Signs of a Blown Head Gasket

Written by meaghan ringwelski
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The head gasket on a car performs two important functions. First, it contains the internal combustion process; second, it separates the coolant from the oil as they work their way independently from the engine block to the car's cylinder head. The head gasket is located between a car's engine block and its cylinder head, making it difficult to access; this is why replacing one can be so expensive. There are many different signs indicating a blown head gasket; keeping them in mind and acting on them quickly is the best way to prevent major motor damage to your vehicle.

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Bubbles In the Radiator

If you suspect that your car has a blown head gasket, checking its radiator is one way to confirm it. When a car's head gasket has a leak, air bubbles can travel into the radiator. To check this, remove the car's radiator cap. After letting the engine warm up, rev it a couple of times; if bubbles emerge from the radiator, you probably have a blown head gasket.

Exhaust Symptoms

Evidence of a blown head gasket can present itself in three different ways via a car's exhaust system. Unusually white smoke may be emitted from the tailpipe. Water may be seen dripping from a vehicle's exhaust pipe when there is a blown head gasket. Finally, a car's exhaust may have an unusually sweet smell when there is a problem with its head gasket.

Oil Symptoms

A car's oil can help diagnose a blown head gasket. Oil becomes contaminated when a head gasket has a leak or other problems. When the oil becomes contaminated, a milky looking ring will appear around the oil cap. This ring occurs when coolant mixes with engine oil.

Engine Symptoms

A slow, sluggish or unresponsive engine is another sign of a blown head gasket. This happens due to the compression loss which occurs when a head gasket has a leak, tear or other problem. A vehicle is much likelier to overheat under these circumstances as well.

Spark Plug Symptoms

For vehicles that use green coolant, the spark plugs may provide another symptom of a blown head gasket. In this case, the plugs may have a green tint around them. In extremely severe cases, coolant might even spray out of the spark plug holes.

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