A blown head gasket is a very serious problem for any driver. Head gaskets are responsible for sealing in a variety of different fuels in an automobile and when they blow, it can cause major damage to your engine. If your engine is knocking, it is one sign that you may have a blown head gasket.
If the coolant is leaking from the exhaust manifold or if white smoke is billowing from the exhaust pipe, it is a good sign that there is a problem with the Head gasket. If there is white milky oil leaking from your car, you may have a blown head gasket.
When shopping for a car, one should always make sure that it comes with a top-quality gasket head. It is also helpful to know the function of the component, the best variety of gasket and what a blown gasket can mean for your car.
What is a Head Gasket?
A head gasket is a seal that sits between the cylinder head or heads and the engine block. It is a part of the combustion chamber. Although it may just look like a cheap metal apparatus with four holes in it, the head gasket is a critical component of your engine’s combustion chamber and there are strict requirements for its strength.
Different Types of Gaskets
There are four basic types of gaskets found in the modern-day car. If you know a bit about them, it will let a car salesperson or mechanic know that you are a well-educated customer. You will be able to select an automobile that has been designed with your safety and budget in mind.
This kind of seal is found in older cars. It was used in K-series engines. It was comprised of a steel plate and it had silicone rubber beads that were sealed in the oil and coolant. They became obsolete when the K-series engines were redesigned.
This kind of gasket is made out of graphite and asbestos. They are not recommended because of health concerns about asbestos and the fact that they are prone to blow up.
This is the most durable kind of gasket. Car manufacturers have started using sealing wires that allow mechanics to install the component without removing the engine block. Copper is expensive, but a gasket made from this strong material will last for a long time.
The Multi-Layered steel gasket is far and away the most popular gasket in contemporary automobiles. It is made up of three layers of steel embedded with elastomers. They adhere to the cylinder block with a rubber coating.
Symptoms of a Blown Gasket
There are a few ways you can tell if you have a blown gasket. They are all very serious symptoms and you should stop driving and have a mechanic check your vehicle out right away. The burning gases and coolant traveling in and out of the opening in the gasket can erode the metal head or engine block. The longer you ignore the problem the worse it will get.
The Car Loses Power
When a head gasket stops working and lets compressed air escape, the compression of the cylinder is diminished and the car may simply stop running.
When smoke billows out of your car, there is always something wrong. When sweet-smelling, White smoke billows out of your exhaust pipe, it means that your head gasket did not block antifreeze from getting into the cylinders. The combustion process will turn this into steam. If the smoke is a blue color it may well be an oil leak, although this is rare.
Coolant or Oil Leaks
Leaking fluids might not seem like much of a problem, but if your car loses too much coolant, it can lead to serious problems in your engine. Coolant removes excess heat from your radiator. Without it, your car may get too hot.
If your car is leaking oil, it can cause engine damage and even fire.
If you take off your oil filter cap to find a milky sludge, there is a good chance that you have blown your head gasket. You may also find the sludge at the bottom of your dipstick when you check your oil. When this happens it means oil and coolant have mixed together. There are other things that can cause this problem, but you should have your engine taken apart to find out what is the matter.
Exhaust gases can leak into your vehicle’s cooling system and cause the car to overheat. Overheating can also be caused by coolant leaking into the cylinders. A car that has a blown gasket may overheat as often as every 15 minutes.
Bubbles in the Radiator
A blown gasket will allow exhaust gas to seep into the coolant. When this happens, you may see bubbles in the radiator. This can happen even when it is cold outside.
The bubbles are formed when exhaust gases push their way into the cooling system during the combustion process.
Spark Plug Problems
Coolant may leave tiny white deposits that you can see on your spark plugs. You will normally see this near the ground strap and electrode. There are other things that may cause these deposits, but it may be worth having a mechanic look at your car if you see them.
There are several things that can cause a car’s engine to knock, such as using the wrong grade of fuel or When the air and fuel mixture is incorrect. If a piece of the head gasket breaks off, it may cause a knocking noise coming from the engine.
