How to tell if an engine block is cracked

Written by sharon sweeny
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How to tell if an engine block is cracked
If your engine is leaking oil and/or coolant, you might have a cracked engine block. (car image by Muhammad Umair Tahir from

It can be difficult to diagnose a cracked block on a car engine. Many different things can be wrong, but all those things can mean something else is wrong. If you recognise a couple of symptoms, there's a good chance your engine block is cracked. If none of them are familiar, it probably isn't.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Check to see if your engine is leaking oil and/or coolant. This causes your engine to overheat and if it's not fixed, it can cause it to freeze up.

  2. 2

    Check your oil and antifreeze for contamination. If your oil or antifreeze looks different in any way, have it tested by a lab to determine if contamination has occurred.

  3. 3

    Look for computer codes flashing on the dashboard. This is often accompanied by reduced performance or a change in the way the car handles while driving.

  4. 4

    Check the level of fluid in your radiator. If your car suddenly loses a lot of coolant or the level is very low, this can indicate a cracked block.

  5. 5

    Look for excessive smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe.

  6. 6

    Check the radiator’s coolant mixture of antifreeze and water to determine if it has frozen.

  7. 7

    Check to see if the engine has overheated severely. Overheating can be caused by another engine problem, but the effect of the overheating can be a cracked block.

Tips and warnings

  • If you suspect your engine block is cracked, have a professional mechanic look at it. Because the symptoms of a cracked block are also symptoms of other engine problems, the only sure way to tell is to take apart the engine and inspect the block.
  • Stop driving your vehicle immediately if you suspect your engine's block is cracked, or you may cause even more damage.

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