What Are the Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket?

What Is a Head Gasket?

The head gasket is one of the most important gaskets in your engine. It is designed to seal the firing pressure of the cylinders and to prevent the engine oil and the coolant from leaking into and out of the cylinders. The head gasket is built to withstand the pressure and stress caused by two surfaces that expand, shrink, warp and rub, while sealing in cylinder pressure, engine oil and coolant that run through the casting ports.

What Causes Head Gasket Failure?

The engine operates at extreme temperatures. If the heat exceeds the normal engine operating temperatures, the engine overheats and may cause a blown head gasket. The excess heat is due to the engine block and cylinder head expanding excessively, leading to failure in the head gasket. Also, detonation can cause head gasket failure as it damages the fire rings or armors and allows the cylinder pressure to leak past the armors.

Blown Head Gasket Symptoms

Coolant in the Cylinders

A blown head gasket allows the coolant to enter the cylinders since the cylinder head gasket should seal coolant passages. The following are some symptoms of coolant in the cylinders:

  • milky white coloration in the oil
  • white smoke coming from the tailpipe
  • unexplained coolant loss with no leaks
  • bubbling in the radiator and coolant reservoir
  • engine overheating

Leakage of Coolant and Oil

You may also see streaks of coolant and oil streaming down from the gasket—the cylinder head gasket also seals in the oil and coolant.

Loss of Engine Power

Your engine power is also likely to reduce because of lower cylinder compression in case the head gasket leaks to the adjacent cylinders.

Getting Started

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, your cooling system may be pressurized. Shut the engine but do not release the pressure. Take your vehicle to a professional technician. These symptoms may or may not be due to a blown head gasket; hence, an accurate diagnosis is crucial.

We invite you to bring your vehicle into JB Import Automotive Repair today if you suspect that your vehicle has a blown head gasket. 

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