Cylinder head gasket failure can be quite easy to establish. From large streams of white smoke billowing from the exhaust to overheating, you will certainly see signs of head gasket failure. But there may be more subtle and hidden cylinder head gasket failures that may be a bit more difficult to diagnose. So, is there a blown head gasket test that you can perform on your car? You can definitely test for head gasket failure. Let’s examine how to test for a blown head gasket.
How To Test For a Blown Head Gasket
There are plenty of ways you can find out if you are in the verge of a blown head gasket. Let’s take a look at a few tests you can perform.
Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket
What are some of the symptoms of a blown head gasket? Let’s take a look at some signs that your head gasket is faulty.
Loss of Coolant
One of the most common indications that you have a blown head gasket, is loss of coolant. You can see liquid forming in your driveway from under your car, after a few driving trips. Are you seeing mysterious liquids leaking from underneath your vehicle? The mysterious loss of coolant may be due to a blown head gasket leak. Additionally, your vehicle’s coolant is then entering into the combustion chamber and then exiting out of your vehicle’s exhaust system. Maybe the leak is only an issue if your engine is operating at a high temperature. Nevertheless, you may suspect an issue, so you keep a watchful eye on the underbelly of your car. Once you notice that you have coolant leaking from your vehicle, you want to take your car to a mechanic ASAP.
“Milky Colored” Liquid
Another indication that you have a blown head gasket is looking to see if you have “oil that’s “milky” in color. You may even see cloudy water in your oil as well. If your car has succumbed to a blown head gasket, then the coolant from your cooling system will leak into your vehicle’s combustion chamber and travel past your piston rings. The fluid will then enter into your engine oil and mix with it. Depending on your engine’s design, your coolant may seep into the intake plenum, as a result of a faulty hose or gasket.
Tests for a Blown Head Gasket
Looking for a sure blown head gasket test? There are a few you can perform. Let’s take a few at some possible tests you can execute to see if you have a faulty head gasket.
You can perform your first blown head gasket test by conducting a pressure test of your vehicle’s cooling system. If you have a cooling system that is working correctly, then your system should be able to maintain a constant pressure rating toward your radiator cap between 10 and 20 PSI. In order to test the cooling system’s integrity, you can provide a pressure gauge to your vehicle’s cooling system. Next, you can then pressurize it with compressed air. When you remove the air source you can then see if the pressure in the system is holding at a constant level and rate, or if it decreases after a few hours. Should the pressure decrease, then you have a sign that there is indeed a leak somewhere. If you’re not able to externally find the leak, then you may have a leak in your head gasket.
Another blown head gasket test you can perform is that of a compression test. Should you have a blown head gasket, then the compressed air in a cylinder will bleed off into the cooling system. This will result in a lowering of compression in that particular cylinder. If you locate compression in any of your cylinders, then you may have a head gasket that’s leaking in that specific cylinder.
You can also perform various chemical tests for an effective blown head gasket test for your vehicle. Take your car to a mechanic so that you can have the proper tests utilizing the proper equipment.
Can You Still Drive A Car With A Blown Head Gasket?
The short answer is yes, but you shouldn’t. Your vehicle’s head gasket is a seal. And the moment that it blows, you will have an immediate loss of pressure that’s in your engine. With the loss of pressure your vehicle’s pistons will no longer fire off with force. This will further result in a tremendous loss of power. Additionally, the coolant and oil will begin to leak into places in the engine, in which they don’t belong. The coolant and oil are also no longer correctly pressurized in their specific passageways. The coolant now has a chance to mix with your motor oil, diluting it, and reducing your engine’s ability to lubricate vital components of your engine properly. For example, your crank bearings and cam shaft will not receive the correct lubrication, resulting in tremendous bearing damage. Eventually, you will be looking at an engine rebuilding job.
What Cars Most Likely Need Head Gasket Replacement?
From the blown head gasket test you may perform on your car, to the additives you may look to seal the cracks and fractures, there are some vehicles that seem to be prone to head gasket issues. Head gaskets are generally meant to the entire life of an engine, but some vehicles unfortunately have a reputation of being crafted with faulty head gasket. Let’s look at some of the vehicles that are known for faulty head gaskets.
BMW 3 Series
The first on the list of vehicles with known head gasket issues, are the BMW 3 Series vehicles. Although known for being a luxury car, the BMW 3 Series vehicles are known for problematic head gaskets. In fact, data indicates that these cars begin to have issues with the head gaskets at 90,000 miles.
Known for ingenuity and reliability, the Subaru brand is known for having head gasket issues. In fact, data indicates that vehicles with a 2.5-liter engine are exceptionally susceptible and notorious for head gasket leakage. Issues with the head gasket began during the early 1990’s. The problems have been continuing in subsequent Subaru models.
The Chevrolet Cruze has noted head gasket issues that begin at a reported 62,000 miles. Many Cruze owners reported problems such as the valve cover blowing, oil leakages and more.
What Do I Do With a Car That has Head Gasket Problems?
Owing a car that has head gasket issues does not mean that you’ll endure years of problems. After you perform the blown head gasket test that you needed to perform, you can certainly take your car back to the dealership, and discuss the issues you have been having with your vehicle. Most repairs will cost you nothing and you may even be able to receive another car. These days, car manufacturers do not want unsatisfied customers. So, know your rights and speak up about the blown head gasket issues that you’re having.
Can You Drive A Car With A Blown Head Gasket?
We certainly don’t advise driving your car with a blown head gasket. After you have performed the blown head gasket test that indicates you have a blown head gasket, you want to get that car to a mechanic ASAP. The longer you drive your car with a blown head gasket, the more engine damage you will endure. Once your head gasket blows, you no longer have a seal. This results in pressure escaping and a decrease in your engine’s power.
What’s The Cost Of A Blown Head Gasket Repair?
The typical out of pocket cost of repairing a blown head gasket falls in the range of $1,000 to $2,000. As a vehicle owner, we all know that the real costs of repairs come from the labor involved with a repair, rather than the parts.
Is A Car With A Blown Head Gasket Worth Fixing?
You can perform a blown head gasket test and try to find how to fix your blown head gasket. But when all is said and done, it may not be worth your time and energy in fixing your blown head gasket. This may especially be the case, if your blown head gasket repair is more than the car is worth.
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