The symptoms for a blown head gasket can be extremely confusing to diagnose even for a seasoned mechanic. Your head gasket is buried deep in your engine and often requires removing almost every other component in your engine bay in order to get to. The other problem with diagnosing a blown head gasket is that many of the symptoms are shared with other cooling system problems especially if you only have a small leak in your head gasket.
For example, one of the most common symptoms exhibited with a blown head gasket is a loss of coolant without any indication of an external leak. This mysterious loss of coolant could be because you have a head gasket leak and the coolant is drawn into your combustion chamber and pushed out of your exhaust system, or it could simply be due to a leak that only appears at high engine temperatures and high cooling system pressures so you never notice the leak while checking under the hood or see any puddles or drips.
Another possibly confusing indication that you might have a blown head gasket is if you’ve got milky colored oil, or water in your oil. If you do have a blown head gasket coolant from your cooling system will leak into your combustion chamber and seep past your piston rings into your engine oil. Depending on the design of your engine, it may also be possible for coolant to leak into your intake plenum due to a bad gasket or hose.
Loss of coolant and milky oil are just a few of the possible indications that you have a blown head gasket. Other indications can include white smoke from the exhaust, bubbles in the radiator or overflow tank, overheating, engine misfires, or other problems. All of these indications can be caused by other smaller problems as well, but if you have multiple indications it increases the possibility that you’ve got a blown head gasket.
To help in proving you have a blown head gasket, there are a few different tests you can perform. First, you can try a pressure test of your cooling system. If everything is working properly in your cooling system, it should be able to hold a constant pressure up to the rating of your radiator cap, usually 10 to 20 PSI. To test your cooling system’s integrity a garage can add a pressure gauge to your cooling system, then pressurize it using compressed air. Once the air source is removed you can watch to see if the pressure in the system holds constant or decreases over the course of a few hours. If the pressure decreases over time, it is an indication that you have a leak somewhere. If you cannot find the leak externally, chances are you have a head gasket leak.
You can also try performing a compression test of your engine to find a head gasket leak. If your head gasket is blown, it will allow the compressed air in 1 or more cylinders to bleed off into the cooling system lowering the compression in that cylinder. If you find low compression in 1 or more cylinders, it could be an indication that you’ve got a head gasket leak in that cylinder.
There are also chemical tests you can perform on your engine’s coolant to try and detect the presence of exhaust gas in your engine’s coolant that is the most definitive of all the blown head gasket testing options you have. This test requires special equipment and chemicals so it can be an expensive or complicated test.
After you have performed these test and proven that your vehicle does indeed have a blown head gasket, use BlueDevil Head Gasket Sealer to seal the leak without the high repair bills. BlueDevil Head Gasket Sealer is a non-particulate sealing agent that will bond to the metal in your cooling system at the leak point to permanently seal your head gasket leak.
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