The head gasket is an important engine component that acts as a barrier between the engine block and the cylinder head. It is arranged so that it separates the combustion chamber from the coolant channel. This means that the head gasket comes into contact with both extremely high temperatures and cool to warm temperatures.
It is natural for the head gasket to fail and leak at varying temperatures from both sides. The problem here is that it is not easy to identify a blown cylinder head gasket. It is not easy to identify because it is hidden inside the engine, which means you would have to open your car’s engine to check for head gasket failure. Fortunately, there are other ways to identify a blown head gasket and these are easily visible.
Signs of a Bad Head Gasket
Given the nature of a head gasket problem, the symptoms must be clearly investigated to determine a damaged head gasket.
1. Overheating Engine
If the cylinder head gasket works properly, you will hardly experience any overheating of the engine. This is only the case if you regularly check the radiator for water and coolant levels. However, if your cylinder head gasket fails, you will notice an increase in the engine temperature. This is something you don’t want to have, because a hot engine is a dangerous engine, and if you don’t solve this problem quickly, you’ll be looking at a possible engine replacement.
2. White Smoke from The Radiator and Exhaust
There are generally two ways of looking at the failure of a cylinder head gasket. Firstly, check for smoke from the radiator: for this method to work, you need patience. First, start your car and let the engine run. Open the bonnet, open the radiator cap and wait until the engine has warmed up. Keep your eyes on the radiator opening. Once the engine has warmed up, you will see white smoke rising from the radiator opening. In this case, the cylinder head gasket may have failed and you must make an appointment to visit the mechanic.
Secondly, check the smoke coming from the exhaust pipe: this method works the same as the one described above. Start your car and wait until it gets warm. If you see white smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe, you are on your way to the garage.
3. Loss of Fluid in The Radiator
This can also happen if there is a leak in the radiator piping or in the radiator itself, but a sudden loss of fluid can mean a failure of the head gasket. The first thing you should do to learn more about this situation is to check your radiator fluids daily. Fill the radiator with coolant and look for visible signs of leaks, and if you notice fluid loss every day, your head gasket is sure to have blown.
4. Milky White Engine Oil
We all know the color of the oil. If one day you check the oil level of your car and suddenly see that the oil does not look the way it should, you probably have a cylinder head gasket failure. If the gasket breaks, both the engine coolant and the oil from the combustion chamber will mix. This mixture of water and oil in the engine can give the oil this unique, milky white color. If it has gotten this far, it means that your problem has reached dangerous proportions and you are shortening the life of your car’s engine.
5. Overflowing Radiator
When the relatively cool water comes in contact with the extremely hot oil from the engine, the water starts to boil and finds a way to escape. The weakest link is the side-mounted radiator overflow tank. If the cylinder head gasket fails, bubbles will form in the coolant and the overflow tank will probably burst due to the pressure.
|Bad Head Gasket||Overheating engine
Loss of Fluid in The Radiator
White smoke from exhaust
Milky White Engine Oil
|Head Gasket Sealer
Bleed the coolant system
Replace the head gasket
Solutions to solve a blown head gasket
A blown cylinder head gasket is not a big problem, and you can survive one without much fuss. However, prolonging a cylinder head gasket problem can drastically shorten the life of your engine. Therefore it is best to have it checked by a mechanic as soon as possible. If you want to know more about the solutions, you can read our other article: Overheating causes & solutions
Buy A Head Gasket Sealer
Why waste time going to the mechanic to solve your head gasket problems when you can take care of it yourself? Fortunately, products like head gaskets are now available on the market at a reasonable price. These instant sealants offer you a quick but temporary solution to your head gasket problems.
They are safe for engines and a good option for you, because by investing in such equipment you can save a few valuable dollars by delaying a visit to the mechanic. However, it is advisable not to depend on a head gasket gasket sealer for long. They are not a permanent solution, which means that at the end of the day you will still have to spend a few dollars at your local mechanic’s workshop.
If you want to try this method, I can recommend the BlueDevil Head Gasket Sealer from Amazon.
Replace the head gasket
In most cases, you will need to replace the head gasket if it is bad and you want a permanent solution. You must have a workshop take a look at the head before installing the new gasket.
Head Gasket Replacement Cost
The cylinder head gasket is a very small but important component of an engine. The cylinder head gasket itself is quite cheap. You could expect to spend $30 to $120 on a gasket, but that is the good news. The bad news is that the head gasket is inside the engine. So in order to have it replaced, your mechanic has to disassemble the engine head and replace the old head gasket with the new one. By reading this, you can imagine the hard work it would take to replace the cylinder head gasket of your car. So expect a hefty bill, probably between $1,000 and $2,500. Remember that the make and model of your car, as well as the type of engine, is an important factor in determining the price of the replacement.
Hello I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I’m specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I’m here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.