The head gasket is located between the cylinder head and the engine block. Although small in size, the head gasket is a vital component of a car, that is used to seal the internal combustion process. Because of this, there is the allowance of oil as well as coolant to travel throughout the engine lubricating and cooling as it should. If you have what’s called a “blown head gasket”, then you have some problems. Thankfully, blown head gasket symptoms are quite easy identify. And as you identify them, you should remedy them ASAP.
What Else Does The Head Gasket Do?
In addition to spearheading the cooling and lubricating, the head gasket also had the job of sealing the combustion chamber in the engine. Once this happens, your vehicle can produce enough power to move forward, while keeping dangerous gases from exiting the combustion chamber. The head gasket will allow those gases to be exited though the exhaust system. In modern vehicles, the head gasket is constructed of several layers of steel material entwined with a component called elastomer. This allows for more durability as well as longevity.
Additionally, the head gasket is an important component in the combustible engine. The combustion houses the pistons and requires a high amount of pressure to ensure the pistons continue to fire at their designated times. Coolant and oil will have equally important jobs but, to perform their given tasks, they can never mix. The head gasket keeps the chambers separate and ensures no cross-contamination of fluids.
What Happens When A Head Gasket Blows?
The most common reason there is a damaged or blown head gasket is often a result of an engine that has become too hot. High engine temperatures are typically caused by a lack of coolant within the radiator- as there may be some sort of leak. Some gaskets are likely to weaken sooner than other gaskets. This depends on the gasket is made of. For example, aluminum, expands quicker, once it is heated. In fact, many metals that have a higher thermal expansion rate are more sensitive to hot temperatures. With those hotter temperatures this can cause the object to change shape, as well as an unfavorable outcome.
When the head gasket has blown, it’s important to take care of it immediately. Choosing to operate a vehicle with a blown gasket can cause danger as well as irreparable damage to the engine. While the gasket is used as a seal, it helps to maintain pressure in the engine which is key.
When that gasket blows, that gasket can no longer act as a seal. And then you have pressure that can escape- causing decreases in the engine’s overall power. Other issues with a blown gasket can cause oil and coolant passageways to leak into areas where they shouldn’t be. Once you have coolant inside the combustion chambers, it will then mix as well as dilute with the engine oil. This will also affect the cooling capabilities. Now you’re looking at an engine that will be overheating.
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
Some of the symptoms of a blown head gasket include but aren’t limited to:
- An overheating engine
- White or gray smoke coming from your tailpipe
- Water leaking from the tailpipe
- Bubbling liquid coming from the coolant reservoir and radiator
- Distinct “milky” white-colors in the oil and more.
As we mentioned before, it is not safe to operate a car with a blown head gasket. Once you have one or more of these symptoms or you know you have a blown head gasket, it’s time to take care of it immediately.
There may also be loss of engine power caused by lower cylinder compression- due to your blown head gasket. Once you experience one of these symptoms, shut the engine down and do not release the pressure. Take your vehicle to an auto professional for repair, ASAP.
What’s the Best Way To Prevent A Blown Head Gasket?
The best way to prevent head gasket failure in your car is to maintain the engine coolant at the proper level. Additionally, you want to make sure that you have the correct mixture according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. And don’t forget to keep your eyes on your temperature gauge. If you see that you’re running hot while driving, you want to pull over and allow your car to cool and if you can, call for road side assistance.
Does A Blown Head Gasket Mean I Need A New Engine?
If you continue to drive your car knowing that you have a blown head gasket, you are driving down a road of irreversible damage to your engine. You risk the engine overheating and then locking. Ignoring your blown head gasket can also lead to such problems as a warped head or even a cracked engine block.
Does A Blown Head Gasket Ruin An Engine?
A blown head gasket is a major issue for any engine, and one that costs quite a bit to repair. Since the head gasket is responsible for creating a seal between your engine block and the head, you risk some cross contamination of oil and fluids. Your head gasket also acts to vessel to the engine coolant ensuring that your engine stays cool while it’s in operation. Two problems related to your engine, can arise from a blown head gasket.
There can be a loss of coolant
Once you have a loss in coolant, this can lead to overheating of your engine if you drive your vehicle for days, weeks or any length of time.
Coolant can enter your cylinders
If coolant mixes with your engine oil and fuel, then you may see that characteristic white smoke coming from the tailpipe. A significant amount of coolant in your cylinders can also lead to tremendous engine damage fast- as your engine oil is not able to lubricate components properly.
What Car Manufacturers Have Issued Recalls Due to Head Gasket Problems?
Check out the roundup of car makers who issued recalls due to head gasket problems.
