5 Signs of a Blown Head Gasket

A head gasket still attached to the vehicle.

If you've begun to suspect that you have a blown head gasket on your hands, you're probably wondering how to go about confirming it. You'll be pleased to know that detecting a blown head gasket can be a fairly simple undertaking, even for those who aren’t automotive experts. You just need to know what signs to look for. So if you're interested in diagnosing your vehicle for this problem, read on to learn everything you'll need to look for.

1. Contaminated Oil

One surefire sign of a blown head gasket is contaminated oil, which is a direct result of a head gasket that has sprung a leak. To check for this problem, carefully inspect your vehicle's oil cap. If you find a milk-like ring around the cap, your oil has been contaminated. This ring indicates that your coolant has been mixed with your oil. When faced with contaminated oil, you will need to promptly replace your head gasket and have your vehicle's oil changed.

2. Faulty Exhaust

Your vehicle's exhaust system can provide you with several indications of a blown head gasket. First off, water leaking from your car's exhaust pipe is a fairly straightforward sign of a blown gasket. Also, if there is a distinctly sweet smell emanating from your vehicle's exhaust or if you notice white smoke coming out of your car's tailpipe, you're most likely dealing with the same cause. Upon noticing any of these signs, promptly replace your head gasket and the problems should be fixed.

3. Radiator Problems

If your head gasket has sprung a leak, air bubbles are liable to find their way into your radiator. In order to confirm the presence of air bubbles, carefully remove your radiator cap; then, give your vehicle's engine ample time to warm up. Next, proceed to rev your engine several times. If air bubbles emerge, you will know what to do.

4. Tinted Spark Plugs

Tinted spark plugs are a solid indication of a problem for cars in which green coolant is used. If you find a greenish hue on your vehicle's spark plugs, your head gasket is the most likely cause. Additionally, if you notice coolant spraying out of your spark plugs' holes, replace your head gasket immediately.

5. Engine Problems

If your vehicle's engine has been slow or unresponsive, you may be dealing with a blown gasket. Your engine will experience a loss of compression should your head gasket incur any damage, potentially causing it to overheat. If your vehicle exhibits these symptoms, be sure to address the problem promptly, as overheated engines can present major safety hazards.