The head gasket is one of the most significant components in any vehicle. It keeps the compression inside the motor and remains oil in their proper compartments. There a large amount of damage occurs when the head gasket is failed.
Generally, problems with the head gasket start as a small crack. And over time, it is full-blown. If you do not fix the crack immediately, you would have to deal with a bigger and more serious problem, requiring costly repairs.
It is also why professionals discourage driving the vehicle during blown head gaskets.
Moreover, any small tear of gasket can leak out the fuel mixture of your car. It can also intermix oil or water types substance. Eventually, compression loss can bring out enormous power loss.
Different contamination can collapse the intricate parts of your motor vehicle. Altogether, blowing a head gasket is a serious type of issue. If you don’t repair it quickly, you will end up with the engine.
Today’s we will discuss every aspect of driving with the blown head gasket. Let’s dig deep into this article.
What is a Head Gasket?
A head gasket is a gasket that fits between your car’s engine block and cylinder head. All recent motor vehicles have a head gasket, but they differ from construction and thickness.
This is totally based on the manufacturer’s engine design. Manufacturers use copper, steel, or other components to make this gasket.
You can see it as one of many sealing materials inside an engine. It is a metal piece with rings that helps maintain the operating compress level for the cylinder. It also tries to prevent fluid leaks.
Another role of the head gasket is that it prevents the engine oil from mixing with coolant. If the engine oil gets contaminated, the capacity to lubricate the engine will be reduced. This further increases the chance of engine overheating.
While every vehicle has a head gasket, that doesn’t mean all the head gaskets are similar. Different car models have different sizes of head gaskets.
What Does the Head Gasket Do?
The Head gasket is sealed between the cylinder head and the engine block. This is simple, but play a very significant role in the vehicle. The major function of the head gasket is to seal and compress the cylinder. That can prevent the engine from any other oil leakage. It also protects coolant and oil from mixing together.
Normally, the head gasket is made of steel layers in modern cars. Older cars have graphite layers, but they’re not such as durable as modern vehicles.
Once extreme temperature arises in combustion chambers, the head gasket can burn constantly. Whenever it arises, oil can come out of the system or leak into the chamber. There would be an external leak also.
The importance of the head gasket can be understood by the fact that it has a compression ratio, which is present in the combustion chamber of the car. Most of the time, a blown head gasket results from overheating
Signs & Symptoms of Blown Head Gasket
The head gasket fails when the engine and head expand at different rates. Once the head gasket was failed, it causes several problems. Here are some vital symptoms of the blown head gasket.
Blown head gasket can cause engine overheating. Hot gases can leak within the cooling system. Besides, coolant can leak through to the cylinders. They both burn as a result the engine is overheated. If you will continue to drive in this condition, the catalytic converter will damage. This will increase the further cost of repair.
Loss of Power
Whenever the head gasket is blown, it will reduce the compression in the running engine. Remarkably, it will reduce engine power. This is conduct by a similar sound as an exhaust leak.
Oil contamination is another vital sign of a blown head gasket. The coolant induces contamination when it comes to the oil and others. Always remember that driving contaminating the oil will quickly ruin the engine’s bearings. Repair at least an engine oil flush and an oil filter replacement will be a solution for it. This prevents the bearings from damage and removes out all contaminated oil.
White smoke coming from the exhaust is another vital sign of the default head gasket. Antifreeze leaking into the gasket and cylinders is the reason for this smoke. A leak from oil passage to the cylinder is another reason for the smoke. The gasket failure will also let combustion pressure to the oil system or cooling system.
If the fuel, spark, and air are working correctly, the engine installed in the vehicle will perform the way it is expected to. But if any of the three aspects is off, it would result in the engine misfiring.
Dropping Coolant Level
Each time coolant is burned along with fuel, it drops the coolant level. But this level can also drop due to a coolant hose or leaking radiator. Now, if you see a pool of coolant under your car, that indicates something wrong with the head gasket.
