Let’s start this article by asking – What is a head gasket? Don’t worry, we at Advanced Auto Care in Vista, get that question a lot.

A head gasket is a thin piece of rubber or other material that fits between the cylinder head and the cylinders or cylinder block in an internal combustion engine (that’s your car engine).

So, what causes it to leak if it is supposed to be sealed? If your engine is leaking coolant (the neon green you are finding on your driveway or garage floor), that tells us that your head gasket is either blown or damaged.

Though this tiny piece of material seems so insignificant, your engine cannot or should not operate if you have a damaged or blown gasket. Any potential problems should be corrected quickly, as they could cause serious issues and added expenses if ignored. The main cause for a blown or damaged gasket is when the engine reaches extreme temperatures (stay out of the red zone!). These high temperatures are often caused by a coolant leak or you haven’t refilled the coolant in a while.

So how bad is the damage if you see leaking? 

Once a head gasket is blown or damaged your engine turns into a combustible time bomb. If you leave it too long you could experience an entire engine failure and your maintenance bill just turned into buying a new car.

Can you tell when you have a leak or a blown gasket?

Most people who have no experience with car engines don’t – so don’t’ worry about it! That is what we are for!

First thing to look for is when your heating gage on your dashboard is hovering at higher temperature levels. Since the gasket is blown the coolant fluid isn’t reaching and cycling through the engine, instead it is leaking all over the outside of your engine! Keep an eye on your temperature gage if you are worried about engine problems.

What’s Next?
The next sign to keep an eye on is coolant levels. If you take your car to get its oil changed at a professional shop you shouldn’t have to worry about your levels getting low – unless there is a leak. That is an easy way to check if there is an issue, the coolant tank is really easy to locate in your car engine. It should be close to your windshield wiper fluid tank.

Last big sign if your head gasket isn’t functioning the way it was designed to, if you feel like your car is starting to have ‘seizures’. If you feel your car starting to shutter, jolt or even stall, you know that you have a major issue. We recommend that you stop and park your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so, and have it towed to the shop closest to you or to Advanced Auto Care in Vista. This will be the safest option for you and any passengers you may have with you at the time.