Just between the cylinder head and the engine block, is the head gasket. Although small, it is a vital component that is used to seal the internal combustion process- while allowing coolant and oil to travel throughout the engine to lubricate and cool.
So, when the head gasket “blows” you could be in big trouble and this issue can directly affect your engine. Blown head gasket symptoms quite easy identify. And you should get the issue rectified quickly to avoid damage to your engine. So, let’s explore some of the symptoms as well as some remedies for the issues!
What is a Head Gasket?
Your vehicle’s head gasket seals the combustion portion of the engine which allows oil and coolant to circulate. Your car’s head gasket also seals the combustion chamber in the engine. As a successful operation, this allows the vehicle to produce enough power to move forward, while keeping your exhaust system in check. In modern vehicles, the head gasket is comprised of many layers of steel material that are entwined with elastomer. Because of this construction, the head gaskets are more durable and longer lasting. Older vehicles were equipped with gaskets created by graphite or asbestos. Today, you can find head gaskets that are of better construction, as they are less prone to leakage as well as wear and tear. They also post little to no health risks.
As a vital component within the combustible engine, it’s the job of the head gasket to ensure that the pressure created from the spark plug’s ignition of fuel vapors are kept within the combustion chamber. The combustion chamber houses the pistons and requires a vast or high amount of pressure so that the pistons operate and fire at their appropriate times. While coolant and oil have their jobs, they cannot ever mix. So, the head gasket keeps should effectively work to keep those chambers separated, ensuring there is no cross-contamination of fluids.
How do you know if you have a blown head gasket?
Chances are- as car owner and a driver, you will often wonder what causes a blown head gasket. The truth is, the causes can range from the combustion chamber being at fault to the coolant system being the responsible culprit. But for many, it can be confusing to know if there is a blown head gasket, as the symptoms that resemble head gasket failure will sometimes be masked as other issues. In certain instances, a symptom might pop up due to a large number of failures within the engine. Some examples could include:
- Overheating which may be caused by a restricted radiator- and can worsen, the more you drive your car.
- Coolant in the oil, which can signify issues with the intake gasket.
These symptoms and more, may or may not be due to a blown head gasket. So, therefore, you need to get a precise diagnosis from a skilled automotive technician.
A blown head gasket is nothing to ignore!
If there is one warning you can take away from this post, is not to ignore possible head gasket issues! Many times, we as drivers will ignore issues with our cars, hoping that they will go away. And lots of us will ignore blown head gasket symptoms because we don’t want to pay the money that comes with the repairs. Although understandable, it is more costly to ignore blown head gasket issues- because the issues can lead to further car trouble if you decide to continue driving.
Symptoms and Causes of a Blown Head Gasket
Your car’s engine relies on three vital fluids to operate effectively. Those three are coolant, motor oil and fuel. So, if you have a blown gasket, those fluids may enter into or even leave your car’s combustion chamber. As a result, you may have the following happen:
- Your car overheats- this is caused by no coolant or not enough coolant. A car overheating is also caused by hydrocarbons coming into the car’s cooling system.
- Smoke that may be gray, white or blue in color. This may be an indication that oil has entered into the combustion chamber.
- No power- this can be because of little or no compression that now causes loss of power, and even sputtering as well as reduced fuel efficiency.
- Oil that looks weird in color or is discolored- you may find that your oil has a brown look to it. You may now have coolant mixing with your oil in the engine.
Can you drive a car with a blown head gasket?
The short answer to this question is absolutely not! Having a blown head gasket is a huge problem for any engine- and it will cost quite a bit to fix. Since your head gasket is responsible for creating a barrier between your engine block- or the bottom portion that houses the cylinders- and the head- the top art that houses the valves. Your head gasket also functions as a channel engine coolant that helps your engine remain cool during operation. When looking at a fractured or a blown head gasket, you can have either:
- The allowance of coolant that will now escape from your engine. And with the loss of coolant, you are then faced with a car that will overheat- especially if you choose to drive your car for any length of time. Heat that escapes from the coolant can also cause burns if you decide to examine the issue by popping your hood and looking under it. You can also cause a fire. This is why it is so important to get your blown head gasket fixed immediately!
- The allowance of coolant to enter into your cylinders. This is another issue that spells trouble. If coolant combines with your fuel as well as engine oil then you will have that white smoke that emits from your tailpipe. This is quite characteristic of a car that has a blown head gasket. With too much coolant in your cylinders, you can have an engine that’s damaged quickly.
Most head gaskets don’t blow quickly
Most head gaskets will not blow out right away. In fact, many begin as a slow leak. But you as a driver must watch for the signs of a blown head gasket- especially in older vehicles. If you notice your coolant level dropping but don’t see an exterior coolant leak, you may have some coolant leaking into your engine. You can also watch for white smoke coming from your tailpipe, another indication that you have a cracked or blown head gasket.
Is it worth fixing a blown head gasket?
It depends. Are you looking to keep your vehicle for a number of years? Is this the only repair you have to make- at least for the time being? Then it is worth fixing your head gasket.
But if you have a car that gives you problem after problem, including a blown head gasket, then it may not be worth fixing. You may decide to get few quotes before getting your blown head gasket fixed and you may even take your car to a trusted mechanic to get it done too.
How much does it cost to replace a head gasket?
Since the cost of head gasket repairs can run into the thousands of dollars, it may suit you better to sell your car as a junk car. On average, the cost of head gasket repair is between $1,000 to $2,000. But it’s not the parts that are expensive.
So, why does it cost so much to fix a blown head gasket?
To fix a blown head gasket is labor-intensive and the labor is where most of the cost to repair the blown gasket comes in. The high costs that come with head gasket come with the extremely time-consuming task of removing your car’s engine and then replacing it. Additionally, the more time an auto mechanic is forced to spend on your blown gasket job- rather than something else- the more money you will have to pay.
Catch that blown head gasket early, save money!
One way to avoid the high costs of a blown head gasket repair, is to catch the problem early. Head gasket repair costs will come down to the speed at which the problem is identified. If it takes only days to see an issue, then you are more likely to spend less, than waiting weeks or even months.
the more time that passes with you waiting, the more money you can expect to hand over to a mechanic.
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