measured in the field, but can be indirectly done by the measurement of coolant concentration. This must be done by using a Refractometer J 23688 (Fahrenheit scale) or J 26568 (centigrade scale), or equivalent, coolant tester. The Refractometer uses a minimal amount of coolant that can be taken from the coolant recovery reservoir, radiator or the engine block. Inexpensive gravity float testers (floating balls) will not completely analyze the coolant concentration fully and should not be used. The concentration levels should be between 50% and 65% coolant concentrate. This mixture will have a freeze point protection of -34 degrees Fahrenheit (-37 degrees Celsius). If the concentration is below 50%, the cooling system must be flushed.
    • Inspect the coolant flow restrictor if the vehicle is equipped with one. Refer to Service Information (SI) and/or the appropriate Service Manual for component location and condition for operation.
    • Verify that no electrolysis is present in the cooling system. This electrolysis test can be performed before or after the system has been repaired. Use a digital voltmeter set to 12 volts. Attach one test lead to the negative battery post and insert the other test lead into the radiator coolant, making sure the lead does not touch the filler neck or core. Any voltage reading over 0.3 volts indicates that stray current is finding its way into the coolant. Electrolysis is often an intermittent condition that occurs when a device or accessory that is mounted to the radiator is energized. This type of current could be caused from a poorly grounded cooling fan or some other accessory and can be verified by watching the volt meter and turning on and off various accessories or engage the starter motor. Before using one of the following flush procedures, the coolant recovery reservoir must be removed, drained, cleaned and reinstalled before refilling the system.

    Flushing Procedures using DEX-COOLŽ

    Important: The following procedure recommends refilling the system with DEX-COOLŽ, P/N 12346290 (in Canada, use P/N 10953464), GM specification 6277M. This coolant is orange in color and has a service interval of 5 years or 240,000 km (150,000 mi). However, when used on vehicles built prior to the introduction of DEX-COOLŽ, maintenance intervals will remain the same as specified in the Owner's Manual.
    • If available, use the approved cooling system flush and fill machine (available through the GM Dealer Equipment Program) following the manufacturer's operating instructions.
    • If approved cooling system flush and fill machine is not available, drain the coolant and dispose of properly following the draining procedures in the appropriate Service Manual. Refill the system using clear, drinkable water and run the vehicle until the thermostat opens. Repeat and run the vehicle three (3) times to totally remove the old coolant or until the drained coolant is almost clear. Once the system is completely flushed, refill the cooling system to a 50%-60% concentration with DEX-COOLŽ, P/N 12346290 (in Canada, use P/N 10953464), GM specification 6277M, following the refill procedures in the appropriate Service Manual.
    • If a Service Manual is not available, fill half the capacity of the system with 100% DEX-COOLŽ, P/N 12346290 (in Canada, use P/N 10953464), GM specification 6277M. Then slowly add clear, drinkable water (preferably distilled) to the system until the level of the coolant mixture has reached the base of the radiator neck. Wait two (2) minutes and reverify the coolant level. If necessary, add clean water to restore the coolant to the appropriate level.

    Once the system is refilled, reverify the coolant concentration using a Refractometer J 23688 (Fahrenheit scale) or J 26568 (centigrade scale) coolant tester, or equivalent. The concentration levels should be between 50% and 65%.

    (Aug 15, 2006)
    This is newer info than 2004.

    Sealing Tablets
    Cooling System Sealing Tablets (Seal Tabs) should not be used as a regular maintenance item after servicing an engine cooling system. Discoloration of coolant can occur if too many seal tabs have been inserted into the cooling system. This can occur if seal tabs are repeatedly used over the service life of a vehicle. Where appropriate, seal tabs may be used if diagnostics fail to repair a small leak in the cooling system. When a condition appears in which seal tabs may be recommended, a specific bulletin will be released describing their proper usage.
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Should DEX Cool be used straight?.....or mixed by % with distilled water?
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    The recommended mix of DEXCOOL is 50/50 which prevents boilover to 264 degrees at 18 psi. It is permissible to go to as high as 70/30 DEXCOOL/water, but only in extreme cold environments.
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    NEVER use it straight.
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    sker66 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    So am i to understand that for my year ELdo which is a 2001 i should not use the Tabs?

    hen i first bought the car some 4 weeks ago i found the coolant to be 3 quarts low .
    I put in a 50/50 mix of Dex and its been fine since.
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Check the coolant level (halfway up in the tank, cold) every couple of months and enjoy the car.
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Submariner......So your saying it is normal for the north star caddy to be a little low?

    Thanks...................G
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    The idea is to only fill the surge tank to halfway, cold. Coolant expands a LOT when it heats up and the cold airspace allows the coolant to heat and cool without blowing out the cap or sucking in raw outside air when it cools. It's a sealed system.

    Take a plastic spring water bottle and fill it to the top. Install the cap tightly and stand it up in your freezer. Take a look at what has happened to the bottle by tomorrow morning. Same principle as a too-full cooling system.
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Thanks Sub
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Quote Originally Posted by ElliesDad View Post
    These Barr's Tablets are the same as GM Engine Coolant Supplement Sealer? listed in my 94 Eldorado owners manual. That is what the parts man told me i needed, along with 2 gal Dex Cool for flush & Fill. (i will be using only distilled water for the operation)
    Yes. Barsleaks tabs (HDC) are the same, (G12BP) is the powdered version.
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Before adding the sealant tabs, I did not know they came packaged in two different sizes. I bought the 5 pack, which is 4 grams per tab. I added 3 of these tabs to my cooling system. Is this enough to have an effect?

    How long does it take for these tabs to fully circulate?
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Quote Originally Posted by Skiller. View Post
    Before adding the sealant tabs, I did not know they came packaged in two different sizes. I bought the 5 pack, which is 4 grams per tab. I added 3 of these tabs to my cooling system. Is this enough to have an effect?
    How long does it take for these tabs to fully circulate?
    The size difference between the 5 and 6 pack is inconsequential. The stuff circulates as soon as the car engine gets hot enough to open the thermostat - it will eventually circulate throughout the system 24/7. If it encounters a weep it seeps out, and because it's an organic mix, it dries and forms the equivalent of a beaver dam at the leak. A couple of heat-cool cycles and any small weep is gone forever if the gasket/hose causing the leak does not further deteriorate: NO sealant will cure a moving target.
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    Re: Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cooling System Sealant Tabs

    Once finished studding my engine, should i still add these when i re-fill with DEX?
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