Troubleshooting a Blown Head Gasket
Knowing the signs of a blown head gasket will help you avoid major damage to your car or truck engine. The idea of fixing a blown head gasket may seem highly challenging for most motorists, especially as it is such an expensive repair when carried out professionally. Although the workings of today’s high-tech engines can be complicated, knowing what to look for when things go wrong actually isn’t. Recognizing these indicators of a blown head gasket will help save further damage to your vehicle.
White Exhaust Steam
The first, and most visible, sign of head gasket trouble will be a plume of white steam coming from your exhaust pipe. It’s hard to miss as there is usually quite a bit of it when you have a blown head gasket. This white steam is not to be confused with the white exhaust fumes that come from your car when you start it on a cold morning. If there is still white steam coming from your car once the engine is warm, you will need to look for other signs of a blown head gasket.
Another sign that you might have a blown head gasket is the presence of milky oil. Park your vehicle on a level surface when the engine is warm. Remove the dipstick and look at the oil coating on the level indicator guide. If everything is fine, your oil should be a transparent brown color (darker for diesel engines). If the oil on your dipstick is milky or cloudy, it is a sign of a blown head gasket.
If you find that you constantly need to refill your engine coolant, it could be a sign of a blown head gasket. Your head gasket keeps engine coolant out of the working parts of the engine so a leak will cause coolant levels to drop dramatically. Even without other signs of a blown head gasket, check your coolant levels regularly to keep on top of any potential problems.
Clean Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are the hardest-working part of your engine. Since spark plugs come into contact with air and fuel, they can also get very dirty over time. If you think you might have a blown head gasket, remove one of your spark plugs and give it a quick check over. If it is as clean as when it went in, it is probably being cleaned by coolant that has worked into the engine piston chamber because of a blown head gasket.
The most dangerous sign of a blown head gasket is a slipping engine. If your vehicle continually lurches and sputters when driving, there is a major problem in your engine. The probable cause of engine slipping is coolant flooding the engines because of a blown head gasket. Once your engine starts to slip, it’s not long before it seizes up completely. If this is happening to your vehicle, you will need to get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible.