5 Warning Signs of a Blown Head Gasket & How to Avoid It
- Category: Vehicles
You can be sure that a blown head gasket will ruin your day. Act right away if you even suspect yours is on its way out.
Because there are seven somewhat different ways a head gasket can fail, which we outline here, each of them has the potential to be disastrous for the engine. A fragrant white cloud behind you, though, is one of the signs of a blown head gasket. Stop the engine as soon as you notice something is happening.
When the engine is warming up, the cylinder head and engine block typically expand at different rates, and the head gasket typically fails when it is unable to seal the newly formed gap. Some engines with an iron cylinder block and an aluminium head make this problem worse. Additionally, certain engines are known for failing and have heads that are prone to warping or poor clamping force from the head bolts.
A failed head gasket might result in a variety of issues. If you see any of the following signs of a damaged head gasket, schedule an appointment for your car with a qualified mechanic by looking online for vehicle service near me garages:
A blown head gasket can also lead to the engine overheating, which can lead to head gasket failure if it happens too often (due to a clogged radiator, coolant leak, broken fan, etc.). An overheated engine might result from hot exhaust gases leaking into the cooling system or coolant leaking into the cylinders and burning off as steam. The alloy cylinder head may distort if the automobile is driven while it is overheated, and steam damage to the catalytic converter can greatly increase the cost of repair. To get an appointment with a repair to look into the overheating problem before it becomes worse, search online for car garages in Reading.
- Power loss
When compressed air or fuel escapes from a cylinder due to a failing head gasket, the compression of that cylinder is decreased. A harsh functioning engine and a noticeable drop in engine power are the results of this lack of compression. Usually, a sound resembling an exhaust leak occurs along with this kind of failure.
- Oil contamination
The milky sludge on the inside of the oil filler cap or the dipstick, frequently colloquially referred to as a “milkshake” or “mayonnaise,” is one of the most obvious symptoms of head gasket failure. This is brought on by coolant and oil mixing together. This is a typically good indicator and a sure sign that your engine needs to be disassembled to identify the source of the contamination, even though it is not absolute proof of head gasket failure. Before the engine sustains additional damage, search online for garages in Reading and schedule an appointment as soon as you can with a qualified mechanic. Additionally, since the oil will now be tainted with antifreeze, any driving will swiftly destroy the engine’s bearings. Repair calls for a minimum engine oil flushing, a new oil filter, and frequently complete disassembly of the engine’s bottom end to check for broken bearings and remove all tainted oil.
- White Smoke
The most typical symptom of a damaged head gasket is billowing clouds of fragrant white smoke emanating from the exhaust. The antifreeze that leaks past the gasket and into the cylinders, where it is converted to steam during combustion, is what causes the smoke. A blueish smoke might result from a less frequent, but still conceivable, leak from an oil channel to the cylinder. This can also result in the emissions test failing during your subsequent MOT. If you have any past garage repair invoices, use them to determine what repairs were made to solve this problem and whether a previous MOT test failed because of the emissions test by using an online MOT history checker. Both of these gasket failures will allow combustion pressure to enter the cooling system or the oil breather system. This could be the cause if the dipstick won’t stay in place or if a radiator hose suddenly loses its water outlet.
- External leaks
A straightforward coolant or oil leak may emerge from a cylinder head gasket blowing in the direction of the water or oil path and the engine’s exterior. Although not as bad as a damaged head gasket, this situation is nevertheless serious. If the coolant level is permitted to go too much, an exterior leak can cause major engine problems even though it may not immediately present itself as a problem (other than making a mess). The hot exhaust could become contaminated by leaking oil, causing noxious smoke and even fire.
Preventing Failures of the Head Gasket
Spending a few extra quid now rather than several hundred pounds later to repair a blown head gasket is considerably preferable. Yes, the replacement gasket is inexpensive, but the labour-intensive nature of the entire disassembly and reassembly process greatly raises the cost of repair, particularly for modern vehicles.
The simplest approach to avoid a head gasket failure is to make sure your cooling system is in good shape. A head gasket frequently fails after repeated overheating or if you drive after the car has overheated. If your car does begin to boil over, halt it, let it cool for at least an hour, and then restart it with fresh radiator fluid.
The cooling system can be easily checked, which is good news. All you need to do is ensure that the radiator is operating well, the thermostat opens properly, and the coolant is filled off to the proper amount. If there are any leaks, you’ll be able to tell by the moisture in the pipes and joints. Additionally, check that the fan—whether mechanical or electric—is operational, has all of its blades, and is shrouded to maximise efficiency.
The credible source is to look for combustion fumes in the cooling system if you have a suspicion of a head gasket failure. This test will demonstrate whether the cooling system has been affected by compression leakage, indicating whether the head gasket has blown. An old mechanic’s tip is to start the car, remove the radiator cap (only while the cooling system is cold), and then check the coolant for air bubbles.
The lack of gases in the cooling system doesn’t really ensure a good head gasket, however, as these will not reveal if there are any other failure locations in the head gasket.
Because of poor design, inadequate strength, or a combination of the two, several older head gaskets break. It used to be a greater problem with earlier metal gaskets because they would only survive so long before failing from being hot to cold. The majority of applications can now benefit from contemporary MLS (multiple layer steel) replacement gaskets, which are more dependable.
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