Milky Residue Under Oil Filler Cap
Have you found yellowish-brown residue on the oil filler cap? If so, it may be a warning sign that the head gasket has failed.
Actually, this residue is formed when engine oil mixes with the coolant water. Since the head gasket seals the coolant channel when it leaks, milky residue comes under the oil filler cap.
If you see any of these symptoms or many of them, you may have a problem with a blown head gasket. Any of these symptoms is considerable for proper diagnoses.
Reasons for Blown Head Gasket
Older vehicles usually had poorly designed head gaskets. The gaskets were made of material that couldn’t handle the pressure. But the vehicles that are designed these days come with a high-quality head gasket that can handle the pressure without giving up.
The head gasket can even blow up due to an incorrectly timed engine. That’s because it will combust fuel at the wrong time. As a result, this puts a lot of pressure on the cylinder, and the head gasket blows up.
Many drivers have a habit of driving off their vehicle even before the engine warms up. It puts stress on the gasket, and thus, it expands quickly. If the stress increases, it can also lead to cracks.
Age and Mileage
No matter what brand your car is, it won’t last forever. The engines that come with the car are designed to last for 160,000 miles. So, if you drive your vehicle beyond this threshold, it would result in blowing up the head gasket.
If the coolant system or head gasket is not installed or repaired properly, it might invite problems with engine temperature. And if this issue is ignored for a while, the head gasket will blow up.
Can you drive with a blown head gasket?
It’s a serious type of problem when your head gasket is blown. You shouldn’t continue to drive with the blown head gasket. Keep in mind that, you must obtain this at any cost.
Driving with a blown head gasket will endanger your engine components. Remember that, as long as you stay, much expense will bring.
As early as possible repairing is the permanent solution.
There are different head gaskets available in the market. If you are confused about a head gasket, here are some Best Head Gasket Sets or your replacement.
Irrespective of the blown head gasket, if you decide to drive the vehicle anyway, here’s what will happen.
- When your vehicle has a blown head gasket, a space between the cylinder and the engine’s body is created. This space lets the coolant leak to the cylinder. After the coolant travels to the cylinder, the spark cannot ignite the air-fuel mixture. As a result, the engine will not have combustion, and you will experience power loss during driving.
- The air-fuel ratio also gets disturbed by the coolant leak inside the cylinder. It further damages the sensor and reduces the vehicle’s efficiency in producing power.
- If coolant travels to the cylinder, the piston, piston ring, cylinder’s wall get vulnerable to corrosion or rusting.
- Besides the cylinder, the coolant can also get mixed with the oil, causing oil contamination. When the oil gets contaminated, it cannot lubricate the engine properly. As a result, the moving parts generate heat, and it causes the engine to overheat.
- If the lubrication is not done properly, it could damage the engine’s bearings, valve train, and crankcase. Meaning there would be engine failure.
- When the head gasket is blown, there is also a high chance that the gasses from combustion may leak out of the cylinder and destroy surrounding metal parts. The surrounding parts also include cooling system components.
- Lastly, when there is a blown head gasket, the leaked coolant liquid to the cylinder can leave the cooling system with an insufficient cooling amount. As a result, the cooling system does not cool down the engine.
As you can see, there come numerous problems with a blown head gasket. But unfortunately, most people do not take the blown head gasket as seriously as they should. This further increases the possibility of expensive repairs.
If the issue is minor, you can examine it. But it’s generally advised to take the vehicle to the professionals to get the best help.
Measures to Prevent Head Gasket From Blowing
As you know, the position of the head gasket exposes it to high compression and temperatures. That means after a while, the head gasket will be blown up.
But there are a few measures you can take to prevent the head gasket from blowing up. Scroll down to check them out.
Check the Pressure Regulating System
In many vehicles, the engine works on forced induction. Generally, there is pressure on the engine that regulates the system. Keeping the pressure under control; otherwise, it may blow out the head gasket.
