Symptoms of a Cracked Block

Cracked BlockHaving a cracked block can give a variety of strange symptoms that can be hard to identify and diagnose.  Like many problems with your cooling system, a cracked block often can mask itself during normal operation of your vehicle and only reveal itself during certain conditions making it extremely hard to diagnose.

Having a cracked block has to do both with the normal use of the vehicle and the construction of the engine itself.  When vehicle manufacturers are designing engines, then want to make sure the engine is sturdy and able to withstand the stresses and strains that will be on it both from the combustion process and from the heating and cooling cycles the engine will go through.  On the other hand, the weight of the engine has a lot to do with how to the car performs.  A heavier engine will decrease fuel mileage due to the extra energy required to get all that weight moving from a stop.  A heavier engine can also affect the handling characteristics of a car as the added weight can affect the center of gravity and its ability to corner well.

As engine manufacturers try to balance building an engine that is both lightweight and strong they have to account for all the stresses the engine will go through.  The pressures of combustion are high, but rarely high enough to significantly affect your engine block.  The more prominent stress on an engine is the heating and cooling cycles it endures from starting and stopping the engine.  The heat comes from the combustion process and is spread to the rest of the engine through the flowing coolant.  As the metal gets warmer it expands but at different rates depending on the temperature gradients.  Combine that stress with the normal vibrations of driving, braking and accelerating you can get huge stresses in different parts of your engine block.

These stress, after many miles, can lead to failures and small cracks to form.  Engine blocks rarely crack quickly.  The crack usually starts as small cracks that leak only a tiny amount of fluid and only when the engine is hot and the cooling system is pressurized.  Since most engine blocks are cast iron, once a crack has started, it is almost impossible to stop.  Because of the way the metal molecules settle into a lattice as the block is cast, cracks can easily propagate through the metal once they’re started.  This means that if you do have a cracked block, the leak will often get bigger quickly.

This leads us to one of the main symptoms of a cracked block.  A cracked block will almost always cause a cooling system leak and start very slowly.  Sometimes it will be so slow that you will only be able to notice the leak when your car is warm and it will just look like a small amount of steam.  As you continue to drive the heating and cooling cycles will enlarge the crack until you notice more steam, then possible drips of coolant and eventually a leak that will lose water whether the engine is warm or cold.

The other symptom of a cracked block that can be confusing is that the crack is often in the corner of a gusset or near a ridge in the block where the metal goes from thick to thin.  These areas are often very difficult to see without a mirror and flashlight or by removing the block.  These areas are often away from other coolant hoses and can be confusing.

If you discover a cracked block in your vehicle, don’t worry!  You may not even need to take your car to the mechanic’s shop to stop the leak.  BlueDevil Radiator and Block Sealer is a safe and easy to use sealing agent that can repair a crack in your cast iron or aluminum engine block without using tools.

For more information about BlueDevil Radiator and Block Sealer, click on the banner below!!






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cracked_block.jpg – By Daseaford – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link