The head gasket is a prominent part under the bonnet, providing a seal between the engine block and the cylinder head. Its main purpose is to prevent any fluid from passing through.
Like other car components, head gaskets can wear out over time. While it’s quite rare for a head gasket to malfunction, it’s important to know the symptoms that can confirm a blown head gasket.
The symptoms of a blown head gasket can be dire.
Easiest Ways to Recognize the Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket
Overheating: Increase in engine running temperature
Overheating is not a good sign. Oil leaking into your coolant system slows down the engine’s ability to cool, resulting in rapid engine overheating.
Exhaust is producing white smoke
White smoke is also a significant red signal. Car exhaust typically produces thick, white smoke when the head gasket next to the oil system is broken or worn out. This means that coolant, antifreeze, and oil are burning in the combustion chamber after leaking through a faulty gasket.
Oil looks dull or has a milky discoloration
One of the obvious signs of head gasket failure is milky-colored engine oil which has a sweet smell. This is when the gasket is blown to the point where the coolant/antifreeze leaks into the oil return passage.
Bubbles in the radiator or overflow
This is caused by the release of gases from the combustion chamber into the cooling system, causing bubbling in the radiator cavity.
Obvious external oil leak
If a cylinder head gasket is blown between the water or oil passage & the outside of the engine, it will result in an obvious coolant or oil leak. This is the least terrifying version of a blown head gasket, but the serious one, one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
What happens if you drive a car with a blown head gasket?
If coolant is leaking externally whenever you drive it can overheat the engine and possibly damage it. Leaking coolant is usually hot, so it can burn you when you check under the hood. This also puts your car at risk of catching fire.
Some cars stop immediately when the head gasket bursts, others can endure the resulting damage for a few months. So, if we consider these risks, driving with a blown head gasket is not worth the risk. Therefore, for safety reasons, we would recommend that either the leak be repaired or the head gasket be replaced immediately.
How to fix a blown head gasket?
- The first step in the process is to disconnect the battery cable from the car. Then, you need to drain the coolant, use the radiator, and block the drain to remove all the coolant.
- And then we suggest disconnecting any electrical wires that get in the way of removing the head. Remove intake and exhaust manifold.
- Now you can remove the cylinder head! After you have successfully removed the head cylinder, it is important to check for cracks before installing a new head gasket.
- The final step for a new head gasket installation is to reverse all disassemble steps.
How to fix a blown head gasket without replacing it?
- The economic way is to seal a leak with a gasket sealer. This will prevent all coolant leaks from gaskets, plugs, intake manifolds, engine blocks, aluminum radiators, and more.
- In some cases, the leak is too large for gasket sealant to be used. Talk to a trusted mechanic about a new part that will fit your engine.
What is the most effective way to keep a head gasket?
- The best way to prevent head gasket failure is to keep your cooling system in good working condition. If your vehicle starts to boil, stop, let it cool for at least an hour, and refill the radiator before continuing.
- If you are going to install a new head gasket in your car, make sure the head bolts are torqued to the proper specifications. This’ll eliminate frequent head gasket failure.
- Lastly, if you notice that your car is having performance issues, have it checked.
If you find that your head gasket has blown out, take your time to fix the problem.