Yes or no to drive with blown head gasket?


Old 12-23-04, 10:25 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 113
Question Yes or no to drive with blown head gasket?

How can you tell if the head gasket is blown? Is it alright to drive the vehicle if it is blown? If not are they a costly repair?

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Old 12-23-04, 11:18 AM
hogfan's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I don't think I would drive it. All you could do is more damage! Check the coolant level in the radiator if you have to add. How much? Also pull the oil dipstick and check for water in the oil. (The oil will look milky) Yes, This is a costly repair.
Old 12-23-04, 11:58 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Minnesota
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It could be more costly to NOT Fix!

How can you tell if the head gasket is blown?

You don't say the Year, make model or engine size/type. And depends on the severity of the leak to verify.

If your loosing coolant quick or you've got antifreeze dripping out or lot's of white smoke coming out the tail pipe. Or bubbles in the radiator or overflow reservoir, all you'll need to do to verify the source cylinder (cyl) is pull the spark plugs out, pressurize the cooling system with a pressure tester and crank the engine while watching for coolant to spray out of the problem cyl plug hole.

Slightly less of a leak? Coolant in the engine oil? A compression test may pick up on the problem cylinder(s). But a cylinder leakage test is the best way. To do that you pull all the spark plugs out and get the cyl to DTC (Top Dead Center) Pressurize the cyl thru the spark plug hole with compressed air using a special hose with fittings to screw into the plug hole on one end and a fitting to connect a air hose on the other end and listen for air leaks at the oil fill cap, tail pipe carburetor /throttle body and look for bubbles in the radiator. (If you have a cly leakage tester you can also measure the amount of leakage)That will lead you to the source of the leak. Youíll need to do it for each cyl till you find the source. When I pull the sparkplugs out I look at them if one is wet or has white crusty stuff on it I start with that cyl.

The only way to verify that the source leak is the head gasket is to pull the heads off and visually inspect. There is always the possibility that the leak could be a cracked or warped head and or engine block.

Is it alright to drive the vehicle if it is blown? If it's a older car (pre Emissions / computer control and cast iron heads and block) no problem driving it. But it will only get worse, pay now or pay more later. If itís a newer vehicle, emissions, computer control or aluminum heads or block? NO! Do Not drive it., you'll do a lot more damage and it'll cost you a whole lot more to fix!

If not are they a costly repair? That depends on the specific vehicle, DIY or hire a professional? One thing I find that is for sure, it always costs more to do it later than it does to do it now.
Old 12-23-04, 01:38 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 113
Thanks. It's a 95 Ford Windstar with the 3.8. I'm thinking it's just a big lemon. Problem after problem. Broken strut spring, had a hairline fracture in the pressure drum in the trans, excessive exhaust leaks, multiple knobs that don't work in the interior, a/c problems and I could actually keep going but I'll stop there. It is overfueling itself, low compression is cylinders 5 and 6, stalls and need O2 sensors replaced. I was wondering blown head gasket cause of the two cylinders. I might have to give up the fight and let it win. Maybe I should just give myself a nice Christmas present and go new. No, too much $$$$$ for that. Thanks for your help again and have a Merry Christmas.
Old 12-23-04, 04:06 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Boynton Beach Florida
Posts: 2,207
Yes, low compression on 2 adjoining cycinders is a typical symptom of a blown headgasket and that 3.8 has a history for that. If your in doubt, then take it to a reputable shop for diagnosis. If you have a coolant pressure tester, try removing the spark plugs and put pressure on the radiator. It may fill the cylinder with coolant.

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