4 Signs of a Cracked Cylinder Head

Cylinder heads in a car.

A cracked cylinder head can mean an expensive repair bill for your vehicle. There are several ways to tell if your problem is a cracked cylinder head.

Leaking Coolant

With a badly cracked cylinder head, your coolant can leak from the cylinder head, and your engine will be running hot. Check coolant levels and inspect the head for signs of leaking and cracking.

Leaking Oil

There’s oil inside the cylinder head, and if the head is cracked, it can leak out. Your oil light can go on before your realize what’s happening. You need to open the hood and look around the cylinder head for signs of oil.


The first indication of a cracked cylinder head might be decreased engine performance. The cracks means there’s less compression in the engine as the pressure escapes. You might also hear the engine missing or simply not running right, because the mixture isn’t as it should be. In some instances you’ll find that the engine will die and need regular restarting.


It doesn’t happen often, but with large cracks, exhaust gases can escape via the cylinder head, causing smoke in the engine. If you have this problem, you need to replace the cylinder head immediately.

Car repair is expensive. However, by checking for these four signs of a cracked cylinder head can help you save a trip to the mechanic.