Ford Recalls Focus RS Hatchbacks Due To Faulty Head Gaskets
According to a report on nydailynews.com back in 2018, “…Ford finally issued a service recall for the Focus RS over faulty head gaskets. Ford’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four engines have been found with faulty head gaskets in certain Focus RS hatchbacks. Affected vehicles may emit noticeable white smoke from the exhaust or show low coolant levels with no sign of external leaks due to the failing head gaskets. Model years 2016 and 2017 Focus RS models built from Aug. 3, 2015 to July 6, 2017 are involved in this recall. Ford plans on sending the owners of the affected vehicles a letter…” Ford made plans to pressure-test the cooling system of the Focus models, while inspecting the combustion chamber for coolant. As a repair and answer to the problem, Ford told Focus owners that they would, “… replace the head gasket and, if necessary, the cylinder head assembly.”
Toyota Issues 3.0 V-6 Head Gasket Recall
According to the brian894x4.com website: “When Toyota introduced the new 3.0 V-6 motor during the 1988 model year, it was the first V-6 engine installed in a Toyota truck. Toyota has had problems with the V-6 head gaskets since the beginning. They always seemed to fail early in the engine’s service life for no good reason.” In October 1996, Toyota came around and initially all 3.0 V-6 gaskets were recalled and replaced at no charge, as long as the trucks were less than 8 years old and had less than 100,000 miles on them. This initial recall involved all V-6 engines made from 1988 through 1995. However, this has subsequently changed. In December 1997, Toyota declared that all trucks made before Jan, 1990 would no longer be covered.”
2019 Chevrolet Cruze Recall
On the dealerrater.com, it states: “General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Chevrolet Equinox, Impala, Cruze, Volt and Bolt EV vehicles, GMC Terrain vehicles, Buick Lacrosse and Regal vehicles, Cadillac XTS and XTS Professional vehicles and 2018 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles. The rear brake caliper pistons may have an insufficient coating causing gas pockets to form, potentially reducing rear brake performance.”
What have Owners of Cars Experienced with a Blown Head Gasket?
Check out some of the problems car owners have had, with a blown head gasket:
Car Owner Number One – Nissan Sentra, Automatic Transmission
“The car had 89,206 kms when the engine light went on and I took it to a Nissan dealership to be advised the head gasket was gone. This problem was well documented on the intranet with several complaints and cars of the same model up for sale at a very low price indicating ‘you replace the head gasket’. Nissan washed their hands of this problem knowing full well it was a defect in the manufacturing. After having to pay the ransom of $2,075.56 at $98 per hour I would NEVER think of buying another Nissan. I gave the car to my daughter and bought a Toyota Corolla, best move I ever made. From now on it is Toyota all the way with me. I would love to see a class action suit brought against these crooks and would be happy to sign up and write a cheque.”
Car Owner Number Two- Sentra 1.8L, Automatic Transmission
“This is not the first time that the head gasket blew on this vehicle. It happened about a year after I had purchased it and had to do a full replacement. Luckily that was covered under the extended warranty that I had at the time and the work was done at the Nissan dealership. So that was at around 72000 miles. Now the vehicle at 145000 miles, blew ANOTHER GASKET! I have maintained the recommended maintenance and I have the service records to prove it, this is ridiculous and seems like a major design flaw.”
Car Owner Number Three- Bonneville SSEI 3.8L V6, Automatic Transmission
“The engine head gasket blew. Good thing [to] know how to fix this myself. Ended up costing $450 to replace the head gaskets. It would have cost a lot more taking it to the shop.”
Car Owner Number Four- Equinox AWD 3.2L, Automatic Transmission
“This car has been nothing but trouble since purchasing. [I have had] shaking, engine issues, every time that I turn around there is another issue – GM should be ashamed of themselves and now I see why I never bought a Chevy everyone told me not to do it. I wish I would have listened [ because it has been the] worst purchase ever – I will never purchase another one of these vehicles – I usually stick with Buick – Buick here I come as soon as I can.”
How Much Can I Get For A Car With A Blown Head Gasket?
Having the gasket repaired at your dealership will cost you more money, but is oftentimes far more effective since they have experience. Although you save money going to a mechanic, there is no guarantee that he or she has experience with your specific model’s engine. So, should you sell that car with the blown head gasket on your own? Well it depends.
If you post an ad online that you have a car with a blown gasket, you may probably be able to sell the car- providing that you have other parts on the car, that are in good working order. And once you decide to sell a car with a blown head gasket, you have lots of work in front of you. So, you post an ad, write that you have a blown head gasket and you get a few calls about the car. But no one seems to be really interested in the vehicle. So, what do you do?
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