So, to prevent blown head gaskets, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the required pressure regulating system is working perfectly.
Prevent Carbon Built-Up
Over the years, carbon gets filled in the combustion chamber. Now, if the carbon layer build-up increases, it decreases the combustion, which puts higher pressure on the cylinder.
That’s why experts always advise putting fuel cleaner in the fuel tank to eliminate the carbon layer.
Pre-ignite the System
If you want to prevent the increased pressure on the combustion system, you must time your ignition. Also, clean the fuel in the fuel tank.
You can also keep the engine’s temperature under control by performing the below-mentioned things.
- Measure the coolant level and try to keep it above the minimal level. You can top off the coolant but avoid overfilling it.
- You can also test the thermostat. Ensure that it is neither stuck closed nor stuck open because it will prevent the coolant from flowing around the engine.
- You can even check the radiator to make sure whether it is working properly or not. If you notice any issue with the radiator, that means the coolant will get high without raising the temperature. If this happens, the engine will get overheated.
- At last, you must check the water pump to ensure that it’s error-free. If the water pump is broken or faulty, the coolant will not flow through the cooling system.
How Much Does a Head Gasket Repair Cost?
Head gasket repairing cost differed from vehicle to vehicle. There are several and significant factors involves with it. Such as:
- Type of cylinder head.
- A number of cylinder banks.
- Damage of cylinder head.
- Replacement of additional components.
The approximate repair cost of the head gasket is between $1000 to $2000. The majority of the repair cost is due to expertise and labor involvement. More difficult task causes more costing.
Taking into consideration that, repairing a blown gasket is a wise decision.
The risk of damage will increase whether you will not repair it in a timely. Consequently, that can damage your exhaust and ignition system. Eventually, the result is the repair or replacement of the entire engine.
At that point, the expense of $1,000- $2,000 will save you from further costing. If you want to run your car in better condition, you have to pay for it.
Is Head Gasket Worth Fixing?
As you can see, fixing the head gasket is costly. The price varies depending on the parts and labor time required to fix the issue. But before you take your vehicle to the mechanic, you must analyze the situation.
Before you get any costly repair work, you must try to find the answer to the following questions:
- Is there any other major issue with the vehicle?
- Is the total repair cost getting more than the car’s value?
- Does the car have high mileage?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might want to reconsider the option of repairing the blown head gasket.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can drive a vehicle with a blown head gasket ruin the engine?
If your vehicle’s head gasket is ruined, it is better to stop driving. That’s because the longer you drive a car with a blown head gasket, the more severe the damage to the engine will get. If you fail to fix this problem quickly on your own, you would have to pay for costly repairs. Thus, it is better to take the vehicle to professionals to keep the situation under control.
How long can you drive with a blown head gasket?
If you are in a situation where you have to drive the car with a blown head gasket, don’t take it too far. Also, the vehicle gets out of power once the head gasket is blown. Meaning it cannot keep going, whether you want it or not.
Precisely, you can drive for a week or month (if you have used a temporary fix). But you must drive the car as doing so will further damage the engine.
Is it safe to drive with a blown head gasket?
Honestly, it is not safe to drive with a blown head gasket. So, if you spot this issue, you must fix it yourself or resolve it professionally. The sooner, the better.
Does the blown head gasket mean I need a new engine?
After encountering a blown head gasket, the best possible thing is to replace it with a new one. Doing this will keep the engine block and cylinder head undamaged.
The cost of getting a new engine is greater than the head gasket. So, you must do any and everything that could save you from purchasing a new engine.
Driving with a blown head gasket is consistently lead to the entire engine failure. The permanent solution is to repair it as early as possible. It’s important to identify the symptoms of a blown head gasket so that you can quickly repair it.
Always remember that quick repair will reduce the entire cost. It will also protect your vehicle from additional damage. Regular maintaining of your car is another preventative action against blowing a head gasket.