How Does a Head Gasket Blow? What It Is, Why It Blows, and How to Fix Yours

Have you been seeing white smoke filtering from your exhaust pipe in your vehicle? Perhaps you've noticed the engine seems to overheat lately, but you can't figure out what the cause might be? These are both potential signs that you might have a blown head gasket. For an in-depth look into how does a head gasket blow, what happens when it blows, repair costs, how to fix the problem, and more, keep reading.

What Is a Head Gasket?

Before delving into how does a head gasket blow, it's vital to understand what a head gasket is in the first place. The car’s head gasket is an integral part of the combustion system. The combustion components of your vehicle’s engine pull air in and release the exhaust. Intake air combines with fuel where it compresses, and the spark plug ignites it.

Upon ignition, heat, and gases push the piston down, generating the force that turns your vehicle motor and sets the car in action. For the cylinder to function correctly, it must have an unbroken seal encasing it. That seal is your vehicles head gasket, and it takes on the most pressure and force of any seal in the entire engine.

The head gasket seals the gases and combustion upon ignition, handling varying temperatures of steaming exhaust fumes and cold intake air. The head gasket is also responsible for keeping out the cold water that encases the cylinder walls in the engine. If you've ever heard your mechanic say that your car has blown its head gasket, they are saying that the seal has sprung a leak.

The leak could be internal or external. However, It is often challenging to detect it won't head gasket, which means that many drivers operate their vehicles 4 miles at a time without realizing that they have a problem. When you continue to drive with it faulty head gasket, exhaust and water will filter into areas they should not be, which can cause extreme temperatures to wear out the metal surfaces of the device.

What Happens When a Head Gasket Blows

There are some telltale signs you can look for to detect when your car’s head gasket blows, including:

●       When the exhaust pipe emits white smoke

●       When you see leaking coolant coming out beneath the exhaust manifold

●       If your engine frequently overheats

●       If you see milky or creamy oil

●       If your cooling system is not functioning on its average level

●       If you detect bubbles in the coolant overflow tank or radiator

The vast majority of head gasket leaks happen internally, which means that coolant can't transmit into the combustion area on each intake. As a result, The coolant starts to burn and evaporates, giving off the appearance of creamy smoke filtering from out of the tailpipe.

Another common sign of a blown head gasket is it your engine frequently overheats after extended periods of driving. The reason for this is because your engine is eating up so much coolant, that it has insufficient power to cool down the polluted coolant. When this happens, see seals and gaskets can begin to warm and crack which could lead to additional engine leaks.

If you ever see white oil on your dipstick or surrounding the engine cap, this is a telltale sign that you have blown a head gasket. When coolant filters into the combustion area, this will mix water and oil together which is the reason for the white color. However, the water will reduce the effectiveness of the oil to lubricate the motor. Over time, this can erode and put a strain on the camshaft bearings and crank.

The moral of the story here is that a blown head gasket is no joke. Check out some of the top causes behind how does a head gasket blow.

What Causes Your Vehicle’s Head Gasket to Blow?

Remember, your vehicles head gasket is essentially a seal that goes between the cylinder head and the engine block. The head gasket is responsible for sealing in frigid and scorching temperatures and combustion gases, which can make it wear out and develop leaks. While owners of cars and truck such as particular Ford models have experienced more head gasket problems than others, a blown head gasket can occur in any vehicle.

The extreme temperatures that your vehicle’s head gasket has to deal with are the primary reason why they blow from time to time. Unfortunately, the majority of the gasket is hidden unless you disassemble the entire engine, which is why many drivers don't catch the signs of blown head gaskets right off the bat.

Can You Drive Your Vehicle With a Blown Head Gasket?

It's highly possible that you could drive with a blown head gasket and not be aware of it first. However, it is not advisable to continue to drive your vehicle with a blown head gasket. If you continue to work coolant into the combustion area uninhibited, this can lead to an untold number of problems. For one, the coolant can interfere with your vehicles spark plugs and inhibit your engine performance because of the deposits it will leave behind.

Coolant flowing into the combustion space can also impact your air fuel ratios and harm the senses. Also, the coolant can eventually rust the cylinder wall, piston ring, and piston, which will ultimately reduce compression and could necessity of full engine replacement.

Coolant could also save into your engine oil overflowing beyond the piston rings or leaking from the coolant area. When coolant combines with engine oil, this will lead to poor lubrication of certain parts of the engine such as the crank bearings and camshaft. Insufficient lubrication will swiftly cause damage to the bearings which will also require a mechanic to rebuild your engine.

Finally, if you allow gas to continue to seep from the combustion chamber, this can lead to unusually pressurized areas in the cooling system and additional damage to the metal near the leak. Cracking, erosion and further leaks could ensue.

Repair Costs and How to Fix a Head Gasket

The cost of fixing a blown head gasket on your vehicle can fluctuate considerably based on the car you own. Components such a whether you have a block or head damage, the type of engine you have, and how many cylinder banks are present will all affect the total amount.

Wow the cast of the new head gasket itself may be just around $100, once you Factor the time for labor, repairs, and the type of engine into the mix, you could be looking at a $1,000 replacement.

If these costs sound like too much of a headache to contend with, The good news is, with some time and patience, you can learn how to fix a head gasket on your own.

To start, you will need to take out the thermostat and flush the entire cooling system. First fill the cooling system with water, then port gasket sealer into the radiator while your car idles. You will need to let the engine idle for 50 minutes or more after you install a radiator cap. Let the cooling system drain before you install a new thermostat and refill the system with fresh coolant.

The most challenging aspect of replacing a head gasket will be taking out and reinstalling the thermostat. You must determine where in your vehicle with the thermostat is situated. Most of the time, the thermostat will be on either the end of your lower radiator hose or upper radiator hose.

All you have to do to take out the thermostat is detach the housing, take out the thermostat, and reconnect the housing. Once you remove the thermostat, this will allow the proper amount of coolant to transmit through the system so the head gasket sealer can flow through the engine block and locate the leak. When you install the new head gasket, the system will be ready to receive the right quantity of coolant.

If you suspect that you might have a blown head gasket, don't wait another day to deal with the problem. Seek out the advice of a trusted mechanic or try to deal with the issue on your own, but don't continue to get behind the wheel with a faulty head gasket.

If you witness any of the signs of a blown head gasket discussed above, don’t hesitate to look into it immediately. You wouldn't get behind the wheel without car insurance! Make sure your engine is in mint condition and check out the head gasket every so often to ensure there are no leaks or warping.

Curious to see if car owners with your vehicle make and model have experienced similar issues? Whether you’re shopping for a new vehicle or want to see how much your current one is worth, use a car finder to search for everything from new car prices to used car values to key specs, estimations, and other key factors.

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