Driver's Side Header Leak?

I've been told that the driver's side header has a tendency to leak over time.

Since I had to pull it while taking off the heads, I gave it a closer inspection. Looks like there is a hairline crack developing along this weld. Probably not going to show up in the picture, but the circled region is where it is located.

There is also black residue impregnated in the area... my guess is that there might be traces of exhaust/oil escaping there.

Two questions:
1) Is this the spot where the header usually leaks? Along that particular weld?
2) Is this something I can take to a muffler shop to have welded back up, or does it require full replacement?

One last thing... is it common for these cars to be run without exhaust manifold gaskets? I've checked three times now... not on the headers or head. Maybe they fell under the car somewhere?
 

mikestertwo

Well-Known Member
It's hard to tell from the picture but it looks like that header has been repaired once before. Where you have the red circle is a typical place they crack. If it is cracked take it to a welding shop that can weld stainless. It also looks like you had a major leak on the exhaust port on #1 cylinder. From the factory there were no gaskets used between the head and the header.
 
It's hard to tell from the picture but it looks like that header has been repaired once before. Where you have the red circle is a typical place they crack. If it is cracked take it to a welding shop that can weld stainless. It also looks like you had a major leak on the exhaust port on #1 cylinder. From the factory there were no gaskets used between the head and the header.

Thanks. Sounds good. I'll take it to a shop to have it welded up, and this time there will be exhaust gaskets!
 

626gn

Well-Known Member
A competent welder can repair it. It's a little tricky because the metal is very thin. If memory serves its 409 stainless and I believe we tigged mine with 309 wire but I would have to check my notes to be sure. Some put a gusset between the #3 & #5 tubes for more strength. And as mentioned below, the headers should be bolted to a spare head or clamped to a welding table, or similar, to prevent warpage.
 
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VtheGNMan

Well-Known Member
is it common for these cars to be run without exhaust manifold gaskets? I've checked three times now... not on the headers or head. Maybe they fell under the car somewhere?[/QUOTE]
They came without any header gasket. Best way to do it too as most everyone that tries running a gasket blows them out constantly. You may have to a true up the flange surface with a belt sander too. Just a thin smear of copper gasket seals it up.
If you have welded on hopefully they can bolt them down to a metal plate while working on them to keep them from warping with the welder heat.
 

Chuck Leeper

Toxic old bastard
Staff member
Common. Since someone screwed it up at the last repair, it might be best to get a TA Perfomance replacement.
 

NY Twin Turbo

All the good stuff.....Times 2.
Your header was repaired in the past. It was an ugly repair. It will need to be done again. And most likely, it will need to be done again after that. And then after that, it will need to be done again. And so on and so on and so on. Every time it cracks, it will crack along side the most recent weld. This will continue until most of the tube looks like globs of snot have been wiped and slung all over it around the sides.

For many, this ends up being a regular maintenance item . Buy an aftermarket replacement and be done with it. Or get a repaired spare stocker and keep it on standby at all times.

Welcome to the world of Turbo Buicks. Now let me introduce you to a device we have all come to love......the Powermaster.
 
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