What Causes Head Gaskets to Blow.
A head gasket is probably the most important sealant in your engine, It seals in both very hot combustion gases and the coolant in the engine, which can be a cold or moderate temperature.
The scope of temperatures and the wide surface area of the gasket can cause the gasket to incur leaks. This takes a while to happen.
The head gasket’s job is to seal the coolant path from the atmosphere and the combustion chamber. Hence, the better part of the gasket is hidden when you look under the hood of your car. Blown head gaskets can be hard to analyze because you would have to disassemble the engine to diagnose the problem.
Head Gasket Maintenance
There are a few things you can do to minimize damage to your head gasket. It is important to keep the combustion chamber pressures low in your vehicle.
Supercharged cars work by compressing air so that more air goes into the cylinder than otherwise would. If you were to use one bar of boost, you could double the amount of oxygen that goes into the cylinder. That would double the amount of fuel that is injected into the engine and that doubles the power. This can be hard on the head gasket.
If you have a supercharged car, the boost level should be set to the manufacturer's recommended setting.
You should also make sure the fuel in your car is clean. Dirty fuel can cause carbon build up, which can wear away at your head gasket and cause holes.
Carbon build-up can also cause a knocking in your engine. Fortunately, there are products that can remove carbon build-up.
You should avoid running your engine at a high RPM. Doing this can cause heat and stress to your head gasket. If you drive a stick, you should avoid changing gears when you want to slow down.
Remember that metal expands at high heat, so some parts of your engine will expand when they get overheated including the head gasket. The parts of your gasket that are bolted together will warp as they cannot expand. Heat can cause components of your engine to change shape and deformities in the metal can cause leaks.
You can avoid some of these problems if you never let your engine get too hot and if you keep a watchful eye on the temperature gauge.
There are products that claim they can seal head gasket leaks. Some people swear by them, but head gasket problems can ruin a car and it is always best to take your car in to a mechanic for an evaluation.
Best Head Gasket Brands
As we have already mentioned, it is best to get a multi-layered head gasket or a copper one as they are the most reliable types of gaskets. There are a few brands of gaskets that are considered the best. Although you can buy individual gaskets, it is always a good idea to buy a kit. A kit will include exhaust and intake manifold gaskets, spark plug seals, oil seals, thermostat gaskets, and OEM head gaskets.
This manufacturer is considered to be the best maker of head gaskets. They have a vast selection and they have gaskets that can fit into many different makes and models of cars.
This company offers both individual gaskets and head gasket replacement kits. They are an economical option for someone who is on a budget that does not want to sacrifice quality. You will find these gaskets in many auto body shops and you will also find that they have gaskets for many different makes and models of cars.
Evergreen Head Gaskets
Evergreen gaskets are also low in cost and high in quality. They come with a full set of disks and they fit many cars. Some of the plastic components are not as good of a quality as the Felpro brand, but then again it is half the price.
It cost between $1,802 and $2,292 to replace a head gasket with labor. Repair to a head gasket can cost around $1000 to $2000. Many people decide to just get a new gasket. It costs so much because the engine will need to be removed in order to see what the problem is in the first place.
Where to Get Your Head Gasket Replaced or Repaired
Head gasket repair and replacement is trying work and it takes a skilled mechanic to do a good job. You will have several options for getting your gasket fixed.
The mechanics at a dealership will be trained and certified in the make and model of car that you have and they will know the engine like the back of their hands. They will charge you a hefty sum for their work, but You will never have to wait a long time for any part. They will also charge you by the job and not the hour, so you won’t feel surprised when you get your bill.
Auto Body Shop
The vast majority of drivers in the U.S. prefer to go to an auto body shop for repairs. You will pay half of what you would at a dealership and you are likely to get more personal attention than you would there. However, you should be sure to find a mechanic who is certified in the make and model of your car. Be sure to get a time and cost estimate and ask for references.
The head gasket may go out at the end of a car’s life and replacing it may not be worth it. You may want to consider buying a new car and you might wonder what to do with the old vehicle.
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