How do you check for a blown head gasket?

We’ve talked a little about your cooling system, how it works and potential problems. Specifically, if you have a coolant leak, it can lead to your engine overheating. But, this can also be a symptom of a blown head gasket. We’ll go through some symptoms as well as how to test for it yourself.

A head gasket’s job is to form a seal between the cylinder head and the engine block. It seals the combustion chamber as well as the coolant passages. This means that your head gasket has an important and difficult job to do. It needs to keep this crucial area sealed under the extreme pressure of hot combustion gases as well as the engine coolant. Your coolant can vary from very cold ambient temperatures to the higher operating temperatures of your engine. This puts additional strain on your head gasket. So, it’s understandable that your head gasket can develop a leak or even blow.

Unfortunately, this is not something that you can just visually check. Most of the head gasket can’t be seen without taking your engine apart. So, it can be a difficult thing to diagnose. Here are some symptoms of a blown head gasket:

  • Coolant leaks
  • Engine overheating
  • White smoke coming from your exhaust
  • Engine misfire
  • Bubbles in your radiator
  • White, milky oil

The easiest thing to check would be dropping coolant levels. If you keep filling and refilling your radiator/coolant reservoir and there is no visible sign of a leak, then you might have a leaky or blown head gasket. If you’re still unsure, use a combustion leak tester. This device can detect exhaust gases in your coolant and confirm the problem. If the test comes back positive, bring your vehicle into Courthouse Automotive today. This is not a job that you would want to attempt yourself.