Blown Head Gasket – Signs of Blown Head Gasket

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A blown Head Gasket is one of the common issues drivers face with their vehicles. There are different ways your car head gasket can fail. For instance, if there is a white cloud popping up behind you at all times, you may have a bad head gasket.

Blown Head Gasket
Blown Head Gasket

However, basically, the head gaskets fail when the head and the engine expand at different rates, and the gasket can’t seal the newly expanded gap. This problem is worse in some vehicles that make use of an iron cylinder block and an aluminum head.

Though, some vehicles are made with poor clamping force from the head bolts or have heads prone to warping. With this, the head gasket can easily fail at any time.

Blown Head Gasket

Head Gasket is a seal that lies between an internal engine’s block and cylinder head(s). The seal prevents combustion gasses from escaping an engine’s cylinders, while also preventing the transfer of coolant and oil into an engine’s combustion chambers.

However, a failed head gasket simply means the engine will have to work harder to create power. While blown head gasket will quickly lead to show-stopping damage to your car if it’s not addressed right away.

Signs of Blown Head Gasket

Once a head gasket has failed it can cause all manner of problems, such as:

Overheating

The failure may be due to an engine overheating (as a result of clogged radiator, coolant leak, faulty fan, etc.). Though a blown head gasket will also cause the engine to overheat too.

Hot exhaust gases can leak or penetrate into the cooling system, or coolant can leak into the cylinders and be burned off as steam. Whichever way the end result is an overheating engine.

Loss Of Power

Failing of the head gasket, in such a way it allows the compressed air/fuel to escape, the compression of that cylinder is reduced. And the loss of compression will result in a rough running engine and a notable reduction in engine power. However, this sort of failure comes with a sound like an exhaust leak.

Oil Contamination

This is one of the most popular signs of head gasket failure. Thus, the milky sludge on the underside of the oil filler cap or on the dipstick. It is caused by coolant getting into the oil, and vice versa. Although not conclusive proof of head gasket failure, but generally a good indicator, and is a sure sign your engine needs to be looked into. This is to find the source of contamination.

 White Smoke

A faulty head gasket mostly results in large clouds of sweet-smelling white smoke coming from the exhaust. It is caused by antifreeze leaking past the gasket and into the cylinders, where it is switched to steam as part of the combustion process. Not really common, but is possible, is a leak from an oil passage to the cylinder, which would cause blueish smoke.

Any of this failure will also allow combustion pressure into the cooling system or oil breather system.

External Leaks

If the gasket fails between the water or oil line and the outside of the engine, it can lead to a simple coolant or oil leak. Though this may not manifest itself as an immediate problem (other than causing a mess) if the coolant level is allowed to drop too far, it can lead to serious engine issues. And also,  the leaking oil could get on the hot exhaust leading to acrid smoke, and possibly fire.

How to Prevent Head Gasket Failures

Is better to prevent the failure than fix the failure. Like an adage that says “prevention is better than cure”. When you prevent an issue from coming up as regards to the head gasket, will save you stress and money.

And replacement head gasket itself is not expensive, but the repair is very labor-intensive, which significantly increases the cost of repair, mostly on modern cars.

Head gasket failures are mostly caused by repeated overheating or continuing to drive after the car has overheated.

So, the best way to prevent a head gasket failure is to ensure your cooling system is in good condition. And if eventually, your car starts to boil over, stop the car and let it cool for at least an hour. Then refill the radiator before continuing.

Also, you can check the cooling system. Checking the cooling system is easy. Just ensure there are no leaks, that the radiator is working efficiently, the thermostat opens properly, and the coolant is topped up to the correct level. Also make sure the fan ( electric) is working, has all of its blades, and has a shroud around it to increase the efficiency.

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